Abandoning one of the planks of their coalition agreement with the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats have announced that a simple majority will remain sufficient to dissolve the UK parliament if there is a no-confidence vote but no agreement on a new government.
The agreement had committed the government to introduce a statutory change that would have required a vote of 55% of the House of Commons to trigger an early election. (Conveniently, the combined votes of the non-Tory parties in the current House fall short of 55%.)
Plans for “fixed-term” parliaments will go ahead, with the next election set for 7 May 2015. The new plans state that if a majority votes no confidence, there will be a fourteen-day period in which there will be efforts to form an alternative government. If these fail, an early election would be held.
However, in an effort to prevent a government from calling an early election for its strategic benefit, there will be a two-thirds vote needed to call an early election (i.e. in the absence of a lost vote of no-confidence).
So what would there be to stop a government (or large party within a coalition) from faking its loss of confidence and going for an election anyway?