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Mercian Constitutional Crisis
|20 May 2016 Mercian Constitutional Crisis|
| Coalition of Parties of Mercia
||National Liberal Party|
|Baron Whyatt, Count Belcher, Baron von Uberquie||Earl Eden, Baron Cahill|
The Mercian Constitutional Crisis was a series of events which took place in Mercia in May 2016. Following the results of the General Election which ended on 14 May, no political party in Mercia had a majority of seats in the Mercian Parliament House. Although the National Liberal Party had the most seats, the People's Democratic Party, the Social Democratic Party and a Green-Socialist Independent formed a coalition with a majority of one. When Parliament opened on 21 May, the NLP won a vote to make their leader Earl Eden the First Minister due to the fact that two coalition MPs were absent. This prompted considerable heated debate with regards to the nature of the vote. During the next Parliament meeting on 28 May, the coalition tabled a Vote of No Confidence in Earl Eden, only to find that there was a legislative loophole when it came to calling a Vote of No Confidence in a minority government. Both sides requested that Lord Temporal Karl von Ravensburg issue an emergency decree to amend the legislation. As soon as this was done, the Parliament House passed a Vote of No Confidence and promptly elected coalition leader Baron Whyatt as First Minister, thus resolving the crisis.
Election and coalition negotiations
Following a leader's debate on 20 April 2016, a General Election was held commencing 24 April and ending 1 May during which 62% of the population voted. During the voting period, there were two occurrences of problems with the ballots. In the first occurrence, which was spotted almost immediately, there was a switch up of candidates in different voting ranges and the problem was fixed immediately. In the second occurrence, a problem had occurred in which one candidate had previously declared in one voting range and then switched. This had not been updated in the NLP's manifesto which caused the Electoral Gorsedh's ballot to be wrong in two ranges, Wibertsherne and Loringia. The issue was not solved for four days in which a "Wibertsherne Reactionary Force" was started, threatening to secede from Mercia because of the voting ballot. They were quickly condemned by Baron Cahill in his response as well as Baron Wu/McFarlane in their joint statement. Finally, seven days after the election should have ended, on May 7th, a second ballot was issued with a re-vote occuring.
When voting for the second ballot ended on 14 May, the NLP won 5 seats, the PDP won 3, the SDP won 2, and the Green-Socialist Independent won the final seat. No party had reached the threshold of six seats for a majority. Following the resignation of Baron Cahill as NLP leader, the PDP, SDP and Green-Socialist formed a coalition grouping on 15 May, which held six seats in the Parliament House, a majority of one. Attempts by the NLP to form a coalition with the SDP and the Green-Socialist were not successful. The NLP's attempts were noticed by the PDP, leading to the first tensions between the coalition and the NLP, in the form of a number of editorials published in the Daily Micronational, The Micronational and Béal na Tíre. During this time, PDP member Baron McFarlane and SDP member Earl McCarthy were reportedly the subject of personal attacks by a number of NLP members in the Yellow Bear Micronational Skype chat. Meanwhile, the NLP elected Earl Eden as Baron Cahill's successor. The coalition, despite not yet formally being the government, began forming a Cabinet and a number of committees, as well as assuming responsibility for citizenship applications and Mercia's MicroWiki pages.
21 May Parliament Meeting
PDP leader Baron Whyatt - who had assumed the position of First Minister - scheduled the first Parliament meeting of the new term for 21 May with Count Frisch, who had just been appointed Speaker of the House by the Lords of Mercia. As no provisions existed under law for the creation of a coalition government, the coalition improvised by tabling a vote to formally appoint the First Minister. Baron Whyatt and Earl Eden were both nominated (the NLP also nominated a number of other coalition members as a joke). When the vote was held, Earl Eden received 5 votes to Whyatt's 4. Although the coalition insisted that the vote should continue on Mercia's forum, in order to give the two absent coalition members a chance to vote, the Speaker ruled in favour of the NLP, deciding that as there was no legal precedent for the vote, it would automatically be taken only from those members who were present as is default. With Earl Eden declared as First Minister, the Parliament House burst into chaos, with Green-Socialist Baron Uberquie leaving the room in protest. Arguments then spread to the Mercian Lounge, with both sides levelling accusations at each other of attempting to subvert democracy.
It was suggested by some that the only solution would be to hold another General Election. This idea was opposed by others on the grounds that it would be the third General Election in the space of a month. Some NLP members also accused the coalition of attempting to "flood" Mercia with pro-coalition new citizens to sway another election in their favour. This was refuted on the grounds that the coalition had no idea that another election might be needed so soon and that some of the citizenship applications had been submitted before the most recent election. This line of argument even went so far as to have new citizen Henry Twain attempting to prove that he had been interested in Mercian citizenship for several months, despite only applying after the last election.
Meanwhile, tensions between the coalition and the NLP escalated when the coalition accused the NLP of attempting to bribe certain people away from the coalition, and the NLP accused Baron Whyatt of attempting to blackmail Baron Cahill by threatening to release logs of private conversations. This led to a personal falling out between the PDP leader and the former NLP leader, who had maintained a constructive relationship in the previous Parliament as First Minister and Leader of the Opposition. Although Baron Uberquie and Baron McFarlane were able to defuse this situation, the coalition decided to hold an internal vote on its candidate for First Minister, organised by Baron McFarlane and SDP leader Count Belcher. Baron Whyatt maintained the support of the coalition's party memberships (which now included the Green-Socialist Party which the previously independent Baron Uberquie had recently founded) with 5 votes against Uberquie's 2.
The coalition group also began planning ways to regain what it perceived to be its rightful place in government. Due to the fact that there was no legal precedence for the vote which appointed Earl Eden as First Minister, Baron Uberquie originally planned to have the Lord Temporal declare the vote invalid. The three coalition parties would then merge into a single party, and thus automatically form the government. The other plan was to have the Lord Temporal issue a decree to amend the Partisan Democracy Act, the legislation which handles elections and the formation of governments, and which can only be amended by the Lords of Mercia.
28 May Parliament meeting
The 21 May Parliament meeting had been hastily abandoned after the election of Earl Eden and the next meeting was scheduled one week later. Although the Lord Temporal had not issued any decree by this point, the coalition simply intended to table a Vote of No Confidence in Earl Eden's premiership, due to the fact that such a vote would automatically move to Mercia's forums to allow all the members of the Parliament to vote, where the coalition could use its majority effectively without regard to absent members (although, as it happened, the entirety of the coalition was present for the 28 May meeting, meaning they could exercise their majority there and then). As Speaker, Count Frisch decided to do away with forum voting, instead allowing absent members to post their votes later in the Skype room if a majority was not reached at the time. In this manner, the Parliament House worked its way through the remainder of the agenda from the previous meeting, including opening speeches from the First Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, along with multiple items of legislation, which were passed with the support of both sides of the House. At the end of this agenda, the coalition had tabled an additional legislative bill and a Vote of No Confidence.
Due to the length of the agenda, the meeting lasted over four hours. Some NLP members attempted to use this fact to call an early adjournment, which was perceived by the coalition as an attempt to stall the government's inevitable Vote of No Confidence defeat by delaying it an additional week. The coalition responded by redacting its additional bill from the agenda, leaving only the VoNC remaining. Baron Uberquie moved a "Constructive Vote of No Confidence" in which Earl Eden would be replaced by Baron Whyatt, but the NLP questioned the legality of such a move. Unable to reach a conclusion, the House requested that the Lord Temporal interpret the Partisan Democracy Act for them. The Lord Temporal decided that under current provisions, a Vote of No Confidence would result in a new First Minister being appointed from the members of the existing government. The legislation in question was written when the NLP held a solid majority, and now had a huge flaw as a result of current minority government situation. There were no provisions for a full change of government or an early General Election, meaning the coalition could effectively keep calling successive Votes of No Confidence in each successive NLP First Minister. Although the NLP argued that any opposition which actually did this for an entire term would be punished at the next General Election for stalling the work of government, they agreed that the loophole needed to be fixed as soon as possible. Although the Parliament considered adjourning for the night and reconvening the next day if nothing happened, the Lord Temporal issued an emergency decree amending the Partisan Democracy Act. The provisions for a Vote of No Confidence were now changed, meaning that now the replacement First Minister could be any Member of the Parliament House, including the opposition; furthermore, they would be elected by a majority of the entire House, not just those members present at the time. Immediately afterwards, the VoNC was finally called, which the coalition won. The Speaker then opened nominations for Earl Eden's replacement, with the coalition nominating Baron Whyatt. A 10-minute nominiation period, combined with the Speaker taking a short break, resulted in a temporary collapse in order within the House, with a number of nonsensical nominations for First Minister being made. When the Speaker returned, he selected Baron Whyatt's nomination as the first to be voted on, as doing so would be the quickest way to finish the meeting. Due to the fact that this vote required a majority of the entire house, the coalition was able to win, with Baron Whyatt being appointed First Minister at 00:28 on 29 May.