There are a number of variations in this procedure between parliaments. In some countries a motion of no confidence can be directed at the government collectively or at any individual member, including the prime minister. In Spain, it is presented by the prime minister after consultation. Sometimes motions of no confidence are proposed even though they have no likelihood of passage, simply to pressure a government or to embarrass its own critics, who may for political reasons decide not to vote against it.
In many parliamentary democracies, there are strict time limits for no-confidence motions: they may only be allowed once every three, four or six months. Thus, the timing of a motion of no confidence is a matter of political judgement; a motion of no confidence on a relatively trivial matter may prove counterproductive if a more important issue suddenly arises which actually warrants a motion of no confidence, because such a motion cannot be proposed if one has been voted on recently. Sometimes, the government will choose to declare that one of its bills is a "motion of confidence" in order to prevent dissident members of their own party voting against it.
In the Australian Parliament, a motion of no confidence requires a majority of the members present in the House of Representatives to agree to it. The House of Representatives currently consists of 150 members; requiring 76 votes in favour of the motion when all members of the House are present. A straight vote of no confidence in a government, or a motion or amendment censuring a government, has never been successful in the House of Representatives. Despite this, on eight occasions governments have either resigned or advised a dissolution following their defeat on other questions before the House. The last time a government resigned after being defeated in the House came in October 1941, when the House rejected the budget of Arthur Fadden's minority government.
Specific motions of no confidence or censure motions against the Prime Minister, ministers, the Leader of the Opposition, Senators and leaders of political parties have been moved and have been successful on some occasions. Motions of no confidence against the government may be passed in the Senate, yet may have little or no impact in the House.
In federal politics, a vote of non-confidence takes down the government, and votes of non-confidence may be asserted automatically if the House of Commons rejects the government's budget. Provincial governments may also fall if a motion of non-confidence is passed by the legislature or if the legislature fails to pass a confidence measure (e.g. the provincial budget).
In the consensus government system of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, in which the premier is chosen among and by a vote of the members of the non-partisan legislature, a vote of no confidence removes the premier and cabinet from office and permits the members to elect a new premier.
In Germany, a vote of no confidence in the Federal Chancellor requires that the opposition, on the same ballot, propose a candidate of their own whom they want to be appointed as successor by the Federal President. Thus, a motion of no confidence can only be brought forward if there is a positive majority for the new candidate (this variation is called a constructive vote of no confidence). The idea was to prevent crises of the state such as those found near the end of the German Weimar Republic. Frequently, Chancellors were turned out of office without their successors having enough parliamentary support to govern. Unlike the British system, the Chancellor does not have to resign in response to the failure of a vote of confidence, provided it has been initiated by them and not by the parliamentary opposition, but rather may ask the President to call general elections – a request the President may or may not fulfill.
In India, a motion of no confidence can be introduced only in the Lok Sabha (the lower house of the Parliament of India). The motion is admitted for discussion when a minimum of 50 members of the house support the motion. If the motion carries, the House debates and votes on the motion. If a majority of the members of the house vote in favour of the motion, the motion is passed and the Government is bound to vacate the office. Acharya Kripalani moved the first-ever no confidence motion on the floor of the Lok Sabha in August 1963, immediately after the disastrous India–China War. As of July 2018, 27 no-confidence motions have been moved. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi faced the most number of no-confidence motions – 15 times, followed by Lal Bahadur Shastri and P. V. Narasimha Rao (thrice each), Morarji Desai (twice) and Jawaharlal Nehru, Rajiv Gandhi, Atal Bihari Vajpayee. All the no-confidence motions have been defeated except when Prime Minister Morarji Desai resigned during the discussions on 12 July 1979. The most recent no-confidence motion against the Narendra Modi government was accepted by the Lok Sabha speaker, but was defeated.
With the anti-defection law, the vote of no-confidence has no relevance left in case the majority party has an absolute majority in the House. If the majority party (with an absolute majority in the House) issues a whip to party members to vote in favour of the Government, then it is impossible to remove the Government by a no-confidence motion. Hence the no-confidence exercise of House merely becomes the no-confidence exercise of the Party.
In Italy, the government requires the support of both houses of Parliament. A vote of no confidence may be proposed if one tenth of the members of a single house sign the proposition and starting from three days before the appointed date, said vote can be brought into discussion. Following the case of Filippo Mancuso in 1995 and the subsequent Constitutional Court sentence in 1996, it is possible to propose an individual vote of no confidence against a single minister instead of the whole government.
Article 69 of the 1947 Constitution of Japan provides that "if the House of Representatives passes a non-confidence resolution, or rejects a confidence resolution, the Cabinet shall resign en masse, unless the House of Representatives is dissolved within ten (10) days".
The Constitution of Pakistan has provision for a no-confidence motion in all constituents of the Electoral College of the state. The motions can target speakers and deputy speakers of provincial and national assemblies, the Prime Minister, chief ministers of provinces, as well as the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of Senate. Before it can be put for vote on the pertinent house's floor, it needs to have the backing of at least 20% of the elected members in all cases except those moved against speakers or deputy speakers, in which case there is no minimum support limit. After being put to vote, the motion is only deemed successful once passed by a majority.
In terms of history, the no-confidence has mostly been used in removing speakers and deputy speakers. Of the 11 times the motion has been invoked in the country's parliamentary history, 9 motions targeted these posts with 4 being effective. An incumbent Prime Minister of Pakistan has only been subject to a no-confidence vote once, in November 1989, when Benazir Bhutto faced an ultimately unsuccessful motion moved by Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi. The same is the case for a provincial chief minister, as the only instance of its use is the one moved against Chief Minister of Balochistan, Sanaullah Zehri in January 2018, which was successful as Zehri resigned before the vote could take place.
On 7 August 2017, Speaker Baleka Mbete announced that she would permit a motion of no confidence in Jacob Zuma's government to proceed in the National Assembly via secret ballot. It was the eighth motion to be brought against Zuma in his presidency and the first to be held via secret ballot. After the vote was held the next day, the motion was defeated 198–177, with 25 abstentions. Around 20 ANC MPs voted in favour of the measure.
The Spanish Constitution of 1978 requires for motions of no confidence to be proposed by, at least, one-tenth of the Congress of Deputies—35 out of 350. Following the German model, votes of no confidence in Spain are constructive, so the motion must also include an alternative candidate for Prime Minister. For a motion of no confidence to be successful, it has to be carried by an absolute majority in the Congress of Deputies. A minimum period of five days must pass after the motion's registration before it can come up for a vote. Other parties are entitled to submit alternative motions within the first two days from the registration.
||The Congress of Deputies may challenge Government policy by passing a motion of censure by an absolute majority of its members. The motion of censure must be proposed by at least one tenth of the Deputies, including a candidate for the office of President of the Government. The motion of censure may not be voted on until five days after it has been submitted. During the first two days of this period, alternative motions may be submitted. If the motion of censure is not passed by the Congress, its signatories may not submit another during the same session.
|— Article 113 of the Spanish Constitution
Concurrently, the Prime Minister is barred from dissolving the Cortes Generales and calling a general election while a motion of no confidence is pending. If the motion is successful, the incumbent Prime Minister must resign. Per the Constitution, the replacement candidate named in the motion is automatically deemed to have the confidence of the Congress of Deputies and is immediately appointed as Prime Minister by the Monarch. If unsuccessful, the signatories of the motion may not submit another during the same session.
No-confidence motions can be levelled against either the prime minister (on behalf of the entire government) or an individual lower-level minister. At least 35 members of parliament (MPs) have to support a proposal to initiate such a vote. A majority of MPs (175 members) must vote in favour of a declaration of no confidence for it to be successful. If an individual minister loses the confidence vote, he/she must resign. If the prime minister loses the no confidence vote, his/her entire government must also resign. The parliamentary speaker may allow the ousted prime minister to head a transitional or caretaker government until parliament elects a new prime minister.
Under the principle of negative parliamentarism, a prime ministerial candidate nominated by the speaker does not need the confidence of a majority of MPs to be elected. However, a majority of MPs must not vote against the candidate, which renders prime ministerial votes similar to a no confidence vote. This means for a prime ministerial candidate to be successful in the parliamentary vote, he must have at least a total of 175 'yes' and/or 'abstain' votes. If a speaker fails four times to have his/her nominee elected, an extra election must be held within three months of the final vote.
Traditionally, in the Westminster system, the defeat of a supply bill (one that concerns the spending of money) is seen to automatically require the government to either resign or ask for a new election, much like a non-confidence vote. A government in a Westminster system that cannot spend money is hamstrung, also called loss of supply. When the upper house of a Westminster system country has the right to refuse supply, such as in Australia during the events of 1975, the convention is in a grey area as Westminster governments are not normally expected to maintain the confidence of the upper house.
Prior to 2011, in the British Parliament, a no-confidence motion generally first appeared as an early day motion although the vote on the Speech from the Throne also constituted a confidence motion. However, under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, only a motion explicitly resolving "That this House has no confidence in Her Majesty's Government" is treated as a motion of no confidence.