Forming Government and Passing Legislation: Activity One

Deciding who forms government and who becomes prime minister

1. Explain to students that a government can be formed when: 

  • a single party has won a majority of seats in the House of Representatives
  • a coalition of parties has won a majority of seats in the House of Representatives
  • a single party that does not have a majority of seats in the House of Representatives has the support of enough Independents (in which case it is a minority government.)

2.  Place the discs from the Coloured discs handout into a small bucket or bag. Ask students to select a disc to simulate the results of a recent election. These discs represent a seat won in an election.

Does a particular party have enough seats to form government in its own right? In a class of 30 students, at least 16 students must be from one of the coloured parties. If not enough seats have been won in the House of Representatives, the students will need to consider forming a coalition or seek the support of an Independent or Independents (pink, orange, purple and gray discs) in order to form government.

3.  Explain to students that the leader of the party that has the highest number of seats in the House of Representatives becomes the prime minister. The leader of the party that has the second highest number of seats in the House of Representatives becomes the leader of the opposition. The positions of who will lead the party are usually decided before the election. However (as was seen in the 2007 federal election when the then Liberal leader, John Howard, lost his seat) sometimes a new leader for a party may need to be elected.

Ask the students who belong to each of the parties to elect a leader using the preferential voting system.

Introduction | Activity TwoActivity Three