Politics of Guelphia

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Guelphia is a multi-party democracy, with an open and competitive political environment.

Elections

Elections for the parliament and counties in Guelphia are held every four years. At these elections, the people of Guelphia elect members to both Houses of Parliament and the fourteen local authorities. All Guelphians over the age of twenty-one are eligible to vote, including any Guelphian residing outside the country when an election is held. Eligibility for candidacy is essentially the same as eligibility to vote. The exact date of the elections are fixed by statute, with parliamentary elections are fixed to the first Saturday in March and county elections held on the first Saturday in August, also every four years.

Elections can be called before the four year period has ended, but this usually only occurs in the case of a government losing its majority in the House of Assembly. County terms are not normally cut short, although the aldermen can be dismissed until the next scheduled election. In this circumstance, the county is run by an appointed commissioner.

Overview

At least once every four years Guelphia holds a general election to choose members to both houses of Parliament and the local authorities. The next general election is scheduled to take place on March 2016, while the counties will go to the polls in August 2016. Under the provisions of the various election acts, the term of a parliament is fixed, except in certain situations, to occur on a set date. Fixed term elections have been a feature of politics in Guelphia since independence.

Elections are carried out by Elections Guelphia, a crown statutory agency created by the Parliament in 1971. The agency is kept at arm’s length of government and runs all local and parliamentary elections. The role of Elections Guelphia is to ensure the proper management of each and every election, an is overseen by a commission of five prominent Guelphians.

Electoral system

Guelphia has a unique electoral system, with three different methods used for electing candidates. Depending on the election being held, a different method is used. In the course of an election year, an elector will need to complete four separate ballot papers which will determine his local Member of the House of Assembly, Senator, county alderman, and finally municipal alderman. Guelphia maintains a compulsory voting system, with all electors over the age of twenty-one being required to vote at all elections.

General elections

Referencearrow.png Main Article: List of general elections in Guelphia

Held every four years, general elections are used to select all members of the House of Assembly (known as MHAs) and 26 members of the 64 seat Senate. In this parliament there are 128 MHAs and 64 senators. Each MHA is elected to represent a single-member constituency (known as an electoral district) for a term of four years. Meanwhile, the 26 elected senators are elected from one of the six multi-member county electorates for the same term.

For each election, a roll of electors is kept to list everyone who is entitled to vote. By law, if an elector is twenty-one or older voting is compulsory, unless the person has a valid and sufficient reason for more being able to cast their vote.

Local elections

Local elections in Guelphia take the form of separate county and municipal; polls, and are always held six months after a general election (usually the first Saturday in August). All local elections use the single transferable vote to elect county councils of 18 members and municipal councils of 12 members from a series of multi-member electorates known as electoral wards.

Candidates can only put their name forward on one ballot paper, thereby preventing them from standing to county and municipal government simultaneously. As in parliamentary elections if an elector is twenty-one or older, voting is compulsory unless the person has a valid and sufficient reason in not being able to vote.

Referenda and Plebiscites

Referencearrow.png Main Article: Referenda and plebiscites in Guelphia

The Constitution of Guelphia cannot be changed except by a consensual vote of the people. Any proposal to change the Constitution must be approved by a majority of voters in a majority of counties. This "double majority" was copied from Australia, and aims to protect the interests of the smaller counties who might otherwise be disadvantaged by a change to the basic law of the nation. There have been 12 referenda since 1907, of which just four have been approved leading a constitutional change.

The Constitution also allows for the consultation of the people by the government on issues of national importance. The This option for a plebiscite is used when legislation may have a significant impact on the population or is considered a divisive issue that may lead to unnecessary civil disturbance if passed into law without the electorate being consulted first. There have been 21 plebiscites taken since 1907, and nine of these have been approved and later passed into law.

In addition, the people may vote to disallow any law that has been passed by the Parliament up to one year after it has received the Royal Assent. To date, there have been 8 instances since 1907 where a law has later been disallowed by the voters.

Redistributions

Under the provisions of the Electoral Act, a redistribution of electoral boundaries must occur at least once every eight years and must be complete more than two years before an election would be normally due. All of Guelphia is now divided into single member constituencies, the borders of which are determined by population. Each constituency must have a quota of 7,140 electors, with a margin of 10% allowed above or below this number. To ensure that the quota is attained at every election, the constituency boundaries have to be redrawn from time to time through the process known as a "redistribution".

All redistributions are carried by the Boundaries Commission, a crown statutory agency whose commissioners are appointed by the Parliament

Political parties

Guelphia's national politics feature a pervasive party system. Many of the members of the Senate and House of Assembly belong to a political party, although independent politicians occur relatively often. While historically, Guelphia has seen two primary parties, the country now more closely resembles a three-party state, where any of the major parties can reasonably expect to play a role in government.

Political parties in Guelphia can be either registered with Elections Guelphia or may choose to remain unregistered. Registered parties must have five-hundred full paying members, each eligible to vote in general elections. If a party registers, it may also submit a party list, enabling it to stand candidates for the Senate. Unregistered parties cannot submit lists, but may still nominate candidates for individual House of Assembly constituencies.

List of political parties

Guelphia's politics is dominated by three major parties. The oldest, and most successful of these has been the National Party, which was established in 1935 through a merger of the Country and Conservative parties. The other major parties are the Democratic Party, which came in to existence in 1956, and the Social Democratic Labour Party, which was formed in 1985. At present, the major parties are identified by having seats in both houses of Parliament and/or a membership base in excess of 10,000.

Smaller political parties have always existed in Guelphia, but seldom gain more than a few seats. These parties are registered with Elections Guelphia and can use their party name on ballot papers and may also apply for campaign funding. A number of these parties have representation on one or more county or municipal councils.

Party Leader Representatives Members Ideology
Democratic Party DEM Matthew Jones
(born 4 June 1961)
72 MPs
26 Senators
62 Aldermen
15,560 Full
3,390 Junior
Liberal
National Party NAT Kristine Dawkins
(born 6 December 1961)
39 MPs
16 Senators
93 Aldermen
22,340 Full
6,430 Junior
Conservative
Social Democratic Labour Party SDLP Scott Rogers
(born 12 May 1963)
12 MPs
2 Senators
29 Aldermen
11,600 Full
5,500 Junior
Social democratic
Ecology Party ECO Isabella Holland 2 Aldermen 3,400 Full
990 Junior
Environmentalist
Outdoor Alliance OUT Jim Ferguson 2 Aldermen 3,671 full
517 junior
Libertarianism
Progressive Party PROG Claudia Fitzmorris 3 Aldermen 2,100 Full
500 Junior
Liberal
Guelphia First GUEL John Burton N/A Nationalist
New Labour Party NLP Noelene Lan N/A Social democratic
Peoples Party PP Ian Power N/A Conservative
Port Frederick Residents Association Jack Reynolds N/A Local issues
Retiree and Superannuates Alliance RSA Harry Smith N/A Single issue
Socialist Party SOC Alex Campbell N/A Marxist
Westerland Party WP Lisa Barker N/A Local issues

Funding

Unlike a number of other countries, political parties receive no funding from the state. The compulsory £100 deposit required by Elections Guelphia for each candidate is not refundable for any candidate, no matter the number of votes received. This ban also stretches to elected members of Parliament, who must use their own money to fund any political propaganda they wish to disseminate to voters. Television and radio broadcasts must also be paid for, and no party receives free air time in which to campaign.

There is also a cap on the maximum amount an individual or business can contribute to a political party. For businesses, the maximum allowable donation is £5,000, whilst for individuals the maximum allowable donation stands at £3,000. Contributions to political parties of over 5/- are tax deductible.

References and notes