Eileen Gertrude Purves (b. 22 August 1947) is the President of Georgeland, having been elected on May 4, 2012. She is a former Mayor of New Kikipolis, an office she held from 1987 to 1993. She was the first woman to be mayor of New Kikipolis, the third woman to be mayor of a major Georgeland city and the fourth female President of Georgeland. She is the third consecutive woman to occupy the country's highest office.
Early life and career
Purves was born in Skinner, Capitalia, an outer suburb of New Kikipolis in 1947, the only child of two migrants; a father from Italy and a mother from Germany. Her parents had both migrated as refugees during the Second World War - her father, Giovanni Brandini, was a Communist whose first wife and son were killed by Mussolini's fascists. Brandini fled to the UK and then to Georgeland in 1937. Purves' mother, Hilde Bruner, was a German Jew who was smuggled out of Bremen in 1935, at the age of fifteen. Neither of her parents ever saw any of their family again. Both had settled in New Kikipolis by 1940, where Brandini was employed as a labourer. Brandini was interred under the Enemy Aliens Act 1941 but was later released, and met Bruner (who escaped internment) in 1943. The couple were married in 1945, two weeks after VJ Day. Purves was born as Helena Eileen Gertrude Brandini (named after three sisters who were family friends) at the family home in Skinner. In 1952, Giovanni Brandini died in an industrial accident at the factory he worked at. Hilde Bruner remarried in 1956, to local businessman Frank Conrad- young Helena took his name. Educated privately at first and then at a series of public schools, in 1957 Purves began attending the exclusive St. Clare's School. Her stepfather went bankrupt in 1960, and committed suicide. Hilde continued raising her daughter alone, withdrawing her from a private school and putting her back into the public system. The family were not poor, but they found increasing hardship throughout the economic slump of the early 1960s. Purves left school in 1965 and, rather than attend university as her mother wanted, instead began working full-time as a secretary and later as a shop steward. In 1969 she was elected as a delegate to the National Union of Shop Stewards, and in 1975 became the state secretary of that union for Capitalia.
Marriage and children
In 1971, Eileen Brandini met Henry Purves, a schoolteacher, while at a Labour Party rally. They became close friends and began dating in 1974. In 1977 they were married. They subsequently had four children - Richard (b. 1978), Yvonne (b. 1983), Francis (b. 1984) and John (b. 1988).
Henry Purves died in May 2004 after his cancer returned and could not be successfully treated.
Purves had joined the Labour Party in 1966, and as her union career developed she also became active in Labour politics. The youngest union secretary in the country at the time, Purves built a name for herself as a member of the party's left wing. In 1978, the thirty-one year old Purves sought preselection for the House of Commons but was defeated, which she attributed to institutional sexism in her branch of the party. She became a strong advocate for womens' rights in the Labour Party and in 1983 successfully won preselection for the seat of New Kikipolis North, and was elected to the House of Commons. As a backbench MP, Purves was a strong advocate for reforms to labour laws to benefit women and in 1985 sponsored the national Sex Discrimination Act, which brought federal control over sexual discrimination laws. Before the general election of 1987, Purves stepped down as an MP in order to contest the election for Mayor of New Kikipolis, winning and defeating the incumbent, John Fry.
Purves' mayoral career was relatively successful, and she enjoyed high approval ratings. Her major successes included the expansion of the M13 motorway to divert traffic from the city centre, and a crackdown on gang-related violence. She took a famously hard line on drug use, and throughout her career has consistently opposed any liberalisation of drug laws, despite holding relatively liberal views on most other subjects.
Purves was re-elected for a second four-year term in 1991, again defeating Fry. Two years later, Purves resigned the mayoralty to care for her husband, who was suffering from colon cancer.
Following her resignation and her husband's recovery, Purves became a full-time union activist. In 1997 she was elected as President of the Capitalia branch of the National Trade Union Congress. She was a strong supporter of the Rhodes Labour government, but broke with Labour to join Rhodes' new Liberal Party in 1999, resigning her union leadership at the same time. She stood for the Senate for the Liberals at the 1999 election but was defeated.
Following this, Purves became a Visiting Fellow at the University of Capitalia and Honorary Professor of Political Science at the University of Topstad, giving occasional lectures and presenting papers at conferences.
In 2004, Henry Purves' cancer returned and he died in May. Eileen Purves took up the cause of cancer prevention and became a spokesperson for cancer treatment charities and for raising money for the treatment of such diseases.
From 2008 to 2011, Purves was resident in the United States as a Visiting Fellow at the University of Virginia.
In January 2012, Purves announced she would run to succeed Lois Daniels as President, Daniels declining to seek re-election. Purves was not expected to win the nomination as she had little support inside the Liberal Democrats, but she won much praise for her sensible and prudent manner of speech. Further, the LDP frontrunner, Mike Socic, made a series of crucial gaffes and came across in debates as arrogant and aggressive.
Purves won a surprise victory at the nominating convention on 23 January, with the support of Prime Minister Lawrence Porter considered to have been the deciding factor. At the election on 4 May, she defeated another former Mayor, Nathan Hunter (Conservative), Senator Janet Riddington (Alliance) and actor Martin Harrod (Green), winning 39% of the popular vote on the first round and 54% of the final count against Hunter. She was sworn in as President on 1 July, the third consecutive woman to hold the position.
Since becoming President, Purves has kept a low political profile. Her victory was said to have been largely due to the government's popularity, and as such she has avoided partisan politics. Purves has made a number of international trips, becoming the first President to visit Iraq in June 2013 and the first to visit Brazil in April 2014.
Thus far, President Purves has not responded to speculation as to whether or not she will seek a second term in office in 2016.