Skip to main content
Table of contents


Change a government following a general election

Change a government in Whitehall

Following a General Election or other reason for governmental change the current Government in Whitehall will need to be closed, and a new one created.

The Content Support team will normally be the ones who close the government and re-assign ministers once a new government has been opened. However, a developer will often be required to monitor the queues, as detailed below.

Closing a government

Governments are listed at the government path of Whitehall Admin.

  1. Select the current government, and click the Prepare to close this government link.
  2. Close the government.

This will close the current government and remove all ministerial appointments.

This will cause a high number of documents to be represented by the Publishing API which might mean some delays on content being up to date on the website. Previous tests have shown that it takes around 3.5 hours for the queues to clear in integration.

Grafana monitoring for:

Open a new government

Create a new government

This will instantly create a new government. Changes can be seen in the Rails console by running Government.current.

The new government should also instantly appear in the response from /api/governments.

Applying a banner to political content published by the previous government

Content in Whitehall can be marked as political. Political content which was published under a previous government is historic?. This is highlighted on the page, and in search results. This feature is also known as history mode.

See these pages for example:

A content page A search results page

Marking content as political can happen automatically through the PoliticalContentIdentifier. The political flag on an Edition can also be set manually.

There is a Rake task to reindex all political content in search. This must be done after a government is closed.


If we need to backdate a government or split a single government into two distinct dates, we need to run a rake task to republish all political content from Whitehall to properly associate content with the government at it’s first published date:

Ending ministerial roles without closing a government

If we need to end all ministerial roles without explicitly closing a government, we can run a rake task:

This will end all ministerial roles except the Prime Minister. You might have to do that one manually.

This page was last reviewed on 5 December 2019. It needs to be reviewed again on 5 June 2020 by the page owner #govuk-2ndline .
This page was set to be reviewed before 5 June 2020 by the page owner #govuk-2ndline. This might mean the content is out of date.