Just a rejoinder to a blog-post by one of my former students about the resignation of the Czech government after a vote of no confidence: Politics in the Czech Republic seem to be a highly complicated affair – well, Kafka was from Prague after all, so what did we expect? – and it is worth noting that international media have a hard time explaining exactly why the Topolanek government fell.
But then there is the thing about votes of no confidence. As it is, there is one country where votes of no confidence (either formally or de facto) have played a large role in parliamentary life. Just look at these years:
1909, 1929, 1947, 1950, 1967, 1973, 1975, 1981, 1984, 1988
That’s ten votes of no confidence or similar votes which have triggered either the resignation of a government or general elections since the introduction of parliamentarism in 1901.
To be more specific:
- Government resigned without calling a general election: 1909, 1950, 1975
- Government called a general election and lost: 1929, 1947, 1967/8, 1973
- Government called a general election, but the Prime Minister continued in office after the election: 1981, 1984, 1988
And, yes: The country is Denmark and parliamentarians seem to have learnt something from the last three occasions because we haven’t had a decent vote of no confidence bringing down a government since 1988.1 And EU is the main reason why the Danish People’s Party isn’t a formal member of the governing coalition since 2001.
PS: In case you wonder, we have also had resignations preempting a vote of no confidence. 1909 (yes, a messy year), 1982 and 1993.
PPS: But wait, I hear you say – wasn’t there elections in 1950 and 1975? Sure – the governments were brought down shortly after the elections and the Prime Minister (Hedtoft in 1950, Hartling in 1975) didn’t have the stomach for new elections.
- I will leave aside 1997 when the government tried to bring down itself. A high point in political comedy [↩]