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Politics of Georgeland

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Georgeland is a federal parliamentary democracy. Georgeland has a long and proud democratic history, although in recent years many institutions are coming to be seen as undemocratic. Georgeland's government is based on the Westminster system, used in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and most former British possessions. Party discipline is stronger in Georgeland today than it has been historically; a member of parliament voting against his own party is a rare event indeed. Individual Members of Parliament therefore have little influence or visibility; they do, however, have considerable power if they sit on a parliamentary committee. Georgeland's use of the Westminster system dates from the 1860s, when Georgeland, a British colony, was granted autonomy. Upon being given full independence in 1891 (though see below for a definition of 'independence'), Georgeland retained this system. In 1929, when Georgeland became a republic, there was debate as to whether or not to retain the Westminster system or change a U.S.-style Presidential government; the existing system was maintained, though many expected to evolve towards a strong executive over time.

Executive

According to the Constitution of the United Islands, executive power lies with the "President, in consultation with the Government." This means that, in theory, the President of Georgeland is the ultimate executive authority. In practice, this role falls to the elected government and Cabinet, headed by the Prime Minister. The executive role of the President has been a subject of much debate over the past half-century. The convention that the President is the ultimate authority, working in consultation with the Prime Minister and Government is a convention from British common law; indeed, the Presidency is a republican continuation from the monarchy that existed in Georgeland prior to 1929. No President has yet tested their powers to see how far they are allowed to go, and only one President has performed a significant act without consulting the Government - this was in 1999, when the elected government no longer commanded control of the House of Commons. President Susan O'Byrne appointed the Conservative leader Michael Fisch as caretaker Prime Minister pending the result of fresh elections. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President, but the President is constitutionally obliged to appoint a PM who commands the majority of votes in the House of Commons. Prior to 1958, in theory any adult Georgelander was elible to be Prime Minister; in that year the Constitution was amended to ensure the Prime Minister is always a member of the House of Commons. It is permissable for a person to be commissioned as Prime Minister if they are not a Member of the House of Commons, but such an appointment cannot last longer than six weeks. This permits the Prime Minister to continue in office once Parliament is dissolved pending a general election. The Prime Minister is therefore the leader of the majority party or coalition in the House. From 1920 or so until 1987 there were only two major parties capable of forming government - the Conservative Party of Georgeland and the United Islands Labour Party (Georgeland Labour Party before 1960). At the 1987 election, the leftist Democratic Party of the United Islands won enough seats to deprive the sitting Labour government of Noel Quarton a majority. Quarton and the DPUI leader, Leonard Hand, formed a coalition government that lasted, in one form or another, until 2004, when the Democrats and the successor to Labour, the Liberal Party of the United Islands merged to form the Liberal Democratic Party of the United Islands. Since the 2005 election, there are once again just two major parties. On two occasions since 1891 Georgeland has been runby minority governments, who did not control the House of Commons. The first was between 1908 and 1911, and the second from 2001 until 2002. The leader of the second-largest or minority party is the Leader of the Opposition. This office is not constitutionally mandated and is filled only by convention. In theory any person could be Opposition Leader, but in practice it is necessary for them to be a Member of Parliament like the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister serves until dismissed or until he resigns. It is customary for a Prime Minister to resign following an election; if he won the election, he is immediately re-appointed. The only circumstances under a Prime Minister is compelled to resign are if he is no longer eligible to be an MP or if he loses a vote of no-confidence (or a vote of confidence) in the House of Commons. Under these circumstances, the Prime Minister must resign or else be dismissed by the President. In theory the President can dismiss the Prime Minister at any time; any President who did so would face widespread outrage, however. To date only one Prime Minister has had his commission revoked, Campbell Rhodes in 1999 following the split in the Labour Party.

Parliament

The nation's bicameral Parliament is the country's federal legislature. Parliament consists of the President, and two elected chambers - the Georgeland House of Commons and the Georgeland Senate. Legislative power rests with the party that controls the House of Commons. The House of Commons consists of 261 members, all of whom are elected for a three-year term. In 2004 the term of the Commons was reduced from four years. Members of the House of Commons (MPs) are elected via a preferential system, also known as instant-runoff voting, in which candidates are ranked by preference and a losing candidate's preferences are allocated among those remaining to determine an overall winner. This system replaced the first-past-the-post system for the 2005 election. Though it is agreed to be more democratic, minor parties have criticised the new electoral system as it makes it more difficult, even than before, for minor parties to be elected to the House of Commons. Indeed, at the election just three parties had representatives in the House, with one independent, down from six at the previous election. Election dates are not fixed, and the Prime Minister (through the President) may call an election at any time, provided eight months have elapsed since the last one. Each MP represents a single constituency, of roughly 65,000 voters. Each state recieves a number of MPs in relation to its population. The Senate, also called the Upper House is elected via proportional representation, using a single transferable vote. Prior to 2004, each state had the power to select the method of choosing its own Senators; in 2004 the STV system was adopted nationwide. The Senate is the States' House, where each state is, in theory at least, equal. The Senate initially consisted of 50 members, ten from each state. In 1958, Delmago Island was admitted as a state and due to its small population, was granted five senators, not ten. (Only the original five states are guaranteed equal numbers under the constitution). The Federal District was granted two Senators in 1980. In 2000, when the state of Mainland subdivided into two states - East and West, the Senate was increased to 67 members. At the 2005 election, an enlarged Senate of 80 was elected, with the six large states having 12 Senators, Delmago Island six and the District 2. Senators serve a six-year term, with roughly half of them up for election every three years. Due to the former four year term of the House, this meant previous elections were often not synchronous. The term of the Senate begins on January 1. The Senators elected in March 2005 do not begin serving until January 2006. When a Senate seat falls vacant, it is filled by the Government of the state concerned. By law, the vacancy must be filled by a person of the same party as the person who caused the vacancy. Normally, the party concerned will choose a person who will then be confirmed by the state legislature and appointed formally by the state Governor.

State Governments

Main article: Georgeland State Governments

Georgeland has seven states, and one federal territory. Each of the states has its own government, modelled on the federal government. Each state has a State Governor, who is in all states but one (Delmago Island), directly elected by the voters of the state. The state Governors have varying degrees of power. Each state has a unicameral legislature. Day-to-day affairs of the states are run by the state Chief Ministers. The present state Governors and Chief Ministers are as follows:

Judiciary

Georgeland: Political Information

Country name:

  • conventional form: Georgeland
  • official form: United Islands of Georgeland

Data code: UI

Government type: Federal Parliamentary Republic Capital: Topstad, F.D.

Administrative divisions: 7 states and one territory; Bradmarch, Capitalia, Delmago Island, East Mainland, Federal District, Long Island, Scoita, West Mainland

National holiday: Delmago Day, 9 August

Constitution: Written 1891, revised 1929, 1958 and 2004. Much of Georgeland's governance is based on convention and common law, however.

Legal system: except for criminal law, based on English common law.

Suffrage: Citizens aged 18 years or older. Before 2004, the President was legally not entitled to vote to ensure impartiality. This law has now been changed.

Executive branch:

  • Head of State: President Charlotte Lang (since May, 2004)
  • Head of Government: Prime Minister Zoe Parker (since July 2005)
  • Cabinet: Ministers (usually around 16) chosen by the Prime Minister to lead various ministries. Senators are entitled to be ministers, and many are, though the Deputy PM and Treasurer must both be MPs. Ministers must all be members of either House of Parliament. There are usually about 12 junior ministers who are not in the cabinet. See also: Cabinet of Georgeland
  • Elections: The President was from 1958 until 2004 chosen by Parliament, with each house voting to accept a candidate chosen by the Prime Minister in consulation with the Opposition. Following a referendum in 2004, the Presidency will from 2008 be elected by a nation-wide vote. Parliamentary elections are held at the Prime Minister's discretion, providing they are at least eight months and at most three years apart. Legislation exists to fix the term of Parliament and to mandate fixed elections, though this is not a constitutional matter.

Legislative branch: The bicameral Parliament consists of the Senate and the House of Commons. The Senate consists of 80 members; 12 for each state and 2 for the Federal District. The House of Commons currently has 265 members elected by a majority of preferential votes in separate constituencies for terms that do not exceed three years. Prior to 2005 the parliament's maximum term was four years.

Judicial branch: Supreme Court; judges are appointed by the President on the advice of the Cabinet without parliamentary review.

Political parties and leaders: by number of elected representatives

Notable National corporations and other government agencies

International organization participation:

See Also

Order of precedence (Georgeland)

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