Three no-confidence votes

Three no-confidence votes have been held, or soon will be held, against coalition and minority governments in Canada (a parliamentary system), and Finland and Romania (premier-presidential systems).

Via CBC:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s minority government has survived a Liberal no-confidence motion with help from the NDP, averting an election.

The Liberal motion, supported by the Bloc Québécois, was defeated by a vote of 144 to 117 on Thursday after the NDP decided to abstain.

NDP Leader Jack Layton had earlier said his party is propping up the Conservative government to ensure the speedy passage of legislation extending employment insurance benefits.

Just under a year ago, the Liberals and the NDP were on the verge of replacing the Conservatives with a coalition-minority cabinet, backed by the BQ, following the October, 2008, election. That was quashed when the House of Commons was prorogued. Now the three opposition parties are back to going their separate ways, with two of them helping the Conservatives remain in office.

In Finland (AP), the unsuccessful no-confidence vote was put forward as a result of a campaign-finance scandal.

Lawmakers in the 200-member assembly voted 117-27 in favor of the majority center-right coalition, with 56 abstentions.
The no-confidence vote, sponsored by opposition left-wing parties, was over alleged irregularities in accepting election and party funding from youth and sports foundations by Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen’s Center Party. […]

In a decades-old practice, Finnish politicians have not had to declare campaign and party funding.

But it has been an open secret that trade unions liberally donate funds to the Social Democrats, partly from money unions gather from membership fees. Industrial and employers’ organizations have generously backed the conservatives, and agricultural and forest interest groups have contributed to the centrists.

The story notes that the Center Party may now be seeking a new leader (and hence that the PM’s days may be numbered). The current parliament has sat since a photo Finnish election in March 2007.

Meanwhile, in Romania (via Forbes),

Romania’s Social Democrats (PSD) plan to team up with the liberal opposition to try to bring down the minority government after suddenly quitting the centre-left coalition, officials said on Friday.

The PSD walked out of the government on Thursday in protest at the sacking of their interior minister, leaving their Democrat-Liberal (PD-L) partners to rule alone.

The news item goes on to note that the PSD would like to see a technocratic government in place until the 22 November presidential elections. Romania recently changed its term lengths such that there will not be legislative elections at the same time as this upcoming presidential election. Obviously, the parties are jockeying for position in the presidential race, the outcome of which could result in a different governing arrangement by realigning blocs in the current parliament, which was elected in November, 2008.

Some editing, including a new quote on the Canadian story, since original planting.

4 thoughts on “Three no-confidence votes

  1. “Now the three opposition parties are back to going their separate ways, with two of them helping the Conservatives remain in office.”

    The NDP, and which other party? I’m assuming this refers to an earlier no-confidence vote (I seem to recall the Liberals supporting the Cons, but I can’t be sure)

  2. The Bloc supported the recent budget motion, apparently because it included a particular tax credit. But they say they are taking things issue-by-issue, and in fact voted against the Tories in this no-confidence vote.

    It’s an open question whether they would have voted no-confidence if this would have actually brought down the government. But it’s been known for awhile now that the Tories would survive this vote due to NDP support.

  3. I see my wording was a bit confusing. I simply meant that the three parties that signed an explicit governing agreement just under a year ago, now are no longer cooperating. Liberals and BQ indeed both voted no confidence, yet as Vasi notes, the BQ has supported the government on the recent budget. The NDP abstained, while receiving some concessions for not joining with the other opposition parties.

    This is, of course, about how we would expect a minority-government situation to work, in the absence of any formal confidence-and-supply agreements between the government and any outside parties. That is, the government is vulnerable (because it has no working agreements that assure it a majority), but it is also in a strong position because it can offer issue-specific concessions to prevent all-opposition cooperation.

  4. The disconnection of presidential and parliamentary elections was done in 2003, when the 1992 constitution was amended by the then PSD (social democrat) government. The calculus was that the PSD (then the governmental party and the largest party in Romania) would won both the presidential and the parliamentary elections. Opposition won both of them. The current president, Traian Basescu is pursuing a referendum in order to amend the constitution by transforming the current bicameral Parliament into a unicameral one, dissolving the Upper Chamber; and reducing the current number of MPs (471) to no more than 300. The referendum will be held on the same day as the presidential elections (November 22, 2009).

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