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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 5 November, 2002, 16:16 GMT
How to choose a leader
Iain Duncan Smith at the press conference
Iain Duncan Smith issues his challenge to rebels
Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith has made his determination to stay in the job. But what are the rules if anyone wanted to topple him?
Iain Duncan Smith would have to lose a vote of no confidence among MPs before he could face a leadership challenge.

Tory rules appear to allow Mr Duncan Smith to follow John Major's example and invite challengers to "put up or shut up".

But, unlike under the old system, there is no mechanism for plotters to launch a direct challenge to the leader.

For a vote of no confidence to happen, 15% of the party's MPs - currently 25 of them - have to demand in writing, collectively or individually.

Those requests go to Sir Michael Spicer, chairman of the 1922 Committee, who is not supposed to reveal the names of the malcontents.

Resignation

If Mr Duncan Smith won such a no confidence vote with a straight majority (50% plus one) then he would remain leader and could not face another poll for at least another year.

But losing that no confidence vote would mean he would have to resign and would not be allowed to take part in the ensuing leadership contest.

A leader's resignation leaves it open for any Tory MP to challenge for the job, as long as they are nominated by a proposer and seconder from elsewhere in the parliamentary party.

The leadership race is run by the 1922 Committee chairman.

Nominations close at noon on a Thursday and if only one is received that person is automatically elected.

If there are two candidates, the vote goes straight to the party's membership in the country, but if there are more challengers, Tory MPs weed the number down to two.

Whittling them down

The first ballot is held the Tuesday after nominations close, and the MP with the fewest votes automatically drops out before the next ballot.

That process can continue every Tuesday and Thursday until MPs have whittled down the number of candidates to two.

The ballot of all Tories is open to all those who have been a party member for at least three months before the no confidence vote.

The exact timing of the vote - and other detailed arrangements - is for the 1922 Committee chairman to decide.


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