Kuala Lumpur – The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs
(IDEAS) released its June 2012 Policy Ideas briefing paper, calling
for proper preparation in case there is a hung parliament (or hung
state legislative assembly) after General Elections 13. The paper is
This June 2012 Policy Ideas is a continuation from a previous one
(March 2012) which looked into the roles of the civil service in
ensuring smooth transition of governments. Both can be downloaded from
IDEAS website http://ideas.org.my/?cat=164
In this latest Policy Ideas briefing paper, we explore the steps
necessary after an election, especially if there is an uncertain
election outcome (hung parliament or hung state legislative assembly).
By looking at case studies from 3 mature constitutional democracies –
United Kingdom, The Netherlands and Sweden – we argue that there is
need for clear policies concerning the scope of a caretaker
government, negotiations over government formation, and the role of
the Rulers and Council of Rulers in the democratic process.
In case there is hung parliament or hung state legislative assembly,
we recommend that:
1. The boundaries and limitations of the post-election caretaker
government has to be clearly defined pre-election. It is not enough to
have a caretaker government nominated if the scope of its power is not
defined. The guideline should include:
– Who should be in the caretaker government and what size it
– The power should be limited to decisions of national
security and the continued execution of already approved policies.
– No new policy decisions should be made, nor should any
announcements of new projects launched.
2. Clearly defined practises needs to be put in place in order to
prevent stalemate in the case of an uncertain election result. These
guidelines should include who has the prerogative to start the
negotiation and which body should oversee the negotiation to ensure
– Any system developed has to make sure that the negotiation
process is fair and transparent. It is advisable to use an independent
negotiator to ensure that all parties have a reasonable access to the
– Safeguards against a drawn-out process have to be
included, for example a limit on the number of government formation
attempts that can be done without invoking a new election.
3. The roles of the Rulers and Council of Rulers have to be defined.
As seen in the European constitutional monarchies the monarch takes a
back-seat role in the government formation process to respect the
democratic wishes of the people. Their involvement is limited to
general interest and the maintenance of due process.
– The Rulers have an important role to play as a guarantor
of due process and as a unifier of the people.
– The role of the Rulers should not include an arbitration
role during the coalition negotiations, or indeed afterwards. This
will safeguard the institution from accusations of being partisan.