Monday, May 10, 2010

Is it time for a "transition period"?

Look, I don't like Gordon Brown and want him out, but something I've never quite understood is why, when the electoral system as is, produces a decisive result, the incumbent packs it's desks up on the morning after the election and the new lot move in immediately. Why do we not have a "Government-Elect" type system with a transition period? Especially when you have people with bugger all ministerial experience whatsoever suddenly becoming the proud owner of a huge budget, or you need to spend serious time and work analysing the books?

There are some currently who are saying that the country is on hold, others, such as Jonathan Isaby at ConservativeHome are saying that the talks going on at the moment between Team Cameron and Team Clegg are "the best advert against changing the electoral system" and that "proponents of proportional representation actually want to institutionalise the very confusion and chaos which we are currently witnessing."

The thing is, shouldn't we really have a situation where there is a proper period of "handover" anyway? You know, like a few months that is always set aside that says an incumbent provides support for an incoming Administration within a fixed time period so that when power is formally handed over you don't have a lot of people looking lost and confused?

If we institutionalised fixed-period "transition" between Administrations, then this so-called "confusion and chaos" wouldn't matter anymore. If we said we go into "transition" for 90 days, then there would be time for a "Government-elect" to do whatever negotiations might be necessary. Do people say that America is "on hold" between November and January after a Presidential election? No.

So long as you have rules in place that mean, for example, that the outgoing Administration cannot push through legislation and that the Government-elect has a notional veto over acts that may be necessary in the event of some sort of crisis or emergency, then it really wouldn't matter if you had a Hung Parliament or not, because the "uncertainty" would be mitigated.

Also, and I'm not being a proponent of proportional representation here, but, if you did have PR, then yes, coalitions and deals would be more common, but because they would become the "norm", politicians would not be fearful of talking about them prior to a poll anyway, and, in fact, wouldn't most deals be obvious and worked out to some extent prior to an election anyway? Throw in a constitutional transition period, and any extra negotiations wouldn't matter either.

Just a thought.

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