Coalition government, minority government.
Get used to the terminology, as Tuesday’s election results mean you’ll hear more of it. But what do they all mean?
There are 87 seats in the B.C. Legislature.
It means 44 gives you a majority government, which can govern unchallenged, while anything less is a minority.
With the BC Liberals picking up 43 seats, one short of a majority, as it stands, we’re looking at a minority government that needs the help of an outside third party to make laws pass.
One way that can play out says University of the Fraser Valley political science professor Hamish Telford, is a coalition, a formalized agreement between two parties.
“Two parties, assuming it gets you to a majority, enter a formal coalition. There’d be a set of negotiations, the smaller party would say, ‘Okay, we’d like to have this, this, and this passed from our platform, that’s our price for joining the coalition,’ and the other party would say ‘okay we can do that and we will give you so many seats at the cabinet table.'”
Telford says though that while coalitions are rare, they’re not unheard of.
More likely, he says, is a simple minority government that is propped up by another party in the legislature, but without the formal agreement.
“Two parties come to some sort of arrangement to say ‘okay, if you do X, Y, and Z, we’ll prop you up for a certain amount of time and you can govern before we have to go back to the polls’… I think that’s a possibility that we’re going to see here.”
That would leave the BC Liberals at the mercy of the Greens when passing legislation.
It also means that on certain key pieces of legislation, considered “confidence bills,” the party must win the vote or the government falls.
One such bill would be a budget, another would be the throne speech.
“If the speech does not get the support of the majority, Christy Clark is done and will have to go back to the Lieutenant Governor and submit her resignation as Premier. If she’s going to have first crack at forming government, she’s going to need the support of the Green Party and she’s going to have to have a pretty good idea of what Andrew Weaver wants in the Throne Speech if she wants to survive.”
Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver says he’s in talks with BC Liberals and the BC NDP about what comes next.