28

Is there an election process for the Minister for Magic? Or is the Minister appointed? If he/she is appointed, by whom is he/she chosen? Aside from being, obviously, a witch or wizard, what minimum requirements (education; career track; nationality; etc) are there for being eligible for Minister for Magic? Policy-wise, are the Ministers for Magic just successive permutations of each other, or has any Minister brought a progressive and fresh point of view to the office?

21

I can't answer all the points in your question, but the Minister for Magic is absolutely an elected official (First question), at least if you take Xenophelius Lovegood as a reliable source. Whether it's an election by the public, by Sr. Ministry officials, or even the Wizengamot is unclear.

Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic, denied that he had plans to take over running the Wizarding Bank, Gringotts, when he was elected five years ago.

Quote from the Quibbler in Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 10, page 192 (U.S.A Hardcover, 2nd Edition)

I'm not aware of any further clarification, answering the other questions, canonical or otherwise. I have guesses based on what we do know...

As far as requirements, it does seem that fame and popularity are factors. That's not much different than Muggle politics.

  • Dumbledore was, of course, asked to take the position. He was both famous and powerful.
  • Kingsley Shacklebolt is the last known Minister for Magic. Also famous and powerful (perhaps not as much as Dumbledore, but he was a well-known Auror, and did his part in the resistance.)

Popularity and ability don't seem to be the only factor. As with Muggle politics, the mood of the public at the time of election appears to be a factor in who wins.

  • Barty Crouch was thought to be a shoe-in until he suffered a scandal. While he was still popular, he gained his fame by mercilessly rooting out Death-Eaters, which would have been seen very favorably in those frightening times.

I'm not so sure, however, about Scrimgeour. He was Fudge's successor after Fudge was "sacked". (Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 1). There's no mention of election, but that doesn't rule it out. I was always under the impression that he was appointed for the position. Either way, Scrimgeour had traits that would be desirable tot he public. He gave off the aura of "shrewdness" and "toughness" that the Muggle Prime Minister picked up on in his first impression.

It would certainly have helped him win an election, but it could also be that Ministry officials appointed him to the position, pending a coming election because the Ministry wanted someone tough in office to reassure the public. That's all pure speculation, though, because there doesn't appear to be any canon on the subject.

  • 3
    With regards to the point about Scrimgeour being sacked; in the UK elections a Prime Minister can be replace by another one who can command a majority in the House of Commons. No election needs to occur for this (e.g. before the 2010 election Tony Blair was replaced by Gordon Brown). Most democratic systems would have the ability for a deputy to be appointed (be it temporarily or for the remainder of a term), that doesn't mean they have no elections at all. – mjsa Mar 7 '15 at 18:44
8

I’d concur that the post seems to be an elected one.

In 1998, there were a set of four Daily Prophet Newsletters published for the UK fan club. Unfortunately the full text is not available online, but the HP Lexicon has summaries of each, and the image for the second newsletter contains the following snippet (in a story about how Fudge’s nephew stole a Tube train):

“It’s all getting very embarrassing. After all, [Fudge] was elected on the slogan ‘A fair deal for wizards who deal fair with Muggles.’

This concur with Xenophilius Lovegood’s assertion that Fudge was an elected official.

ETA: I found a Pottermore entry on Ministers for Magic that confirms that it’s an elected post, with up to seven-year terms:

The Minister of Magic is democratically elected, although there have been times of crisis in which the post has simply been offered to an individual without a public vote (Albus Dumbledore was made such an offer, and turned it down repeatedly). There is no fixed limit to a Minister’s term in office, but he or she is obliged to hold regular elections at a maximum interval of seven years. Ministers of Magic tend to last much longer than Muggle ministers. Generally speaking, and despite many a moan and grumble, their community is behind them in a way that is rarely seen in the Muggle world.

It goes on to note that the Muggle politicians don’t interfere with magical elections.


Beyond that, I don’t know much canon. So I’ll speculate, with some comparisons to the UK Prime Minister, the obvious parallel.

  • Education. Of the fifteen named Ministers in the HP Wiki article, at least seven attended Hogwarts – either their house is known, or we have separate evidence that they were there, but in an unknown house. I assume almost any prospective candidates would have some level of education, at probably Hogwarts, but I doubt it’s a formal requirement.

    In practice, I imagine candidates who didn’t go to Hogwarts were probably privately educated (and here I’m thinking Malfoy levels of aristocracy), which probably wouldn’t go down too well in the popular vote.1

    (This has me thinking: if it was an election, was it ever the case that your ability to vote was determined by blood status? Were only pure-blood families allowed to vote, and gradually half-bloods and muggle-borns allowed as well?)

  • Career track. Presumably something in politics, perhaps magical law, but we don’t get much detail.

    In the UK, you need to be an elected Member of Parliament (MP) to be eligible for Prime Minister. I can’t think of any direct parallel with the wizarding community2, so I don’t know if the Ministry has a similar rule.

However, thinking about MPs does motivate two other reasonable rules for the post:

  • Age. MPs have to be over 18, which seems like a sensible requirement for the Minister of Magic. Since most of them go through higher education, it’s probably a formality.

  • Nationality. I believe MPs have to be a citizen of the UK, RoI or one of the 52 Commonwealth member countries (a re. The Commonwealth was established well after the Ministry broke away from Muggle politics, and I don’t know what requirements were in place before that, so this probably doesn’t apply.

    I would imagine the Minister of Magic probably needs to be a UK citizen, but we’re never told if that’s inshrined in law.


1 Although having an upper-class education hasn’t been a bar to many British politicians, the difference is much more exaggerated in the magical community if almost everybody goes to the same school.

2 I did consider the Wizengamot, but that seems more like the House of Lords (unelected) than the House of Commons (elected).

  • 1
    In the UK you don't need to be an MP to become Prime Minister. Historically, the position has also been filled by several people in the upper house (the House of Lords). – Valorum Mar 7 '15 at 19:54
  • @Richard I think I was going by this page when I wrote that line: “He or she is also an MP” (parliament.uk/site-information/glossary/prime-minister), but I’m not an expert on the law (and I’d forgotten that the Lords aren’t MPs). – alexwlchan Mar 7 '15 at 20:27
  • Nowadays, it would be unheard of for a non-MP to become PM. That doesn't mean that it's not legally feasible. – Valorum Mar 7 '15 at 20:37
  • However, Lords are frequently cabinet ministers without (currently) being an MP. – OrangeDog Mar 23 '18 at 13:02
0

As earlier mentioned there is a Pottermore post on Ministers of Magic which confirms it is an elected position, this concurs with Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, chapter 10 where it is stated it is an elected position.

The Minister of Magic is democratically elected, although there have been times of crisis in which the post has simply been offered to an individual without a public vote (Albus Dumbledore was made such an offer, and turned it down repeatedly). There is no fixed limit to a Minister’s term in office, but he or she is obliged to hold regular elections at a maximum interval of seven years. Ministers of Magic tend to last much longer than Muggle ministers. Generally speaking, and despite many a moan and grumble, their community is behind them in a way that is rarely seen in the Muggle world.

I'm not going to dwell on the point of whether it is an elected position (there are some other excellent answers here on this subject) but how they are elected.

In the UK elections before 2010 (before Fixed Term Parliaments) could be called by the Prime Minister (subject to the monarch's approval) dissolving Parliament and calling an election, there was no limit to their minimum period, but a maximum of a 5 year Parliament. This largely seems to be similar to the election procedure outlined in the Pottermore article.

There does not however appear to be a Parliamentary body similar to that of the House of Commons, which is elected by First Past the Post, in which 650 regions of the UK each return 1 member of Parliament from a range of political parties. When a political party has more than half that amount of seats (325) their party leader becomes Prime Minister. If an outright majority cannot be won the largest party which can reach past 325 can usually be the first to try and form a government.

This raises the question as to how the Minister of Magic is elected. As there is only 1 seat, this rules out a multi-seat election system (i.e. Sainte-Lague Proportional Representation, multi-seat Single Transferable Vote, etc.) I do not believe that an election system such as Instant Runoff would be used (i.e. as used to elect the Irish President), this is because Instant Runoff would mean the Minister of Magic would have the support of more than 50% of the citizens (listing them as a preference for election). Therefore I would assume the electoral system used is something similar to a simple majority system (i.e. First Past the Post), this is used in UK General Elections. This electoral system would allow, say 40% of the electorate to win, even if there are 2 candidate with very similar views who hate the other candidates views and get 30% each. This would account for the fact of their being Ministers of Magic who are detested by the public but win elections, the same way it happens in UK General Elections. This is especially relevant in the election of Fudge.

Whether Ministers of Magic and those in the Wizengamot group together in political parties is another matter, there is no evidence of this, though if Dumbledore was offered to take this position of Minister of Magic, this could be done by being offered to stand as a candidate by the largest political party/parties it would answer the question as to how someone would be able to offer this role while it is elected. Alternatively he could have been offered this position by the Wizengamot when a Minister has left the post between terms (I will cover this later).

The Wizengamot appears to fill the role similar to that of the House of Lords (also unelected, and prior to the invention of the UK Supreme Court, in 2005, the highest court in the UK). Both the House of Lords and the Supreme Court in the UK are appointed, not elected, this appears to be the same as the Wizengamot. Unlike these institutions it appears the members do not enjoy life tenure of the Wizengamot, with the Minister of Magic being able to dismiss them (as seen in The Order of the Phoenix with Dumbledore). Like the House of Lords it appears they also have a role in approving Wizarding Law (whether they can fully veto, or just prevent for a limited time like in the House of Lords is another matter). The appointment method for the House of Lords is usually based on the Prime Minister's will plus a limited amount of Lords appointed for professional experience. It appears that the Minister for Magic appoints members to seats in the Wizengamot. Unlike the House of Lords, the Wizengamot appears to have a limited amount of seats.

The Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot appears to take a role similar to that of the Lord Speaker in the House of Lords or the Speaker in the House of Commons who presides over deates. When an MP or Lords is appointed a speaker in the Lords or Commons, they are strictly impartial and must renounce all political affiliations. It appears that the Chief Warlock is similar in impartiality and does not act in an executive fashion like the Minister of Magic. Alternatively the Chief Warlock can be seen as a president of a court, like the President of the UK Supreme Court, for example. This is as they are able to still influence judgements whereas Speakers in Parliament do not vote except in limited circumstances (e.g. equal votes for and against). Elphias Doge in an obituary for Dumbledore applauded him in several judgements he made while in the position of Chief Warlock. It is not clear whether these judgements were similar to those the Speaker of the House of Commons would make on how debates should be held, what language is unparliamentary, etc. or whether they were judgements similar to those a president of a court would reach.

It appears however that the Wizengamot possesses the power to fire the Minister of Magic (remove them from their role) and place in a replacement to complete his term; this is what would appear hapenned when Fudge was sacked in favour of Scrimgeour. There maybe constitutional limitations on their ability to do this (i.e. only in cases of gross misconduct while in office), this would prevent the Wizengamot overriding the democratic process. Like a new Prime Minister must be able to command the authority of a majority of MPs in the House of Commons, if the Wizengamot can remove a Minister, that Minister may have to be able to command the authority of a majority in the Wizengamot.

If I'm not mistaken, it appears that Ministers of Magic largely come from being employed in the Ministry, this maybe a requirement, in the same way that a Prime Minister must be an MP (though it is technically possible in the UK for a Prime Minister not to be an MP, this hasn't happened for many years and I believe only the first Prime Minister of the UK wasn't an MP or a Member of the House of Lords).

  • The last non-MP PM was less than 60 years ago (Douglas-Home), the last non-MP to lead the govt was only 110 years ago (the Marquess of Salisbury). – Valorum Mar 7 '15 at 20:38
  • He was a member of the House of Lords however, meaning he did sit in Parliament. – mjsa Mar 8 '15 at 9:31
  • Yes, and for practical purposes it would be near-impossible for a non-MP to now become PM. That doesn't mean that from a legal perspective that it's not allowed. – Valorum Mar 8 '15 at 9:40
  • Yes; absolutely. You need to remember though that Britain doesn't have a constitution, the only fundamental constitutional rule is Parliamentary Supremacy; it's based on precedent and previous Acts of Parliament. Also now that the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 is in force, there is a legal power for the House of Commons to dissolve Parliament if the motion “That this House has no confidence in Her Majesty’s Government.” is passed. – mjsa Mar 8 '15 at 11:50
  • You are (slightly) mistaken. The House is obliged to present a petition to her Majesty requesting the dissolution of Parliament. She's under no legal obligation to actually do it. – Valorum Mar 8 '15 at 12:26

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.