In a democratic setup, people’s right to vote helps form a government. However, on failing to match the minimum criterion — to prorogue is always an option.
A few hours ago, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked the Queen to suspend the Parliament. However, to prorogue the Parliament each nation has its unique procedure to be followed.
In the case of the UK, no-confidence vote plays a vital role to trigger the process.
What does a ‘no-confidence vote’ mean?
A vote of no confidence means that members believe that the government should be removed from power. Usually, when the government fails to maintain the majority, it is passed as a mechanism to trigger a general election.
However, to bring a vote to the floor of the Commons, MP’s must table a motion that reads, ‘That this House has no confidence in Her Majesty’s Government.’
The vote must be done by MPs on the motion following no less than 90 minutes of debate, and if the majority of members vote against the government, then the no-confidence vote is passed.
Here are some of the past instances of dissolution of Parliament around the globe:
The last dissolution of its Parliament was on May 3, 2017, to make a way for the general election which was to be held on June 8, 2017. It dissolved after a two-thirds majority vote by the House of Commons, as required by the Fixed-term Parliaments Act.
On March 30, 2015, the Parliament dissolved automatically, as opposed to being dissolved by Royal Proclamation. Albeit, Primer Minister David Cameroon met the Queen on the day of the dissolution to call the new Parliament, not to request for dissolution.
In 1997, an allegedly controversial prorogation occurred following the 1997 general election. Two Conservative MPs had been accused of taking money for submitting questions to Parliament, and the report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life was scheduled in response. The then Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party, John Major, prorogued Parliament to avoid the embarrassment of the report, in advance of a general election, which the government lost by a landslide, providing some form of accountability.
In 1948, the instance of prorogation was used by the Labour government, which instituted a short session of Parliament to overcome the House of Lord's obstruction to what would become the Parliament Act, 1949. The session began on 14 September and ended on 25 October 1948.
In early 1999, the National Democratic Alliance government (NDA) lost its majority after All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) withdrew its support. Therefore, former President K. R. Narayana dissolved the Parliament and called for fresh elections. However, the aftermath of Kargil War and people’s aggression towards the smaller parties that jeopardised the NDA coalition helped NDA win and form a decisive majority with the support of new constituents such as the Janata Dal (United) and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.
In 1975, governor-general John Kerr demonstrated a convention in the dismissal of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. He claimed that dissolving the House of Representatives was his duty and ‘the only democratic and constitutional solution’ to the political deadlock oversupply.
Despite, Whitlam refused to advise the governor-general to call an election, and therefore he was replaced with a caretaker Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser. Fraser promptly advised a double dissolution, and governor-general John acted in accordance with that advice.
Since 1948, when the Constitution came in force, the Italian Parliament has been dissolved 8 times before its 5-year term in 1972, 1976, 1979, 1983, 1987, 1994, 1996, and 2008.
Russian President Boris Yeltsin had dissolved the Congress of People's Deputies and Supreme Soviet of Russia during the Russian constitutional crisis of 1993, albeit he did not have the formal constitutional powers to do so. It happened before the new constitution was enacted.
In 2016, Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas lost a no-confidence motion. As a result, his government resigned, and President Kersti Kaljulaid nominated Jüri Ratas to form the next government without conducting an election.
Since the formation of Czech Republic, the Chamber of Deputies was once dissolved in 1998 by passing a special constitutional act, which shortened its term. However, such practice was blocked by Constitutional Court, when it was tried again in 2009.