Who Made This Statement About Government Formation in Minority Parliaments?

“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.


About J.W.J. Bowden

My area of academic expertise lies in Canadian political institutions, especially the Crown, political executive, and conventions of Responsible Government; since 2011, I have made a valuable contribution to the scholarship by having been published and cited extensively. I’m also a contributing editor to the Dorchester Review and a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Parliamentary and Political Law.
This entry was posted in Caretaker Convention & Government Formation, Crown (Powers and Office), Formation of Governments. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Who Made This Statement About Government Formation in Minority Parliaments?

  1. Steven Spadijer says:

    Oh dear.

    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”…


  2. Cameron Burrows says:

    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.


I invite reasonable questions and comments; all others will be prorogued or dissolved.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s