Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Refusing the prime minister a dissolution: Canada and Iceland

So, the prime minister of Iceland was outed by the Panama Papers as using secret bank accounts to conceal his ownership of shares in the banks with which his government was negotiating about debts, liabilities, and bailouts. His advice to the president was to dissolve parliament and hold a general election.

The Icelandic president said no.
President Grimsson, after meeting Gunnlaugsson, said he would make a decision on dissolving Parliament only after discussing the matter with other parties.
“I need to determine if there is support for dissolving (parliament) within the ruling coalition and others,” he said. “The prime minister could not confirm this for me, and therefore I am not prepared at this time to dissolve parliament.”
So Gunnlaugsson resigned alone, and the government continues in office, with a new prime minister emerging from among the cabinet ministers while the coalition parties consider their options.

Thinks:  if a Canadian prime minister (or premier), caught in a personal scandal, advised the governor general (or lieutenant governor) to dissolve, would the GG/LG be able to say no?

The Icelandic president is elected and therefore has an authority the Canadian equivalents do not. We don't want an appointed, mostly symbolic head of state making policy decisions.

But should the Canadian be able to make roughly the same calculation the Icelandic head of state did: "I have to take advice from a prime minister who holds the confidence of a majority of the people's elective representatives.  But you have to show me that you do."

Fruits and Votes and its commentators are on this question too.
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