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Georgeland legislative election, 2007

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The 2007 general election in Georgeland was held on Saturday, June 30, 2007 and was fought between the ruling Liberal Democratic Party of the United Islands and the opposition Conservative Party of Georgeland. The Liberal Democrats attempted to win a third term in office under that name, and Prime Minister Zoe Parker sought her first electoral victory. The election saw the Conservatives win office for the first time since 1995, led by Luke Macaulay.
At the 2005 election, the Tories gained ten seats, for a total of 122. The government lost five for a total of 137; the LDP majority in the House of Commons is thirteen. To win, the Conservatives will have to capture nine seats, which is perfectly within the realm of possibility. The size of the House of Commons is expected to be increased following a redistribution in 2007; the new House of Commons will contain 265 members.
Prime Minister Parker announced in 2007 that the election will probably be a double dissolution - that is, both houses of Parliament will be dissolved, leading to an election of the full Senate. Normally this requires legislation to be rejected by either House twice; however, Parker said the government would seek to hold a dissolution with the consent of the State Governors; this would have been technically constitutional, but has never before been done.
With the Senate's blocking of the "mini-budget", a series of bills authorising several projects, the point became moot as Parker was given recourse to hold a double dissolution within constitutional scope.

Timetable

Georgeland's elections are not presently fixed. However, in January 2007 the government made it very clear that they intended to hold the election "in the latter half" of 2007, and that future elections would be held on a fixed date. The latest date at which an election can be held is three years from the first sitting of the current House; May 6, 2008. On March 27, 2007, the House of Commons passed the Parliamentary Reform Act 2007, which fixed the date for the election as the first Friday in August - in 2007, this will be August 3. However, as the law specifically excludes double dissolutions, the government was able to set the final date of June 30, with the 2010 election to take place in August of that year.
As the election was called on May 18, the voter registration period will end on May 25. The close of nominations for the ballot will be on June 1; however, both major parties and most minor parties have now completed the selection of candidates. Those candidates will still have to formally register by June 1 in order to be eligible to run.
The polls will open at 8am local time on Saturday, June 30 and close at 6pm the same day. The results of Western seats will come in first due to the time difference of an hour between the West and East. As Georgeland now uses electronic voting for most elections, with pencil-and-paper ballot papers provided as an option, preliminary results will be known by 9pm on Saturday evening. However, a complete set of results typically takes a week, or sometimes a fortnight, to be counted. Nonetheless, if this election is typical, the winner of the election will be known on Saturday night or early on Sunday morning.
The party that wins a majority of seats (or, if no party wins a majority, the party most capable of winning a majority vote) will be commissioned to form a government. The President will commission either Mrs. Parker or Mr. Macaulay (unless another party wins more seats, which is extremely unlikely) to form a government within three days of the poll, once the result is more certain. The new government cannot legally be sworn in until all votes are counted - typically, this would be within three weeks of the poll date.
The election will be held concurrently with local elections in 25 municipal and local authorities. The largest of these contests is the Topstad mayoral election, 2007.

Candidates

Preselections for most parties, including all those currently in Parliament and the Greens, were carried out in the period from October 2006. Preselections in Georgeland can be decided more than a year ahead of the ballot, as the process is time-consuming.
A number of high-profile candidates are running in this election. Some of these include:

Conservative

Notable seats

The nine most marginal LDP-held seats, those most likely to fall to the Opposition with only a small swing, are:

  1. McGann, Scoita (Duncan Keyes); 0.1%
  2. Humphries, WM (Tina Jones); 0.3%
  3. Bartlett, Capitalia (Aida Justin); 0.3%
  4. Skinner, EM (Al Slattery); 0.5%
  5. Cunningham, EM (Dolores Colson); 0.7%
  6. Kingston, Bradmarch (Sophia Edwards); 1.0%
  7. Murray, EM (Chris Lendeldt); 1.2%
  8. Earlich, WM (Tony Parkman); 1.3%
  9. Northbay, WM (Tony Elmer); 1.3%

A Tory gain of 1.3% of the two-party preferred vote across all states (a "uniform swing of 1.3%) would therefore be enough to gain government for the Opposition. However, several Tory seats are below this threshold; the second-most marginal seat in the country, Pearmont, is held by incumbent Susanne Sewell by just 0.2%.
Present predictions based on polling data show a probable mean nationwide swing of between 2.4% to 4.7%, which would be enough to win between 15 and 30 seats. It should be noted swings are never uniform nation-wide.

Retiring members

  • Fred Osbourne (Conservative, Stonehouse): In December 2006, Osbourne announced he would not be seeking preselection to contest his seat at the election.
  • Stephen Cole (Conservative, Hanover): Cole announced in 2005 that his current term of office in his seat, which he has held since 1967, would be his last.
  • Lydia Banker (Conservative, Charlton: Though only in her second term, Banker announced in November 2006 she would not contest her seat again due to the death of her husband.
  • Donna Bailey (LDP, Follett): Bailey announced she would not recontest in May 2006.
  • Andrew Hindle (LDP, Riverside): The former Speaker has announced his retirement 'for personal reasons'.
  • Jeffrey Blackburn (LDP, Deane): Blackburn has been suffering from cancer - though currently in remission, he is leaving politics at the next election.
  • Bill Williamson (LDP, Romphumburg): The incumbent Speaker announced his retirement in January 2007.
  • Neil Ferguson, (Conservative, Norwich): Announced retirement January 30, 2007
  • George Forrester, (LDP, Edwards): Announced retirement February 6, 2007
  • Sen. Alan Swan (LDP, Scoita): Announced retirement February 7, 2007\

Parties and Leaders

  • Liberal Democratic Party of the United Islands - Zoe Parker, 46, has been leader of the governing LDP and Prime Minister since July 30, 2005. Parker's public image has softened somewhat since her ascention to the country's highest office, but her government has been marred by a number of serious scandals and a perception that she and her government are arrogant and aggressive. Parker will be fighting for election as Prime Minister in her own right. Parker is Georgeland's first female Prime Minister.
  • Conservative Party of Georgeland - Luke Macaulay, 44, took over leadership of the Opposition in June 2006 after the unexpected and sudden death of his predecessor, Sam Richardson. Macaulay is considered the front-runner in most polls. A political moderate, Macaulay has attempted to redraw the Conservatives as a more centrist, responsible party and shift the image of the party away from the "blustering reactionary" viewpoint that has characterised it in the past.
  • Georgeland Alliance - Michael Elderton, 58, will lead the Alliance into its second election. The former Prime Minister is a well-known figure, but Elderton is potentially in danger of losing his seat of Smithfield, as it has been targeted by both major parties. Most polls, however, show Elderton retaining his seat.
  • Green Party of Georgeland - Current leader Greg Downes, 49, was formally elected as his party's leader in 2006. Downes will not recontest his formerly-held seat of Pamby, instead contesting the Senate as the lead candidate for the Green ticket in East Mainland.

Issues

The following are generally considered to be significant electoral issues for all parties at the general election.

Economy

The federal budget deficit has increased considerably since 2002 to a 30-year-high in 2006 of $11 billion. The Liberal Democrats have pledged to reign in government spending, but have been accused of hypocrisy in this owing to their attempt to pass a controversial "mini-budget" containing further expenditure, which the LDP denies counts as expenditure. The opposition Conservatives have proposed the outsourcing and privatisation of a number of government assets and a decrease in the size of the civil service. However, Liberal Democrats have suggested this will lead to unemployment and higher inflation, and have thrown into question the Conservative policy of tax cuts, claiming this will only increase the deficit. The Liberal Democrats are yet to outline a comprehensive economic plan.

Climate change

Both sides of politics support the Kyoto Protocol, which Georgeland ratified in 2002. However, they differ over methods to reduce carbon emissions by the required amount. The Liberal Democrats have enacted legislation forcing companies to comply with the emissions standards, which the Conservatives have attacked as anti-competitive. In 2006, Prime Minister Zoe Parker tabled a Climate Change White Paper, which recommended a national carbon trading scheme. A number of polluters have voluntarily signed onto a scheme, but the Parker government has consistently delayed legislation enshrining the scheme in law and refused to say whether or not it would make the scheme compulsory. The Opposition has pledged not to make the scheme compulsory and instead focus on research for renewable energy sources.

Government expenditure

The Conservatives have campaigned heavily on a theme of cutting down national expenditure and the 11 billion dollar budget defecit through reductions in government spending. The Conservatives have, however, been unwilling to name any specific agencies or departments that would suffer job losses and downsizing. The government has claimed the Conservatives would axe public sector jobs, and in the televised debate on June 22, Luke Macaulay admitted this would probably be the case but promised full compensation to those whose jobs are cut. Macaulay has also pledged to reduce wasteful spending in other areas and to reform welfare payments, and to cut foreign aid in the short term.

Ethics and accountability

Macaulay has depicted himself as "Mister Clean" and has attacked the government on its record in accountability. He has pointed to numerous scandals, particularly the Civic Bank Investment Scandal and a series of controversial appointments, such as Campbell Rhodes as ambassador to the United Nations and Charlotte LeBeau as ambassador to the EU as evidence of the government's increasingly corrupt behaviour. The Liberal Democrats have strongly defended their record in this area, and Prime Minister Parker has issued a full-page newspaper advertisement defending each of the contraversial appointments.

Urban development

The Conservatives have declared they will scrap the $2 billion urban development program as outlined in the government's "mini-budget", and re-divert those funds directly into communities to allow them best to decide how to use it. They have attacked the program as "pork barrelling" and accused the government of targeting marginal constituencies in the program in an attempt to buy votes. The Liberal Democrats maintain they are trying to fix serious problems that local and state governments aren't dealing with.

Centralism vs Federalism

The opposition has proposed a return to a less federalist form of government, allowing the individual states to govern independently and have input into or control over key policy areas. They have attacked such programs as the National Education Service as a violation of state control over Education, and have pledged to make state funding unconditional. The LDP government has for some time withheld funding unless state governments change policy to be in line with that of the federal government or other states. Luke Macaulay has pledged to discontinue this practice entirely. Zoe Parker has defended the government's record in this area and accused Macaulay and the Tories of disingenuity.

National Security

The LDP has pledged funding increases to FISIA and other law-enforcement bodies but maintains existing security arrangements are adequate. The opposition Defence spokesman, Martin Higgins, has pointed to several areas in which security needs to be improved. The Conservatives have promised to create a Coast Guard to defend against smuggling, but have not outlined how this will be achieved or where they will find the money to do so. The Tories have also pledged increases in defence spending, but, again, have not been specific about how this will be achieved without further government expenditure.

Education

The Conservatives oppose the National Education Service as unnecessary and wasteful, and have promised to replace it with a national regulating body and curriculum review board, while leaving education predominantly in the hands of the states. The government has claimed the NES is effective in providing parents with choices between public and private schools.
The Liberal Democrats are divided over the issue of private school funding. The party's left oppose all state aid to non-state schools, while the right wing of the party believes funding independent schools keeps them competitive. The LDP's decision in 2006 to reinstate state funding to non-government schools was highly contraversial. The Conservatives have pledged more than $400 million in funding for non-government schools and have suggested a school voucher program.
The Greens have campaigned heavily on education, with their policy being to abolish all state aid to non-government schools and double the funding placed into public education.

Healthcare

The government has stated it would keep the NHS fully intact and continue its healthcare funding initiatives. The Conservatives have pledged not to abolish the NHS as the government claims, but Macaulay has stated several times, including during the debate, that the NHS needs "fixing" and that a Tory government would "re-evaluate" the role of the National Health Service. They have also promised to help private insurers become more viable and provide better services, something the Liberal Democrats oppose.

Results

House of Commons

Registered Voters 19,645,674
Votes Cast 15,425,488 Turnout 78.5%
Informal Votes 185,105 Informal % 1.2%
Party Leader Primary Votes % Swing Seats Change
Liberal Democratic Party of the United Islands Zoe Parker 5,736,480 37.64% -2.92% 113 -24
Conservative Party of Georgeland Luke Macaulay 7,187,365 47.16% +2.39% 149 +27
Georgeland Alliance Michael Elderton 1,313,721 8.62% -1.96% 2 0
Green Party of Georgeland Greg Downes 673,624 4.42% +1.66% 0 0
Other Various 329,193 2.16% -0.67% 1 0
Total 15,240,383 265
Previous election
2005
General Elections in Georgeland
2007
Next election
2010

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