In the debate over simultaneous elections, one question being raised is what happens to the common cycle if any one of these simultaneously elected legislatures is brought down by a no-confidence motion. The ruling BJD in Odisha (where Assembly and Lok Sabha elections already coincide) has proposed a solution — a provision on the lines of what is followed in Germany (The Indian Express, June 22). This is based on a concept called “constructive vote of no-confidence”, also recommended by the Law Commission of India in a 2018 draft report.
Article 67 [Vote of no confidence] of Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany (Constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany) sets conditions for moving a no-confidence motion against the Chancellor — the Bundestag (Parliament) may express its lack of confidence in the Federal Chancellor only by electing a successor by the vote of a majority of its members and requesting the Federal President to dismiss the Chancellor. The President must comply with the request and appoint the person elected.
Article 68 [Vote of confidence] states that if a motion of the Chancellor for a vote of confidence is not supported by a majority of members, the President, upon the proposal of the Chancellor, may dissolve the Bundestag within 21 days. The right of dissolution shall lapse as soon as the Bundestag elects another Chancellor by a majority vote.
Since the provision allows Parliament to withdraw confidence from a head of government only if there is a majority in favour for a prospective successor, it narrows the scope of the Opposition to overthrow the government at will and necessitate elections before the government ends its term.
“The underlying premise is that there is a fixed five-year-tenure (for the House) and that there will be a government no matter what. The government will be presumed to have a majority unless another grouping is in a position to demonstrate that they have greater numbers,” said Pinaki Misra, BJD leader in Lok Sabha.
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