What is a hung parliament and will it mean a coalition government?

Labour surge in polls means outcome of historic general election remains up for grabs

Emma Snaith
Thursday 12 December 2019 20:29
Comments
General Election 2019: Opinion polls over the last seven days

As the UK votes today, final opinion polls indicate a late surge of support for Labour, which pollsters say may yet deny the Conservatives a majority and result in another hung parliament.

Boris Johnson said there was a “clear and present danger” of the Conservatives failing to win an outright majority for the second successive election.

His predecessor Theresa May lost her majority in the 2017 snap election and was forced to lead a minority government supported by the DUP.

So what happens if no party wins the general election? And could a hung parliament result in a coalition government?

What is a hung parliament?

A hung parliament is when no single political party wins enough seats in a general election to secure a majority in the House of Commons.

What happens in a hung parliament?

When there is no majority, whoever was prime minister before the election stays in power and is given the first chance to create a government.

If the Tories fail to win a majority, this would mean Boris Johnson would stay in office until it is decided who will attempt to form a new government.

The prime minister may decide to negotiate with other parties to form a coalition government, or try and govern with a minority of MPs.

But they must survive a confidence vote in the House of Commons in order to form a government.

If they cannot, the prime minister must ask the Queen to invite someone else to try.

Jeremy Corbyn would then be first in line to try to command the confidence of the Commons to form a government.

Labour could attempt to strike a deal with the SNP or Liberal Democrats to put Mr Corbyn into Downing Street.

Does a hung parliament mean a coalition government?

A majority coalition government is a formal agreement between two or more parties who between them have more than 323 MPs.

All the parties in the coalition get to provide ministers in the government.

But a new prime minister could instead rely on a ‘confidence-and-supply’ deal with smaller parties.

This was the case following the 2017 election, which saw Theresa May lead a minority government supported by the DUP.

The government agreed a financial package with the DUP in exchange for support on certain issues.

There is also the option of a minority coalition, where the governing party makes a formal agreement with a smaller party but together they still don't have a majority. This would mean the government would need to seek support in the Commons for every vote.

Alternatively, a party that lacks a majority could simply try to govern as a minority government.

However, this makes it significantly harder for government to get legislation passed by the Commons and indicates no clear mandate from the people.

What are the odds of a hung parliament?

A hung parliament remains an unlikely scenario according to recent polls, with most pointing towards a Conservative majority.

However an eve-of-election poll by BMG Research for The Independent indicates a late surge of support for Labour

It put Conservatives on 41 per cent, Labour on 32 and Liberal Democrats on 14.

This points towards a small overall majority for Boris Johnson’s party but leaving open the possibility of a hung parliament.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in