I posted yesterday about, and argued against, the 55% vote required to be in favour before the ToLi’s proposed 5 year fixed term government could be dissolved. I decided to dig a bit more.
I knew that the Scottish Parliament had fixed terms but I didn’t know until now what conditions had to be met for dissolution to occur.
A UCL paper talks about dissolution terms thus:
“Legislation for fixed-term parliaments depends on an effective safety valve, allowing for mid term dissolution if the executive has lost the confidence of the legislature. This can be vulnerable to abuse: a government which wants to precipitate an early election can try to engineer a vote of no confidence, as has happened in Germany.
Safeguards against that can include a high threshold, as in Scotland and Wales, where two thirds of members must vote for dissolution.
Another safeguard is a requirement of a ‘constructive’ no confidence motion, which must nominate an alternative government in case the motion is carried.”
The current Scottish Parliament party make-up is as follows:
SNP = 47
Labour = 46
Cons = 17
LibDem = 16
Green = 2
Other = 1
The SNP hold 36% of the seats against the oppositions 64% and so cannot be voted down.
I can see that, where proportional representation is involved and, therefore, minority governments are more likely, a threshold of more than 50% is necessary to maintain any form of stability. Should that threshold be as high as 2/3? I doubt it.
Where First Past The Post is the norm I can see no reason at all for the threshold being greater than 50% + 1.
The ToLi proposal still seems to me to be a theft of democracy.
If they put in place true PR then, and only then, should an increased threshold be considered.