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The Fixed-term Parliaments Act (FTPA) has finally been handed its death sentence after it was repealed in Parliament.
The Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill received royal assent from the Queen on Thursday, thereby rescinding legislation designed to stop an incumbent party from gaining an unfair advantage by choosing the date of a general election.
Far from fixing terms and bringing stability, the FTPA – which set the length of time between elections at five years – brought paralysis and constitutional deadlock to Britain’s democracy and was only conceived to reassure the Cameron-Clegg Coalition that neither would not ditch one another at a moment’s notice.
The early months of Boris Johnson’s reign in 2019 were characterised by stalemate as a result of the FTPA. His attempts to call a fresh election were blocked by the opposition and his lack of majority, meaning the process of government ground to a halt.
But experts have also panned the FTPA as not fit for purpose. Raphael Hogarth, an associate at the Institute for Government (IfG), says the FTPA created a “problem of dispute confidence” because it did not specify what would happen in the period after a “vote of no confidence.”
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The government says that by “restoring the long-standing constitutional norm that the Sovereign may grant a dissolution of Parliament”, the prime minister can once again “seek a fresh democratic mandate from the British public where necessary”. The Act’s repeal puts an end to what was a short-sighted piece of political chicanery.