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Forming a Government in a Hung Parliament: the UK's Recognition rules in Comparative Context

Schleiter, P; Belu, V; Hazell, R; (2016) Forming a Government in a Hung Parliament: the UK's Recognition rules in Comparative Context. (Constitution Unit Reports 169 ). UCL Consitution Unit: London, UK. Green open access

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Abstract

This paper considers government formation in a hung parliament, in which more than one potential government is viable. In such situations, constitutional rules and conventions, which are referred to in the academic literature as recognition rules, guide which actors will be asked to form the government (i.e. to act as the formateur) and in what order. The academic literature identifies six possible recognition rules to guide who should be asked to form a government. These are the majority principle, the continuation rule, and the gravitational, plurality, fault and plebiscitary principles. Recognition rules have political consequences. They may influence which parties form the government, and what policies are then implemented. To protect the Monarchy and its political impartiality, the recognition rules need to be clear, democratic and effective. In the past the UK has applied a range of different conventions and principles which are potentially contradictory, and do not all follow an equally democratic logic. This can jeopardise the Monarch's role in the government formation process. An alternative to the use of ex ante recognition rules is a vote in parliament to nominate the new Prime Minister (in the form of a request to the Monarch). This would protect the Monarchy and its political impartiality by separating the political choice of a formateur (made by parliament) from the formal act of appointing the formateur, made by the Monarch. Parliament could choose a formateur by directly voting on the candidates nominated by political parties, as happens in other European countries, and in Scotland and Wales. Rules are also needed to terminate a government formation process which has become gridlocked. The UK could adopt the 28 day time limit which applies in Scotland.

Type: Report
Title: Forming a Government in a Hung Parliament: the UK's Recognition rules in Comparative Context
ISBN-13: 978-1-903903-73-5
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/constitution-unit/sites/cons...
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Constitution Unit, UCL & DPIR, University of Oxford 2016
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Political Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10040141
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