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Has the resignation of a political leader in a Westminster style parliament ever forced an election call?


So reading about the premier of Ontario Dalton McGuinty abruptly quitting his post, and there's many people wondering if there will have to be an election to replace him. While there is some precedent against it (see Brian Mulroney and Kim Campbell), I wonder if it's the exception to the rule, or if there's no law that forces such a change if this occurs.

Anyone shed some light on the matter?


The Westminster system does not compel, either by law or by convention, a member to resign from his/her electorate and force a by-election upon resignation or loss of confidence as head of government. The decision is left up to the member, who may choose to do so after a satisfyingly long career or in an attempt to allow the party to present a fresh face without being encumbered by someone synonymous with past unpopular policies.

In Australia, very few Prime Ministers have resigned from parliament straight after having resigned as Prime Minister:

  • Edmund Barton, the first Prime Minister, resigned in 1903 to join the newly established High Court.
  • Andrew Fisher resigned as Prime Minister and from his seat without much explanation in 1915.
  • Robert Menzies retired in 1966 after having been Australia's longest serving Prime Minister. He had earlier resigned as Prime Minister in 1941 but had stayed on in parliament.
  • Malcolm Fraser resigned from parliament after losing the 1983 election.
  • Bob Hawke resigned from parliament 3 months after losing to a leadership challenge from Paul Keating. At the time, he had been Australia's second longest serving Prime Minister.
  • Paul Keating resigned from parliament after losing the 1996 election.

I'm not as familiar with the poliical history of other countries. Some examples of those who have not resigned from parliament straight after resigning as Prime Minister are John Major (UK), Margaret Thatcher (UK), Paul Martin (Canada) and Jenny Shipley (NZ).


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Boris Johnson has suffered a crucial loss in the Supreme Court today, as justices have decided his decision to prorogue parliament this month was not lawful. Baroness Hale read out the court's decision this morning, in which she declared the Prime Minister's move was unlawful, and Parliament was never prorogued. MPs reacted outside the Supreme Court today, declaring a victory for the government, which is now free to conduct business as usual.

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MPs' expenses: Michael Martin becomes first Commons Speaker to quit in 300 years

Michael Martin has become the first Speaker of the House of Commons for more 300 years to be forced from office as he paid the price for mishandling the crisis over MPs’ expenses.

In a 71-word statement that lasted 33 seconds, Mr Martin said that he would be standing down on June 21 following an unprecedented rebellion by MPs.

His forced departure came after 12 days of disclosures about MPs’ expenses in The Daily Telegraph finally compelled Gordon Brown to intervene.

With Downing Street struggling to contain a growing democratic revolution, the Prime Minister made it clear that Mr Martin’s position was untenable.

Mr Martin’s resignation – the first by a Speaker since Sir John Trevor in 1695 – is expected to be followed by the departures of MPs who have been found to have exploited the expenses system.

The Prime Minister faces potential defeat in a by-election in one of Labour’s Scottish strongholds when Mr Martin stands down.

Mr Martin’s decision to quit one of the country’s highest parliamentary offices came on a momentous day in Westminster when:

* Mr Brown pledged that any Labour MP found to have broken the rules would be deselected by the party.

The Prime Minister, who is facing growing calls to order a general election, admitted that some in his Government had been guilty of “unacceptable behaviour” in playing the system and called for an end to the “gentleman’s club” style in which MPs are policed

* Party leaders agreed to a complete overhaul of MPs’ expenses, capping monthly mortgage interest claims at £1,250 and banning the use of taxpayers’ money to pay for food, furniture and gardening

* Betty Boothroyd, the former Speaker, accused some ministers and MPs of being more interested in the “perks” of the job than in the interests of the country.

After news of Mr Martin’s looming resignation statement filtered out, MPs, including the Prime Minister and David Cameron, crowded into the Commons in anticipation of witnessing a moment of history.

At 2.34pm Mr Martin called order from the Speaker’s chair.

He announced: “Since I came into the House 30 years ago, I have always felt that the House is at its best when it is united.

“In order that unity can be maintained, I have decided to relinquish the post of Speaker on Sunday June 21.” A new Speaker would be elected the following day, he added.

Mr Brown will hope that Mr Martin’s decision will halt any further turmoil in the Commons, which has faced a crisis of confidence and widespread public anger after The Daily Telegraph disclosed MPs’ expense claims.

Last week, the Speaker astonished the Commons when he rounded on Kate Hoey, a former Labour minister, and Norman Baker, a Liberal Democrat MP.

They had both questioned his handling of the expenses issue in light of The Daily Telegraph’s disclosures. The outburst triggered a chain of events that saw him forced from office.

In unprecedented scenes on Monday, MPs repeatedly called for him to go, accusing him of blocking potential reform and of damaging the public’s faith in Parliament.

It soon became clear that Mr Martin had lost the explicit support of the leaders of the three main parties.

The Prime Minister held a crucial meeting with Mr Martin. Only the two men were present, but it is clear that the fate of Mr Martin was in Mr Brown’s hands as the Government had to decide whether to risk the House debating a motion of no confidence in the Speaker.

Any debate would have almost certainly have sealed the Speaker’s fate. So he decided to announce he would go next month.

Mr Martin, 63, who has been a Labour MP for 30 years and Speaker for nine, will also stand down as the MP for Glasgow North East.

Harriet Harman, the Leader of the Commons, paid tribute to Mr Martin’s “passionate commitment to the House” and said he had served “with distinction”. She said: “Michael Martin’s resignation today as Speaker is an act of great generosity to the House of Commons that Members of Parliament from all parties will respect.”

But others expressed relief that he had finally decided to go.

Mr Cameron said it was “the right thing for him to do because obviously he’d lost the confidence of the House of Commons.”

The Tory leader added: “But what we need is not just a new Speaker, we need a new Parliament, we need people to have the chance in a general election to pass judgment on their politicians.”

Douglas Carswell, the Tory backbencher who organised the motion of no confidence which had 23 signatures by yesterday morning, said Mr Martin’s departure gave him no pleasure, but it was necessary.

He said: “I believe we have found ourselves in a moral ditch and we need reform and change to get out of that ditch and restore dignity to politics.

“We need a new Speaker who understands that 'sovereignty of Parliament’ is shorthand for 'sovereignty of the people’.

Paul Flynn, a Labour MP who signed the motion, added: “He just wasn’t getting it, even up until yesterday. He could have gone with a great deal more dignity last week if he had got the message.

“I’m afraid he has brought this on himself. Parliament has to reform itself and he was the wrong person to lead it.”

Miss Hoey said: “He has been a Speaker who had actually tried to prevent some of this information coming out, spent money trying to get us exempted from the Freedom of Information Act – part of what seemed to be a very, very small coterie of the establishment who wanted things not to change.

“It’s been a good process for democracy. It’s been bad for Parliament and bad for MPs, but none of us have ever seen such an outcry over an issue.

“It’s been good to see the public angry and they’ve had enough of what’s going on. The gap between MPs and the public has grown hugely and a lot of that is going to come out at the next general election.”

Mr Brown said last night that he had agreed measures with other party leaders.

There would be an independent outside body to regulate expenses and allowances, taking it out of the Commons for the first time.

He said the fees office – which has been complicit in many of the unacceptable practices uncovered by The Daily Telegraph – would be abolished.


Has the resignation of a political leader in a Westminster style parliament ever forced an election call? - History

When politicians argue over the minutiae of the law, you can bet what they’re really squabbling about is politics.

It is not — and should not be — that hard to quit parliament. The procedure in place is meant to safeguard against a different kind of resignation: the forced variety.

But not the forced variety that the PML-N is alleging the procedure in place is to prevent a party from trying to get rid of an MNA the party is unhappy with for some or the other illegitimate reason.

The PML-N is not trying to bribe PTI MNAs into staying in parliament. But the PML-N knows that few of the PTI MNAs really want to quit.

Yes, the PTI — Imran, really — is unhappy with several of its MNAs: the ones who aren’t resigning. But Imran isn’t trying to get any of the defiant MNAs chucked out of parliament, so what’s the problem?

Back to politics. To begin with, there are several categories of PTI MNAs.

The electables Imran roped in last year know the cardinal rule of electoral politics: never leave the field open to your opponent. For constituency politicians, quitting your seat and sitting on the sidelines is a form of political suicide.

They aren’t happy to be quitting. Some have point-blank refused to. But some are quitting because, well, they are gambling that sticking with Imran will keep them in the electoral game.

Then there are the one-off MNAs, the ones who won because Imran was the Great Pakistani Hope in May 2013 and it was his popularity that carried them to unexpected wins.

They too aren’t thrilled about being asked to quit, but their stars are hitched to Imran’s and where he goes, they must follow.

After them are the troublemakers: the PTI MNAs who didn’t win. The chaps who lost in 2013 are the ones with the most to gain by getting PTI to quit parliament.

Anything that remotely looks like it could force another general election and give the PTI losers another bite at the MNA apple is worth trying.

And after the troublemakers are the few — the very, very, very few — who are willing to give the boss the benefit of the doubt because, well, he’s the boss and it doesn’t make sense to question a man who is arguably the country’s most famous politician and carried a non-party to a second-place finish just last year.

In none of those categories is there an actual MNA resignation that can — or should — be delayed. But none of the PTI MNAs stand formally resigned yet.

The PML-N is not, as the PTI is alleging, really trying to bribe PTI MNAs into staying in parliament. But the PML-N knows that few of the PTI MNAs really, really want to quit.

So why not delay the process and see if something changes, whether internally or externally for the PTI, to make Imran change his mind?

You can see why the PML-N would prefer the PTI remain in the assembly rather than opt out.

Legality and constitutionality of the present parliament notwithstanding, a National Assembly without the party that polled the second-highest number of votes in the general election would erode the political legitimacy of parliament.

But, as with everything PML-N of late, you can’t help but feel that it’s less strategy and more smallness that’s driving the PML-N’s political responses. Because Imran wants the PTI to quit, the PML-N is determined to make it as difficult as it can for the PTI to quit.

Maybe if Imran had said he wanted the PTI to stay in parliament and fight the system from inside, the PML-N would have jeered Imran and tried to hound him into withdrawing the PTI from parliament.

If Imran wants it, the PML-N will oppose it if Imran dreams it up, the PML-N will shoot it down — that’s what the PML-N seems to have reduced itself to.

Ultimately, what’s really the problem for the PML-N if 25 or so by-elections are held in a couple of months’ time in constituencies vacated by the PTI?

Every single one of those seats is in the PTI column right now. If the PTI wins back every single one of those seats, via independent candidates backed by the party, it would only go back to its present position in parliament.

But if the PTI were to lose even a few of those seats, it would look like the party and Imran’s popularity are down. Plus, the provincial breakdown of the PTI seats — just a handful in Punjab, but a big chunk in KP — skews things against the PTI.

Lose a few seats in KP, home to the only PTI government, and the party would look like it’s in trouble with the electorate win again all its seats in Punjab and they’d still be too few to argue the PML-N is in real trouble.

Also, they are only by-elections people forget about them quickly enough. Anyone outside NA-149 still talking about Hashmi’s defeat?

And fate has anyway got a little surprise in store for the PTI: the Senate elections next March. The KP assembly will get to elect 11 senators — the same KP Assembly where the PTI has already defied Imran. You can’t imagine them giving up on a chunk of 11 juicy senatorships quite so easily.

Which would take the PTI into the upper house for the first time, offsetting its official absence from the lower house.

So let the PTI quit now and just get on with it? Maybe not — Imran would still be running around the country denouncing parliament.

But if the PML-N isn’t letting the PTI quit, it seems gloriously unconcerned with giving the PTI MNAs something to convince Imran they should stay.

And so, on and on — and on some more — the endless tale of PML-N v PTI goes.


Share All sharing options for: The constitutional change at the heart of the UK Parliament’s endless deadlock

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Fans of parliamentary government have long touted the notion that the British political system could — at least in theory — never get deadlocked in quite the same way as the American system, in which executive and legislative deadlock has become something of a signature feature.

But this week, the story looks different, as the United Kingdom is currently bogged down in an intractable deadlock between the executive and legislative branches of government over how to approach the looming deadline for Brexit.

First, Prime Minister Theresa May was unable to secure a parliamentary majority for her preferred approach to Brexit, which led to her resignation and replacement by current Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

But Johnson can no more secure a majority for his approach than May could, and his determination to try to push forward anyway has generated a week of political crisis. He decided to “prorogue” — that is, temporarily suspend — Parliament for a few weeks in order to shrink the time it had to come up with legislation to thwart his plans. But that prompted a member of his Conservative Party to defect to the centrist Liberal Democrats, costing Johnson his already minuscule parliamentary majority.

Then enough Conservative MPs joined with the opposition parties to take control of the parliamentary agenda from Johnson, setting them up to pass a bill that would explicitly constrain him on Brexit. Johnson, in an effort to get the MPs in line, wants to hold a fresh election that he thinks will give him a majority of like-minded parliamentarians.

But at the moment, it looks like he’s not going to get what he wants and Parliament is going to pass measures over his opposition.

It’s something that looks much more like an American-style “separation of powers” system than the traditional British fusion of power. The American system has fewer wild swings in policy trajectory but also makes the total breakdown of the political system that is possible in the US common. It’s something that is inconceivable in Latin American countries or under a Westminster-style Parliament — at least in theory.

The UK’s problem today is the consequence of a 2011 law that was passed to address a particular set of circumstances but has turned out to have wide-ranging implications for a variety of situations — including introducing the novelty of deadlocks into a system that is not accustomed to them.

Britain’s eight-word constitution and how it constructs its government, explained

The UK famously lacks a written constitution.

But an old quip has it that you can sum up the whole thing with eight words: “What the Queen-in-Parliament enacts is law.”

Initially, Parliament evolved as an institution that existed to check and balance the power of the monarch. And the American political system operates on a kind of analogy to that 18th-century version of British institutions, with the president playing the role of the king (or queen), the Senate the role of the House of Lords, and the House of Representatives the role of the House of Commons.

Over time, however, the Lords were stripped of almost all their real power and a new tradition developed in which the queen would act exclusively on the advice of her prime minister. The prime minister, however, is elected by the House of Commons rather than directly by the voters.

All powers, in other words, are effectively held by the parliamentary majority party.

The queen appoints the leader of the majority party in Parliament as her prime minister the prime minister decides which bills Parliament votes on and then those bills are granted the queen’s royal assent on the advice of the prime minister.

Members of the majority party are rarely if ever unanimous in their views, but as party leader, the prime minister can kick them out of the party if they won’t do what he wants. (Johnson says this will happen to the members of his Conservative Party who defied him.) And, more importantly, traditionally the prime minister can dissolve Parliament and call a new election (or, formally speaking, “advise” the queen to do this).

The prime minister might lose the election, of course, and thus not get what he or she wants. The prime minister also might harbor ambitions that his or her colleagues in Parliament advise are politically untenable — and they may warn the prime minister that they won’t vote for his or her ideas, and thus that insisting on them will trigger an election campaign he or she will lose.

In other words, it’s not a dictatorship where the PM can just do whatever. Mass opinion, the opinion of the members of Parliament, and the interplay between the two play a critical role in shaping outcomes. But you never have a standoff — either the PM gets what they want or there’s a new election, which they either win or lose.

Implicitly underlying this, however, was the presumption that the UK’s election system would deliver something approximating two-party politics with strong majorities. But then everything started to change.

The Fixed-Term Parliaments Act and how the 2010 general election changed things

The UK uses a “first past the post” electoral system just like the United States. This means that whichever candidate in a race gets the most votes wins the seat. As a result, third-party votes are mostly “wasted” and for a long time created a strong incentive not to do them.

But after the 2010 general election, a confluence of global trends and specific circumstances — in particular, the Great Recession of 2008 and Prime Minister Tony Blair’s support for the Iraq War — led to a surge in votes for both the Liberal Democrats (an economically centrist, pro-European party that opposed the war) and a range of small regional parties. No party had a majority in Parliament.

Ideologically speaking, the best fit probably would have been a deal between the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats, but there were two problems here.

First, the Conservatives won a lot more seats than Labour, so there was a strong sense that the former had “won the election” and should get to select the prime minister. Second, even in combination, Labour and the Liberal Democrats were a few seats short of a majority, which meant they would have had to rely on secondary alliances with the regional parties to form a majority.

So instead, the Liberal Democrats opted to work with David Cameron’s Conservative Party and form a coalition cabinet. This is highly unusual in UK politics. But they opted for this course rather than letting Cameron form a minority government, supposedly due to the need for stability in a time of economic crisis.

To further that goal of stability, the coalition government then passed the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act of 2011, which denied the prime minister the authority to unilaterally call a new election. Under the new system, a Parliament would last a full five-year term unless a two-thirds supermajority voted for dissolution and early elections.

This law served its specific purpose and ensured that the coalition lasted its whole five-year term. But it’s now carried forward into a totally different situation and produced an unprecedented ability for the executive and legislative branches to systematically disagree.

The Brexit gridlock

The current impasse began with Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May’s efforts to get Parliament to approve the Brexit agreement she’d negotiated with the European Union at the beginning of the year.

Unfortunately, while no one in Parliament could seem to agree on what kind of deal they wanted, they all — including members of her own party — agreed that they didn’t like the deal May had on offer.

The Conservative Party contains a large faction that either actively favors a total rupturing of UK-EU ties (“hard Brexit”) or at least believes that a willingness to accept a chaotic “no deal” scenario will improve the UK’s bargaining hand and create a more satisfactory deal.

That meant that compromise measures designed to guarantee that there wouldn’t need to be a traditional border between Northern Ireland (which as part of the UK would be leaving the EU) and the Republic of Ireland (which is still in the EU) couldn’t pass Parliament with purely Conservative votes.

But rather than prop up May’s compromise efforts, opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn took the position that the real problem was May and her negotiating position. He wanted a fresh election that he hoped to win, thus enabling him to pursue his own approach to Brexit (what exactly that approach would be has been a matter of some dispute).

Key to this strategy was the belief that Labour was likely to do well in a new election, primarily because of the rise of a new Brexit Party that espoused a harder line than May. Labour believed that vote-splitting between the Conservatives and the Brexit Party could bring them to power, either alone or in partnership with some of the other parties.

With both Conservatives and members of the opposition blocking her every move, May faced a complete deadlock that eventually led to her resignation.

Johnson has promised to pull the UK out of the EU by the October 31 deadline, “do or die” — meaning with or without a deal with the EU in place. He also argues that the threat of a disruptive “no deal” Brexit will intimidate the EU into offering the UK better terms. Johnson is almost certainly wrong about this, and people familiar with Brussels say he’s fundamentally misunderstanding how the European Union works.

A critical faction of rebel Conservative MPs disagree with this strategy and sided with the opposition to block his plans. So now Johnson wants new elections — elections that he believes he will win because, having co-opted the hardline position on Brexit, he will secure a unified vote of Brexit supporters, while the skeptics will be divided across several parties.

Under the “classic” UK political system, this is exactly what would happen. Johnson would call a new election, and either the rogue Conservative MPs would be replaced by more reliable members, thus enabling Johnson to carry out his agenda unimpeded, or he’d lose big time and someone else would become prime minister and get to try their hand at managing Brexit.

But under the fixed-term system, this doesn’t work: A new election can be called only if the governing party and the opposition both agree to do one. And for that to happen, basically one party or the other has to miscalculate about who is going to win.

Right now, though, Johnson and Corbyn both agree that a fast election would likely help Johnson, so it seems unlikely to happen. The result is a situation that’s become very familiar to Americans: a mix of gridlock and “constitutional hardball” in which party leaders seek to exploit various technicalities or little-used powers to gain advantage and the actual policy outcomes don’t represent any party leader’s stated preference.

Since the main purpose of the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act was to secure the stability of one particular coalition government, the law perhaps should have been written to automatically expire after five years. Had that happened, the underlying arguments shaping Brexit would be exactly the same, but the ongoing entrenched political crisis would have been impossible.

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The Dark Side of Modern Leadership Campaigns

Patrick Brown, then the Ontario Progressive Conservative leader, gestures to ­supporters as he addresses the party’s convention in Toronto on November 25, 2017. Photo courtesy of the Canadian Press/Chris Young

L ong before Patrick Brown gained national notoriety for resigning from his position as Ontario Progressive Conservative leader in the face of sexual-misconduct allegations—then entered the race to replace himself, then ducked out of that race a week and a half later—the thirty-nine-year-old bachelor’s personal life had been the subject of rumours in political circles. The rumours didn’t point to anything illegal rather, Brown had a reputation for womanizing, for carrying on with interns and staffers—that sort of thing. The kinds of rumours that in a pre–#MeToo era might raise an eyebrow but not bring down an axe in Canadian politics.

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That era came to an end January 24 when CTV reporter Glen McGregor sent Brown’s chief of staff an email detailing accusations of sexual misconduct, at least some of which were both credible and specific. Earlier that day, after a preliminary inquiry by McGregor, party staff members had combed through Brown’s private Facebook messages. On November 2, 2012, at 11:21 p.m., from Brown (then a thirty-four-year-old member of Parliament) to a young woman he had met while travelling: “Are you impressed I remembered you [sic] name?” he asked. “If your [sic] downtown tonight maybe I will bump into you. I will be out with friends at Kenz, Queens, and the Bank. And if you ever need to skip a line in downtown Barrie just text me.” The woman, who would go on to work in his constituency office, was eighteen years old at the time.

Brown’s staff and advisers knew he was doomed. Whether he was guilty of sexual misconduct or not, the leader could not survive the allegations. They told him so. As a teleconference later that night would make clear, Brown’s caucus had no faith the leader could win the next election.

Patrick Brown led his party thanks to a process that allowed him to win the role by, essentially, selling more memberships than his competitors, rather than earning the respect and confidence of his caucus colleagues. It’s a mechanism that has been clumsily grafted onto our political system in recent decades in an attempt to make party membership more open and accessible. But modern leadership campaigns have their dark side while they do generate interest in a party and open up the contest to a wider array of voters, they can also ensure a leader is selected by people who have little vested interest in the party itself. They can be gamed by the talented strategist, the slick salesperson, or the outright narcissist.

T raditionally, in the Westminster parliamentary system Canada inherited from England, the leader of a party is selected—and often unselected—by caucus, the elected members of a party who sit in Parliament or provincial legislatures. The reason for this is straightforward: that system relies on the notion of confidence. A federal government, for example, must maintain the confidence of the House of Commons in order to pass budgets and legislation, and that, in turn, requires that a prime minister hold the confidence of his or her own party.

Canada began to shift away from this system a century ago. In 1917, the Liberals, then led by Wilfrid Laurier, were deeply divided about whether to support conscription for the First World War, explains John Courtney, a senior policy fellow at the University of Saskatchewan. They saw a policy convention as a novel way to invigorate a party in crisis. Conventions are exciting—more similar to the theatrics that dominated much of American politics. Laurier was influenced by O. D. Skelton—a prominent civil servant who attended party conventions in the United States and returned home an advocate of democratic reform.

After Laurier’s death, the policy convention morphed into the delegated leadership convention of 1919, attended by MPs, senators, provincial party leaders, premiers, heads of provincial party associations, and three delegates from each riding. Previously, only senators and MPs—the members of caucus—could select a leader. That convention fundamentally altered the relationship between leader and caucus. The Liberals elected William Lyon Mackenzie King, who went on to win the next election in 1921. There was unrest from time to time, Courtney says. But “King said to caucus members, ‘You didn’t choose me, I was chosen in 1919 by the party in convention. Those are the men to whom I am responsible.’” It worked—King didn’t step down until 1948. Meanwhile, says Courtney, the Conservatives, observing the success of their rivals, also introduced a delegated convention in 1927.

The temptation to bring ever more bodies into the process grew over time—three delegates from each riding became six, then twelve, for example. More recently, the delegate system has devolved even further, leading to one-member-one-vote races that open leadership elections to anyone willing to chip in a small fee for a party card. “The whole idea came in for one person one vote, [which] began in the late ’80s and early ’90s,” Courtney says, “with the populist reform notions that the power resides with the people, not with the party, not with the party elites or the executives, not with the caucus.”

One-member-one-vote leadership races are won by a process of “rack ’em, stack ’em, pack ’em,” says Goldy Hyder, ceo of public-relations firm Hill+Knowlton Strategies Canada, who spent some time with Brown the night of his resignation. “Does that necessarily lead to the best-qualified person winning?” he says. “No, it leads to the best organizer winning.” In order to become leader, Brown had simply out-organized everyone else: before his 2015 win, Brown’s team claimed that the PCs languished, with only 12,000 members afterwards, he would claim the party had closer to 200,000. (After his resignation, party officials started disputing that figure but agreed it was likely more than 100,000.) In signing up thousands of new party members to back his leadership bid, Hyder says, “Patrick beat the establishment.”

Tensions would persist, however. In a conference call held by the PC caucus the night the allegations against Brown broke in the news (the call was secretly recorded and provided by a confidential source), the caucus came to the conclusion that the leader must step down while also acknowledging that the party’s constitution had no mechanism by which they could force him to do so. “If we call for his resignation unanimously, it doesn’t matter what is in the constitution,” member of provincial parliament Ted Arnott said on the call. “He will have to resign.” In fact, this was not clear.

In 2013, Conservative MP Michael Chong began an arduous legislative journey to rejig the imbalance of power between leader and caucus. A watered-down version of his bill passed the House of Commons in 2015 as the Reform Act. Chong notes that many of the rules that govern parliamentary life, such as the process by which party leaders are chosen, are derived from tradition and precedent rather than codified in law. “That unwritten system worked in the gentlemanly, clubby world of the nineteenth century,” he says. “But it doesn’t work today in a modern democracy.”

Some parties have taken the logic of one member one vote to a further extreme, denuding the idea of a party “member” altogether. Ahead of the appointment of Justin Trudeau, for example, the federal Liberal Party created a new “supporter” class of party membership—available free of charge—which has largely reduced party membership to a data-mining operation, gathering potential donor names to be used for subsequent fundraising drives. Anyone could vote for Trudeau to be Liberal leader in 2013. Meanwhile, lifelong Liberals are now more disempowered when it comes to questions of process and policy. Real decision-making power is centralized in the party elite and the Prime Minister’s Office. “What happens when it’s a government party?” Chong asks. “What happens if it’s the ministerial party in the House of Commons and we’re talking about changing the head of government, here?”

Patrick Brown is not the first leader to have been brought down of late. In the spring, seven of the ten Bloc Québécois MPs abandoned leader Martine Ouellet over concerns about her leadership style. In 2014, caucus forced the resignation of Alberta premier Alison Redford, who was facing allegations of entitlement and misuse of public funds. Canadian politics seem to be increasingly driven by civil wars, imploding parties, and kneecapped leaders dramatic and chaotic caucus revolts can drag out for weeks or months. As leadership races themselves have opened, the line of accountability of the leader to caucus has grown weaker.

There are a few options for reform: return to a caucus-selected leader, amend party constitutions to clarify the powers of elected members, or complete what Chong set out to do with the Reform Act and codify the unwritten rules of parliaments and legislatures. Unless one of these alternatives is implemented, opaque, closed-club parties will remain the gatekeepers to the entire political system. The problem, as the debate over the Reform Act demonstrated, is that power rarely likes to check itself. Parties tend to resist reforms that limit their membership, or base, or that force power to be decentralized rather than kept in the leader’s office.

When Brown stepped down as Ontario PC leader, the party’s caucus selected MPP Vic Fedeli to be interim leader. Shortly after taking over, Fedeli said he would “root out the rot” that had settled into the party under Brown with the support of caucus, he promised to lead the party through the upcoming election in June. His appointment was quickly undermined: the party membership decided to hold a leadership race before the provincial campaign. The opinion of the caucus that just ousted its last leader was irrelevant. The leadership race that followed was one of the most chaotic in Canadian history. The winner was announced March 10 it was Doug Ford.

This article appears in the May 2018 issue of The Walrus, under the headline
“Crashing the Party”


Contents

The House of Representatives, but not the Senate, can be dissolved at any time by the Governor-General on the advice of the Prime Minister. The term of the House expires three years after its first meeting if not dissolved earlier. The Governor-General can dissolve the Senate only by also dissolving the House of Representatives (a double dissolution) and only in limited circumstances spelled out in the Constitution.

There is a convention that the Governor-General only orders a dissolution on the advice of the Prime Minister. This convention was demonstrated in the dismissal of prime minister Gough Whitlam by the Governor General Sir John Kerr in 1975. Kerr claimed that dissolving the House of Representatives was his duty and "the only democratic and constitutional solution" to the political deadlock over supply. [1] Whitlam refused to advise Kerr to call an election, and Kerr replaced him with a caretaker Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser. Fraser promptly advised a double dissolution, and Sir John acted in accordance with that advice.

Parliament of Victoria Edit

Unlike the Commonwealth Parliament, the Premier and Governor of Victoria have very little discretion in dissolving the Parliament of Victoria. Both the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council are dissolved automatically twenty-five days before the last Saturday in November every four years. However, the Governor can dissolve the Legislative Assembly if a motion of no confidence in the Premier and the other Ministers of State is passed and no motion of confidence is passed within the next week. Finally, the Premier can advise the Governor to dissolve both houses in the case of a deadlocked bill.

In Belgium, dissolution occurs either by royal order or by law upon a Declaration of Revision of the Constitution (Art. 195 Const.). Since the First World War, elections have always been called with either of these actions, except for 1929. A third scenario, dissolution by law due to a vacant throne, has never occurred.

Dissolution by law dissolves both the Chamber of Representatives and the Senate. A royal order originally could dissolve the Chamber, the Senate, or both. However, the last dissolution of one chamber only happened in 1884 both chambers were always dissolved together since then. With the 1993 constitutional reforms, only the Chamber could be dissolved, with the Senate being automatically dissolved as well. Since 2014 constitutional reforms, only the Chamber can be dissolved, as the Senate is no longer directly elected.

After dissolution, elections must be held within 40 days, and the new chambers must convene within three months (within two months from 1831 to 2014).

Parliaments of the regions and communities cannot be dissolved they have fixed five-year terms.

The House of Commons, but not the Senate, can be dissolved at any time by the Queen of Canada or by Governor General, conventionally on the advice of the Prime Minister. In the case of a constitutional crisis, the Crown may act on its own with no advice from another body of the Parliament. If the government is refused confidence or supply, the Prime Minister must either resign and permit another member of the House of Commons to form a government, or else advise the Governor General to dissolve Parliament. Also, the House of Commons automatically dissolves after five years, although no House of Commons has yet survived that long.

The Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic may be dissolved by the president when at least one condition specified by the constitution is fulfilled. The Senate can never be dissolved. After the dissolution, snap elections are to be held no later than after 60 days.

The chamber can be dissolved if

  • The chamber does not pass a motion of confidence to the government formed by the prime minister who was recommended by the speaker of the chamber (Who can do so after 2 failed government with a prime minister appointed solely by the president).
  • The chamber fails to pass the government proposed law linked to the motion of confidence in 3 months.
  • The chamber adjourns its meeting for a time longer than 120 days.
  • The chamber is not quorate for a time longer than 3 months.
  • The chamber passes a motion of dissolution by a constitutional majority (120 out of 200 deputies must support it). President is obliged to dissolve the chamber if such motion passes.

Since the formation of the Czech Republic, the Chamber of deputies was only dissolved once. In 2013, by passing a motion of dissolution after a lengthy crisis following the fall of Petr Nečas' government,

Before such practice was made possible by amending the Constitution in 2009, Chamber of deputies was once dissolved in 1998 by passing a special constitutional act, which shortened its term, but such practice was blocked by Constitutional court, when it was tried again in 2009 [2] [ circular reference ]

The government can call an election to the Folketing at any time, and is obliged to call one before the incumbent membership's four-year terms expire. However, the Folketing is never formally dissolved, and it retains its legislative power until new members have been elected. In practice the Folketing will cancel all its ongoing business when an election is called, to give the members time to campaign, but it can reconvene in case a national emergency requires urgent legislation before the election takes place.

Per Section 60 of the Constitution of Estonia, regular elections to the Riigikogu, Estonia's unicameral parliament, are held on the first Sunday of March in the fourth year following the preceding parliamentary election. However, the Riigikogu can be dissolved by the President of Estonia and fresh elections called prior to the expiration of its four-year term if one of the following four circumstances should occur:

  1. Following the resignation of the outgoing Government, a new Government is unable to be formed according to the procedure established by Section 89 of the Constitution.
  2. The Riigikogu passes a motion of no confidence in the Government or the Prime Minister, and the Government proposes (within three days of the no-confidence motion) that the President call an early election.
  3. The Riigikogu submits a proposed law to a referendum, and that proposed law fails to receive a majority of the votes cast in the referendum, per Section 105 of the Constitution.
  4. The Riigikogu fails to approve a national budget within two months of the beginning of the financial year, per Section 119 of the Constitution. [3]

In the first, third, and fourth cases above, the President must call an early election. In the second case, however, a Government that has lost the confidence of the Riigikogu is not obliged to request an early election. This occurred in 2016, when Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas lost a no confidence motion. His government resigned, and President Kersti Kaljulaid nominated Jüri Ratas to form the next government without an election taking place. [4] [5]

Likewise, if a Government loses a no confidence vote and requests an early election, the President can refuse the Government's request if it appears a successor government could command the support of the Riigikogu.

As of 2018, every convocation of the Riigikogu has run its full term.

The President of Finland can dissolve the parliament and call for an early election. As per the version of the 2000 constitution currently in use, the president can do this only upon proposal by the Prime Minister and after consultations with the parliamentary groups while the Parliament is in session. In prior versions of the constitution, the President had the power to do this unilaterally.

Under the French Fourth Republic formed after World War II, there was originally a weak role for the President of France. However, when Charles de Gaulle, who favored a presidential government with a strong executive, [6] was invited to form a new government and constitution during the May 1958 crisis he directed the constitutional committee chaired by Michel Debré to increase the authority of the presidency, including providing the ability to dissolve the National Assembly. [7]

Under Article 12 of the 1958 French Constitution, the National Assembly can be dissolved by the President at any time after consultation with the Prime Minister and the presidents of the two chambers of Parliament. After the declaration, new elections must be held within twenty to forty days. The National Assembly elected following such a dissolution cannot be dissolved within the first year of its term. [8]

A dissolution of the National Assembly most recently occurred when President Jacques Chirac dissolved the National Assembly before the 1997 French legislative election in order to secure a new parliament more sympathetic to his policies, which ultimately failed when the opposition Socialist Party won the election against Chirac's party the Rally for the Republic. [9] [10]

According to the Basic Law, the Bundestag can be dissolved by the federal president if the Chancellor loses a vote of confidence, or if a newly elected Bundestag proves unable to elect a chancellor with absolute majority. The second possibility has never occurred yet but the Bundestag has been dissolved in 1972, 1982, and 2005 when the then-ruling chancellors Willy Brandt, Helmut Kohl, and Gerhard Schröder deliberately lost votes of confidence in order that there could be fresh elections. On the last two occasions, the decree of dissolution was challenged without success before the Constitutional Court. No president has yet refused a dissolution of the Bundestag when the choice came to him.

The Bundestag is automatically dissolved four years after the last General Election, and most Bundestags have lasted the full term.

The second federal legislative body, the Bundesrat, cannot be dissolved, as its members are the federal states' governments as such rather than specific individuals.

In Hong Kong the Chief Executive, who is the head of the territory and head of government, has the power to dissolve the Legislative Council if it fails to pass the appropriation bill or any other important bill, or if it passes a bill but he or she refuses to give assent. In the latter case, if the Legislative Council passes the bill again with a two-thirds majority, the Chief Executive has to resign. This has not happened since 1997. Before 1997, the Legislative Council could be dissolved at the Governor's pleasure.

Legislative power is constitutionally vested in the Parliament of India, of which the President is the head, to facilitate the law-making process as per the Constitution. [11] [12] The President summons both the Houses (the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha) of the Parliament and prorogues them. They also have the power to dissolve the Lok Sabha pursuant to Article 85(2)(b). When Parliament is dissolved, all bills pending within the Lok Sabha lapse. [13] However, bills in the Rajya Sabha never lapse, and can remain pending for decades. [14]

Since the third amendment of the Constitution of Indonesia enacted on 18 August 2001 by the MPR, the President can not dissolve or freeze the DPR. Written in the article 7C, this was done after President Abdurrahman Wahid attempted to do so on 23 July 2001 through a presidential decree, prompting his impeachment to be rapidly finalized that night.

Dáil Éireann (the lower house of the Oireachtas) can be dissolved by the President, on the advice of the Taoiseach (Prime Minister). The President may only deny such a dissolution if the Taoiseach has lost the confidence of the Dáil, through a vote of no confidence (or, it could be argued after a Budget or other important bill has failed to pass). This has never happened, and, in the past, Taoisigh have requested dissolutions before votes of no confidence have taken place, so as to force a General Election rather than a handover of Government. A Dáil must be dissolved, and then a General Election held, within five years of its first meeting.

There are two notable instances when the President did not dissolve Dáil Éireann: 1989 and 1994. In the first instance, the newly elected Dáil failed to elect a Taoiseach when it first met (and at a number of meetings afterward). The incumbent Taoiseach Charles Haughey was obliged constitutionally to resign, however, he initially refused to. He eventually tendered his resignation to President Patrick Hillery and remained as Taoiseach in an acting capacity. At the fourth attempt, the Dáil eventually re-elected Haughey as Taoiseach. Had he requested a dissolution, it would probably have been accepted by the President on the grounds that the Dáil could not form a Government, but the President would have also been within his rights to refuse it. It is thought that Haughey chose not to do so but instead to go into a historic coalition because of poor opinion polls showing his Fianna Fáil party would lose seats in a second General Election.

In 1994, Albert Reynolds resigned as Taoiseach when the Labour Party left a coalition with Fianna Fáil, but did not request a dissolution, in order that his successor in Fianna Fáil might forge a new coalition with Labour. Labour, however, went into Government with the main opposition party, Fine Gael. It has been speculated that the President at the time, Mary Robinson, would not have allowed a dissolution had Reynolds requested one. To date, no President has ever refused a dissolution.

One feature of the Irish system is that although the Dáil is dissolved, the Seanad Éireann (the Senate) is not, and may continue to meet during an election campaign for the Dáil. However, as many members of the Seanad are typically involved in election campaigns for the Dáil, the Seanad does not typically meet often, if at all, once the Dáil is dissolved. A general election for the Seanad must take place within 90 days of the election of the new Dáil.

In Italy the President has the authority to dissolve Parliament, and consequently call for new elections, until which the powers of the old parliament are extended. However, the President loses this authority during the last six months of his seven years term, unless that period coincides at least in part with the final six months of the Parliament's five years term, as stated in Article 88 of the Constitution: [15]

"In consultation with the presiding officers of Parliament, the President may dissolve one or both Houses of Parliament. The President of the Republic may not exercise such right during the final six months of the presidential term unless said period coincides in full or in part with the final six months of Parliament."

In practice, after the resignation of the Government, which can be freely decided by the Prime Minister, or can be caused by a vote of no confidence by the Parliament, or after general elections, the President has to consult the speakers of the Houses, the delegations of the parliamentary groups and senators for life trying to find someone who might be appointed Prime Minister and lead a new Government with the confidence of both the Houses. The President dissolves Parliament only if the groups fail to find an agreement to form a majority coalition. Therefore, the actual power of dissolution is in practice shared also by the Parliament, political parties and by the outgoing Prime Minister, if he still has an influence on them.

Since the Constitution has been in force (1948), Italian Parliament was dissolved 8 times before its 5-year term: in 1972, 1976, 1979, 1983, 1987, 1994, 1996, and 2008.

In Israel, early elections to the Knesset can be called before the scheduled date of the third Tuesday in the Jewish month of Cheshvan (late September through early November) four years following the previous elections if the Prime Minister calls early elections with Presidential approval due to gridlock, if no government is formed after 42 days of consultation with parties' floor leaders in the Knesset, if the budget is not approved by the Knesset by March 31 (3 months after the start of the fiscal year), or if half of the Knesset members vote in favor of early elections. This call for early elections is legally termed "Dissolution of the Knesset".

However, strictly speaking, the Knesset is only truly dissolved – in the sense of being unconstituted and all MKs losing their seats – automatically 14 days after elections, simultaneously with the start of the newly elected Knesset's term.

In Japan, the House of Representatives of the National Diet (parliament) can be dissolved at any time by the Emperor, on the advice of the Cabinet, headed by the Prime Minister. The Constitution of Japan specifies that all members of the House can serve up to a four-year term. So far, however, parliaments have been dissolved prematurely with the exception of the 9 December 1976 dissolution. [16]

The House of Councillors however, cannot be dissolved but only closed, and may, in times of national emergency, be convoked for an emergency session. Its members serve a fixed six-year term, with half of the seats, and the Speaker of the Councillors, up for re-election every three years. [16]

The Emperor both convokes the Diet and dissolves the House of Representatives, but only does so on the advice of the Cabinet.

The Parliament can be dissolved or prorogued at any time in its 3-year term by the Governor-General, usually on the advice of the Prime Minister.

According to the Constitution of Norway, the Storting (parliament) cannot be dissolved before serving its full four-year term.

Under the Peruvian Constitution of 1993, the President of Peru has the authority to dissolve the Congress of Peru if a vote of no-confidence is passed three times by the legislative body, and has four months to call for new parliamentary elections or faces impeachment.

The Congress of Peru has been dissolved twice once in 1992 by President Alberto Fujimori who performed an auto-coup in April 1992 by dismantling both the legislative and judicial branches of government, and once by incumbent President Martín Vizcarra, who dissolved the Congress in October 2019 in an effort to end the 2017–2021 Peruvian political crisis.

Both of the Presidents were immediately impeached and removed from office by the dissolved Congress, thus being illegitimate.

According to the Romanian Constitution, voted in 1991 and revised in 2003, the President may dissolve the Parliament only if the Parliament rejects two consecutive candidates proposed by the President for the function of Prime Minister. Both houses can be dissolved. No dissolution of the Parliament has taken place in Romania since 1991.

Under Articles 111 and 117 of the Russian Constitution [17] the President may dissolve the State Duma, the lower house of the Federal Assembly, if it either expresses no confidence in the Government of Russia twice in two months or rejects his proposed candidate for the Prime Minister three times in a row. At the same time, the President cannot dissolve the Federation Council, the upper house of the Federal Parliament. The power to dissolve the State Duma was not exercised under the current constitution of 1993. Before the new constitution was enacted, President Boris Yeltsin had dissolved the Congress of People's Deputies and Supreme Soviet of Russia during the Russian constitutional crisis of 1993, [18] although he did not have the formal constitutional powers to do so.

In Spain, legislatures last 4 years, so after that time, the King of Spain dissolves the Cortes Generales. However, the Prime Minister of Spain, with previous deliberation on the cabinet, can dissolve the Cortes. As an exception, if after 2 months of an unsuccessful president-investment, there is no president the King dissolves the Cortes.

Parliament of the United Kingdom Edit

Under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, as amended, Parliament is dissolved automatically 25 working days ahead of a general election. Elections ordinarily take place five years after the previous general election, but may be held sooner if the Prime Minister loses a vote of confidence, or if two-thirds of the members of the House of Commons vote in favour of an early election.

Northern Ireland Assembly Edit

The Assembly can vote to dissolve itself early by a two-thirds majority of the total number of its members. It is also automatically dissolved if it is unable to elect a First Minister and deputy First Minister (effectively joint first ministers, the only distinction being in the titles) within six weeks of its first meeting or of those positions becoming vacant.

Scottish Parliament Edit

Under section 2 of the Scotland Act 1998, ordinary general elections for the Scottish Parliament are held on the first Thursday in May every four years (1999, 2003, 2007 etc.) The date of the poll may be varied by up to one month either way by the monarch on the proposal of the Presiding Officer. However, section 4 of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 postponed the general election that would have been held on 7 May 2015 to 5 May 2016 to avoid it coinciding with the UK General election fixed under that Act. [19]

Under section 3 of the Scotland Act 1998, if the Parliament itself resolves that it should be dissolved (with at least two-thirds of the Members voting in favour), or if the Parliament fails to nominate one of its members to be First Minister within certain time limits, the Presiding Officer proposes a date for an extraordinary general election and the Parliament is dissolved by the monarch by royal proclamation.

National Assembly for Wales Edit

Under the Wales Act 2014, ordinary general elections to the National Assembly are held the first Thursday in May every five years. This extension from a four- to five-year term was designed to prevent Assembly elections clashing with general elections to the Westminster Parliament subsequent to the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011.

In 1774 after the Boston Tea Party, the Massachusetts Bay Province's legislature was dismissed under the Massachusetts Government Act and the colony was placed under martial law under the command of General Thomas Gage. In practice, the majority of the colony came under the de facto control of the unrecognized Massachusetts Provincial Congress, and General Gage's attempts to suppress widespread dissent along the colonists directly lead to the Battles of Lexington and Concord and the beginning of the Revolutionary War. [20]

The United States Constitution does not allow for the dissolution of Congress, instead allowing for prorogation by the President of the United States when Congress is unable to agree on a time of adjournment. The delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 agreed on the need to limit presidential authority to prevent a return to autocracy. [21] In Federalist No. 69, Alexander Hamilton stressed that unlike the King of Great Britain, the President does not have the authority to dismiss Congress at his preference. [22] To date, the presidential authority to prorogue Congress has never been used, although in 2020 President Donald Trump threatened to use it in order to make recess appointments. [23]

Article 236 of the Constitution establishes which are the functions to be performed by the first national president Paragraph 23 of this section states that one of the powers of the president is: "Dissolve the National Assembly in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution."

In statement 240 explains that will dissolve the Parliament when in a same constitutional period the Assembly approve the removal of the vice president of the country by means of censure, three times.

It is also clarified that the decree of dissolution of the Venezuelan congress entails the call for elections for a new legislature, which must be held in the next 60 days. In addition, this section indicates that the Parliament can not be dissolved during the last year of its constitutional period.

In the 2017 Venezuelan constitutional crisis, the Supreme Tribunal of Justice dissolved the National Assembly and transferred its legislative powers to itself. The decision was viewed by the Venezuelan opposition and many members of the international community, including the United States, Mercosur, and the Organization of American States, as a self-coup by President Nicolás Maduro. After several days, the decision was reversed on the advice of President Maduro. [24] [25] [26]


Has the resignation of a political leader in a Westminster style parliament ever forced an election call? - History

Canada held its 43 rd general election on Monday, October 21, 2019. A description of the United Kingdom-style system used to elect members of the House of Commons - the lower house of Canada's Parliament - as well as a review of the Law Commission of Canada's report on electoral reform are presented here.

Elections Canada has 2019 election night and validated results in English and French. Federal- and (since 1945) provincial-level results are available here (and also in CSV format ) for the following House of Commons elections:

October 21, 2019 Results Election Map
October 19, 2015 Results Election Map
May 2, 2011 Results Election Map
October 14, 2008 Results Election Map
January 23, 2006 Results Election Map
June 28, 2004 Results Election Map
November 27, 2000 Results Election Map
June 2, 1997 Results Election Map
October 25, 1993 Results Election Map
November 21, 1988 Results Election Map
September 4, 1984 Results Election Map
February 18, 1980 Results Election Map
May 22, 1979 Results Election Map
July 8, 1974 Results Election Map
October 30, 1972 Results Election Map
June 25, 1968 Results Election Map
November 8, 1965 Results Election Map
April 8, 1963 Results Election Map
June 18, 1962 Results Election Map
March 31, 1958 Results Election Map
June 10, 1957 Results Election Map
August 10, 1953 Results Election Map
June 27, 1949 Results Election Map
June 11, 1945 Results Election Map

The election statistics presented in this space come from official reports and data files published by Elections Canada, Library and Archives Canada and Statistics Canada.

The distribution of House of Commons seats in the 2019 general election, following the validation of results in all 338 ridings, stood as follows:

Province/Territory Seats
Lib. Con. B.Q. NDP Grn. Ind. Total
Newfoundland and Labrador 6 1 7
Prince Edward Island 4 4
Nova Scotia 10 1 11
New Brunswick 6 3 1 10
Quebec 35 10 32 1 78
Ontario 79 36 6 121
Manitoba 4 7 3 14
Saskatchewan 14 14
Alberta 33 1 34
British Columbia 11 17 11 2 1 42
Yukon 1 1
Northwest Territories 1 1
Nunavut 1 1
Total 157 121 32 24 3 1 338

The British North America Act passed by the United Kingdom Parliament in 1867 joined the colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick as the Dominion of Canada. The Act - known since 1982 as the Constitution Act, 1867 - established a parliamentary form of government along the lines of the Westminster model, composed of a directly elected House of Commons and an appointed Senate.

In addition, the Act divided Canada into four provinces - Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick - and established a federal government structure similar to that of the United States, under which legislative and executive authority is divided between Canada and its provinces. However, under the U.S. Constitution the powers not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution are reserved to the states, whereas in Canada the federal government has law-making powers over matters not assigned exclusively to the provinces.

In 1870, the province of Manitoba, created from the acquisition of Rupert's Land and the Northwest Territories from the Hudson's Bay Company in 1869, was admitted to the Confederation. The colonies of British Columbia and Prince Edward Island were admitted as provinces in 1871 and 1873, respectively. In 1905, the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, created from what remained of the Northwest Territories, were admitted to the Confederation. In 1912 the provinces of Ontario and Quebec were enlarged by the addition of areas from the Northwest Territories. Finally, in 1949 Newfoundland and Labrador, which had briefly attained Dominion status on its own right, joined the Confederation following two closely fought, popular referendums held the preceding year. Yukon Territory and Nunavut were separated from the Northwest Territories in 1898 and 1999, respectively.

Originally a self-governing British colony, Canada became a sovereign nation under the Statute of Westminster passed by the United Kingdom Parliament in 1931. However, amendments to the British North America Act, 1867 - the core of Canada's Constitution - still had to be made by an Act of the British Parliament, as the federal and provincial governments were unable to agree on a generally acceptable amending procedure. This state of affairs lasted until 1982, when the British Parliament, acting upon a joint request by the Canadian Senate and the House of Commons with the approval of all provincial governments except that of French-speaking Quebec, passed the Canada Act to terminate its power over Canada. The Constitution Act, 1982 - proclaimed in Canada under the terms of the Canada Act - not only established processes for amending the Constitution, but also "entrenched" or placed certain parts of the written Constitution beyond the power of Parliament or any provincial legislature to touch, and introduced a Bill of Rights - the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - that cannot be changed by Parliament or any provincial legislature acting alone.

Although both the government and the National Assembly of Quebec rejected the agreements under which the Canada Act was passed and denounced the political legitimacy of the Constitution Act, 1982, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the province was legally bound by the Act. Subsequent attempts to win Quebec's acceptance of the Act - the 1987 Meech Lake Accord and the 1992 Charlottetown Accord - were both unsuccessful.

It should be noted that the Constitution Act, 1982, was not a new constitution: as in the United Kingdom (but unlike in the United States), Canada's constitution is not a single document instead, it is comprised by a collection of twenty-five primary documents (listed in the Constitution Act, 1982), federal and provincial legislation, court decisions, agreements between the federal and provincial governments, and unwritten conventions.

Having adopted a Constitution "similar in principle to that of the United Kingdom" (as stated in the preamble to the Constitution Act, 1867), Canada also established a first-past-the-post (FPTP) electoral system for parliamentary elections along the lines of the British model. Under this system, two major political parties alternated in power from 1867 to 1993: the Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives (previously the Conservatives and originally the Liberal-Conservatives). The Conservatives were in power for all but five years between 1867 and 1896, but Liberal governments ruled Canada for almost seventy years during the course of the 20 th century. In 1993 the Progressive Conservatives suffered a devastating defeat and lost all but two of their seats in the House of Commons. The Reform Party (which became the Canadian Alliance in 2000) displaced the Progressive Conservatives as the major right-wing force at the federal level, but the party was unable to mount an effective challenge to the Liberals, who dominated Canadian federal politics from 1993 to 2006. The Progressive Conservatives, who never fully recovered from the 1993 election disaster - they only made a modest comeback in 1997 - merged with the Alliance in 2003 to form a new Conservative Party of Canada. The new party emerged as a major contender to the Liberals, who lost their absolute majority in the House of Commons in the 2004 general election. Nonetheless, the Liberals - led by Prime Minister Paul Martin, a former Finance Minister who had been in office since December 2003, when Jean Chrétien stepped down after ten years as head of government - won the largest number of seats in the House, and subsequently formed Canada's first minority government since 1979.

However, the ruling party eventually found itself in an increasingly precarious situation. Despite reaching an agreement with the NDP in April 2005 on support for the government's federal budget, a number of defections and seat vacancies left the NDP-supported government short of an absolute majority in the House of Commons. The following month, the Liberals survived a confidence vote on a budget amendment with the support of the NDP, two independent MPs and one key opposition defection: Conservative MP Belinda Stronach (Newmarket-Aurora, Ontario), who crossed the floor to join the government. Even then, the vote on the budget amendment resulted in a 152-152 tie. As such, the Speaker of the House - Liberal Peter Milliken - voted to break the tie in favor of the amendment, thus keeping the minority government in power until November 2005, when the Liberal-NDP agreement collapsed, and the Conservatives, the Bloc Québécois and the NDP subsequently agreed to introduce a motion of no-confidence to topple the Liberal government.

On November 28, 2005, the House of Commons passed the no-confidence motion by a vote of 171 to 133, and the government was forced to call an early general election - held in January 2006 - in which the Liberals lost to the Conservatives, who emerged as the largest party in the House of Commons, although well short of an absolute majority. The day after the election, Prime Minister Martin announced his resignation as head of government and leader of the Liberal Party Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper subsequently formed a minority government.

Prime Minister Harper sought a fresh mandate in an early general election held in October 2008, but once more the Conservatives failed to secure an absolute majority, although the ruling party scored further seat gains at the expense of the Liberals, which fared badly in the election. As a result, Harper continued in office as head of a minority government. However, the Prime Minister came under strong criticism for his perceived abuse of the power to prorogue, that is to suspend Parliament (formally exercised by the Governor General, but almost invariably under the advice of the Prime Minister).

The controversy over prorogation triggered a major political crisis in December 2008, after the Conservative minority government introduced a decidedly uncompromising fiscal update, which not only failed to include an economic stimulus package intended to forestall an anticipated economic recession (contrary to earlier suggestions that it would), but also included other controversial proposals, which would have eliminated public financing of political parties, placed a temporary suspension on the right to strike of the federal public sector, and suspended programs to achieve pay equity between genders in the federal public service. The economic update proved to be unacceptable to the opposition parties, which agreed to join forces in order to bring down Harper's government at the earliest opportunity and replace it with a Liberal-NDP coalition government supported by the Bloc Quebécois. After having unsuccessfully sought to appease the opposition parties with promises of a stimulus package and the removal of the proposals on political financing and the right to strike, Prime Minister Harper then asked Governor General Michaëlle Jean to prorogue Parliament - which had been in session for just two weeks - until the following January. Jean agreed to Harper's request, and the opposition parties' agreement came to nothing. When Parliament resumed in January 2009, the government secured the Liberal Party's conditional backing for a revised budget that included a massive fiscal stimulus plan. Nevertheless, following a second prorogation of Parliament in December 2009, the opposition parties joined forces in March 2010 to pass a non-binding motion - introduced by NDP leader Jack Layton - that would prevent the prime minister from advising the Governor General to prorogue a session of Parliament for longer than seven days without the support of the House of Commons.

Prime Minister Harper's Conservative minority government subsequently lost a parliamentary vote of confidence in March 2011, and as a result an early federal election was held the following May 2, in which the ruling party won an absolute parliamentary majority. However, in the October 2015 federal election, Justin Trudeau - son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau - led the Liberal Party to a decisive victory over the Conservatives, and replaced Harper as prime minister of Canada.

The Parliament of Canada consists of a lower chamber, the House of Commons, whose members are directly elected by universal adult suffrage for a maximum term of four years (before 2007 for up to five years), and an upper chamber, the Senate, whose members are appointed on a provincial basis and may hold office until they are 75 years of age. Both chambers must pass all legislative bills before they can become law. Both the House of Commons and the Senate may originate legislation, but only the House of Commons may introduce bills for the expenditure of public funds or the imposition of any tax.

As in the United Kingdom, the Crown is formally an integral part of Parliament, but the role of the monarch - since 1952, Queen Elizabeth II - and of her representative in Canada, the Governor General, is primarily ceremonial.

Members of the House of Commons (MPs) are chosen in single-member electoral districts called ridings by plurality or first-past-the-post (FPTP) voting, under which the candidate obtaining the largest number of votes in each riding is elected to Parliament. House seats are allocated among the provinces in proportion to the size of their populations. However, the apportionment is adjusted in a way such that no province has neither fewer members in the House of Commons than it has in the Senate, nor fewer seats than it had in the House of Commons in 1976 or during the 33 rd Parliament. Finally, each of the three territories is assigned one seat in the House.

For the 2000, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2011, 2015 and 2019 federal elections, House of Commons seats were distributed among the provinces and territories in the following manner:

Province/Territory Seats
2000 2004
2006
2008
2011
2015
2019
Newfoundland and Labrador 7 7 7
Prince Edward Island 4 4 4
Nova Scotia 11 11 11
New Brunswick 10 10 10
Quebec 75 75 78
Ontario 103 106 121
Manitoba 14 14 14
Saskatchewan 14 14 14
Alberta 26 28 34
British Columbia 34 36 42
Yukon 1 1 1
Northwest Territories 1 1 1
Nunavut 1 1 1
Total 301 308 338

The drawing of House electoral district boundaries is carried out by ten boundary commissions, one for each province. Each one of these commissions is chaired by a judge appointed by the Chief Justice of the province, with two other members appointed by the Speaker of the House of Commons. Except "in circumstances viewed by the commission as being extraordinary", the population of each electoral district must be within plus or minus twenty-five percent of the average electoral district population for the province.

Under the terms of a 2006 amendment to the Canada Elections Act, the early federal election held in 2008 was originally scheduled for Monday, October 19, 2009. Subsequent elections would be held on a fixed date - the third Monday in October - every four years, but early elections are still possible if, for example, a minority government loses a parliamentary vote of confidence.

Like other Western democracies with first-past-the-post electoral systems, Canada developed a party system centered around two major political forces. However, while the centrist Liberals and the right-of-center Conservatives have historically dominated Canadian federal politics, regional voting differences have allowed other parties to attain both significant popular support and parliamentary representation: although FPTP makes it difficult for minor parties with evenly spread support to win seats in Parliament, the system rewards smaller parties with strongly concentrated support in specific geographic areas.

Since 1935, the Socialist-oriented Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) and its 1961 successor, the New Democratic Party (NDP), have been continuously represented in Parliament. Usually, the party has won most of its seats in Western Canada however, in 1997 the NDP secured a significant number of seats in Atlantic Canada. In addition, the rightist Social Credit Party was represented in Parliament from 1935 to 1958, and again from 1962 to 1980. The party won most of its seats in Alberta between 1935 and 1957, and in Quebec from 1962 to 1979.

Neither the NDP nor Social Credit was in a position to displace either of the two major parties. Nonetheless, the presence of four parties in Parliament - Liberals, Progressive Conservatives, NDP and Social Credit - led for a while to periods of minority governments and frequent early elections. Between 1962 and 1980, eight federal elections were held in Canada, five of which (1962, 1963, 1965, 1972 and 1979) resulted in minority governments, as no party won an absolute majority of seats in the House of Commons.

More recently, the collapse of the Progressive Conservative vote across Canada in 1993 - which the electoral system greatly amplified to reduce the party to a mere two seats in the House of Commons - led to the emergence of two parties with strong regional bases: the Bloc Quebécois (BQ) and the right-wing Reform Party (subsequently the Canadian Alliance). The BQ, which advocates separation of predominantly French-speaking Quebec from the rest of (largely English-speaking) Canada, secured a majority of the House of Commons seats in the province from 1993 to 2008 the party does not field candidates outside Quebec. Reform (and later the Alliance) won an increasing majority of seats in Western Canada in 1993, 1997 and 2000, but few or no seats in Ontario, and none in Quebec or the Atlantic provinces. From 1993 to 1997 the BQ held the second largest number of seats in the House of Commons, becoming the Official Opposition to the Liberal government. However, in 1997 Reform displaced the BQ as the Official Opposition.

From 1993 to 2004, there were five parties represented in Parliament: the BQ, the Liberals, the NDP, the Progressive Conservatives and Reform/Alliance (the latter now merged into the Conservative Party of Canada), with the Liberals commanding an absolute majority of House of Commons seats on a plurality of votes in the 1993, 1997 and 2000 federal elections, as detailed below:

Party 1993 1997 2000
Votes % Seats % Votes % Seats % Votes % Seats %
Liberal 5,647,952 41.3 177 60.0 4,994,277 38.5 155 51.5 5,252,031 40.8 172 57.1
Reform/Alliance 2,559,245 18.7 52 17.6 2,513,080 19.4 60 19.9 3,276,929 25.5 66 21.9
BQ 1,846,024 13.5 54 18.3 1,385,821 10.7 44 14.6 1,377,727 10.7 38 12.6
NDP 939,575 6.9 9 3.1 1,434,509 11.0 21 7.0 1,093,868 8.5 13 4.3
PC 2,186,422 16.0 2 0.7 2,446,705 18.8 20 6.6 1,566,998 12.2 12 4.0
Others 488,453 3.6 1 0.3 211,482 1.6 1 0.3 290,220 2.3 0 0.0

The division of the right-of-center electorate between Reform/Alliance and the Progressive Conservatives worked to the advantage of the Liberals, particularly in Ontario, where the first-past-the-post electoral system allowed the party to win nearly all the House seats in the province in the 1993, 1997 and 2000 federal elections. However, while Liberal representation in the House of Commons stood well above the party's proportion of the vote, Progressive Conservative and (to a lesser extent) NDP representation remained significantly below their respective vote percentages only Reform/Alliance and the BQ attained representation roughly in proportion to their electoral following.

In August 2008, the Green Party of Canada - which polled a significant number of votes in the 2004 and 2006 federal elections but won no seats in either contest - secured representation in the House of Commons for the first time ever when Independent MP Blair Wilson (West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country, British Columbia) joined the environmentalist party. Wilson had been elected as a Liberal in 2006, but left the party caucus in 2007, following allegations of misspending. Although the Greens won no seats in the 2008 federal election - in which they polled their best result ever - Green Party leader Elizabeth May was elected to represent the British Columbia riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands in the 2011 federal election. The election was also notable for the poor showing of the Liberals, who for the first time ever slipped to third place, behind the NDP - which had its strongest showing ever in a federal election - and the Conservatives, who won an absolute majority in the House of Commons. Meanwhile, BQ also fared poorly in the election, losing all but four of the seats it held in Quebec province. However, the Liberals returned to power after prevailing over the Conservatives in the 2015 federal election, while NDP slipped back to third place.

The disproportionate results of the 1993, 1997 and 2000 federal elections led to renewed concerns about the fairness of Canada's electoral system. In a series of public consultations across the country, the Law Commission of Canada found that many Canadians regard the existing FPTP system as inherently unfair for a number of reasons, among them that it rewards the party that wins a plurality of votes with a legislative majority disproportionate to its share of the vote that it allows the governing party, with its artificial swollen legislative majority, to dominate the political agenda that it promotes parties formed along regional lines, thus exacerbating Canada's regional divisions that it leaves large areas of the country without adequate representatives in the governing party caucus and that it favors an adversarial style of politics. Moreover, the Commission found that for many Canadians, the drawbacks of the first-past-the-post system might outweigh advantages such as the fact that the average voter easily understands it, and that it can produce majority governments that take decisive action.

In a 2004 report titled Voting Counts: Electoral Reform for Canada, the Law Commission found FPTP defective on a number of criteria used to evaluate electoral systems. After considering various alternatives, the Commission recommended the adoption of a mixed member proportional representation system, which combines elements of the first-past-the-post system with proportional representation (PR). Under the proposed system - modeled after the Additional Member System (AMS) used to elect members of the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales - two-thirds of the members of the House of Commons would be chosen in single-member ridings, while the remaining one-third would be filled from provincial or territorial party lists, or from regional party lists in Ontario and Quebec. List seats would be distributed on a compensatory basis, in order to achieve a proportional distribution of seats.

While similar to the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) electoral system used in Germany since 1949 and in New Zealand since 1996, the system proposed by the Law Commission would allocate list seats at the provincial/territorial or regional level, rather than on a nationwide basis. Moreover, unlike in Germany and New Zealand, party lists would be open, allowing voters to indicate a preference for a candidate within a list.

Single-party majority governments would occur infrequently under the proposed system: generally speaking, the winning party would need to obtain an absolute majority of the popular vote in order to secure an absolute majority of seats in the House of Commons. As such, coalition governments - which have been rare in Canada under FPTP - would in all likelihood become the norm, as in Scotland, Wales, Germany and New Zealand.

However, successive Canadian governments - elected under the existing FPTP system - failed to act upon the recommendations of the Law Commission. Moreover, in September 2003 the House of Commons rejected a NDP-sponsored motion to allow Canadians to vote on whether to change the current system to a more proportional system.


Coalition and minority governments are not so unusual in UK elections

Ramsay MacDonald. The Scottish politician became prime minister of a minority government after the 1923 election despite Labour only being the second biggest party in the Commons. Photograph: Hulton-Deutsch/Corbis

Ramsay MacDonald. The Scottish politician became prime minister of a minority government after the 1923 election despite Labour only being the second biggest party in the Commons. Photograph: Hulton-Deutsch/Corbis

Last modified on Wed 29 Nov 2017 19.54 GMT

It is late in the afternoon of Friday 8 May. From the early hours, it has been clear that Britain has voted for another hung parliament. The exhausted party leaders have been conferring with advisers and, discreetly, with one another. Now they are back in their offices after being on parade at the awkwardly timed Cenotaph ceremony marking the 70 th anniversary of VE Day. On the television, the final constituency, Westmorland and Lonsdale as in 2010, declares its result – a rare Liberal Democrat hold. The 650 results are all now in. The hung parliament is confirmed. At Buckingham Palace, the phone of the Queen’s private secretary phone rings…

What happens next mainly depends on the number of seats held by each party. Yet until the situation is resolved, one thing is certain: Britain will still have a government. David Cameron will remain prime minister until his resignation is offered and accepted. Even ministers who have lost their seats may remain in government for a short while. And even if the Conservatives have fewer seats than Labour, Cameron would be within his rights – and some would argue it would be his constitutional duty – to stay in Downing Street until a new government is formed. And that could take longer than it did in 2010, when the Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition was formed after five days of talks.

The idea that the leader of the party with the largest number of seats in the House of Commons automatically becomes prime minister is a misconception. The party leader who becomes prime minister is the one who, in parliamentary parlance, can command the confidence of the Commons. The ability to do this depends on numbers, political calculations and deals. After the December 1923 election, for instance, Labour, the second party in the Commons with only 191 seats, eventually formed a minority government that lasted for 10 months.

Party negotiations in 2015 are likely to be more complicated than in 2010, especially if no two parties (barring a highly unlikely Conservative-Labour deal) can combine to form a majority. The complexity will increase if several possible combinations exist. Any calculation directly involving the Scottish National party is especially problematic, because the SNP is a potentially toxic partner for any party that wishes to preserve the union. But Britain has been here before – when Irish nationalists shaped UK politics in parliaments from 1874 until 1918.

Two other new factors will also be in play. There will be pressure for everything in any deal to be fully spelled out in public before it is agreed – unlike in 2010 when the subsequently controversial NHS reform was not part of the short initial coalition agreement. And the parties are likely to demand a say on any deals, including ones that fall short of full coalition, before the leaders can sign off on any agreement. The Conservative party’s 1922 committee has already done this, unlike in 2010. All this points to a period of uncertainty and negotiation lasting at least two weeks, experts believe.

The options for the parties range from full coalition, involving absolute agreement and seats in government, to a minority government of a single party with no support arrangements from other parties. In between, there is a large range of other options, including coalitions with agreements to disagree and minority government with “confidence and supply” deals with other parties to support the government on key votes.

There are increasingly strong signs, fuelled by the problem of deals with the SNP, that both the Conservatives and Labour are thinking in terms of minority government, even though it is now much harder, because of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, to call a second election as Labour’s Harold Wilson did in 1966 and 1974.

Hung parliaments may seem unusual but they are not. Britain had 20 governments in the 20th century, according to Prof Robert Hazell of University College London’s constitution unit. Of these, five were coalitions and five were minority governments. Only 50% of these governments were the “traditional” single-party majority government that Britain’s first-past-the-post electoral system is often deemed to favour.

Most European Union states have hung parliaments. And even some other countries with Westminster-style systems are well used to hung parliaments too. Canada, for instance, has had three minority governments since 2000, while New Zealand has had seven hung parliaments in the past 20 years.


Blow to Boris Johnson’s Campaign as Minister Quits Cabinet

Boris Johnson’s bid for re-election as British prime minister was rocked by a cabinet resignation on the day the Conservative leader launched his campaign.

Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns quit after claims he knew about a former aide’s role in the collapse of a rape trial. It’s a blow for the Tory Party at the start of one of the most unpredictable British election contests in recent history.

Boris Johnson speaks during the official launch of the party’s general election campaign in Birmingham on Nov. 6, 2019.

Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Johnson was trying to get his campaign back on track after another cabinet minister -- Jacob Rees-Mogg -- was forced to apologize Tuesday for comments he made about people killed in a tower-block fire.

Key Developments:

  • Welsh Secretary quits after row over collapse of rape trial, adding to Tory troubles
  • Johnson gave statement outside Number 10, blaming Parliament for postponing Brexit and warning Labour would waste “the whole of 2020 in a horror show” of more delays.
  • Johnson compared Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to Stalin in Telegraph column.
  • Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson will visit a school in London at 2.30 p.m.
  • Johnson plans a rally in the West Midlands on Wednesday evening

Last Minister to Quit During a Campaign? 1931 (2:15 p.m.)

When did a minister last resign during an election campaign? According to 𠇋utler’s British Political Facts”, there’s Desmond Brayley, who quit as a defense minister during the second election of 1974 over a corporate scandal. But he was in the House of Lords.

For a better parallel, we have to go back to 1931 and the resignation of two Welshmen, Gwilym Lloyd George, parliamentary secretary to the Board of Trade, and Goronwy Owen, a whip. They quit the National Government in protest at the calling of the election, but neither was in the Cabinet. There’s no record of a Cabinet minister quitting during a campaign since the start of the 20th century.

Johnson: Labour Would Be ‘Horror Show’ (12:45 p.m.)

Johnson spoke outside his Downing Street office, formally announcing a general election and expressing his frustration that Parliament had repeatedly blocked Brexit. Postponing the U.K.’s exit from the EU is 𠇍isastrous” for trust in politics -- but a Labour government would usher in a “horror show” of more 𠇍ither” and delay, he said.

“I’ve got to the stage where I’ve been wanting to chew my own tie because we are so nearly there, we got a deal,” Johnson said. The delay is � for the country and the economy.”

Johnson cast the election as a choice between his Tories who will invest in schools and hospitals and 𠇌hampion enterprise” -- and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour which believes in “high taxes for everyone” and has, Johnson alleged, 𠇍one a deal” with the Scottish Nationalist Party for a second referendum on Scottish independence.

“If I come back here with a working majority in parliament then I will get parliament working again for you,” the Tory leader said.

Corbyn Won’t Engage With ‘Stalin’ Slur (12:30 p.m.)

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said he wouldn’t engage in personal attacks after Boris Johnson compared him to Soviet despot Joseph Stalin and claimed the Labour leader has a “hatred” of wealth creators.

“I don’t do personal attacks,” Corbyn told supporters after he was asked about Johnson’s claims in an article in the Tory-supporting Daily Telegraph newspaper. 𠇏or me real politics, the politics that I stand for, is about sharing power and wealth.”

Corbyn said Labour’s National Executive Committee will meet later today to decide the party’s election manifesto.

Johnson: Parliament Paralyzed (12:15 p.m.)

Boris Johnson said he’ll be able to get his Brexit deal through Parliament in 𠇊 few weeks” if his Conservatives win a majority.

In a video shot in his car on the way to visit Queen Elizabeth II, he said “she always asks the best questions,” and that today’s question is why there is a general election. “There’s only reason: I’m afraid that Parliament is paralyzed,” he said.

If the Tories win on Dec. 12 �y one, we’ll put that deal back to Parliament, get it through in a few weeks from December, come out in January,” he said.

Johnson Loses Second Cabinet Minister (12:05 p.m.)

Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns quit Boris Johnson’s cabinet, the second minister to do so since the election was called.

Cairns said he was resigning over allegations relating to a former aide. The aide had been criticized by the judge in a rape case for giving inadmissible evidence, which he said had sabotaged the trial. At issue was how much Cairns knew about the case before the aide was chosen as a Welsh Assembly candidate.

“This is a very sensitive matter, and in light of continued speculation, I write to tender my resignation as Secretary of State for Wales,” Cairns wrote in a letter to Johnson. “I will cooperate in full with the investigation under the Ministerial Code which will now take place and I am confident I will be cleared of any breach or wrong doing.”

It’s the second ministerial resignation since the election was called, after Nicky Morgan quit as Work and Pensions Secretary last week. She said she was leaving politics, citing the impact on her family and the �use” faced by politicians.

Corbyn Targets Leave Supporters (11:15 a.m.)

Corbyn hit the campaign trail in Telford, where the Tories have a majority of just 720 votes. It’s a key seat because Labour needs to convince the 63% of residents who voted to leave the EU in 2016 that it’s a party which can still represent them.

The scale of the challenge was shown in a YouGov poll published Nov. 1, which found only 43% of past Labour voters who also voted leave still intend to back the party.

“Many people in our country have grown weary of politics,” Corbyn told the rally in Telford, Shropshire. “Westminster hasn’t exactly covered itself in glory recently. It’s a long, long way from the reality of people’s lives.”

In an appeal to traditional Labour voters, Corbyn repeated his call-and-response chant that the state-run National Health Service is “not for sale.” He also attacked Jacob Rees-Mogg’s comments on the Grenfell fire tragedy (see 8 a.m.). 𠇍o you want leaders who think they are above us all?” he asked, as he portrayed the Tories as rich and out-of-touch with the concerns of voters.

Johnson Meets Queen as Campaign Begins (10:30 a.m.)

Boris Johnson traveled to Buckingham Palace to meet with Queen Elizabeth II to formally inform her of the start of the general election campaign.

The prime minister and the head of state spoke for about 25 minutes before Johnson returned to his office in Downing Street. He will make a statement to cameras at 1 p.m. before traveling to his campaign launch on Wednesday evening, his office said.

Labour Struggles to Shake Antisemitism Charge (8:30 a.m.)

The opposition Labour Party is seizing on Cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg’s comments about the Grenfell Tower fire (see 8 a.m.) to try to demonstrate the Conservatives are out of touch with ordinary voters.

“I think it reflects an arrogance about Jacob Rees-Mogg which is not going to help the Tory Party at this election,” Labour’s home affairs spokeswoman Diane Abbott told BBC radio earlier.

Yet Labour faces its own perception battle after three Jewish newspapers called leader Jeremy Corbyn a danger to their community for failing to tackle antisemitism in his party. Abbott said Labour is trying to stamp out the problem but also added: “It’s not every element of the Jewish community that believes Jeremy is an antisemite.”

Cleverly on Back Foot Defending Rees-Mogg (8 a.m.)

Instead of launching his party’s election campaign, Conservative Chairman James Cleverly had the task of defending colleagues amid the fallout from Jacob Rees-Mogg’s remarks about the Grenfell Tower fire, which killed 72 people in 2017. The leader of the House of Commons was forced to apologize after he said in a radio interview it would have been 𠇌ommon sense” to flee the building -- against fire service advice.

But his remarks were amplified by Tory MP Andrew Bridgen, who suggested Rees-Mogg would have survived the fire because he is more 𠇌lever” than the victims. Bridgen himself apologized on Wednesday.

“What they said was wrong and they have apologized for that,” Cleverly told ITV’s ‘Good Morning Britain’ program on Wednesday. “We want to focus on the future and indeed on the priorities of all of the whole of the U.K. including people who live in hardship and poverty.” Cleverly later told the BBC Rees-Mogg and Bridgen don’t need to resign because they had apologized.

Farage Offers Pact with Rival Candidates (7:40 a.m.)

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said he is in talks with euroskeptic Conservative and Labour Party candidates about standing aside in their constituencies in exchange for a promise not to support Boris Johnson’s EU withdrawal agreement in Parliament.

It comes after Johnson rebuffed an offer from Farage for a nationwide pact. Farage said he would back a no-deal Brexit, while Johnson said he was pressing ahead with the agreement he struck with the EU.

“We are happy to talk to Conservatives, or indeed Labour MPs,” Farage told BBC TV. “I will always put country before party to get us free.”

Earlier:

— With assistance by Thomas Penny, Robert Hutton, and Greg Ritchie