snap election

A snap election is one called by the Prime Minister of Canada or Premier? of any of the Canadian provinces and territories?, long before the mandate is up.

Usually such an election is triggered by a failure of a government motion on a budgetary matter, followed by a formal non-confidence vote?.

The Canadian federal election, 2005 was expected to be such a snap election in April 2005. When Paul Martin and Jack Layton made a deal to support a modified Canadian federal budget, 2005, this expectation was not wholly removed, as they lacked the votes to pass a budget and were forced to rely on three independent MP?s. If it were to fail to pass, then, the government would fall.

Technically a Canadian federal general election?, the permission of the Governor-General of Canada?. For a provincial general election? it requires Lieutenant-Governor? of whatever province is involved. These are expected not to exercise discretion unless there is some other party leader who can form a government? and gain the confidence of the legislature? - and who does not themselves want an election. When the request to dissolve the government is granted, a writ drop?s.

Whether a snap election is in the public interest is often debated. Some issues respecting this include:
  • whether the governing party? should have sole power to set the election timing? in its own favour
    • in particular, whether a system that permits the timing to be set by the rulers can ever result in accountable elected officials, or whether distractions that can be anticipated in advance will always pull the public mind off the rulers' behaviour
  • whether the expense of an election, hundreds of millions of dollars, is justified when only one party wants it to occur
  • whether fixed election date?s actually apply in a parliamentary electoral system? where minority government is always a possibility
  • whether recall election?s or other means to recall representatives are not more effective ways to deal with an unpopular or scandalized government
  • whether the relatively short election campaign gives a minor party? enough time to organize a full slate? and get its message across to the public

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