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The Monarchy and the Constitution$
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Vernon Bogdanor

Print publication date: 1997

Print ISBN-13: 9780198293347

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198293348.001.0001

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Hung Parliaments and Proportional Representation

Hung Parliaments and Proportional Representation

(p.145) 6 Hung Parliaments and Proportional Representation
The Monarchy and the Constitution

Vernon Bogdanor (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Despite Britain's first past the post‐electoral system, which generally produces single‐party majorities, Britain has become more politically fragmented in recent years. This makes a hung parliament—a parliament in which no single party has a majority—much more likely. Hung parliaments pose a dilemma for the sovereign. For, it will often not be obvious in such a situation who is the most appropriate Prime Minister; nor whether a dissolution requested by a Prime Minister should be granted—there may well be an alternative combination capable of governing within the existing legislature. These problems can be illuminated by analysis of past hung parliaments—1923–24, 1929–31, and 1974. The problems would be exacerbated with the introduction of proportional representation, for this would mean that nearly every parliament would then be a hung parliament.

Keywords:   constitution, constitutional monarchy, dissolution, electoral systems, government, hung parliaments, political fragmentation, Prime Minister, proportional representation

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