Speaker of the House of Commons (United Kingdom)
The Speaker of the House of Commons is the presiding officer of the House of Commons, the United Kingdom's nominally lower, but more influential, chamber of Parliament. John Bercow was elected Speaker on 22 June 2009, following the resignation of Michael Martin, he was since re-elected, three times, following the general elections in 2010, 2015 and 2017. The Speaker presides over the House's debates; the Speaker is responsible for maintaining order during debate, may punish members who break the rules of the House. Unlike presiding officers of legislatures in many other countries, Speakers remain non-partisan and renounce all affiliation with their former political parties when taking office and afterwards; the Speaker does not take part in vote. Aside from duties relating to presiding over the House, the Speaker performs administrative and procedural functions, remains a constituency Member of Parliament; the Speaker has the obligation to reside in Speaker's House at the Palace of Westminster.
The office of Speaker is as old as Parliament itself. The earliest year for which a presiding officer has been identified is 1258, when Peter de Montfort presided over the Parliament held in Oxford. Early presiding officers were known by prolocutor; the continuous history of the office of Speaker is held to date from 1376 when Sir Peter de la Mare spoke for the commons in the "Good Parliament" as they joined leading magnates in purging the chief ministers of the Crown and the most unpopular members of the king's household. Edward III was frail and in seclusion, it was left to a furious John of Gaunt, to fight back. He arrested disgraced other leading critics. In the next, "Bad Parliament", in 1377, a cowed Commons put forward Gaunt's steward, Thomas Hungerford, as their spokesman in retracting their predecessors' misdeeds of the previous year. Gaunt evidently wanted a "mirror-image" as his form of counter-coup and this notion, born in crisis, of one'speaker', who also became'chairman' and organiser of the Commons' business, was recognised as valuable and took immediate root after 1376–7.
On 6 October 1399, Sir John Cheyne of Beckford was elected speaker. The powerful Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Arundel, is said to have voiced his fears of Cheyne's reputation as a critic of the Church. Eight days Cheyne resigned on grounds of ill-health, although he remained in favour with the king and active in public life for a further 14 years. Although the officer was elected by the Commons at the start of each Parliament, with at least one contested election known, in 1420, in practice the Crown was able to get whom it wanted, indicating that the famous'defence of the Commons' privilege' should not be seen in isolation as the principal thread in the office's evolution. Whilst the principle of giving this spokesman personal immunity from recrimination as only being the voice of the whole body was adopted and did enhance the Commons' role, the Crown found it useful to have one person with the authority to select and lead the lower house's business and responses to the Crown's agenda, much more than not in the way the Crown wanted.
Thus, Whig ideas of the Commons growing in authority as against royal power are somewhat simplistic. Throughout the medieval and early modern period, every speaker was an MP for a county, reflecting the implicit position that such shire representatives were of greater standing in the house than the more numerous burgess MPs. Although evidence is non-existent, it has been surmised that any vote was by count of head, but by the same token the lack of evidence of actual votes suggests that most decisions, at least of a general kind, were reached more through persuasion and the weight by status of the county MPs. In such a situation, the influence of the speaker should not be underestimated. Sir Thomas More was the first speaker to go on to become Lord Chancellor; until the 17th century, members of the House of Commons continued to view their speaker as an agent of the Crown. As Parliament evolved, the Speaker's position grew to involve more duties to the House than to the Crown; this change is sometimes said to be reflected by an incident in 1642, when King Charles I entered the House in order to search for and arrest five members for high treason.
When the King asked him if he knew of the location of these members, the Speaker, William Lenthall, famously replied: "May it please your Majesty, I have neither eyes to see nor tongue to speak in this place but as the House is pleased to direct me, whose servant I am here."The development of Cabinet government under King William III in the late 17th century caused further change in the role of the Speaker. Speakers were associated with the ministry, held other government offices. For example, Robert Harley served as Speaker and as a Secretary of State between 1704 and 1705; the speaker between 1728 and 1761, Arthur Onslow, reduced ties with the government, though the office remained to a large degree political. The speakership evolved into its modern form—in which the holder is an impartial and apolitical officer who does not
House of Commons of the United Kingdom
The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the upper house, the House of Lords, it meets in the Palace of Westminster; the full name of the house is the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled. Owing to shortage of space, its office accommodation extends into Portcullis House; the Commons is an elected body consisting of 650 members known as Members of Parliament. Members are elected to represent constituencies by the first-past-the-post system and hold their seats until Parliament is dissolved; the House of Commons of England started to evolve in 14th centuries. It became the House of Commons of Great Britain after the political union with Scotland in 1707, assumed the title of "House of Commons of Great Britain and Ireland" after the political union with Ireland at the start of the 19th century; the "United Kingdom" referred to was the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 1800, became the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland after the independence of the Irish Free State in 1922.
Accordingly, the House of Commons assumed its current title. Under the Parliament Act 1911, the Lords' power to reject legislation was reduced to a delaying power; the Government is responsible to the House of Commons and the Prime Minister stays in office only as long as she or he retains the confidence of a majority of the Commons. Although it does not formally elect the prime minister, the position of the parties in the House of Commons is of overriding importance. By convention, the prime minister is answerable to, must maintain the support of, the House of Commons. Thus, whenever the office of prime minister falls vacant, the Sovereign appoints the person who has the support of the House, or, most to command the support of the House—normally the leader of the largest party in the Commons, while the leader of the second-largest party becomes the Leader of the Opposition. Since 1963, by convention, the prime minister is always a member of the House of Commons, rather than the House of Lords.
The Commons may indicate its lack of support for the Government by rejecting a motion of confidence or by passing a motion of no confidence. Confidence and no confidence motions are phrased explicitly, for instance: "That this House has no confidence in Her Majesty's Government." Many other motions were until recent decades considered confidence issues though not explicitly phrased as such: in particular, important bills that were part of the Government's agenda. The annual Budget is still considered a matter of confidence; when a Government has lost the confidence of the House of Commons, the prime minister is obliged either to resign, making way for another MP who can command confidence, or to request the monarch to dissolve Parliament, thereby precipitating a general election. Parliament sits for a maximum term of five years. Subject to that limit, the prime minister could choose the timing of the dissolution of parliament, with the permission of the Monarch. However, since the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011, terms are now a fixed five years, an early general election is brought about by a two-thirds majority in favour of a motion for a dissolution, or by a vote of no confidence, not followed within fourteen days by a vote of confidence.
By this second mechanism, the UK's government can change its political composition without an intervening general election. Only four of the eight last Prime Ministers have attained office as the immediate result of a general election; the latter four were Jim Callaghan, John Major, Gordon Brown and the current Prime Minister Theresa May. In such circumstances there may not have been an internal party leadership election, as the new leader may be chosen by acclaim, having no electoral rival. A prime minister will resign after party defeat at an election if unable to lead a coalition, or obtain a confidence and supply arrangement, she or he may resign after a motion of no confidence or for health reasons. In such cases, the premiership goes to, it has become the practice to write the constitution of major UK political parties to provide a set way in which to appoint a new leader. Until 1965, the Conservative Party had no fixed mechanism for this, it fell to the Queen to appoint Harold Macmillan as the new prime minister, after taking the consensus of cabinet ministers.
By convention, ministers are members of the House of House of Lords. A handful have been appointed who were outside Parliament, but in most cases they entered Parliament in a by-election or by receiving a peerage. Exceptions include Peter Mandelson, appointed Secretary of State for Business and Regulatory Reform in October 2008 before his peerage. Since 1902, all prime ministers have been members of the Commons; the new session of Parliament was delayed to await the outcome of his by-election, which happened
The Senate is the upper house of the bicameral Parliament of Australia, the lower house being the House of Representatives. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Chapter I of the Constitution of Australia. There are a total of 76 Senators: 12 are elected from each of the six states regardless of population and 2 from each of the two autonomous internal territories. Senators are popularly elected under the single transferable vote system of proportional representation. Unlike upper houses in other Westminster-style parliamentary systems, the Senate is vested with significant powers, including the capacity to reject all bills, including budget and appropriation bills, initiated by the government in the House of Representatives, making it a distinctive hybrid of British Westminster bicameralism and United States-style bicameralism; as a result of proportional representation, the chamber features a multitude of parties vying for power. The governing party or coalition, which has to maintain the confidence of the lower house, has not held a majority in the Senate since 2005–2008 and needs to negotiate with other parties and Independents to get legislation passed.
The Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act of 1900 established the Senate as part of the new system of dominion government in newly federated Australia. From a comparative governmental perspective, the Australian Senate exhibits distinctive characteristics. Unlike upper Houses in other Westminster system governments, the Senate is not a vestigial body with limited legislative power. Rather it was intended to play – and does play – an active role in legislation. Rather than being modelled after the House of Lords, as the Canadian Senate was, the Australian Senate was in part modelled after the United States Senate, by giving equal representation to each state and equal powers; the Constitution intended to give less populous states added voice in a Federal legislature, while providing for the revising role of an upper house in the Westminster system. Although the Prime Minister and Treasurer, by convention, are members of the House of Representatives, other members of the Cabinet may come from either house, the two Houses have equal legislative power.
As with most upper chambers in bicameral parliaments, the Senate cannot introduce or amend appropriation bills or bills that impose taxation, that role being reserved for the lower house. That degree of equality between the Senate and House of Representatives reflects the desire of the Constitution's authors to address smaller states' desire for strong powers for the Senate as a way of ensuring that the interests of more populous states as represented in the House of Representatives did not dominate the government; this situation was partly due to the age of the Australian constitution – it was enacted before the confrontation in 1909 in Britain between the House of Commons and the House of Lords, which resulted in the restrictions placed on the powers of the House of Lords by the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949. In practice, most legislation in the Australian Parliament is initiated by the Government, which has control over the lower house, it is passed to the Senate, which has the opportunity to amend the bill, pass or reject it.
In the majority of cases, voting takes place along party lines, although there are occasional conscience votes. The system for electing senators has changed several times since Federation; the original arrangement involved a first-past-the-post block voting or "winner takes all" system, on a state-by-state basis. This was replaced in 1919 by preferential block voting. Block voting tended to produce landslide majorities and "wipe-outs". For instance, from 1920 to 1923 the Nationalist Party held all but one of the 36 seats, from 1947 to 1950, the Labor Party held all but three. In 1948, single transferable vote proportional representation on a state-by-state basis became the method for electing Senators; this had the effect of limiting the government's ability to control the chamber, has helped the rise of Australian minor parties. From the 1984 election, group ticket voting was introduced, in order to reduce a high rate of informal voting that arose from the requirement that each candidate be given a preference, to allow small parties and independent candidates a reasonable chance of winning a seat.
This allowed voters to select a single party "Above the Line" to distribute their preferences on their behalf, but voters were still able to vote directly for individual candidates and distribute their own preferences if they wished "Below the Line" by numbering every box. In 2016, group tickets were abolished to avoid undue influence of preference deals amongst parties that were seen as distorting election results and a form of optional preferential voting was introduced; as a result of the changes, voters may assign their preferences for parties above the line, or individual candidates below the line, are not required to fill all of the boxes. Both above and below the line voting now use optional preferential voting. For above the line, voters are instructed to number at least their first six preferences. For below the line, voters are required to number at least their first 12 preferences. Voters are free to continue numbering as many preferences as
Betty Boothroyd, Baroness Boothroyd, Hon. FSLL, is a British politician, who served as a Labour Member of Parliament for West Bromwich and West Bromwich West from 1973 to 2000. From 1992 to 2000, she served as Speaker of the House of Commons, she was the first and, to date, only female Speaker. After the death of Michael Martin in 2018, she became the only living former Speaker of the House of Commons, she sits, by tradition. Boothroyd was born in Dewsbury, Yorkshire, in 1929, the only child of Ben Archibald Boothroyd and his second wife Mary, both textile workers, she went on to study at Dewsbury College of Commerce and Art. From 1946 to 1954, she worked as a member of the Tiller Girls dancing troupe. During the mid to late 1950s, she worked as secretary to Labour MPs Barbara Castle and Geoffrey de Freitas. In 1960, she travelled to the United States to see the Kennedy campaign, she subsequently began work in Washington as a legislative assistant for an American Congressman, Silvio Conte, between 1960 and 1962.
When she returned to London she continued her work as secretary and political assistant to various senior Labour politicians such as Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Harry Walston. In 1965, she was elected to a seat on Hammersmith Borough Council, in Gibbs Green ward, where she remained until 1968. Running for the Labour Party, Boothroyd contested several seats – Leicester South East in 1957, Peterborough in 1959, Nelson and Colne in 1968, Rossendale in 1970 – before being elected Member of Parliament for West Bromwich in a by-election in 1973. In 1974, she was appointed an assistant Government Whip and she was a Member of the European Parliament from 1975 to 1977. In 1979, she became a member of the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs, until 1981, of the Speaker's Panel of Chairmen, until 1987, she was a member of the Labour Party National Executive Committee from 1981 to 1987 and the House of Commons Commission from 1983 to 1987. In 1987, she became a Deputy Speaker under the Speaker Bernard Weatherill.
She served in this role for five years. In 1992 she was elected Speaker, being the first woman to hold the position. There was some debate as to whether or not Boothroyd should wear the traditional Speaker's wig upon her election, she chose not to but stated that any subsequent Speakers would be free to choose to wear the wig. In 1993, the Government won a vote on the Social Chapter of the Maastricht Treaty due to her casting vote. However, it was subsequently discovered that her casting vote was not required, as the votes had been miscounted and the Government had won by one vote, she was keen to get young people interested in politics, in the 1990s made an appearance as a special guest on the BBC's Saturday morning children's programme Live & Kicking. On 12 July 2000, she announced in a statement to the House of Commons that she would resign as Speaker after the summer recess. Tony Blair Prime Minister, paid tribute to her as "something of a national institution". Blair's predecessor, John Major, described her as an "outstanding Speaker".
She resigned as Speaker and as an MP by accepting an appointment to the position of Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Chiltern Hundreds on 23 October 2000. Boothroyd was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Civil Law by the City University London in 1993. Boothroyd was chancellor of the Open University from 1994 until October 2006, has donated some of her personal papers to the University's archives. In March 1995, she was awarded an honorary degree from the Open University as Doctor of the University. Since 1999, she is an Honorary Fellow of Oxford. Two portraits of Boothroyd are part of the parliamentary art collection since 1994 and 1999. On 15 January 2001, she was created a life peer, the first of the millennium, taking as her title Baroness Boothroyd, of Sandwell in the County of West Midlands, her autobiography was published in the same year. In April 2005, she was appointed to the Order of an honour in the personal gift of the Queen. Boothroyd is an Honorary Fellow of the Society of Light and Lighting since 2009, she is an Honorary Fellow of St Edmund's College, Cambridge.
Boothroyd is furthermore a Vice President of the Industry and Parliament Trust and the Patron of the Jo Richardson Community School in Dagenham, East London, England, as well as being President of NBFA Assisting the Elderly. In January 2011, Boothroyd posited that Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg's plans for some members to the upper house to be directly elected could leave Britain in constitutional disarray: "It is wantonly destructive, it is destruction that hasn’t been thought through properly". Boothroyd said she was concerned that an elected Lords would rival the Commons, risking power-struggles between the two. Having never married or had children, Boothroyd has remained physically active, taking up paragliding while on holiday in Cyprus in her 60s, she has described the hobby as both "lovely and peaceful" and "exhilarating". 1929–1973: Miss Betty Boothroyd 1973–1992: Miss Betty Boothroyd 1992–2000: The Rt Hon Betty Boothroyd 2000–2001: The Rt Hon Betty Boothroyd 2001–2005: The Rt Hon The Baroness Boothroyd 2005–present: The Rt Hon The Baroness Boothroyd Boothroyd has received several honorary degrees in recognition of her political career.
6 December 1993: Doctor of Civil Law from City, University of London. 1994: Doctor of Letters from the University of Cambridge. 18 March 1995: Doctor of the University from the Open University 1995: Doctor of Civil Law from the University of Oxford. 26
The Wildrose Party was a conservative provincial political party in Alberta, Canada. The party was formed by the merger in early 2008 of the Alberta Alliance Party and the unregistered Wildrose Party of Alberta; the wild rose. It contested the 2008 provincial election under the Wildrose Alliance banner, was able to capture seven percent of the popular vote but failed to hold its single seat in the Legislative Assembly. Support for the party rose in 2009 as voters grew frustrated with the Progressive Conservative government, resulting in a surprise win by outgoing leader Paul Hinman in an October by-election. In the fall of 2009 Danielle Smith was elected as leader and by December the Wildrose was leading provincial opinion polls ahead of both the governing PCs and the opposition Liberals. Wildrose's caucus grew to four members in 2010, after two former PC members of the Legislative Assembly defected in January and an independent MLA joined the party in June of that year. In the 2012 election, while the party failed to have the breakthrough predicted by most media pundits, it did increase its vote and seat totals and become the official opposition.
In December 2014, nine Wildrose MLAs including leader Danielle Smith left the party to join the Progressive Conservative caucus under its elected leader Jim Prentice. All of the defectors to the PCs who sought re-election in the 2015 general election lost their seats, through either losing the nomination process in their riding, or losing the general election to the Wildrose challenger. Effective February 3, 2015, the party's registered name was changed from Wildrose Alliance Party to Wildrose Party. On May 18, 2017, the leaders of the Wildrose and Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta announced a merger, ratified with 95% support of the membership of both parties in July 2017; the combined United Conservative Party held their inaugural leadership election on October 28, 2017. The Alberta Alliance Party voted to change its registered name on January 19, 2008 to the Wildrose Alliance after it merged with the unregistered Wildrose Party of Alberta; the name changed to Wildrose Alliance Party of Alberta after being approved by Elections Alberta on January 31, 2008.
The two parties had similar policies and the Wildrose had key personnel involved with the Alberta Alliance. They hoped that a union would allow the new party to present a stronger front for an anticipated election in the spring of 2008. Paul Hinman, the party's only sitting Member of the Legislative Assembly remained leader after the merger. During the 27th Alberta general election, the Wildrose Alliance attempted to position itself as a conservative alternative to the governing PC party, released a platform that promised fixed election dates, increasing personal tax exemptions, elimination of health care premiums, the creation of an Alberta Pension Plan, a reworking of the controversial changes the PC government made to the oil and gas royalty regime. An anticipated backlash against the governing PCs failed to materialize, as Premier Ed Stelmach extended his party's seat total to 72 from 60. While the Alliance finished second in eight ridings across the province, they failed to win any seats as Hinman lost his Cardston-Taber-Warner riding by just 39 votes.
Running candidates in 61 of the province's 83 ridings, the Alliance took 6.78% of the vote, fourth behind the PCs, Liberals and New Democrats. Hinman announced on April 2009 his intention to step down as leader, he remained the party's leader in an interim capacity until the leadership convention. Former Canadian Federation of Independent Business provincial director Danielle Smith and Mark Dyrholm, a chiropractor in Calgary, announced their candidacy at the June convention; the party viewed the leadership campaign with optimism, announcing that its membership was growing as Albertans grew frustrated with the Stelmach government's performance. Growing opposition to the government's oil and gas royalty program, a record $4.7 billion deficit in 2009, the PC's "liberal spending" facilitated the growth of the party. The party began to attract former Reform Party of Canada supporters along with high-profile former members of the provincial Progressive Conservatives, including former premier Ralph Klein's father.
Using the slogan "Send Ed a message" as a rallying cry, Paul Hinman sought to take advantage of public discontent as he ran in a September by-election in the Calgary-Glenmore riding. He surprised political observers by capturing 37 percent of the vote, narrowly defeating Liberal opponent Avalon Roberts to win the election and gain the Wildrose Alliance its first seat in the legislature; the Tories, who had held the riding uninterrupted since 1969, fell to third place. Political observers argued the result was more a protest against the Stelmach government than firm support for the Alliance, though it gave the party momentum as it prepared to vote for a leader. Smith and Dyrholm both attempted to capitalize on the party's election win, proclaiming that Albertans wanted change and that each of them would lead the Wildrose Alliance to a victory in the next general election; the party experienced a considerable growth heading into the leadership election, announcing it had 11,670 members at the beginning of October, compared to 1,800 in June.
Smith was elected the new leader at the convention held in Edmonton on October 17. Upon her election, Smith sought to continue the party's growth, focusing her efforts on fundraising and a search for strong candidates; the Wildrose Alliance's growth was evident in the polls. Shortly before Smith's electio
Herbert Laming, Baron Laming
William Herbert Laming, Baron Laming, CBE, PC is a British social worker and member of the House of Lords. He served as Convenor of the Crossbench Peers from 2011 to 2015 and as Chairman of Committees from 2015 to 2016. Born in Newcastle upon Tyne, Laming studied Applied Social Studies at Durham University in 1960. Laming worked as a probation officer and psychiatric social worker in Nottingham, before moving to Hertfordshire County Council in 1971, becoming director of social services in 1975. In 1990, his department was criticised for its handling of a case that centred on allegations made to Hertfordshire social services by the father of a young girl, concerned that his daughter was being sexually abused by her mother's boyfriend; the child was interviewed in front of a violation of official guidelines. Police and social services performed an overnight raid on his house and took his daughter to her mother and her mother's boyfriend. Laming denied him access to an internal inquiry report. In 1995, the Local Government Ombudsman made a finding of'maladministration with injustice' against the department.
Laming was chief inspector of the Social Services Inspectorate from 1991 until 1998. He has worked as an advisor to the Local Government Association, is a past President of the Association of Directors of Social Services, he is involved with many social services organisations. In 1985, Laming was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, he was knighted in 1996 and was created a life peer on 27 July 1998 as Baron Laming, of Tewin in the county of Hertfordshire. In 1999, he was given an honorary Doctor of Science by Durham. In 2000, he was appointed head of the Harold Shipman inquiry a private inquiry. However, relatives of Shipman's victims wanted a public inquiry, they won a judicial review, forcing the inquiry to become public. Dame Janet Smith replaced Laming as the chairman. In the same year, he investigated management in the prison service. In 2001, he chaired the public inquiry into eight-year-old Victoria Climbié's death. Laming's appointment was controversial because of his previous post as head of Hertfordshire county council's social services department.
The father of the daughter in the Hertfordshire case said, "I don't see how he has the qualifications or experience to be able to lead an investigation into another borough, failing to protect a child in the same manner that his own authority failed to protect a child in 1990". Liberal Democrat spokesman Paul Burstow said, "the findings of the ombudsman in the Hertfordshire case must give rise to questions about Lord Laming's appointment to head this inquiry"; the Department for Health, said that they were "fully confident that he is the right person to conduct the inquiry". His final report was published on 28 February 2003, led to many child protection reforms; the report led to the formation of the Every Child Matters programme, a framework to improve the lives of children. Lord Laming was appointed in November 2008 to investigate Britain's social services on a national basis following the death of Baby P; the subject caused heated arguments in the House of Commons between Gordon Brown and David Cameron forcing the Commons Speaker to intervene on a number of occasions to restore order.
In June 2011, Lord Laming was elected Convenor of the Crossbench Peers in the House of Lords, which office he left in September 2015, when he became the Chairman of Committees. He became a member of the Privy Council in June 2014. Victoria Climbie Inquiry: Lord Laming The Guardian: Profile of Lord Laming BBC News: Baby P article BBC News: Commons clash over Baby P
A coalition government is a cabinet of a parliamentary government in which multiple political parties cooperate, reducing the dominance of any one party within that "coalition". The usual reason for this arrangement is that no party on its own can achieve a majority in the parliament. A coalition government might be created in a time of national difficulty or crisis to give a government the high degree of perceived political legitimacy or collective identity it desires while playing a role in diminishing internal political strife. In such times, parties have formed all-party coalitions. If a coalition collapses, a confidence vote is held or a motion of no confidence is taken; when a general election does not produce a clear majority for a single party, parties either form coalition cabinets, supported by a parliamentary majority, or minority cabinets which may consist of one or more parties. Cabinets based on a group of parties that command a majority in parliament tend to be more stable and long-lived than minority cabinets.
While the former are prone to internal struggles, they have less reason to fear votes of no confidence. Majority governments based on a single party are even more stable, as long as their majority can be maintained. Countries which operate with coalition cabinets include: the Nordic countries, the Benelux countries, Austria, France, Greece, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Kosovo, Lebanon, New Zealand, Thailand and Tobago, Turkey and Ukraine. Switzerland has been ruled by a coalition of the four strongest parties in parliament from 1959 to 2008, called the "Magic Formula". Between 2010 and 2015, the United Kingdom operated a formal coalition between the Conservative and the Liberal Democrat parties, but this was unusual: the UK has a single-party majority government. In the United Kingdom, coalition governments have only been formed at times of national crisis; the most prominent was the National Government of 1931 to 1940. There were multi-party coalitions during both world wars. Apart from this, when no party has had a majority, minority governments have been formed with one or more opposition parties agreeing to vote in favour of the legislation which governments need to function: for instance the Labour government of James Callaghan formed a pact with the Liberals from March 1977 until July 1978, after a series of by-election defeats had eroded Labour's majority of three seats, gained at the October 1974 election.
However, in the run-up to the 1997 general election, Labour opposition leader Tony Blair was in talks with Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown about forming a coalition government if Labour failed to win a majority at the election. The 2010 general election resulted in a hung parliament, the Conservatives, led by David Cameron, which had won the largest number of seats, formed a coalition with the Liberal Democrats in order to gain a parliamentary majority, ending 13 years of Labour government; this was the first time that the Conservatives and Lib Dems had made a power-sharing deal at Westminster. It was the first full coalition in Britain since 1945, having been formed 70 years to the day after the establishment of Winston Churchill's wartime coalition and the Liberal Democrats have entered into a coalition three times in the Scottish Parliament and twice in the Welsh Assembly. In Germany, for instance, coalition government is the norm, as it is rare for either the Christian Democratic Union of Germany together with their partners the Christian Social Union in Bavaria, or the Social Democratic Party of Germany, to win an unqualified majority in a national election.
Thus, at the federal level, governments are formed with at least two parties. For example, Helmut Kohl's CDU governed for years in coalition with the Free Democratic Party. "Grand coalitions" of the two large parties occur, but these are rare, as large parties prefer to associate with small ones. However, if none of the larger parties can receive enough votes to form their preferred coalition, a grand coalition might be their only choice for forming a government; this was the situation in Germany in 2005 when Angela Merkel became Chancellor: in early elections, the CDU/CSU did not garner enough votes to form a majority coalition with the FDP. A grand coalition government was subsequently forged between the CDU/CSU and the SPD. Partnerships like these involve structured cabinets; the CDU/CSU ended up holding the Chancellery. Parties make statements ahead of elections which coalitions they categorically reject, similar to election promises or shadow cabinets in other countries. In Germany, coalitions consist of more than two parties.
However, in the 2010s coalitions on the state level included three different parties FDP, Greens and one of the major parties or "red red green" coalitions of SPD, Linkspartei and Greens. By 2016, the Greens have joined governments on the state level in eleven coalitions in seven various constellations. In federal Australian politics