Mini-lecture: A hung Parliament explained (UCL)

Uploaded by UCLTV on 10.03.2010

A hung Parliament
is one when there's
no clear outcome to the election.
In the next election, which will be held probably in May of this year,
the new House of Commons will have 650 members.
And if one party
doesn't gain 325 seats or more,
it won't have an overall majority, and then we'll have a hung Parliament.
For the British public,
it'll mean that initially
it isn't clear who might form the next government.
And what might happen is that Gordon Brown,
the incumbent Prime Minister,
will remain in office as Prime Minister through the election
and after the election
until it becomes clear in the new Parliament
who can command confidence
in the new Parliament
and form the new government.
And that isn't necessarily the largest single party.
So if David Cameron and the Conservatives
win the most seats,
but they're still short of an overall majority,
it's possible
that Gordon Brown might be able to negotiate with the Liberal Democrats,
and, if they're willing to support him,
then he might continue as Prime Minister
and form a minority government
with Liberal Democrats' support.
But equally the Conservatives will also want to negotiate, and they might form a minority government.
And it'll be the Liberal Democrats,
who it is most likely as the third party,
will in effect decide which of the two major parties will be the new government.
In most other
countries in the world,
they have proportional voting systems, and it's very rare for one party to have an overall majority.
So, throughout continental Europe, for example,
it's quite normal
for there to be minority governments or coalition governments.
And they're very used to after elections having negotiations
between the political parties
to see who will form the next government.
We're going to have
probably negotiations after our next election
before it becomes clear who can form the new government here.
Last year the Constitution Unit did a lot of research on hung parliaments and minority government
in partnership with the Institute for Government.
And we published a big report in December of last year,
which contained recommendations on how to make a hung parliament work
and how to make minority government work.
Those included recommendations
for the Crown, that,
in the event of a hung Parliament, the Queen should stand back
until the political parties had worked out
who could form the new government
and only then
should she
be involved and invite someone to lead the new government.
They included recommendations for the new government itself.
If it is a minority government,
it shouldn't seek to govern in a majoritarian way
but should reach out to the other parties in Parliament
because it will need that support
to get all its measures through.
And we also had recommendations for the Civil Service
that they need to be
prepared to support the negotiations between the political parties
after the election
and also
to support the new government
in seeking to government in a new minority Parliament.