April 9th, 2022
By Rehan Piracha
Three prime ministers each in India, Sri Lanka, and Japan have lost no-confidence motions in their respective parliaments over the last few decades.
In all these cases, the prime ministers have either resigned or stayed as caretaker premiers till fresh elections were held in these countries.
No-confidence motions in India
In India, three prime ministers VP Singh, Deve Gowda, and Atal Bihari Vajpayee suffered defeat in no-confidence motions passed in Lok Sabha, the lower house of Indian parliament.
VP Singh (1990)
Former Indian prime minister VP Singh of Janata Dal resigned after suffering a vote of no confidence by a stunning margin of 356 to 151 on November 7, 1990. The Bhartiya Janata Party had withdrawn support to his 11-month coalition over the Ram Temple crisis. Singh immediately handed over his resignation to President R Venkataraman.
The former prime minister lost the confidence motion by a vote of 142 to 346 in the Lok Sabha, with eight abstentions. His government needed 261 votes to survive.
Deve Gowda (1997)
Former Indian prime minister Deve Gowda of Janata Dal failed to secure a vote of confidence in parliament on April 11, 1997. Gowda’s 13-party coalition succeeded in bagging just 158 of the 545 seats in the Lok Sabha. A total of 292 members opposed the confidence motion while six members abstained. Gowde government’s 10-month rule came to an end when Congress withdrew its support.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee (1999)
Former India prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee of Bhartiya Janata Party lost a no-confidence motion by a single vote on April 17, 1999. Vajpayee’s government lasted 13 months until mid-1999 when the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) under J. Jayalalithaa withdrew its support.
Vajpayee tendered his resignation to President Shankar Dayal Sharma who dissolved parliament and called fresh elections.
Interestingly, Vajpayee had served as prime minister for 16 days in 1996 but resigned when it became clear that he did not have enough support to form a government.
No-trust motions in Japan
Japan has seen a revolving door of prime ministers over the years. Several prime ministers have successfully survived no-confidence motions in the lower house of Diet. However, three prime ministers Shigeru Yoshida, Masayoshi Ohira and Kiichi Miyazawa have lost no-confidence motions.
Shigeru Yoshida (1953)
Former Japanese prime minister Shigeru Yoshida lost no-confidence motion in 1953, leading to the shortest term of the lower house in 1953. The house was dissolved only five months after election. Yoshida has served two terms as prime minister of Japan.
Masayoshi Ohira (1980)
In 1980, Japan’s Prime Minister Masayoshi Ohira suffered a stunning defeat on a no-confidence vote in parliament. He was forced to dissolve the lower house and call for new elections. Around 70 members of Liberal Democratic Party deserted Ohira, helping the opposition to achieve an easy 243-187 victory in the no-confidence vote. It was the first time in 27 years that a Japanese prime minister has been beaten on a no-confidence motion.
Kiichi Miyazawa (1993)
Japan’s Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa lost a no-confidence vote in parliament in 1993 over a party rebellion against pervasive political corruption. He dissolved the parliament and called special election. The resolution of no confidence passed the parliament 255 to 220, with 39 members of Miyazawa’s party voting against him. He served as caretaker prime minister till the holding of fresh elections.
No confidence motions in Sri Lanka
Dudley Shelton Senanayake (1960)
Former Sri Lankan prime minister Dudley Shelton Senanayake of United National Party lost a vote of no-confidence in the House of Representatives on April 22, 1960. Dudley resigned as prime minister after only four months in office following a split in his coalition government. Following the no-trust vote, Governor-General Goonetilleke dissolved the Sri Lankan parliament on April 23, 1960.
Sirimavo Bandaranaike (1964)
The world’s first woman prime Sirimavo Bandaranaike of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party lost a vote of no-confidence on December 3, 1964, and the parliament was dissolved on December 17, 1964. She served three terms as prime minister of Sri Lanka.
Mahinda Rajapaksa (2018)
In 2018, Sri Lankan parliament passed a no-confidence motion against prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. Out of 225 members of parliament, 121 parliamentarians voted in favor of the no-confidence motion.
Yitzhak Shamir lone PM to be outed in no-trust motion in Israel
Former Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Shamir of Likud party is the only premiere voted out in a no-confidence motion passed by Israeli parliament on March 15, 1990. The Shamir government was dissolved by a vote of 60 to 55. It was the only time in Israeli history that a government was dissolved by a motion of no confidence.
However, Shamir came back to power after the ultra-Orthodox parties withdrew their support for Shimon Peres’s Labor party.