PNG no-confidence votes

A no-confidence vote may be moved soon against Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare.

The item reminds me of one of the restrictions on parliamentary confidence in PNG’s democracy:

As the Constitution does not allow any vote of no-confidence in a prime minister 18 months before the next general elections, a vote must be called by the end of the year.

Essentially, this provision means that the parliamentary system is converted for the final 30% of a parliamentary term into an “assembly independent” system (defined as one in which the executive originates from the legislative assembly, but survives independently of any loss of confidence).

Do any other (otherwise) parliamentary systems have similar provisions restricting parliament’s ability to hold “its” executive to account?

4 thoughts on “PNG no-confidence votes

  1. If a vote of no confidence is moved in the last 12 months it must not name an alternative prime minister and the effect is to dissolve the house and trigger an early election. There is a period of grace for 18 months from the date of appointment of a new prime minister.

    (1) For the purposes of Sections 142 (the Prime Minister) and 144 (other Ministers), a motion of no confidence is a motion–

    (a) that is expressed to be a motion of no confidence in the Prime Minister, the Ministry or a Minister, as the case may be; and

    (b) of which not less than one week’s notice, signed by a number of members of the Parliament being not less than one-tenth of the total number of seats in the Parliament, has been given in accordance with the Standing Orders of the Parliament.

    (2) A motion of no confidence in the Prime Minister or the Ministry–

    (a) moved during the first four years of the life of Parliament shall not be allowed unless it nominates the next Prime Minister; and

    (b) moved within 12 months before the fifth anniversary of the date fixed for the return of the writs at the previous general election shall not be allowed if it nominates the next Prime Minister.

    (3) A motion of no confidence in the Prime Minister or the Ministry moved in accordance with Subsection (2)(a) may not be amended in respect of the name of the person nominated as the next Prime Minister except by substituting the name of some other person.

    (4) A motion of no confidence in the Prime Minister or in the Ministry may not be moved during the period of eighteen months commencing on the date of the appointment of the Prime Minister.

    The period of grace was originally set at 6 months, but has been extended several times since. 18 months is far too long in my view, despite the watchdog mechanisms by which a prime minister can be removed without a vote of confidence.

  2. Whoops, went hyper on the send button again. I do not know how common periods of grace are. Without doing an actual count, I’d say that votes of no confidence triggering an early election instead of a new government in the last year are fairly common. That is the rule in Victoria and New South Wales which both have fixed term parliaments.

  3. The PNG supreme court has just invalidated large sections of the Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties. Sadly I do not have a link for any details. Roughly the court’s ruling allowed government MPs to vote against the incumbent prime minister. Previously their right to do so was restricted in various ways.

    The deputy PM immediately moved a vote of no confidence and things are now a bit up in the air. The parliament must meet tomorrow to install a new governor-general and there will then be a debate over adjourning (and avoiding the vote) or staying in session and debating whether to sack the government.

    I did find an excellent blog for PNG politics.

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