“Whichever party gets the most votes and the most seats, if not an absolute majority, has the first right to seek to govern, either on its own or by reaching out to other parties.”
I hope that the Canadian media criticize whoever made that statement and accuse him of not understanding how government formation works… I’ll update this entry later with the answer and some procedures for the formation of governments.
Update (13 June 2013)
The answer may surprise you. Stephen Harper did not utter this statement, though he has made similar statements regarding the formation of governments in minority parliaments. Nick Clegg, Leader of the Liberal-Democratic Party, made this statement to the press following the indecisive British election of 2010, which produced a minority parliament (or “hung parliament,” as the British call them). Nick Clegg is now also the Deputy Prime Minister in a coalition government of Conservatives and Liberal-Democrats.
The BBC aired an interesting documentary on the formation of the Cameron-Clegg coalition government in later 2010, called “Five Days That Changed Britain.” It includes interviews with Prime Minister Cameron, Deputy Minister Clegg, Lord Mandelson, and various other prominent members of the Conservatives, Liberal-Democrats, and Labour. Sadly, I doubt that the CBC would ever produce such an interesting and relevant documentary here, and I doubt further still that Canadian Ministers would ever agree to such interviews.
Well, of course, who gets the most votes is constitutionally irrelevant (except, perhaps, in extraordinary unlikely events where there is a evenly split deadlock, but more likely the failure to elect a Speaker) and it seems some people in office have not been introduced to the concept of “incumbency advantage”…
Good post topic. I think most people are stuck with their junior high school education on these matters.
If you can, I’d appreciate a post explaining how the Queen or Viceroy “knows” who can hold the confidence of parliament. Of course, he or she can simply watch TV and read the newspapers and call on whomever he or she wants to form a government; however, I imagine there are some more official protocols for this.