A proposal that has been floated in Israel is requiring the vote of 70 (out of 120) members of the Knneset (MKs) in order to dissolve parliament. Currently 61 votes, an absolute majority, are required for the Knesset to dissolve itself.
Just as I was contemplating how unusual such a provision might be in practice, I remembered that the new UK coalition agreement contains a clause stating that the government will seek to pass a bill requiring a 55% vote of the House of Commons for dissolution.
My immediate reaction to the Israeli proposal was the same as what some Tory backbenchers are saying–that it undermines a key aspect of parliamentary democracy. For instance, Charles Walker, MP for Broxbourne, said:
It is not the duty of parliament to prop up this coalition. That is the duty of the coalition partners, and if they can’t make it work, and if they lose the confidence of parliament, then we must have a general election. …he told the BBC News channel. [...]
“But if parliament and the nation lose confidence in this coalition government there should be a general election, whether that is in two years or three years or four years. This is about the primacy of parliament. (Quoted in The Guardian Live Blog of 14 May, at the 1:15 p.m. entry.)
Quite apart from any extraordinary majority requirements, is it common for parliaments to vote to dissolve themselves? A majority vote to dissolve is the common way that an early election is called in Israel. However, I would think that dissolution in parliamentary systems is far more commonly ordered by the Prime Minister (where, as in Japan, the PM has such authority) or by the Head of State (acting, typically, on “advice” of the PM, and with varying but usually limited degrees of discretion).