6.49 Some transitions between administrations may occur during the electoral term. There may be a transition to a new Prime Minister, or to a new governing party or coalition. The guidance in paragraphs 6.50 - 6.55 sets out the established constitutional principles and processes that apply in these situations.
6.50 A change of Prime Minister may occur because the incumbent Prime Minister resigns, or as a result of the retirement, incapacity, or death of the incumbent Prime Minister.
6.52 In some cases (for example, in the event of the sudden death or incapacity of a Prime Minister), the Deputy Prime Minister acts as Prime Minister in a temporary capacity until the leadership of the government is determined.
6.53 A basic principle of New Zealand's system of responsible government is that the government must have the confidence of the House of Representatives to stay in office. A government may lose the confidence of the House during its parliamentary term.
6.54 Where loss of confidence is clear (for example, where the government has lost a vote of confidence in the House), the Prime Minister will, in accordance with convention, advise that the administration will resign. In this situation:
Until a new administration is appointed, the incumbent government continues in office, governing in accordance with the caretaker convention. (See paragraphs 6.16 - 6.35.)
6.55 In some cases, the confidence of the House may be unclear, for example, in the case of a change in coalition arrangements. The incumbent government will need to clarify where the confidence of the House lies, within a short time frame (allowing a reasonable period for negotiation and reorganisation). The caretaker convention applies in the mid-term context only when it becomes clear that the government has lost the confidence of the House.