Lame duck (politics)
In politics, a lame duck or outgoing politician is an elected official whose successor has already been elected or will be soon. The official is often seen as having less influence with other politicians due to the limited time left in office. A lame duck is free to make decisions that exercise the standard powers with little fear of consequence, such as issuing executive orders, pardons, or other controversial edicts.
About Lame duck (politics) in brief
In politics, a lame duck or outgoing politician is an elected official whose successor has already been elected or will be soon. The official is often seen as having less influence with other politicians due to the limited time left in office. A lame duck is free to make decisions that exercise the standard powers with little fear of consequence, such as issuing executive orders, pardons, or other controversial edicts. Lame duck politicians result from term limits, planned retirement, or electoral losses, and are especially noticeable where political systems build in a delay between the announcement of results and the taking of office by election winners. In Australia, regardless of when the election is held, the Senate sits from July 1 following the election to June 30 six years later, while the newly elected members of the House of Representatives take their seats soon after an election. A Senate that is destined to lose its majority as a result of such a change is called a lame-duck Senate and often attracts criticism if it blocks government measures introduced in the House. In almost all cases, the outgoing prime minister or leader over hands over power to their successor after a general election or when a general leadership contest or general election takes place. The phrase ‘lame duck’ was coined in the 18th century at the London Stock Exchange, to refer to a stockbroker who defaulted on his debts.
In the literal sense, the term refers to a duck which is unable to keep up with its flock, making it a target for predators. In more recent history, US President Bill Clinton was widely criticized for issuing 140 pardons and other acts of executive clemency on his last day in office, including two former close colleagues, donors, fellow Democratic members, and his own half-brother. In many countries, toward the facilitation of a smooth transition, an outgoing president accepts advice from and consults with the president-elect. In 1791, Mary Berry wrote of the Duchess of Devonshire’s loss of £50,000 in stocks, that her name was to be ‘posted up as a lame Duck’”. In the UK, the phrase ‘lame ducks’ was used in a letter in 1761 to Sir Horace Mann: ‘Do you know what a Bull and a Bear and Lame Duck are?’ The first known recorded use of the term is in the Congressional Globe of 14 January 1863: ‘In no event… could be justly obnoxious to the charge of being a receptacle of “ broken down politicians’ or broken down.’ In the United States, there is no lame duck Congress. Unlike the U.S. Congress, there are no lame ducks in the Commonwealth of Australia. In most Commonwealth countries, the most common lame duck position is that of the Prime Minister or the leader of the Opposition. The term was transferred to politicians in the 19th century, and is still used today in the UK.