Bye-Election? Bye-Week?

I’ve seen references in British writings to “Bye-election” and in American sporting schedules to “Bye-week”. What do these terms mean and are they somehow related to one another?

A bye-election is an electio nthat is held in the intereim: i.e., if an MP has to step down because he was caught buggering the family dog, his district would hold an election ASAP in order to appoint a new MP to represent them. They wouldn’t wait several (up to 5) years to get a new representative.

In American sports, particularly football, a bye week is a week in which a team does not play, but takes the week off to practice more to allow injured players to recuperate.

Dunno about British elections, but in sports a bye was originally a round in a tournament in which a competitor wasn’t scheduled. For example, if a top seed in the U.S. Open tennis tournament wasn’t scheduled to play in the first round, that player would be said to have a bye.

In American football this meaning has been extended to a week in which a team doesn’t have a scheduled game. Football teams usually play once a week, most often on Sundays. Each team has one week during the regular season in which it doesn’t have a scheduled game. This is called the team’s “bye week.”

Nitpick: in the UK it’s spelled “by-election”.

It’s spelt that way in Australia too.

It’s even spelled “by-election” in the United States although “special election” is the preferred term.

A by-election becomes necessary when a seat falls vacant during a parliament due to (1) resignation of the incumbent (2) expulsion (3) bankruptcy (4) death (5) lunacy and (6) elevation to the peerage. It is notoriously difficult to differentiate between (5) and (6).

The period between the seat falling vacant and the consequent by-election can vary, but not as much as formerly. Witness this entry from Hansard of January 2004:

Even so, looking at this Parliamentary site there still doesn’t appear to be a time limit between the demise of an MP and the by-election for his replacement:

And Canada. I’m actually involved in a major by-election campaign right now: the MP for the riding (parliamentary district) of Outremont here in Montreal stepped down some time ago, so a by-election for that riding, and another vacant riding, has been called for September. My party actually has an excellent chance in this by-election for once, so we’re pulling out all the stops.

The election is carried out, in most respects, just like a regular election except in one riding only (or a couple of them at the same time, which is fairly common practice – there are two currently underway, with a few more likely to be called in the coming weeks for the same election date.) They are relatively commonplace, though not in any particular riding – I ran in a by-election in my riding in 2002, when a do-nothing backbench MP agreed to resign to allow a hotshot to be coronated and become a cabinet minister.

A few additional reasons for by-elections:

  • A few years ago, then-deputy prime minister Sheila Copps promised to resign her seat if her government did not repeal the hated goods and services tax. It didn’t, so she resigned, then ran again in the by-election, arguing that she would give the voters the chance to see if they forgave her or not. She was re-elected.

  • When a party leader fails to win his or her seat in a general election, or when a party elects a new leader who is not a sitting MP, a junior MP in a safe seat may resign, allowing the leader to stand for election there.

  • When the Conservatives were elected, after a promise not to accept floor-crossers or appoint senators, Harper promptly accepted a floor-crosser and appointed a senator in order to make them cabinet ministers. Said senator, who is from Montreal, baldly stated he didn’t run for MP because he didn’t feel like it. He has since faced criticism because he has sought a seat in none of the two Montreal-area by-elections that have come up since then, arguing he’ll run in his chosen riding of Vaudreuil–Soulanges in the next general election.

BTW, in Canada there is a time limit between a vacancy and when the by-election must be called; I can’t remember what it is, but the present by-election in Outremont was called right on the deadline.

All of this works the same way at the provincial and territorial level, in the case of members of the provincial and territorial legislative assemblies.

Except that, technically, MPs are not allowed to resign, but must instead get themselves disqualified by applying for a paid office under the Crown.

The most recent MP to have done so, becoming steward and bailiff of the Chiltern hundreds of Stoke, Desborough and Burnham, was, of course, Tony Blair.

Spot on.

As a matter of interest, since a member who wishes to resign must apply to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the post of Crown Steward and Bailiff of
the Chiltern Hundreds (or of the Manor of Northstead) can the Chancellor theoretically refuse to give him the job?

I do not suggest that Gordon Brown would ever have considered turning down Tony Blair’s application for the post. I guess that he’d been waiting with bated breath for years to see Tony’s application land on his desk.

BTW, Canadian MPs and provincial/territorial legislators are allowed to resign.

In other sports too. Especially in tournaments, where there is not an even power of 2 teams, so some teams don’t play in the earlier rounds, and they get a bye.

According to this source he can.

Vote orange! Vote orange!

:: ahem ::

So is there a money requirement to be in parliament?

Only in as much as you can’t sit if you are an undischarged bankrupt.

Historically, yes, but, since the adaptation of the House of Lords Act 1999, which made the entry of hereditary peers into the House of Lords no longer automatic, this has not been the case, and there are several hereditary peers serving in the House of Commons.

A by-election becomes necessary when a seat falls vacant during a parliament due to … (6) elevation to the peerage.

If an MP succeeds to an hereditary peerage then clearly, under the 1999 legislation, his seat does not automatically fall vacant. On the other hand if an MP is elevated to the peerage he must resign his seat in the Commons, which then does fall vacant.

Do you have names for those hereditary peers currently serving in the House of Commons?

John Thurso (who is 3rd Viscount Thurso) and Michael Ancram (13th Marquess of Lothian), for starters.

OK thanks.

In addition to the two you mention there is Douglas Hogg, 3rd Viscount Hailsham. According to Wiki, excluding Irish peerages, that’s it.