“The Star of the South Sea”
|Category: Civil Rights Lovefest|
Regional Influence: Squire
Location: the South Pacific
From 1995 to 2017, the political crises of the previous years resulted in increasing polarization of Daskan politics. The traditional two-party system fragmented in this period. The broad voter coalitions, upon which both the left and right-wing parties were built, began to realign. Consequently, moderates on both sides of the political spectrum were toppled by ideologues. This eventually led to the dismantling of the Third Republic and the establishment of a brief authoritarian state. Soon after, a military coup marked the beginning of a transition to the Fourth Republic.
The Narendo government (1995 September-1998 August)
1995 Parliamentary Election & Senate Boycott
In the aftermath of Leader Leo Contie's resignation, the Socialist Workers' Union (SWUn) held a leadership contest where establishment figures sought to moderate the party. The race boiled down to moderate Terrence Holfield and populist, progressive Francis Narendo. Narendo narrowly won the contest, which left the SWUn divided as it entered the 1995 parliamentary election.
Attempting to unite the SWUn and to respond to popular opinion, Narendo released a package of reforms titled the Hundred Day Reforms. They were a series of domestic reforms that Narendo promised to enact in his first one hundred days in office. The promise proved to be quite popular on the campaign trail, and it drew a stark contrast between the governing Alliance of Democratic Action - Conservative Unionist Parties (ADA-CUP) that embodied the status quo and an opposition that sought change. In response, the ADA-CUP promoted their responsible fiscal stewardship, while lampooning that of the SWUn.
On Election Day, the SWUn won a majority in the House of Representatives and appeared to take control of the Senate for the first time in several decades, winning a plurality of 50 seats. However, there was an outstanding race where the SWUn candidate only led by a handful of votes over the ADA-CUP incumbent. Regardless, SWUn Senators elected their own as the President of the Senate. Incensed, the ADA-CUP Senators boycotted further Senate sessions, depriving it of the 51-seat quorum, until the outstanding race was decided. The boycott ended after the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms arrested an ADA-CUP Senator.
The Hundred-Day Reforms
The signature legislative accomplishments of the Narendo government came in its early days. Prime Minister Narendo passed several reforms through Parliament. The most prominent components of the Hundred Day Reforms included pay equality legislation, emissions reduction standards, an expansion of unemployment benefits and the introduction of standardized testing.
The Hundred-Day Reforms
The Trans-National Scandal
By January 1998, the Narendo government passed an infrastructure bill through Parliament. Most of the money was set aside for a new high-speed rail system, called the Trans-National Network, that would link the capital city Arani with other regional capitals. Despite assurances from Prime Minister Narendo that he would not favor his own rail company Selen Railways, the contract went to Selen Railways at an inflated price. The announcement attracted significant attention and scorn at the prime minister, and an investigation was launched by the Justice Ministry.
During the investigation, the Narendo government was crippled in its efforts to pass more legislation. The moderate wing of the SWUn stymied any attempt at passing any notable bills in the Senate. Meanwhile, protests calling for Narendo's resignation intensified, with a rally of 100 000 people in Arani. Prime Minister Narendo denied any allegations of corruption, stating that the high-speed railway was more expensive than anticipated due to the unexpectedly varied terrain. In tandem, Senate Conservatives passed a resolution in the Senate condemning the prime minister's lack of integrity, but it failed in the House of Representatives.
The report from the Justice Ministry was released in August. It detailed how the prime minister used his influence to allow Selen Railways to win the contract at a higher price. The report also recommended that charges of corruption be brought against the prime minister. Immediately afterward, Selen Railways filed for bankruptcy protection, and Prime Minister Narendo announced that he would be resigning forthwith. Philip Sensren, the deputy prime minister, took over as acting Prime Minister until a leadership convention could be held. In the Senate, moderate SWUn senators formed the Socialist Party.
The Hamilton government (1998 August-1998 September)
Breakup of the SWUn
Although Terrence Holfield reentered the leadership race, progressive Minister Jane Hamilton pulled a shocking upset due to the number of moderates in the field. Progressives coalesced around a single candidate; moderates were split. This allowed Minister Hamilton to win the majority of votes on August 31, 1998. Prime Minister Hamilton deepened the intra-party divide by exonerating Francis Narendo. To compromise, the prime minister established the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA). However, the agency was filled with loyal government partisans, ruining its credibility. In response, a mass defection among moderate SWUn members occurred, where almost all moderate SWUn members in the House of Representative switched to the Socialist Party. This denied the Hamilton government the majority it needed to prevent a motion of no confidence from succeeding. Subsequently, a motion of no confidence was passed on September 1, 1998, paving the way for a wave election for the ADA-CUP.
The Ebert government (1998 September-2003 September)
Dissolution of the SWUn
The ADA-CUP nominated moderate Leader Annabel Ebert to lead the party after previous Leader Harold Sinker died from a heart attack. With the Green Party, the Socialist Party and the SWUn splitting the left, the ADA-CUP was able to win disaffected centre-left voters. The result of this was a 67-seat ADA-CUP supermajority in the Senate and a strong majority in the House of Representatives. In her inaugural speech, Prime Minister Ebert stated that she would pursue an aggressive anti-corruption agenda and introduce austerity to curb the national debt.
Meanwhile, the SWUn lost all representation in the Senate, and it became the smallest party in the House of Representatives, with less than a dozen representatives. In a party convention in December, party members agreed to dissolve the 110-year old party. The remaining representatives sat as independents or joined the other two left-wing parties. Many pundits called the death an ignominious end of an insurgent movement.
To quickly restore confidence in the government, Prime Minister Ebert pushed an omnibus bill through both chambers of Parliament, dubbed the Emnibus. The bill was condemned by critics as rushed, while conservatives lauded it as the solution for partisanship. The omnibus bill received little to no opposition in the Senate, but faced fierce criticism from the Green and Socialist parties in the House of Representatives. The major parts of the omnibus comprised of a reduction of unemployment benefits, a tax cut, and the replacement of the ACA with the new Ethics Commission.
The Ethics Commission was a major point of contention between the liberals and moderates, and the conservatives in government. The conservative factions sought revenge against the biased ACA, while the moderates and liberals sought to create a bipartisan solution. Ultimately, the conservatives won out after an intra-party vote where it was decided that the 15 commissioners on the Ethics Commission would be appointed by the prime minister. Although the conservative faction in the government sought to force the prime minister's hand to appoint conservative commissioners, she outmanoeuvred them; she appointed 15 moderates and independents to lead the commission.
2003 Conservative Convention
Despite the popularity of the ADA-CUP and Prime Minister Ebert's successes, conservative factions within the party were dissatisfied with the moderate policies enacted by her government. In what was considered to be a long-shot bid to oust the prime minister, many prominent party hardliners sought to defeat her nomination in the pre-election party convention by getting conservative Patrick Sanford nominated. In an attempt to quash any opposition, Prime Minister Ebert—aware of the conservative opposition—moved further to the right through major neo-liberal reforms such as the Welfare Responsibility Act and the Tariffs Reduction Act.
However, Prime Minister Ebert's efforts were in vain. The raucous convention denied Ebert the nomination by a slim majority. Patrick Sanford was the official nominee. Ebert immediately resigned; she called out the ADA-CUP for attempting to enforce "unconditional conformity". As a result, a small group of liberal ADA-CUP senators and representatives formed the Liberal Democratic Party.
The Sanford government (2003 September-2012 June)
2003 Election Successes
Even though the centre-right Liberal Democratic Party was now in contention with the ADA-CUP for the premiership, the party was unable to pull enough moderate voters away from the ADA-CUP. Instead, the centre-left vote was further divided. Ultimately, the 2003 parliamentary elections saw the ADA-CUP lose seats in the House of Representatives due to the proportional nature of the voting system. In the Senate, they maintained their 67-seat supermajority. The new Liberal Democratic Party lost most of their seats in the Senate.
Politicization of the Judiciary & Dissolution of the ADA-CUP
Prime Minister Sanford announced a Judicial Reset Program. He sought to remove officials associated with the corrupt Narendo government. Using hitherto rarely-enforced provisions of the Judicial Oversight Act, Prime Minister Sanford used his majority in the House of Representatives and supermajority in the Senate to impeach and convict justices on the federal courts and Supreme Court who were sympathetic to the now-defunct SWUn. In conjunction with the mass dismissal of justices, a new retirement age for justices was adopted. Meanwhile, hundreds of justices were rapidly approved by the Senate, and an oversight commission was established to monitor their "political activity".
The left was outraged. They slammed the judicial reforms as undermining judicial independence and blatantly partisan. Overall, the public heavily disapproved of the judicial reforms too. However, reactions from the mainstream left-wing parties were tepid at best. Disaffected progressives formed a new left-wing populist party, United Dasko, vowed to radically transform the nation and reverse the conservative reforms. Within the ADA-CUP, moderates in the party revolted and formed the Unionist Democratic Party, depriving the ADA-CUP a supermajority and ending the Judicial Reset Program. The exodus led to the renaming the ADA-CUP as the Conservative Party in the 2004 party convention.
2008 Parliamentary Elections
Compared with the 2003 elections, Prime Minister Sanford's popularity was greatly eroded due to the highly partisan nature of his reforms. The Conservative Party benefited from another divided left-wing front comprised of the Socialist Party, the Green Party and United Dasko. However, the Liberal Democratic Party and the Unionist Democratic Party also siphoned votes away from the Conservatives. This ultimately deprived the Conservatives the necessary majorities in the House of Representatives and the Senate. Unfortunately for both the Liberal Democrats and Unionist Democrats, United Dasko supplanted the Socialists as the dominant left-wing opposition party. In the ensuing negotiations, the Conservatives were able to convince the Unionist Democrats to form a coalition government.
2009 Metro Attack & the Sanford Gamble
By 2009, the coalition government was riveted by divisions. Prime Minister Sanford continued making polarizing judicial appointments that were continuously blocked by the Senate. Budget negotiations had failed, and the nation was bracing for new elections. Provincially, the Conservatives had lost a majority of provincial legislatures they had held in 1997 to the nascent United Dasko. Meanwhile, tensions between conservatives and progressives had worsened so far that underground radical paramilitary organizations had begun to form and launch attacks on each other.
On November 21, 2009, a gunman belonging to a progressive paramilitary organization opened fire on a busy metro station during rush hour. Over 40 people were killed in the deadliest attack in Dasko's peacetime history. In response, the government approved, along partisan lines, the Political Freedoms Commission which was ostensibly designed to protect political freedom.
2010 Parliamentary Elections
The Saorum government (2012 September-2017 February)
The February Coup
On February 18, 2017,
The Transitional Council (2017 February-2017 September)