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Motion of Confidence

A Motion of Confidence is a motion of support proposed by a government in a parliament to give members of parliament a chance to register their confidence for a government by means of a parliamentary vote. Governments often propose a Motion of Confidence to replace a Motion of No Confidence proposed by the opposition.

Defeat of a Motion of Confidence in a parliamentary democracy generally requires one of two actions:

  1. the resignation of the government, or
  2. a request for a parliamentary dissolution and the calling of a General Election.

Where a Motion of Confidence has been defeated (or a motion of no confidence passed), a head of state is often constitutionally empowered (should they wish) to refuse a parliamentary dissolution if one is requested, forcing the government back to the resignation option.

A Motion of Confidence may be proposed in the government collectively or in many member thereof, including the prime minister. In Germany, a motion of confidence is often added as an amendement to another piece of legislation.

A Motion of Confidence may also be used tactically to humilate critics of a government (often from the inside of the governing party or parties) who nevertheless dare not vote against the government. By forcing them to vote for the government notwithstanding their public criticism, the proposer of the motion may hope to silence or embarrass critics. It may also be used to unite a divided party or government by creating a sense of 'one for all, all for one' loyalty, bonding a divided government together against the opposition.

Table of contents

Examples of defeats of Motions of Confidence

Examples of how constitutional rules work

Bunreacht na hÉireann: Ireland's Constitution

Article 28.10

The Taoiseach shall resign from office upon his ceasing to retain the support of a majority in Dáil Éireann unless on his advice the President dissolves Dáil Éireann and on the reassembly of Dáil Éireann after the dissolution the Taoiseach secures the support of a majority in Dáil Éireann.

Where a Taoiseach seeks a dissolution in such circumstances, the following article comes into play.

Article 12.2.2

The President may in his absolute discretion refuse to dissolve Dáil Éireann on the advice of a Taoiseach who has ceased to retain the support of a majority in Dáil Éireann.

The Basic Law: the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany

See Constructive Vote of No Confidence.

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