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Minority government

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A 'minority government government, in a parliamentary democracy, is one in which the governing party has fewer votes than the parties of the opposition. In the opposite situation, a majority government, the government is virtually certain to win any vote put to the legislature. It can thus be said to have the full confidence of parliament. A minority government is subject to a vote of non confidence, which would bring down the governing party and force an election. A minority cannot occur in a two party system, but as the number of parties in the legislature increases, so does the chance of a minority.

Advantages and disadvantages

An advantage often put forward for parliamentary democracy is the virtual certainty of the executive being able to implement its program; this can also be seen as a disadvantage. A majority government, becomes a virtual dictatorship while it is in office, so long as it remains within its constitutional rights.

Recent experience

In the 2008 Canadian General election, the Conservative Party, under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, was returned to power with a minority government. In fact, The previous Harper government had been a minority. The Conservatives had hoped to improve their standing in the house by calling an election while they were in a relatively strong position. These hopes were effectively dashed by by the Crash of 2008. On December the 1st, 2008 the Liberal party, led by Stéphane Dion and the New Democratic Party lead by Jack Layton announced their intention to form a coalition supported by separatist Bloc Québécois party.