karnataka politics: What happens when a party fails the floor test

Bengaluru: Karnataka Minister D. K. Shivakumar interacts with Congress MLCs during the Karnataka Legislative Council Session at the state assembly, in Bengaluru on July 16, 2019. (Photo: IANS)

One of the most important constitutional mechanisms, a floor test is a kind of motion through which the executive head of the state is put to test if he or she still has the confidence of the legislation. As per the mandates of the Indian Constitution, the Governor appoints the Chief Minister of a State. When a floor test is called for during some critical situations in the state assembly, The Chief Minister of the State has the responsibility to prove that he has the support of the majority of members in the legislature bypassing the floor test.

Why a floor test is necessitated

If a single party gets the majority of seats in the Assembly that is sufficient to form the government as per the guidelines issued by the Constitution, the Governor invites the person recommended by the winning candidates of the party to take charge as the Chief Minister. If no party is in a position to form the government due to the lacking majority, the Governor appoints the leader heading the single largest party or coalition to pass a vote of confidence to be able to continue as the executive leader of the house. When the Governor orders for a floor test, the chief minister is required to prove that he or she has the support of the majority members and hence has successfully retained the confidence of the house. The floor test is conducted with the participation of the members present and voting. If the floor test or confidence motion fails, the Chief Minister will have to resign his position.

Composite floor test

Composite floor test happens when more than one person makes a claim to form the government under circumstances when the majority is not clear. A composite floor test is a special session that will assess who has the majority based on the voting of those present and voted and at times, it happens via voice voting also.

What happens in a floor test

The Chief Minister is expected to move a motion of confidence and win the majority among the members present and voted. The objective of the floor test is to ensure the constitutional process happens in a transparent manner.

How voting is conducted in a floor test

There are three modes in which the floor test can be administered.

In a voice vote, the legislators are asked to respond orally. In case a division vote is ordered for, the voting is done with the use of electronic gadgets, ballot box or slips. A ballot vote is done if secret voting is necessitated. This is similar to how the general elections are conducted.

The outcome of a floor test

If the floor test fails, the Chief Minister has to resign.

If a composite floor test happens and more than one member takes up the floor test, the winning person with the majority will be asked to form the government.

If there is a tie, the speaker can cast his or her vote.

The role of the pro-tem speaker

Before a floor test is conducted, the Governor of the State appoints the longest-serving member of the house as the pro tem speaker who will conduct the floor test.
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