I appreciate this is a presentation of everything everybody already knows about our parliamentary system. Therefore treat the following as set of rapid fire FYI bullet points for those of you with conservative friends who seem clueless about parliamentary systems.
1.) We elect individual candidates who may or may not belong to a political party.
2.) We do not elect the prime minister, parliaments do.
3.) Political parties elect their leaders.
4.) The prime minister is the person who enjoys a majority of the support of the elected members of parliament.
5.) When a party wins the majority of individual ridings it forms the government with its leader as the prime minister.
6.) A majority government may change its leader any time the party decides to and continue to rule for the duration of their mandate in virtue of their majority in the house of commons. Just ask Kim Campbell how she became prime-minister.
7.) Political parties only have a mandate to govern if they have a majority. If not, they have to coalesce* to form the government.
8.) There is thus NO SUCH THING AS A MINORITY MANDATE TO GOVERN.
Parliamentary tradition says that the party that won the most seats has the right to try and form a government. Parliamentary tradition says that the icumbent government has the right to try and form the new government (see RC’s comment below). But parliamentary tradition also says that any majority group of MPs can form a government. Why? because we elect individual MPs not political parties to represent us in the House of Commons.
9.) There is such a thing as a minority parliament which receives a mandate from parliament at each moment there is a vote on major money bill or when the legislation in question is deemed a confidence vote.
10.) All minority parliaments in this sense are run by coalition governments in that they require the support of other parties to stay in power.
Conservatives that do not know 1 through 10 need not be taken seriously even if that conservative happens to be the man who may or may not form the next minority government with the support of centralists, socialists and sovereigntists.
[koh-uh-les] Show IPA verb, -lesced, -lesc·ing.
–verb (used without object)
to grow together or into one body: The two lakes coalesced into one.
to unite so as to form one mass, community, etc.: The various groups coalesced into a crowd.
to blend or come together: Their ideas coalesced into one theory.
–verb (used with object)
to cause to unite in one body or mass.