Transitions following an election


6.11 The formation of a government following a general election is the usual process by which executive power is transferred from one government administration to another. For information on mid-term changes of government, see paragraphs 6.53 - 6.55.

6.12 Following an election, the Governor-General will appoint a Prime Minister and a government in accordance with the principles and processes set out in paragraphs 6.36 - 6.48.

Outcome of elections

6.13 Under the former "first past the post" electoral system, an election almost always resulted in a clear majority for a single party. Government formation negotiations were therefore unnecessary. If the incumbent administration was confirmed in office, it simply resumed normal government business, with the Prime Minister appointing some new Ministers if required. If the election resulted in a change to a new single-party majority administration, the outgoing government continued in office until the incoming government was sworn in. The outgoing government undertook no new policy initiatives and acted on the advice of the incoming administration, governing under the second arm of the caretaker convention. (See paragraphs 6.24 - 6.25.)

6.14 Under a proportional representation electoral system, it is likely that two or more parties will negotiate coalition or support agreements so that a government can be formed, whether it is a majority or minority government. The principles and procedures that operate during the government formation process are set out in paragraphs 6.36 - 6.48.

6.15 During the government formation process, the outgoing government continues to govern, but it does so as a caretaker government governing under the first arm of the caretaker convention. (See paragraphs 6.20 - 6.23.)