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What if the PM isn't elected?

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
I have often wondered about this, and so far have not found an answer.

In our system of government, the PM is the leader of the party that has the most MPs elected to parliament. But what happens if that leader didn't get elected in his own constituency?

I assume that they wouldn't be allowed to be PM, but is that the case?
What happens in the interim while the party in power elect a new party leader?
Or do parliament elect a PM?

Comments

  • **helen****helen** Mod malarkist Posts: 9,235 Listening Ear
    Hey, so I asked your question on the Political Academy facebook page and someone replied to me with this:
    They'll have someone there temporary like someone who who was on the intial selection panel (I think the Queen picks). Then the party selects a new leader.

    I can't vouch for that 100% but seems to make sense... :)
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I don;'t think the answer is above as the Queen wouldn't pick. The Queen's roll is too appoint a Prime Minister who commands the confidence of the House (eg they won't all immediately vote that he resigns as PM). In the event of the leader of the largest party (or coalition) not being available she'd almost certainly take soundings from them over what they want to do, which would be in effect a) for the Party to put forward another MP to become PM or (imo less likely but still possible) b) for the Queen to enoble the party leader and from him to be PM from the Lords.

    It's also not neccessarily true that the leader of the party is PM, in 1940 Churchill was PM whilst Chamberlain remained leader of the Conservative Party (at least until his death) (and theoretically as DPM Clegg could at least temporarily become PM if Cameron dies and he wouldn;t even be a member of the largest party)
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    So why was Churchill PM and not leader? How did that happen?
  • *Seany**Seany* Moddin' Posts: 51
    The Prime Minister only has to be the person who can command a majority in the House of Commons. This means that technically, the PM doesn't have to be the Leader of a party. In the event of the incumbent Prime Minister not being re-elected in their constituency, then the deputy leader of their party would step in during the interim while a leadership election is held (note, this doesn't mean the Deputy Prime Minister - we have no actual office of DPM with any constitutional power in this country, Nick Clegg's posting is purely political appeasement).
    My understanding is that at the moment William Hague is technically Conservative Deputy Leader (Harriet Harman fulfils that role for Labour, and Simon Hughes for the Lib Dems), so in the event of David Cameron dying, not being elected, etc, William Hague would take over as PM because he is able to command a majority (having had confidence of the Conservative party MPs instilled in him in being elected as Dep Leader). The situation in a coalition might be slightly different if the Lib Dems were to say they didn't have confidence in Hague - though that'd be unlikely.
    What a governing party might do in the event of their leader not being re-elected to parliament is negotiate with one of their MPs in a safe seat about standing down, triggering a by-election, and standing the ex-PM as their candidate.

    Hope that helps. Remember there's a lot on thesite.org around activism and politics here. :)
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I think PM should select
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    It would be a bit hard if he/she wasn't elected!
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    G-Raffe wrote: »
    It would be a bit hard if he/she wasn't elected!

    I suspect the Queen would certainly take strong account of the views of the person who would have been PM if they hadn't lost their seat, so in effect they may well select who would be PM
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    My understanding is that the Prime Minister, as with any other minister, does not actually have to be a member of the Commons. It he could be given a peerage quickly enough he could be Prime Minister from the Lords.

    In reality this wouldn't happen because of the political implications, but there is nothing to prevent a PM leading from the Lords.
  • *Seany**Seany* Moddin' Posts: 51
    That's technically true - yep - just as long as the majority of the Commons had confidence in him. Practically speaking, as you said, the implications would be prohibitive...

    There'd also be a question of how to hold a PM in the Lords accountable. Would be very difficult for MPs to get his attention from the opposite chamber during Prime Ministers' Q's... but then, nowadays PMQs tends to be little more than political point scoring.
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