This, of course, was the West German system, which was designed to prevent the extreme left or right from bringing down a government, unless a majority of the Bundestag could agree on a successor.
There would be, of course, enormous advantages to Mr Ashdown and his party with such a system. For if a new government could be formed by, say, a smaller party switching its support in a hung parliament from Labour to Conservative, then this could be done without recourse to the electorate; such an outcome was triggered in Germany by the Free Democrats' movement from the SPD to the Christian Democrats.
In Britain if a government has no majority, or loses it, it can only be brought down if it then loses a vote of confidence. An election follows. Under Mr Ashdown's proposals, the Liberal Democrats, by moving their support, could change the government without one voter being consulted.
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