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:

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.

Posted by Mark Elliott

Mark Elliott is Professor of Public Law at the University of Cambridge, a Fellow of St Catharine's College, Cambridge, and Legal Adviser to the House of Lords Constitution Committee. All views on this blog are expressed in a purely personal capacity.