One of the few things that can be predicted with any confidence about today’s general election is that it will not deliver an overall majority for any single political party. [Edit: I was wrong — along with nearly every pollster!] Against that background, the media is awash with discussion, not all of it well-informed, about the constitutional position that applies in the event of a hung Parliament. The position is governed principally by constitutional conventions — the most authoritative statement of which is to be found in the Cabinet Manual — but is also affected by the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011.
If, as you wait for the election results to start coming in, you want to brush up on how all of this works, I recommend the following recent blog posts and articles:
- Carl Gardner, “Ed can enter No. 10 without Nicola’s keys”
- Adam Tomkins, “A fixed-term hung Parliament?”
- Robert Hazell, “Preparing for another hung parliament: 9 key questions answered”
- Robert Hazell, “Once the election results are in, how do we decide who forms the government?”
I have also written on this blog about the implications of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, with particular reference to what might happen if the wheels were to come off a coalition or minority government. Finally, chapter 2 of the Cabinet Manual and the Act (links to both of which can be found above) are relatively accessible, and are worth reading. After all, the politicians will doubtless have a great deal to say about them in the next few days (and perhaps weeks), and it is therefore worth knowing what those key constitutional texts actually say.