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Erusian general election, April 2010

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January 2010  July 2010
April 2010 Erusian General Election
All 15 seats to the National People's Assembly
April 21 - 24 2010
Turnout 76.92%
Majority party Minority party Third party
Partyflagcpe.png Pdfpartyerusia.jpg Noflag.png
Leader Kai Roosevelt Itakur Kiwal Julian Pieterson
Party Communist Democratic Labour
Alliance United Erusia Democratic United Erusia
Leader since February 2010 February 2010 October 2009
Leader's seat N/A Sacria South Akers
Last election 8 seats, 58.74% 3 seats, 20.51%[1] 2 seats, 7.69%
Electoral vote 109 46 16
States carried 4 1 0
Seats won 12 2 1
Seat change +4 -2 -1
Popular vote 32 13 4
Percentage 64% 26% 8%
Swing +5.26% +5.49% +0.31%
Erusianseats.png
Colours denote the winning party.

Incumbent President
Kai Roosevelt
Communist

President-elect
Kai Roosevelt
Communist

The April 2010 Erusian General Election took place between April 21st and 24th 2010 in the Democratic People's Republic of Erusia, and was the fifth general election in the history of that micronation. The election saw the ruling Erusian National Communist Party returned to power with twelve seats in the new National People's Assembly, affording them the largest overall majority in Erusian electoral history, and - at least on the Presidential ballot - the largest-ever share of the popular vote. The opposition Democratic Party and the Labour Party, despite performing well at the polls, lost half of their seats to the resurgent Communists.

Erusia was not due to go to the polls until July 1st 2010, having only held an election a few months earlier in January. However, the ousting of Robert Lethler as leader of the Communist Party in February and a sharp increase in popular support for democratic reform lead Premier James Marshall to call an early election on March 27th with the government seeking a new pro-democracy mandate under the leadership of Kai Roosevelt. 76.92% of the Erusian population turned out to vote, with Roosevelt and her party securing 64% of the vote in the legislative election and a record-shattering 84% on the Presidential ballot.

For what is set to be the last time in Erusian history, indirect elections also took place for local government through an electoral college. It was also the first time in over a year that the President was elected directly by universal suffrage.

Contents

Overview

National voting system

This was the first election in which the voting system was clearly outlined in national law, rather than in a decree by the Electoral Commission, thanks to the provisions of the recently-passed Electoral Reform Act 2010, though the system used remained identical to that used in the previous two general elections. In theory, elections occur in fifteen individual constituencies across the Democratic People's Republic with citizens voting for their individual Assembly Member - in practice due to the inpracticality of such a system at this time, an extraordinarily complex method is used in which citizens vote for all of their District's AMs but in which candidates still stand for a single constituency.

In the current practical system utilised, each of the five Administrative Districts in the Democratic People's Republic is designated as an electoral district that elects three Assembly Members, one for each constituency. Citizens vote using a Single Transferable Voting system (STV), in which they are issued a ballot paper with the names of all candidates standing for election and asked to rank them according to their personal preferences, with candidates being eliminated at each round until three candidates achieve the minimum number of votes required for election - determined by a simple mathematical formula[2] - or until the final number of candidates is equal to the number of vacant seats. Whenever a candidate is eliminated, voters who cast a ballot for them have their vote transferred according to the subsequent preference on their ballot paper, whilst surplus votes for candidates who have all ready reached the quota for election are redistributed fractionally among the remaining candidates relative to the number of vacant seats remaining.

This system has been widely criticised by the Democratic Party, who assert that it favours the Communist Party and leads to the creation of safe seats. This argument has been rejected by the Communist government, who note that if it was their desire to create an electoral system that favoured them, then they would have adopted a First Past The Post system, which would have created a Communist landslide in every election to date. Throughout the campaign, the Democrats promised the abolition of the current system and a return to proportional representation. Had the election been carried out under the system they propose, they would have held all four of their seats, with the ENCP only making two gains.

Presidential election

In what was believed to be a means to ensure they would remain in power in the event of a significant swing towards the Democrats that could deprive them of their overall majority, the Communist Party legislated to reintroduce direct elections for the Presidency almost immediately after the beginning of the election campaign - this was the first time since December 2008 that the nation had voted directly to elect its President. With only two candidates standing for election, a simple run-off voting system was used to determine the victor.

Local government elections

For the last time in Erusian history, indirect elections for local government also took place using the same ballot as the general election. The total number of first and subsequent preference votes recorded in the general election were all counted as "Electoral Votes" - the political party that claims the most electoral votes in a region wins control of the local Administrative Authority there, and has the right to appoint candidates of its choosing to the authority. The outcome of this election is set to be short-lived with the pending passing of the Local Government Act 2010, which will see elections for a new form of local government in either May or June.

Background

Previous elections and seats

Main article: January 2010 Erusian General Election

Erusia had last held an election between January 1st and January 4th 2010, seeing the ruling Erusian National Communist Party returned to power with a thin overall majority of just two seats, though it succeeded in winning five more seats than the opposition Democratic Party of Erusia. This had been the fourth consecutive election victory for the Communist Party under Robert Lethler, who had served as its General Secretary since November 2008, and it was widely heralded as the first completely free and fair election in the nation's history[3]. However, the Democratic Party subsequently won a fourth seat in the Assembly when the new constituency of Sacria South was established, seeing the Communist Party's overall majority significantly reduced to just a single seat. As such, the ENCP found itself in an extremely difficult political position, with a single rebelling vote from the government benches being sufficient to prevent them from passing legislation. Indeed, in one instance, the rebellion of half the parliamentary party saw a government bill pass only thanks to the Democratic opposition voting in favour.

Change in Communist leadership

Main article: February 2010 ENCP Leadership Election

Although Kai Roosevelt had been elected President of the Democratic People's Republic at the previous general election, and Kenneth Maisano had held the post for six months before her, Robert Lethler had remained firmly in de facto control of the nation in his capacity as the leader of the Communist Party. Though the end of 2009 and the beginning of 2010 had seen the beginning of the institutionalisation of State power and the end of undemocratic Communist rule, Lethler was nonetheless the unofficial leader of the nation in his capacity as the ENCP's chief policy and decision maker. However, in the immediate aftermath of January's election, Lethler's personal and political popularity entered into a rapid decline. Opinion polls conducted independently by the Communist Party suggested that, with him as General Secretary, the Party was heading for defeat at the next general election in July 2010.

The perceived resistance of Lethler and his closest allies to the cause of democratic reform was largely seen as the reason for his rapidly declining popularity. He had permitted the limited restoration of multi-party democracy but refused calls to completely reform the political system at a time when public sympathies were demanding a stronger democracy, though some assert this resistance was more so due to restrictions placed upon him by his own wing of the Party rather than out of personal conviction, given the prominent place he has taken in the current reformist government. As the Communist Party prepared to convene its 5th National Congress, Carwyn Jenkins - one of the ENCP's senior leaders and the most vocal advocate of full-scale democratic reform within the Party itself - announced his intention to stand for the leadership of the Party. Widely perceived as a stalking horse candidate, Jenkins was unlikely to win the leadership of the ENCP, but his decision to stand enabled deputy-leader and incumbent President Kai Roosevelt to stand for the leadership.

In the subsequent contest, Lethler found himself forced to withdraw his own candidacy or face a humiliating defeat at Congress. Though he initially endorsed Kenneth Maisano for the leadership, he subsequently offered his support for Roosevelt when it became clear that the Party would not fare any better at the polls under the former President's leadership. When voting began, Maisano took the lead by a narrow margin on the first ballot, but was unable to secure the two-thirds majority required for an outright victory. His support subsequently haemorrhaged, allowing Roosevelt to take the lead on the second and ultimately win by a landslide on the third ballot. Fellow reformist James Marshall was subsequently elevated to the deputy-leadership of the Party.

The new reformist-minded ENCP leadership did, however, find itself in a difficult political position. The Communist Party had been elected in January 2010 on a conservative manifesto, one that was at odds with the new leadership's vision for a more democratic and liberal Erusian nation. Many hardline elements within the Party were critical towards Roosevelt and Marshall for "stealing" the leadership from Lethler, who had all ready promised to stand down in August 2010, claiming that they were serving under a mandate they had no rightful claim to. As such, Roosevelt's proposed policy changes were met with extreme opposition from the hard left of the Party who were not prepared to accept her reformist agenda until she had her own independent and legitimate mandate. Thus, in addition to increasing her majority, Roosevelt sought to win popular support for her political agenda by calling an early election.

Changes in the Democratic Party

Although the change in the leadership of the Erusian National Communist Party was much more significant, also in February 2010 the Democratic Party had experienced a change in leadership. Peter Maxwell, the former monarch of the nation, stood down to allow Itakur Kiwal - who had previously lead the democrats to their strongest-ever election result in July 2009 - to serve for a second time as leader. Under his leadership, which was backed up by a number of other new appointments, the Party visibly shifted away from its social democratic roots towards a more right-wing platform comparable to that of the British Labour Party.

Campaign

Announcement of the election

It remains unknown precisely when the Communist government made the decision to call an early election. There had been rumours that the government would call an election on or around May 29th 2010, but a series of political incidents - including one brief crisis in which it appeared as though the reformist government was about to be overthrown by the hardline-minded military - appear to have persuaded the Communist leadership to go to the polls a month earlier than planned. On March 27th, without any warning, Premier James Marshall announced that he was seeking a dissolution of the Assembly and that a general election would take place in late April. As is customary, polling was open from the 21st to the 24th to maximise turnout. Both parties had soon published their manifestos and policy commitments.

Communist campaign

The Communist Party's manifesto was unlike any it had previously put forward in a campaign. Roosevelt's revitalised party stood on a platform of progressive democratic reform and change, promising the establishment of a truly democratic state by the end of the Assembly's seventh sitting, though she openly rejected the label of "liberal democracy". Unlike previous campaigns, the ENCP did not focus on its past achievements but rather on its election promises. Their campaign was masterminded by Eugene Taylor and Gerald Goldstone, though in key marginal seats they were hoping to win, former Party leader Robert Lethler was given the unenviable task of leading their metaphorical charge. Both the Communists and the Democrats agreed on a number of points with regards to democratic reform, making the choice between the two more a matter of how radical one wanted reform to be, with the ECNP being noticably more moderate in its promises. There were, however, important differences in the Communist vision for democratic reform. Under the manifesto the ENCP presented the DPRE would become a parliamentary democracy with an unelected Prime Minister and a ceremonial Presidency, unifying powers and ending the current presidential system that has become largely impractical according to the ENCP.

Two of the major issues in the campaign were the economy and the National Healthcare Program (NHP). The ENCP campaigned hard for a program of cooperativisation, in particular with regards to the media, promising an end to total State control of the economy but rejecting outright the proposed free-market reforms presented by the Democratic Party. The Party also promised to keep economic growth for the year at 22%, the second such time they have made such a commitment in an election, though crucially the figures for economic growth will not be known until after even the next general election. With regards to healthcare, the government vowed to maintain - and eventually increase - funding to the NHP, in resistance to Democratic promises to abolish the program completely. Foreign policy also proved to be a major element of the Communist campaign, perhaps in part because of the prominent role played by incumbent Foreign Commissioner Robert Lethler in the implementation of the campaign, with the Communists claiming that a Democratic government would lack the confidence of the international community.

Ultimately, this was the first ever ENCP election campaign that did not take on a traditionally Communistic format. National media was not used to any particularly strong effect, nor were posters and similar materials employed en masse as they had been before. Instead, the Party's tactics focused mostly on barnstorming and having candidates meet voters, adding a uniquely personal touch to the campaign that may have benefited them in key marginal seats up and down the country.

Democratic campaign

As is usually the case, the Democratic Party's campaign focused chiefly on the perceived flaws and weaknesses of the Communist government, promoting themselves as an alternative to Communist rule and advancing the image that only they could deliver true democratic change. However, the adoption of the cause of democratic reform by the ruling Communist Party - which was in a much better place to actually deliver on its promises having been in power for 15 months - put a great deal of pressure on the Democratic election campaign. They were heavily critical of Communist proposals and asserted that the government would never actually deliver on them, a view that ultimately proved unpopular in marginal seats. Though the Democrats presented a manifesto that was just as detailed in terms of its full range of policies as the Communist one, the vast majority of their campaign efforts remained focused on the issue of democratic reform and - albeit to a lesser degree - the economy.

Unlike the Communist program for the creation of a parliamentary democracy however, the Democrats envisaged the DPRE as having a presidential system that curtailed the power of the legislature and vested greater powers in the Presidency - this proved to be highly unpopular with the electorate, and it is suspected to be in part the reason why the ENCP ultimately emerged on top in marginal seats.

With regards to economic policy, the Democrats claimed that their fiscal and economic program would - assuming Communist figures are accurate - generate 26% growth as opposed to the 22% promised by the Communists. They assert that this is possible by drastically cutting government spending and - crucially - ending the National Healthcare Program.

Labour campaign

The Party of Socialist Labour, which is a loose coalition partner of the Communist Party, mounted no effective national campaign this time around. Its candidates focused heavily on local issues, trade unionism and local government reform - none of which were seen as major issues in the campaign. It forwarded only a limited range of candidates, which in part may have contributed to its ultimate poor result.

Ballot

Polling days

Campaigning ceased and voting officially opened at 20:00 UTC on April 21st, closing on April 24th at the same time. For the first few days, turnout was unusually low for an Erusian general election, much to the alarm of the Communist Party who traditionally fare better when turnout is higher thanks to stronger support from their core voters. On the last day of polling, however, a sudden sharp increase in voter turnout was experienced - largely because, it is suspected, many voters were still undecided between the two democratic reform proposals presented. In the end fifty of Erusia's citizens turned out to vote across the nation, producing a turnout of 76.92%.

Election Night

Polls officially closed across the nation at 20:00 UTC on April 24th, marking the end of the election and the beginning of a lengthy ballot-counting process. Erusia Central News hosted a live election night special from 19:45 to 02:00 exclusively for Erusian citizens, whilst simultaneously updating its online newsfeed for the international community to view the results as they came in. ECN's own exit poll predicted a Communist overall majority of 5 seats with 61% of the popular vote going to the government; the poll was ultimately out by 3% and 2 seats. Bzan South Central was the first constituency of the night to declare its result 35 minutes after polls closed, and it was not until 22:19 that the first Communist gain of the night was recorded. Three and a half hours after polling had closed, the eighth Communist seat declared (Bzan East), giving them an overall majority in the Assembly. The last result came in at 23:55, with the result of the Presidential ballot having been known an hour earlier at 22:50.

Result

The Communist Party was returned to power with an overall majority of nine seats, and a majority of ten over the Democrats, with Kai Roosevelt being easily returned as President. The result was the largest landslide in Erusian history. Ultimately, the Democratic party faired better at the polls relatively speaking - though all parties (except for the minority People's Revolutionary Party) enjoyed an increase in their relative popular support, the percentage swing to the Democrats slightly outstripped that of the Communists. In theory, this should have meant that there was no real change in the makeup of the Assembly. In practice however, the Communist swing in individual marginal seats was much greater than that of the Democrats, enabling them to pick up four new constituencies.

General Election
Political Party Seats in New Assembly States Carried Popular Vote (%) Electoral Vote
Erusian National Communist Party 12 (+4) 4 (+1) 64% (+5.26%) 109 (+42)
Democratic Party of Erusia 2 (-2) 1 26% (+5.49%) 46 (+15)
Party of Socialist Labour 1 (-1) 0 (-1) 8% (+0.39%) 16 (+4)
People's Revolutionary Party 0 0 2% 7
Total 15 5 100% 178
ENCP overall majority of 9
Presidential Election
Political Party Candidate Name Popular Vote (%)
Erusian National Communist Party Kai Roosevelt 84%
Democratic Party of Erusia Itakur Kiwal 16%
Total 100%
Kai Roosevelt re-elected

Notes and references

  1. The Democratic Party increased their total number of seats to 4 at a later by-election.
  2. (Votes ÷ No of Seats + 1) + 1
  3. The preceding general election in July has also been accepted as being completely free and fair, but a change in the law meant the Assembly it elected served only a few short days, and thus this result is often discounted. The ENCP maintains that all elections in Erusia have been free and fair, and the Democrats have recently conceded that the December 2008 election was also fair.