Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Constitutional Rules and Patterns of Government Termination: The Case of the UK Fixed-term Parliaments Act

  • Petra Schleiter and Sukriti Issar
Abstract

This paper examines the impact of constitutional rules on parliamentary dissolution, government termination and duration with a particular focus on the likely effects of UK’s Fixed-term Parliament’s Act (2011). In the UK debate, expectations about the Act diverge. This article evaluates the plausibility of these contrasting views by combining evidence from a comparative analysis of European cabinets with a counterfactual analysis of the Act’s effect on the strategies of UK politicians. The evidence from both analyses indicates that fixing the term of parliament is likely to render parliaments more stable, but may also have the unanticipated effect of making governments more vulnerable to failure and replacement.

Copyright
Footnotes
Hide All
*

Petra Schleiter is Associate Professor in Politics in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford. Contact email: petra.schleiter@politics.ox.ac.uk.

Sukriti Issar is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in Political Economy in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford. Contact email: sukriti.issar@politics.ox.ac.uk.

Footnotes
References
Hide All
Alderman, R.K. (1992), ‘Harold Macmillan’s “Night of the Long Knives”’, Contemporary Record, 6(2): 243265.
Alderman, R.K. and Carter, N. (1991), ‘A Very Tory Coup: The Ousting of Mrs Thatcher’, Parliamentary Affairs, 44(2): 125139.
Alderman, R.K. and Smith, M.J. (1990), ‘Can British Prime Ministers be Given the Push by their Parties?’, Parliamentary Affairs, 43(3): 260276.
Baker, D., Gamble, A. and Ludlam, S. (1994), ‘The Parliamentary Siege of Maastricht 1993: Conservative Divisions and British Ratification’, Parliamentary Affairs, 41(1): 3760.
Birch, A.H. (2013), The British System of Government, 10th edn (London: Routledge).
Cook, C. and Stevenson, J. (2014), A History of British Elections since 1689 (London: Routledge).
Callaghan, J. (2006), Time and Chance (London: Politico’s).
Diermeier, D. and Stevenson, R.T. (1999), ‘Cabinet Survival and Competing Risks’, American Journal of Political Science, 43(4): 10511068.
Dunleavy, P. (2012), ‘Fixed Term Parliaments Are a Mirage – It’s All Downhill from Now to a June 2014 General Election’, LSE Blog: British Politics and Policy, http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/archives/20795.
Evans, B. (1996), From Salisbury to Major: Continuity and Change in Conservative Politics (Manchester: Manchester University Press).
Evans, E.J. (2013), Thatcher and Thatcherism, 3rd edn (London: Routledge).
Fearon, J.D. (1991), ‘Counterfactuals and Hypothesis Testing in Political Science’, World Politics, 43(2): 169195.
Fisher, S.D. (2006), ‘United Kingdom’, European Journal of Political Research, 45(7–8): 12821291.
Hazell, R. (2010), Fixed Term Parliaments (London: The Constitution Unit).
Heasman, D.J. (1960), ‘The Monarch, the Prime Minister, and the Dissolution of Parliament’, Parliamentary Affairs, 14(3): 94107.
Heath, E. (1998), The Course of my Life (London: Hodder and Stoughton).
Hennessy, P. (2001), The Prime Minister: The Office and its Holders since 1945 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan).
HM Government (2011), ‘The Government Response to the Report of the House of Lords Constitution Committee on the Fixed-term Parliaments Bill (London, February 2011, Cm 8011)’, www.gov.uk/government/publications/fixed-term-parliaments-bill-government-response-to-lords-constitution-committee-report.
House of Commons PCRC (Political and Constitutional Reform Committee) (2013), ‘The Role and Powers of the Prime Minister: The Impact of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 on Government’, Fourth Report of Session 2013–14, HC 440.
Jennings, I. (1959), Cabinet Government (London: Cambridge University Press).
Kayser, M.A. (2005), ‘Who Surfs, who Manipulates? The Determinants of Opportunistic Election Timing and Electorally Motivated Economic Intervention’, American Political Science Review, 99(1): 1727.
Laski, H.J. (1951), Reflections on the Constitution (Manchester: Manchester University Press).
Lupia, A. and Strøm, K. (1995), ‘Coalition Termination and the Strategic Timing of Parliamentary Elections’, American Political Science Review, 89(3): 648665.
Müller, W.C. and Strøm, K. (2000), ‘Coalition Governance in Western Europe: An Introduction’, in W.C. Mülller and K. Strøm (eds), Coalition Governments in Western Europe (New York: Oxford): 131.
Norris, P. (2001), ‘Apathetic Landslide: The 2001 British General Election’, Parliamentary Affairs, 54(4): 565589.
Norton, P. (1980), Dissension in the House of Commons 1974–1979 (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
Paun, A. and Hazell, R. (2010), ‘Hung Parliaments and the Challenges for Westminster and Whitehall: How to Make Minority and Multiparty Governance Work’, Political Quarterly, 81(2): 213227.
Roy, J. and Alcantara, C. (2012), ‘The Election Timing Advantage: Empirical Fact or Fiction?Electoral Studies, 31(4): 774781.
Schleiter, P. and Issar, S. (2014a), Fixed-term Parliaments and the Challenges for Governments and the Civil Service: A Comparative Perspective’, Political Quarterly, 85(2): 178186.
Schleiter, P. and Issar, S. (2014b), ‘A Typology of Early Government Terminations’, unpublished manuscript.
Schleiter, P. and Morgan-Jones, E. (2009), ‘Constitutional Power and Competing Risks: Monarchs, Presidents, Prime Ministers, and the Termination of East and West European Cabinets’, American Political Science Review, 103(3): 496512.
Smith, A. (2003), ‘Election Timing in Majoritarian Parliaments’, British Journal of Political Science, 33(3): 397418.
Smith, A. (2004), Election Timing (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
Smith, M.J. (1994), ‘The Core Executive and the Resignation of Mrs Thatcher’, Public Administration, 72(3): 341363.
Strøm, K. and Swindle, S.M. (2002), ‘Strategic Parliamentary Dissolution’, American Political Science Review, 96(3): 575591.
Thatcher, M. (1995), The Downing Street Years (London: HarperCollins).
Thomas-Symonds, N. (2010), Attlee: A Life in Politics (London: I.B. Tauris).
Warwick, P. (1994), Government Survival in Parliamentary Democracies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
Youngs, R. and Thomas-Symonds, N. (2013), ‘The Problem of the “Lame Duck” Government: A Critique of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act’, Parliamentary Affairs, 66(3): 540556.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Government and Opposition
  • ISSN: 0017-257X
  • EISSN: 1477-7053
  • URL: /core/journals/government-and-opposition
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed