1994 Laharnian state election
After the 1988 election, the centrist New Democratic Party formed a majority government under Chief Minister Karlo Bevincimo. Despite falling seven seats short of a majority at the 1991 election, the NDP continued as a minority government with the confidence and supply of the Liberty Party.
During the term of the 2nd Parliament, the NDP government led the campaign to approve the proposed federal constitution, which would fulfill the provisions of the 1985 Foundation Agreement by establishing Bijhan and Laharn as a fully independent and sovereign state, and end the United Nations Temporary Administration Mission (UNTAM) which had governed the island since 1965. The new constitution was approved in separate referendums held in Bijhan and Laharn on 20 April 1992 and entered into effect on 1 January 1993, with most federal institutions beginning their work on 1 July of that year.
Timing of election
The Parliament can be dissolved by the Governor, acting on the advice of the Chief Minister, at any point during its term provided certain constitutional requirements are met. Otherwise, the Parliament automatically expires three years after the date of its first sitting. Once the Parliament is dissolved or expires, an election must be held within 60 days.
The 2nd Parliament, which first met on 5 August 1991, served its full term, and expired by the effluxion of time on 4 August 1994. Chief Minister Karlo Bevincimo advised Governor Aleĉjo Ludoviko to issue writs for an election to take place on 24–25 September. As the Parliament must be convoked no later than 60 days after an election, the latest day for the convocation of the 3rd Parliament would be 24 November 1994.
Size of parliament
The number of seats to be contested at the 1994 election was calculated based on the 1992 Laharnian census, and indicated that the incoming 3rd Parliament would consist of 180 members, an increase of five from the previous election. Population growth in Alaro, Kalkalo, Laharna Hadaro, and Olveko resulted in each district gaining one seat, bringing the total of constituency MPs to 144. The number of at-large MPs also increased by one, to 36.
Role of political parties and groups
Political parties and groups wishing to contest the election were required to submit ranked candidate lists in each electoral district. Each list was required to contain the same number of candidates as there were seats to be elected in the district, a requirement which was criticized by smaller parties as unfair, but which supporters argued was necessary to ensure that parties appealed to voters across the state, and that the parliament was protected from excessive fragmentation and fringe parties holding the balance of power.
Voting and counting
Polling was open from 08:00 until 20:00 on both days, and any person who was in the queue at the time polling closed on both days was permitted to vote. Each polling place contained a series of private voting screens where voters cast their ballots in secret. Voters were given an empty envelope and directed to a voting screen, which contained a selection of tickets representing each political party. The tickets displayed the party's name, official acronym, and logo or symbol, as well as the ranked list of candidates seeking election in that electoral district. Voters chose the ticket for their preferred party and sealed the ticket inside the envelope, then deposited the sealed envelope into a locked ballot box.
After the polling had closed, scrutineers unlocked the ballot boxes, unsealed the envelopes, and examined the tickets. Voters were instructed to place only one ticket inside the envelope; however, if the envelope contained multiple tickets of the same party, this was counted as a single vote for the party. If the envelope contained tickets of different parties, the vote was rejected as invalid.
Each polling place conducted a preliminary count and re-count, then transmitted a report of the results to the State Elections Authority. Ballots were then sent to a central counting location in each district and re-examined against the reports filed by the polling places. Finally, ballots were sent to the State Elections Authority headquarters and examined again.
Distribution of seats to parties
The 144 constituency seats were apportioned among the ten electoral districts by population, with districts returning between 6 and 32 MPs. Within each electoral district, seats were distributed to the parties according to the D'Hondt method. The division of the state into electoral districts of variable size means that in Olveko, a party was guaranteed a seat by winning 3.125% of the vote, while in Rivervalo, a party had to win at least 16.667% of the vote to be guaranteed a seat.
After the declaration of the results in each electoral district, the 36 at-large seats were allocated to the parties which received at least 5% of the statewide vote. Parties which failed to pass the threshold kept any district seats they had won, but were not considered in the distribution of at-large seats. While the at-large seats were intended to correct any disproportionality that arose from the electoral district results, the 5% threshold had the effect of over-representing the larger parties at the expense of the smaller parties.
|New Democratic Party||595,431||38.79||–4.24||74||–7|
|Our Strength — Our State||189,884||12.37||+0.50||23||+1|
|United Laharn Party||157,903||10.29||+1.22||19||+2|
The proportionality of the election result, as measured by the Gallagher Index, was 2.91, lower (and thus more proportional) than the 1991 result's index of 3.55. As over 95% of the votes were cast for the six largest parties, all of which crossed the 5% threshold, the 1994 election was seen as a confirmation of the ongoing consolidation of Laharn's political system around large, established parties.
The New Democratic Party, which had governed Laharn since 1988, fell 17 seats short of a majority, but was still by far the largest party in the Parliament, and took the lead in negotiations to form a government. While the NDP had managed to form a minority government with the support of the Liberty Party during the term of the 2nd Parliament, the relative strength of the parties in the 3rd Parliament meant that the NDP would have to enter into a formal coalition, including the division of ministerial portfolios, with another party.
The possibility of a "grand coalition" between the NDP and the Socialist Party was quickly ruled out, and the NDP had stated prior to the election that it would not willingly enter into a government with the right-wing nationalist Our Strength–Our State, leaving the United Laharn Party as its only viable coalition partner. Negotiations progressed throughout October 1994, and the parties signed a coalition agreement on 6 November. Under the terms of the coalition agreement, 3 of the 15 ministers in the incoming government would be chosen by the United Laharn Party.
The 3rd Parliament was convoked on 21 November 1994 by Governor Aleĉjo Ludoviko, and Chief Minister Karlo Bevincimo resigned on behalf of the outgoing government. Ludoviko nominated Bevincimo as candidate for Chief Minister, and his program of government was approved by the Parliament by a vote of 93 in favor and 77 against, with 10 abstentions. The first ever coalition government of Laharn was sworn in later that day.