Commenting on the previous post, Yorkshire Ranter Alex contributes to our understanding of Canadian parliamentary procedure—specifically, “the critical paths involved in an unplanned change of government in a Westminster-type constitution.”
…In normal working prorogation is just the precondition to dissolution, which ends one parliament. Dissolution causes the writ of election to be served, which requires a general election to be held within two months. The general election creates the new parliament, which then convenes to hear the Queen’s speech, which contains the legislative programme for the next year, and take a vote. Formally, this vote is what prevents a PM with no majority governing, but in practice it never gets that far.
(Told you it had a flavour of telecoms engineering, if not a biological signalling cascade :-) )
If the prime minister wants to call an election, he or she has to ask their local distributed queenship node for prorogation and therefore dissolution. Once (year - year_lastelection)== 5, the prorogation subroutine executes automatically.
Things get interesting, though, in the case of event-driven prorogation. The PM, and the Government, serve at the pleasure of their local queenship node and during the confidence of a majority in the lower house of Parliament. In the event they lose one of certain types of parliamentary votes (either an explicit vote of confidence, or one on the budget or on the use of already-committed public funds), this condition is no longer satisfied and signal NOCONFIDENCE is raised.
At this point it gets complicated! Not much after that is set down in the documentation for the Westminster API, and it is left up to the implementation. In practice, the canonical version (Westminster 1.0) works like this:
The PM stays PM until he resigns or is ordered out by the local queenship node, thus guaranteeing continuous government.
This means that a PM who trips a NOCONF signal can have a second attempt to form a coalition government (Ted Heath tried this in 1974) or talk the rebel MPs round (John Major did this in 1993). It is necessary to successfully call a confidence vote in this case.
If this fails, however, the Leader of the Opposition is called by the local queenship node to try to form a government FIRST, if it thinks it is possible. If not, or if the Opposition tries and fails, we go to the prorogation subroutine. It is also possible for the PM to ask for a new election, but this is only granted if the PM has attempted to govern with the existing parliament.
As a general rule in all other cases, the largest party is called first.
The Australian implementation differed substantially until its LDQN experienced a partisanship segmentation fault in 1975 and refused PM Gough Whitlam a dissolution after the upper house blocked a supply bill, choosing instead to call Malcolm Fraser, whom it promptly granted the dissolution to. The Australians later legislated to disconnect the malfunctioning LDQN and fix the bug.
I would think that if Harper thinks he can just prorogue and then dis-prorogue without initiating the election process, he’s deluded, and is suggesting a grossly unconstitutional act. I would hope the LDQN functions correctly :-)