Fixed Term Parliaments

Suggested clause:

'Parliament's term shall be of a fixed length with elections held in the same week of the year every 4 years.' 

(There will need to be some final refinement to enable earlier dissolution of a parliament on the basis that no effective government may be formed)

Parliament terms should be of a fixed length of either 4 or 5 years and the dates and voting times of general elections should be fixed according to a formula that ensures that they cannot be manipulated by political parties. 

Tagged users
edited on Apr 18, 2015 by Ian Smith

Daniel Gaunt Apr 5, 2015

Can we reach a consensus on 4 or 5 years? I favour the former personally. 

How do we deal with situations in which no party or grouping can form a government? How do we prevent a government using such a provision to manipulate the rules to cause an election (for example, the largest party refusing to work with others to form a government in the hope of securing a majority or more favourable election outcome)? 

Users tagged:

BananaPlant Apr 7, 2015

I think it should be 4 years fixed term.

Ian Smith Apr 5, 2015

Dear All,

I am posting a quick comment here and in my other ideas.

Firstly, I want to say how much I have enjoyed seeing all of your contributions on this and other ideas and how impressed I am with the range of expertise and erudition which has filled these debates.

Secondly, I wish to put forward a couple of suggestions as to a way forward at this stage.  They are:

A.   I suggest that we all refrain from further voting until the ideas have been refined and represented and have then been debated for a while.  My thinking here is that we will want to see the reshaped ideas and see the comments on those refined ideas before we decide whether they are to be voted up or down,  I do not think that we should refrain from voting on comments but perhaps try not to vote too hastily on them.

B.  Now that the hurly burly of the "Hacking" phase (some of it quite savage) has passed, I hope and wish that we will adopt a more collaborative and less combative approach in our commentary, so that commentary is given a chance to be constructive and really do the job of refining the ideas in question.

C.  I would hope that we can refrain from attacking the very existence of the idea under discussion in this phase or the fact that it has successfully gone through to this phase against the wishes of those who voted it down.  I sincerely hope that the previous critics of an idea, will still respect that it found favour with the crowd and now help to refine the idea in this phase.

Thirdly, I will try my best not to introduce any more typos and mangled phrases! 

Best wishes for the holiday weekend!


Ian Smith Apr 8, 2015

Why not 5 (with provision for no confidence causing shorter periods)?  Kind regards, ian

BananaPlant Apr 9, 2015

Hi Ian,

For me, I think 5 years is too long, I don't know what else to say other than than.

Ian Smith Apr 9, 2015

Thanks BananaPlant,

Does anybody else have any views as to whether a term should be 4 or 5 years long?

Kind regards,


Rob G Apr 9, 2015

Well, the Chartists wanted annual elections, and the maximum term in the nineteenth century was 7 years. Half-way between the two is 4 years...

I don't think there's a scientific way to pick a term. The question for me is what term provides the best balance between enabling effective government and maintaining legitimacy? The longer the term, the longer since the voters were last involved - and the greater the likelihood that issues will be being addressed that were not even mentioned at the previous election. To my mind, we've plenty of experience to demonstrate that four years does enable effective government, so that's where I'd settle.

Mark Cooke Apr 12, 2015

Very few countries have five year terms for their governments,  and I think recent experience in the UK suggests that the last of five years has been a weak period of government,  with most of the programme that is going to be delivered having been completed.

No part of LG that I am aware of has five year terms,

So I think a fixed four year term is the best compromise between accountability and a reasonable period for delivery.


Ian Smith Apr 12, 2015

Looks like 4 years is an emerging consensus. Any final views in favour of 5?

kind regards


Daniel Gaunt Apr 18, 2015

Suggested wording, reflecting the need for elections if no-one is able to form a government:

A general election to Parliament shall be held once every four years. If at any time a Government cannot be formed, the President after being formally advised of this by the Speaker of the House of Commons shall be permitted to require an early general election to take place, with future general elections taking place every four years from that date.