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A hung parliament is a term used in legislatures primarily under the Westminster system to describe a situation in which no single
political party A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is common for the members of a party to hold similar ideas about politics, and parties may promote specific political ideology ...
or pre-existing
coalition A coalition is a group formed when two or more people or groups temporarily work together to achieve a common goal. The term is most frequently used to denote a formation of power in political or economical spaces. Formation According to ''A Gui ...
(also known as an alliance or bloc) has an
absolute majority A supermajority, supra-majority, qualified majority, or special majority is a requirement for a proposal to gain a specified level of support which is greater than the threshold of more than one-half used for a simple majority. Supermajority ru ...
of
legislator A legislator (also known as a deputy or lawmaker) is a person who writes and passes laws, especially someone who is a member of a legislature. Legislators are often elected by the people of the state. Legislatures may be supra-national (for ex ...
s (commonly known as members or seats) in a
parliament In modern politics, and history, a parliament is a legislative body of government. Generally, a modern parliament has three functions: Representation (politics), representing the Election#Suffrage, electorate, making laws, and overseeing ...
or other
legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, political entity such as a Sovereign state, country or city. They are often contrasted with the Executive (government), executive and Judiciary, ...
. This situation is also known as a balanced parliament, or as a legislature under no overall control (NOC), and can result in a minority government. The term is irrelevant in
multi-party system In political science, a multi-party system is a political system in which multiple political parties across the political spectrum run for national elections, and all have the capacity to gain control of government offices, separately or in coal ...
s where it is rare for a single party to hold a majority. In the Westminster system, in the absence of a clear majority, no party or coalition has an automatic mandate to assume control of the executive — a status usually known in parliamentary systems as "forming (a) government". It is possible that an absolute majority may still be gained through the formation of a new
coalition government A coalition government is a form of government in which political parties cooperate to form a government. The usual reason for such an arrangement is that no single party has achieved an absolute majority after an election, an atypical outcome in ...
, or the addition of previously unaffiliated members to a pre-existing coalition. Additionally, a minority government may instead result — that is, the party that has the most members is allowed to form government without an absolute majority, provided that it has the express, ongoing support of unaffiliated members, such as minor parties and/or independent legislators.


Overview

A normal objective of
parliamentary system A parliamentary system, or parliamentarian democracy, is a system of democracy, democratic government, governance of a sovereign state, state (or subordinate entity) where the Executive (government), executive derives its democratic legitimacy ...
s – especially those requiring
responsible government Responsible government is a conception of a system of government that embodies the principle of parliamentary accountability, the foundation of the Westminster system of parliamentary democracy. Governments (the equivalent of the Executive (gove ...
such as the Westminster system – is the formation of a stable government (i.e. ideally one that lasts a full parliamentary term, until the next election would normally be due). This requires a government to be able to muster sufficient votes in parliament to pass motions of
confidence and supply In a parliamentary system, parliamentary democracy based on the Westminster system, confidence and supply are required for a ruling party, ruling cabinet to retain power in the lower house. A confidence-and-supply agreement is one whereby a pa ...
, especially motions of no-confidence and budget bills. If such motions fail, they normally result in the
dissolution of parliament The dissolution of a legislative assembly is the mandatory simultaneous resignation of all of its members, in anticipation that a successive legislative assembly will reconvene later with possibly different members. In a democracy, the new assembl ...
and a fresh election. In some parliamentary systems, however, a new government may be formed without recourse to an election – if, for example, a minor party holds the balance of power, it may publicly express for the opposition, thereby creating a new majority. The term "hung parliament" is most often used of parliaments dominated by two major parties or coalitions.
General election A general election is a political voting election where generally all or most members of a given political body are chosen. These are usually held for a nation, state, or territory's primary legislative body, and are different from by-election ...
s in such systems usually result in one party having an absolute majority and thus quickly forming a new government. In most parliamentary systems, a hung parliament is considered exceptional and is often seen as undesirable. In other contexts, a hung parliament may be seen as ideal – for example, if opinions among the voting public are polarised regarding one or more issues, a hung parliament may lead to the emergence of a compromise or consensus. If a legislature is
bicameral Bicameralism is a type of legislature, one divided into two separate Deliberative assembly, assemblies, chambers, or houses, known as a bicameral legislature. Bicameralism is distinguished from unicameralism, in which all members deliberate and ...
, the term "hung parliament" is usually used only with respect to the
lower house A lower house is one of two Debate chamber, chambers of a Bicameralism, bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the upper house. Despite its official position "below" the upper house, in many legislatures worldwide, the lower house has co ...
. In a
multi-party system In political science, a multi-party system is a political system in which multiple political parties across the political spectrum run for national elections, and all have the capacity to gain control of government offices, separately or in coal ...
with legislators elected by
proportional representation Proportional representation (PR) refers to a type of electoral system under which subgroups of an electorate are reflected proportionately in the elected body. The concept applies mainly to geographical (e.g. states, regions) and political divi ...
or a similar systems, it is usually exceptionally rare and difficult for any party to have an absolute majority. Under such situations, hung parliaments are often taken for granted and coalition governments are normal. However, the term may be used to describe an election in which no established coalition wins an outright majority (such as the German federal election of 2005 or the 2018 Italian general election).


History

The term apparently emerged in the United Kingdom, around the time of the 1974 election, by analogy with a
hung jury A hung jury, also called a deadlocked jury, is a judicial jury that cannot agree upon a verdict after extended deliberation and is unable to reach the required unanimity or supermajority. Hung jury usually results in the case being tried again. T ...
, that is, one unable to reach a verdict

However, whereas a hung jury results in a mistrial, requiring a new trial, there is no general rule under which the absence of a clear majority requires a fresh election. In recent years, most "hung parliaments" have served their full term.


Australia

Australian parliaments are modelled on the Westminster system, with a hung parliament typically defined as a lack of a lower house parliamentary majority from either the
Australian Labor Party The Australian Labor Party (ALP), also simply known as Labor, is the major centre-left political party in Australia, one of two Major party, major parties in Politics of Australia, Australian politics, along with the Centre-right politics, cen ...
or Liberal/ National
Coalition A coalition is a group formed when two or more people or groups temporarily work together to achieve a common goal. The term is most frequently used to denote a formation of power in political or economical spaces. Formation According to ''A Gui ...
. Hung parliaments are rare at the federal level in Australia, as a de facto
two-party system A two-party system is a Politics, political party system in which two major party, major political parties consistently dominate the political landscape. At any point in time, one of the two parties typically holds a majority in the legislature ...
, in which the Australian Labor Party competes against a permanent Liberal-National Coalition of the conservative parties, has existed with only brief interruptions since the early 20th century. Prior to 1910, no party had had a majority in the
House of Representatives House of Representatives is the name of legislative bodies in many countries and sub-national entitles. In many countries, the House of Representatives is the lower house of a bicameral Bicameralism is a type of legislature, one divided ...
. As a result, there were frequent changes of government, several of which took place during parliamentary terms. Since 1910, when the two-party system was cemented, there have been two hung parliaments, the first in 1940, and the second in 2010. At the 1940 federal election, incumbent Prime Minister Robert Menzies secured the support of the two crossbenchers and continued to govern, but in 1941 the independents switched their support to Labor, bringing John Curtin to power. Declining support for the major parties in recent times is leading to more non-majoritarian outcomes at elections. At the 2010 federal election, which resulted in an exact 72-72 seat tie between Labor and the Liberal-National Coalition, incumbent Prime Minister
Julia Gillard Julia Eileen Gillard (born 29 September 1961) is an Australian former politician who served as the 27th prime minister of Australia from 2010 to 2013, holding office as leader of the Australian Labor Party (ALP). She is the first and only ...
secured the support of four out of six Independent and Green Party crossbenchers and continued to govern. In the 2016 federal election a hung parliament was only narrowly averted with the Liberal-National Coalition winning 76 seats, the bare minimum required to form a majority government. The Liberal-National Coalition government lost its majority government status after a by-election in 2018. Hung parliaments are rather more common at a state level. The
Tasmanian House of Assembly The House of Assembly, or Lower House, is one of the two chambers of the Parliament of Tasmania in Australia. The other is the Tasmanian Legislative Council, Legislative Council or Upper House. It sits in Parliament House, Hobart, Parliament Hou ...
and the
unicameral Unicameralism (from ''uni''- "one" + Latin ''camera'' "chamber") is a type of legislature, which consists of one house or assembly, that legislates and votes as one. Unicameral legislatures exist when there is no widely perceived need for multic ...
Parliament of the Australian Capital Territory are both elected by Hare-Clark proportional representation, thus, elections commonly return hung parliaments. In other states and territories, candidates contest single-member seats. With far fewer seats than federal parliament, hung parliaments are more likely to be elected. Recent examples include New South Wales in 1991, Queensland in 1998 and
2015 File:2015 Events Collage new.png, From top left, clockwise: Civil service in remembrance of November 2015 Paris attacks; Germanwings Flight 9525 was purposely crashed into the French Alps; the rubble of residences in Kathmandu following the April ...
, Victoria in 1999, South Australia in 1997 and 2002, Western Australia in 2008, the Australian Capital Territory in 2008, and Tasmania in 2010.


Canada

Hung parliaments at either the federal and provincial level are an infrequent but not unusual occurrence in Canada. Hung Parliaments are commonly referred to as minority governments. Five of the previous seven recent federal elections have resulted in hung parliaments ( the 38th, the 39th, the 40th, the 43rd, and the 44th). Following all five elections the largest party ruled as a " minority government". Although Canadian minority governments have tended to be short-lived, the two successive minorities under Prime Minister Stephen Harper managed to hold on to power from February 2006 until a no confidence vote in March 2011. The subsequent election saw a majority parliament elected with Harper's Conservative Party obtaining a 24-seat majority. While most Canadian minority governments end in dissolution via non-confidence or a snap election call, there have been recent attempts to transition to a new government without returning to the ballot box. Most notably, the
2008 Canadian Federal Election The 2008 Canadian federal election was held on October 14, 2008, to elect members to the House of Commons of Canada of the 40th Canadian Parliament after the 39th Canadian Parliament, previous parliament had been dissolved by Governor General of ...
resulted in the 2008–09 Canadian parliamentary dispute. While the Conservative Party had a plurality of seats, the Liberal Party and New Democratic Party, supported by The Bloc Québécois, agreed to defeat the Conservatives in favour of a Liberal/NDP
coalition government A coalition government is a form of government in which political parties cooperate to form a government. The usual reason for such an arrangement is that no single party has achieved an absolute majority after an election, an atypical outcome in ...
. On 4 December 2008, Governor General Michaëlle Jean granted
Prime Minister A prime minister, premier or chief of cabinet is the head of the Cabinet (government), cabinet and the leader of the Minister (government), ministers in the Executive (government), executive branch of government, often in a parliamentary syst ...
Stephen Harper a prorogation on the condition that parliament reconvene early in the new year. The first session of the 40th parliament thus ended, delaying and ultimately avoiding a vote of non-confidence. At the territorial level, a unique situation happened in the 2021 Yukon general election, in which the electoral district of Vuntut Gwitchin resulted in a tie. A judicial recount was held and the tie remained. A draw was held between the two candidates which ultimately named NDP challenger Annie Blake the winner against incumbent Liberal cabinet minister and MLA Pauline Frost. This victory ultimately resulted in a hung parliament in the Yukon legislature with the NDP holding the balance of power.


India

India is a federative
multi-party In political science, a multi-party system is a political system in which multiple political parties across the political spectrum run for national elections, and all have the capacity to gain control of government offices, separately or in coal ...
parliamentary A parliamentary system, or parliamentarian democracy, is a system of democracy, democratic government, governance of a sovereign state, state (or subordinate entity) where the Executive (government), executive derives its democratic legitimacy ...
democracy with lower and upper houses at both national and sub-national levels. However, despite having a multi-party system in place, it has witnessed a clear majority parliament for 45 years against its transition to democratic republic being 70 years old. It has 8 recognized national parties with influence over major parts of India and regional parties with base certain states. From 1989 to 2014, India had a continuous period of parliaments producing
coalition government A coalition government is a form of government in which political parties cooperate to form a government. The usual reason for such an arrangement is that no single party has achieved an absolute majority after an election, an atypical outcome in ...
s, with clearer majorities for the
Indian National Congress The Indian National Congress (INC), colloquially the Congress Party but often simply the Congress, is a political party in India with widespread roots. Founded in 1885, it was the first modern Nationalism, nationalist movement to emerge in ...
and
Janata Party The Janata Party ( JP, Literal translation, lit. ''People's Party'') was a political party that was founded as an amalgam of Indian political parties opposed to The Emergency (India), the Emergency that was imposed between 1975 and 1977 by Prime ...
before this period and for the
Bharatiya Janata Party The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP; ; ) is a political party in India, and one of the two major List of political parties in India, Indian political parties alongside the Indian National Congress. Since 2014, it has been the List of ruling p ...
after it. The confidence of
Lok Sabha The Lok Sabha, constitutionally the House of the People, is the lower house of India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-large ...
, lower house of
Indian Parliament The Parliament of India ( IAST: ) is the supreme legislative body of the Republic of India. It is a bicameral legislature composed of the president of India and two houses: the Rajya Sabha (Council of States) and the Lok Sabha (House of ...
elected in general elections determines the prime minister and ruling party of India. Hung assemblies within states and alliances between national and regional parties at sub-national level are common.


Ireland

Because Ireland uses PR-STV, it is rare for any one party to have a majority on its own. The last such occasion was in 1977. However, one or other coalitions are known to be possible before and during the election. Therefore, a "hung Dáil" (Dáil Éireann being the lower and most dominant chamber of the Oireachtas/Parliament) in Ireland refers more to the inability of a coalition of parties who traditionally enter government together or would be expected to govern together, from doing so. The President has no direct role in the formation of governments in the case of a hung parliament. However, he retains the power to convene a meeting of either or both the Dáil and Senate which could become important if there was a government trying to use parliamentary recess to prevent confidence votes and hold onto power. The President may also refuse to dissolve Dáil Eireann and call an election if the Taoiseach loses a vote of confidence, instead giving the other parties a chance to see if they can put together a government without proceeding to another election. In 2016, Fine Gael and Labour, who had been in government the previous five years, were unable, due to Labour's collapse, to enter government again. Fianna Fáil had enough seats to put together a rainbow government with the other centre-left, hard left parties and independents but negotiations broke down. Fianna Fáil had also promised not to enter coalition with Sinn Féin. The press began to speculate about a Germany style "Grand Coalition" similar to the Christian Democrats and Social Democrats there. Many members of FF considered FG too
right wing Right-wing politics describes the range of Ideology#Political ideologies, political ideologies that view certain social orders and Social stratification, hierarchies as inevitable, natural, normal, or desirable, typically supporting this pos ...
to enter coalition with and threatened to leave the party this came to pass. As talks continued on without a new government (the old government, constitutionally, which had just been voted out, remaining in power including ministers who had lost their seats) FF agreed to allow a government to form by abstention. The parliamentary arithmetic fell in such a way that if FF TD's abstained on confidence and supply matters, a FG minority government could, with the support of a group of independents, form a new government. This was agreed in exchange for a number of policy concessions. Once the deal with FF was signed, Taoiseach Enda Kenny conducted talks with the independents and entered government for a second term.


Israel

All parliamentery elections in
Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, ; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, ), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a country in Western Asia. It is situated ...
have resulted in hung parliaments. The
Knesset The Knesset ( he, הַכְּנֶסֶת ; "gathering" or "assembly") is the Unicameralism, unicameral legislature of Israel. As the supreme state body, the Knesset is Parliamentary sovereignty, sovereign and thus has complete control of the e ...
consists of 120 members and the highest number of seats a single faction has ever received was the 56 members Alignment (''Ma'arach'') got in the October 1969 elections. When the same faction was formed in January 1969 it consisted of 63 members, the only instance to date of a faction with an absolute majority in the Knesset. The lowest number of seats the largest faction has ever received in a Knesset election was 26 members received by One Israel in the 1999 Israeli general election.


Malaysia

The 2022 general election of Malaysia resulted in a hung parliament with no party or party coalition winning a simple majority for the first time in Malaysian history. Following five days of deliberation and negotiations within coalitions and parties, the
Yang di-Pertuan Agong The Yang di-Pertuan Agong (, Jawi alphabet, Jawi: ), also known as the Supreme Head of the Federation, the Paramount Ruler or simply as the Agong, and unofficially as the King of Malaysia, is the constitutional monarch and head of state of Ma ...
of Malaysia announced Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman
Anwar Ibrahim Anwar bin Ibrahim ( ms, انور بن ابراهيم, label=Jawi alphabet, Jawi, script=arab, italic=unset, IPA: ; born 10 August 1947) is a Malaysian people, Malaysian politician who has served as the 10th Prime Minister of Malaysia since No ...
, whose coalition won the most seats, as the tenth
Prime Minister of Malaysia The prime minister of Malaysia ( ms, Perdana Menteri Malaysia; ms, ڤردان منتري مليسيا, label=Jawi alphabet, Jawi, script=arab, italic=unset) is the head of government of Malaysia. The prime minister directs the executive branc ...
on 24 November 2022, with Barisan Nasional (BN), Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS),
Gabungan Rakyat Sabah Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (abbrev:GRS; en, Sabah People's Alliance), also officially known as the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah Party or for shorts GRS Party is an official political coalition, registered political coalition and the current ruling coaliti ...
(GRS) and various independent parties joining in the coalition government.


New Zealand

Hung parliaments had a relatively uncommon place in New Zealand politics prior to the introduction of proportional representation in 1993. Only on four occasions since the beginnings of party politics in
1890 Events January–March * January 1 ** The Kingdom of Italy establishes Eritrea as its colony, in the Horn of Africa. ** In Michigan, the wooden steamer ''Mackinaw'' burns in a fire on the Black River (Mackinac County), Black River. * ...
had a hung parliament occurred under the FPTP system: in
1911 A notable ongoing event was the Comparison of the Amundsen and Scott Expeditions, race for the South Pole. Events January * January 1 – A decade after federation, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory ...
, 1922, 1928 and
1931 Events January * January 2 – South Dakota native Ernest Lawrence invents the cyclotron, used to accelerate particles to study nuclear physics. * January 4 – German pilot Elly Beinhorn begins her flight to Africa. * January 22 – Sir I ...
. The rarity between 1936 and 1996 was due to the regression into a two-party system, alternating between the long dominating
New Zealand Labour Party The New Zealand Labour Party ( mi, Rōpū Reipa o Aotearoa), or simply Labour (), is a Centre-left politics, centre-left political party in New Zealand. The party's platform programme describes its founding principle as democratic socialism, ...
and
New Zealand National Party The New Zealand National Party ( mi, Rōpū Nāhinara o Aotearoa), shortened to National () or the Nats, is a centre-right political party in New Zealand. It is one of two major parties that dominate contemporary New Zealand politics, alongside ...
. From the first MMP election in 1996 until the 2020 election no single party gained an outright majority in parliament. The 2020 election was the first to return a majority – a narrow majority for the Labour Party – since 1993.


United Kingdom

In the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a country in Europe, off the north-western coast of the European mainland, continental mainland. It comprises England, Scotlan ...
, before World War I, a largely stable two-party system existed for generations; traditionally, only the
Tories A Tory () is a person who holds a political philosophy known as Toryism, based on a British version of Traditionalist conservatism, traditionalism and conservatism, which upholds the supremacy of social order as it has evolved in the English cul ...
and Whigs, or from the mid-19th century the Conservative and Liberal parties, managed to deliver Members of Parliament in significant numbers. Hung parliaments were thus rare, especially during the 19th century. The possibility of change arose when, in the aftermath of the Act of Union, 1800, a number of Irish MPs took seats in the House, though initially these followed the traditional alignments. However, two Reform Acts ( in 1867 and in 1884) significantly extended the franchise and redrew the constituencies, and coincided with a change in Irish politics. Following the 1885 general election, neither party had an overall majority. The
Irish Parliamentary Party The Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP; commonly called the Irish Party or the Home Rule Party) was formed in 1874 by Isaac Butt, the leader of the Nationalist Party (Ireland), Nationalist Party, replacing the Home Rule League, as official parliament ...
held the balance of power and made
Irish Home Rule The Irish Home Rule movement was a movement that campaigned for Devolution, self-government (or "home rule") for Ireland within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. It was the dominant political movement of Irish nationalism from 1 ...
a condition of their support. However, the Liberal Party split on the issue of Irish Home Rule, leading to another general election in 1886, in which the Conservatives won the most seats and governed with the support of the fragment of Liberalism opposed to Home Rule, the
Liberal Unionist Party The Liberal Unionist Party was a British political party that was formed in 1886 by a faction that broke away from the Liberal Party (UK), Liberal Party. Led by Spencer Cavendish, 8th Duke of Devonshire, Lord Hartington (later the Duke of Devonsh ...
. Both the election of January 1910, and that of December 1910 produced a hung parliament with an almost identical number of seats won by the governing Liberal Party and the Conservative Party. This was due both to the constitutional crisis and to the rise of the Labour Party. The elections of 1929 resulted in the last hung parliament for many years; in the meantime, Labour had replaced the Liberals as one of the two dominating parties. Since the elections of 1929, three general elections have resulted in hung parliaments in the UK. The first was the election in February 1974, and the ensuing parliament lasted only until October. The second was the May 2010 election, the result of which was a hung parliament with the Conservative party as the largest single party. The results for the 3 main parties were: Conservatives 306, Labour 258, Liberal Democrats 57. The third one resulted from the snap election held in June 2017 that had been called for by
Theresa May Theresa Mary May, Lady May (; née Brasier; born 1 October 1956) is a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party (UK), Leader of the Conservative Party from 2016 to 2019. She pre ...
in order to strengthen her majority heading into Brexit negotiations later in 2017. However, this election backfired on May and her Conservative Party, resulting in a hung parliament after the snap election. The formation of the coalition resulting from the 2010 election led to the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, which instituted fixed five-year Parliaments and transferred the power to call early elections from the Prime Minister to Parliament itself. This was the idea of the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, then the leader of the Liberal Democrats, who said that this would stop the Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party,
David Cameron David William Donald Cameron (born 9 October 1966) is a British former politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2010 to 2016 and Leader of the Conservative Party (UK), Leader of the Conservative Party from 2005 to ...
, from calling a snap election to end the hung parliament, as many other Conservatives had requested. Hung parliaments can also arise when slim government majorities are eroded by
by-election A by-election, also known as a special election in the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in No ...
defeats and
defection In politics, a defector is a person who gives up allegiance to one state in exchange for allegiance to another, changing sides in a way which is considered illegitimate by the first state. More broadly, defection involves abandoning a person, ca ...
of
Members of Parliament A member of parliament (MP) is the representative in parliament of the people who live in their electoral district. In many countries with Bicameralism, bicameral parliaments, this term refers only to members of the lower house since upper house ...
to opposition parties, as well as resignations of MPs from the
House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house of the bicameral parliaments of the United Kingdom and Canada. In both of these countries, the Commons holds much more legislative power than the nominally upper house of parliament. T ...
. This happened in December 1996 to the Conservative government of
John Major Sir John Major (born 29 March 1943) is a British former politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party (UK), Leader of the Conservative Party from 1990 to 1997, and as Member of Parliament ...
(1990–97) and in mid-1978 to the Labour government of James Callaghan (1976–79); this latter period covers the era known as the Winter of Discontent. The minority government of Jim Callaghan came when Labour ended their 15-month Lib–Lab pact with the Liberals having lost their majority in early 1977. According to researchers Andrew Blick and Stuart Wilks-Heeg, the phrase "hung parliament" did not enter into common usage in the UK until the mid-1970s. It was first used in the press by journalist Simon Hoggart in ''
The Guardian ''The Guardian'' is a British daily newspaper. It was founded in 1821 as ''The Manchester Guardian'', and changed its name in 1959. Along with its sister papers ''The Observer'' and ''The Guardian Weekly'', ''The Guardian'' is part of the Gu ...
'' in 1974. Academic treatments of hung parliaments include David Butler's ''Governing Without a Majority: Dilemmas for Hung Parliaments in Britain'' (Sheridan House, 1986) and Vernon Bogdanor's 'Multi-Party Politics and the Constitution' (Cambridge University Press, 1983).


Consequences

In countries used to decisive election outcomes, a hung parliament is often viewed as an unfavourable outcome, leading to relatively weak and unstable government. A period of uncertainty after the election is common, as major party leaders negotiate with independents and minor parties to establish a working majority. An aspiring
head of government The head of government is the highest or the second-highest official in the Executive (government), executive branch of a sovereign state, a federated state, or a self-governing colony, autonomous region, or other government who often presid ...
may seek to build a
coalition government A coalition government is a form of government in which political parties cooperate to form a government. The usual reason for such an arrangement is that no single party has achieved an absolute majority after an election, an atypical outcome in ...
; in Westminster systems, this typically involves agreement on a joint legislative programme and a number of ministerial posts going to the minor coalition partners, in return for a stable majority. Alternatively, a minority government may be formed, establishing
confidence and supply In a parliamentary system, parliamentary democracy based on the Westminster system, confidence and supply are required for a ruling party, ruling cabinet to retain power in the lower house. A confidence-and-supply agreement is one whereby a pa ...
agreements in return for policy concessions agreed in advance, or relying on case by case support.


Australia

In the Western Australian state election of 2008 the
Australian Labor Party The Australian Labor Party (ALP), also simply known as Labor, is the major centre-left political party in Australia, one of two Major party, major parties in Politics of Australia, Australian politics, along with the Centre-right politics, cen ...
won more seats than the Liberal Party at 28 to 24. The National Party along with three independents had the seats needed to give either party a majority. To help the Liberal Party form government, the Nationals supported the party on the condition that the Royalties for Regions policy was implemented. In the 1999 Victorian state election, the Labor Party won 42 seats, while the incumbent Liberal National Coalition retained 43, with 3 seats falling to independents. The Labor Party formed a minority government with the 3 independents. The 2010 Tasmanian state election resulted in a hung parliament. After a period of negotiation, the incumbent Labor government led by David Bartlett was recommissioned, but containing the Leader of the Tasmanian Greens, Nick McKim, as a minister, and the Greens' Cassy O'Connor as Cabinet Secretary. In the 2010 federal election, neither Labor nor the Liberal coalition secured the majority of seats required to form a Government in their own right. In order to counter the potential instability of minority government involved groups may negotiate written agreements defining their terms of support. Such measures were undertaken by the Gillard Government in 2010.


India

In
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest country by area, the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous ...
if an election results in a 'hung assembly' in one of the state Legislative Assemblies and no party is capable of gaining confidence then fresh elections are announced to be held as soon as possible. Until this occurs President's Rule is applied. In
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest country by area, the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous ...
there have been many situations of hung assemblies in the state legislatures. However, invariably, the President of India in the case of Lok Sabha elections and the Governor of the state concerned, in the case of state elections, would attempt to give opportunities to the parties, starting with the one that got the maximum number of seats in the elections, to explore possibilities of forming a coalition government, before bringing in President's Rule.


New Zealand

The first such occasion was in
1911 A notable ongoing event was the Comparison of the Amundsen and Scott Expeditions, race for the South Pole. Events January * January 1 – A decade after federation, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory ...
when the Liberal Party won fewer seats than the opposition Reform Party despite tallying the most votes. A vote of no confidence was placed by Reform and the Liberals survived by just one vote. This prompted Prime Minister Sir Joseph Ward to resign, his replacement Thomas Mackenzie was later defeated in July 1912 in a vote with several MPs and Labour crossing the floor to vote with the opposition, the last time in New Zealand history a government has changed on a confidence vote. This broke 23 years of Liberal governance and
William Massey William Ferguson Massey (26 March 1856 – 10 May 1925), commonly known as Bill Massey, was a politician who served as the 19th prime minister of New Zealand from May 1912 to May 1925. He was the founding leader of the Reform Party (New Zeal ...
formed a new Reform Party government. Massey governed through to his death in 1925, though in 1922 the Reform Party suffered major losses and Massey was forced negotiate with several Independent MPs to retain power. In 1928, Reform were ousted from governance and Joseph Ward once again won back power. However, the Reform and United (Liberal) parties were tied on seats with Labour holding the balance of power. Labour chose to back Ward rather than let Reform leader Gordon Coates remain in office. In the next election in
1931 Events January * January 2 – South Dakota native Ernest Lawrence invents the cyclotron, used to accelerate particles to study nuclear physics. * January 4 – German pilot Elly Beinhorn begins her flight to Africa. * January 22 – Sir I ...
, there was again a three-way deadlock. On this occasion the Reform and United parties became a coalition government out of mutual fear of Labour's ever-increasing appeal as the
Great Depression The Great Depression (19291939) was an economic shock that impacted most countries across the world. It was a period of economic depression that became evident after a major fall in stock prices in the United States. The Financial contagion, ...
worsened.
1993 File:1993 Events Collage.png, From left, clockwise: The Oslo I Accord is signed in an attempt to resolve the Israeli–Palestinian conflict; The White House (Moscow), Russian White House is shelled during the 1993 Russian constitutional crisis; Cze ...
was the last time a hung parliament occurred in New Zealand. Governor-General Dame Catherine Tizard asked Sir David Beattie to form a committee, along with three retired appeal court judges, to decide whom to appoint as Prime Minister. However, National won an extra seat after special votes were counted, giving National 50 seats and Labour 45 seats (4 were won by third party candidates). Labour's Sir Peter Tapsell agreed to become Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives. As a result, National did not lose a vote in the house and maintained a dubious majority for three years.


United Kingdom

In the February 1974 general election, no party gained an overall parliamentary majority. Labour won the most seats (301, which was 17 seats short of an overall majority) with the Conservatives on 297 seats, although the Conservatives had a larger share of the popular vote. As the incumbent
Prime Minister A prime minister, premier or chief of cabinet is the head of the Cabinet (government), cabinet and the leader of the Minister (government), ministers in the Executive (government), executive branch of government, often in a parliamentary syst ...
, Edward Heath remained in office attempting to build a coalition with the Liberals. When these negotiations were unsuccessful Heath resigned and Labour led by
Harold Wilson James Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx, (11 March 1916 – 24 May 1995) was a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom twice, from October 1964 to June 1970, and again from March 1974 to April 1976. He ...
took over in a minority government. In the 2010 UK general election, another hung parliament occurred with the
Conservatives Conservatism is a Philosophy of culture, cultural, Social philosophy, social, and political philosophy that seeks to promote and to preserve traditional institutions, practices, and values. The central tenets of conservatism may vary in r ...
as the largest party, and discussions followed to help create a stable government. This resulted in agreement on a coalition government, which was also a majority government, between the Conservative Party, which won the most votes and seats in the election, and the Liberal Democrats. In the 2017 UK general election, a hung parliament occurred for the second time in seven years with the
Conservatives Conservatism is a Philosophy of culture, cultural, Social philosophy, social, and political philosophy that seeks to promote and to preserve traditional institutions, practices, and values. The central tenets of conservatism may vary in r ...
again being the largest party. The Conservatives led by
Theresa May Theresa Mary May, Lady May (; née Brasier; born 1 October 1956) is a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party (UK), Leader of the Conservative Party from 2016 to 2019. She pre ...
formed a minority government, supported by a confidence-and-supply agreement with the
Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; sco, label=Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots, Norlin Airlann) is a part of the United Kingdom, situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, that is #Descriptions, variously described as ...
's
Democratic Unionist Party The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) is a Unionism in Ireland, unionist, Ulster loyalism, loyalist, and National conservatism, national conservative political party in Northern Ireland. It was founded in 1971 during the Troubles by Ian Paisley, ...
.


Working majority

There have been occasions when, although a parliament or assembly is technically hung, the party in power has a working majority. For example, in the United Kingdom, the tradition is that the Speaker and Deputy Speakers do not vote and Sinn Féin MPs never take their seats per their policy of
abstentionism Abstentionism is standing for election to a deliberative assembly while refusing to take up any seats won or otherwise participate in the assembly's business. Abstentionism differs from an election boycott in that abstentionists participate in ...
, so these members can be discounted from the opposition numbers.


United Kingdom

In 2005, this was the case in the 60-seat
National Assembly for Wales The Senedd (; ), officially known as the Welsh Parliament in English language, English and () in Welsh language, Welsh, is the Devolution in the United Kingdom, devolved, unicameral legislature of Wales. A democratically elected body, it makes ...
, where Labour lost their majority when Peter Law was expelled for standing against the official candidate in the 2005 Westminster election in the Blaenau Gwent constituency. When the Assembly was first elected on 1 May 2003, Labour won 30 seats,
Plaid Cymru Plaid Cymru ( ; ; officially Plaid Cymru – the Party of Wales, often referred to simply as Plaid) is a Centre-left politics, centre-left to Left-wing politics, left-wing, Welsh nationalism, Welsh nationalist list of political parties in Wales ...
won 12, the
Conservatives Conservatism is a Philosophy of culture, cultural, Social philosophy, social, and political philosophy that seeks to promote and to preserve traditional institutions, practices, and values. The central tenets of conservatism may vary in r ...
won 11, Liberal Democrats won 6, and the John Marek Independent Party won a seat. When Dafydd Elis-Thomas (Plaid Cymru) was reelected as the presiding officer, this reduced the number of opposition AMs who could vote to 29, as the presiding officer votes only in the event of a tie and, even then, not on party political lines but according to Speaker Denison's rule. Thus, Labour had a working majority of one seat until Law ran in Blaenau Gwent.Labour lose assembly majority as Law quits
, ePolitix.com. April 17, 2005


See also

*
Coalition government A coalition government is a form of government in which political parties cooperate to form a government. The usual reason for such an arrangement is that no single party has achieved an absolute majority after an election, an atypical outcome in ...
* Cohabitation (government) * Divided government * Minority government


Notes


References


External links


United Kingdom


Charter 2010
– planning for a hung parliament
Hang Em
– a pressure group
Hung parliament news
{{Webarchive, url=https://web.archive.org/web/20150128053249/http://www.newstatesman.com/subjects/hung-parliament , date=28 January 2015 , ''
New Statesman The ''New Statesman'' is a British Political magazine, political and cultural magazine published in London. Founded as a weekly review of politics and literature on 12 April 1913, it was at first connected with Sidney Webb, Sidney and Beatrice ...
''
Hung parliaments: What you need to know
Institute for Government (2010)
Q&A: What is a hung parliament?
BBC News BBC News is an operational Division (business), business division of the BBC, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) responsible for the gathering and broadcasting of news and current affairs in the UK and around the world. The department is t ...
(8 March 2010) Westminster system Minority governments