What is a No Confidence Vote?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A no confidence vote is a motion brought forward in a legislative body by the opposition party. It is usually used as a tool to undermine the majority party, and can also be used to remove people from office, depending on the system of government. The motion is a very serious political event, as it suggests a lack of faith in the current government and a desire to change it before the next scheduled election. This type of vote is most common in parliamentary democracies.

In British politics, a no-confidence vote dissolves the current parliament and sets a new election.
In British politics, a no-confidence vote dissolves the current parliament and sets a new election.

In the United States, this type of vote is merely a symbolic act, although actions may be taken if an official or government fails such a vote. It does alert the populace and the government to a problem, which can be very important. In other countries, a government can be removed as a result of a vote of no confidence, usually through dissolving the current parliament and holding a special election. In other nations, it is possible to hold a constructive vote of no confidence, which means that the motion includes a recommendation for a successor.

When a constructive vote of no confidence is held, it ensures that the replacement for the failing government has backing and helps to streamline the process of transitioning. When a conventional vote is held, it can throw a nation into chaos. For this reason, the motion is typically proposed only when the opposition feels that it is the sole option remaining. The vote is sometimes also used as a political tool to stall for time or smear the majority party.

In nations which do not have a no confidence system, public officials can still be removed from office through impeachment or recall. Impeachment is a formal trial and subsequent request to step down held by a legislative body. Recall is a popular election that typically removes one public official and votes in his or her replacement. Although these measures work slightly differently than a no confidence vote does, they all have the same end impact.

No confidence votes can be an important part of a democratic system. When they are used as a political tool to humiliate the majority party, they can still play a valuable role by notifying the general public to unrest within the government. They can also be used to replace corrupt and failing governments, assuming that corruption has not tainted the parliamentary system.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


You can't blame Obama. It's both sides causing the current problem. In Australia, if this was to occur, the "head of state" would evict the entire "congress", i.e. force a complete re-election of all positions.


I cast my vote of no confidence in Obama. Get him out of there!


Bush won both of his elections. Gore was proven as defeated long before the Supreme Court had to rule on the obvious!

As far as the man who replaced Bush, Obama won on the backs of those who didn't know better. Now we all know better and need to recall or impeach him and Congress! We need to establish a movement to publicly vote no confidence in him, and make him feel that it is real!


Get real, people! Obama was elected with a real mandate (not like W who lost the popular vote the first time, and took it by 2 percent the second, but called that a mandate!); and the Senate had 50 percent more Dems than GOP. It's the persistent droning 'Party of No' that has failed to provide any guidance -- other than to oppose everything Obama proposes!


Several state legislatures have the power to remove its members from leadership positions through similar motions. New York State has done so at least twice in recent memory.

In 1994, the New York Senate ousted Ralph Marino in favor of Joseph Bruno, and more recently, a vote of no confidence led Malcolm Smith to be thrown out of his post as majority leader in favor of Pedro Espada Jr. in the 2009 New York State Senate leadership crisis.


if you get enough american people to come together as one, yes, this tool can be used in any form of government office. people must remember your taxes are their paychecks.

There is also another useful tool. it's been used by races for decades. it's called a violation of civil rights and believe me, there's a lot of this going on right now with the American people. How can we push for democracy in other countries when we no longer have a say in our own?

People, it is time to take a stand. if we sit by and no nothing then we are as much to blame. write your senators, congressmen and the president and let them know you are also posting the same letter in newspapers. Tell them you and your fellow neighbors will push to have them removed from office if they do not stand up for the very people who voted them in.


why not have a vote of no confidence in the upcoming state primaries and mid term election? Just let the states have the vote of no confidence and list Obama, Pelosi and Reed.


I was going toask the same question. Something has to be done with these democrats and the president destroying our nation.


Where's the polling? Ask the simple question and you'll get the no confidence In "O"


What I would like to know is if it is possible to file a motion of "no confidence" against Congress and President Obama?

Post your comments
Forgot password?