Friday, May 7, 2010

Keep her out of it

A report on the BBC website addresses an issue I discussed here, which is the role (or lack thereof) of Queen Elizabeth II in the confusion about who should be prime minister of the U.K. following yesterday's inconclusive election.

While, formally, the monarch appoints the prime minister, a king or queen wants that to be a mere formality, after the issue has been decided by the electorate and the parties. Two reasons: 1) a perception that a monarch were engaged in partisan politics would weaken public support for the monarchy, perhaps resulting in a move to replace the monarch with an elected president; 2) the appointment of a prime minister with insufficient support in the House of Commons could immediately be overturned by a no-confidence vote in the House.

As the party leaders go through their mating dance, I'm sure they will keep in mind the need to avoid any scenario that would put the Queen in an awkward position. In addition to the difficulties for her, I would think that could create a backlash against the party of any leader who is perceived as having caused such a situation.

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