Thursday, August 21, 2008

Fixed election dates: a dumb idea whose time has come and gone

Denis Smith ponders the apparant collapse of the fixed-date election law.

Can't die soon enough. Fixed dates for elections are, finally, incompatible with parliamentary democracy. If the government cannot sustain the confidence of the Commons, and no replacement government can be assembled, the dissolution of the Commons has to be available as the only means to produce a legitimate government. In fact the actual text of C-16, the Harper government's election-date law, provides for exactly that.

So the government may have been less than honest in proclaiming fixed election dates while bringing in a bill that allowed for dissolution when required. But what really needs to be exposed is the well-meaning ignorance that drove the fixed-election-date advocates in the first place. Actually it was not entirely ignorant. Underlying it was the inclination, not to make parliaments work, but to undermine "merely" parliamentary democracy in favour of electoral, plebiscitory democracy.

But I've been grumping about this for years, here and here, for instance.
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