Rainian House of Councillors election, 1995
300 seats in the House of Councillors
|Turnout||82.32% (13,143,664 votes)|
After narrowly winning the 1993 election, the Labour-LDP became incredibly unpopular following deep austerity measures introduced as a result of the early 1990s recession, most noticeably the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in 1994 despite both parties having campaigned against the tax in 1993. The election of Gerald Fairbrook as NUP leader was also considered to be a major detriment to the coalition as Fairbrook removed many of the NUP's more radical right proposals.
In 1995 as part of the austerity measures the Maddock government introduced proposals to begin the privatisation of health and education services. This led to a public backlash and 13 left-wing Labour MP's - led by former Minister of Defence Johannes Vogel - to split from the party and form the Social Democratic Labour Party. The defection of 13 MP's led to the government to lose its majority with a successful vote of no confidence being passed in February which led to Maddock to dissolve parliament and call an early election.
During the election campaign support for the Labour and Liberal Democratic party collapsed due to a number of factors - many voters were displeased at the coalition's reneging of the promise to not implement the GST, the push to privatise health and education and corruption allegations put forward during the Baghdad Scandal. The perceived charisma of Fairbrook was crucial in raising the popularity of the NUP.
The election saw the worst defeat for a sitting government in Rainian history, with Labour and LDP combined seeing a swing of 30% against them. The NUP achieved a supermajority of single-member districts and 48% in the proportional bloc, giving them 152 seats necessary to form a majority government. The newly formed SDLP won 54 seats, just two behind Labour's 56, mainly picking up votes from dissatisfied Labour voters - this led to some to conclude that at the next election the SDLP would overtake Labour as the main opposition party, although this did not occur. The Social Credit and Green parties largely retained the same vote share as they had done in 1993. In remains the worst result the Labour party has ever got since its creation.
Despite winning a Fairbrook went into coalition with the Social Credit Party in order to bolster his majority from two to fifteen seats. The 6 million votes the NUP achieved remains the highest ever a party gained in a House of Councillors election.
Election process[edit | edit source]
Timetable[edit | edit source]
|10 February||Successful vote of no confidence; entire cabinet resigned.|
|11 February||President Matthew Griffiths approves of the dissolution of parliament followed the cabinet resignatation.|
|20 February||Formal dissolution of the House of Councillors; start of campaign period.|
|4 March||Last day members of the public could register to vote.|
|5 March||Last day in which members of the public could apply for proxy voting or postal voting.|
|12 March||Last day for candidates to file nomination papers.|
|20 March||Polling day|
|1 April||New House of Councillors Assembled|
Background[edit | edit source]
Labour in power[edit | edit source]
In 1981 Matthew Griffiths formed the first Labour-led government since 1949 after defeating the National Union-Socred coalition. The Labour government drew its support from its traditional trade union member base, middle class voters on the coast, ethnic minorities and small business owners across the provinces and during its term implemented important economic and social reforms embracing neoliberal economic management and progressive social legalisation. Benefiting from division in the opposition National Union party Labour won re-election in the 1985 and 1989 elections and in 1990 successfully saw a vote for a republic. The vote for a republic triggered the ousting of libertarian NUP leader Gaston Emmanuel in favour of the more conventionally conservative Michael Gwent. This saw the NUP rise in the polls during the early half of 1990. As a result Griffiths resigned as Prime Minister to run for President with Carwyn Maddock replacing him as Labour leader and Prime Minister in 1991.1993 House of Councillors election Labour ran a well managed campaign that heavily attacked the NUP as right-wing extremists with a "hidden agenda". In particular Treasury Minister and leader of Labour's coalition partner the Liberal Democratic Party, Frank Sargant, criticised the proposal of the NUP to implement a "consumer tax". Labour and the LDP won a narrow re-election with Labour losses being supplemented by moderate gains by the LDP. Labour thus went on to form a record fourth term in government.
The newly elected government however ran into several difficulties. The early 1990s recession had resulted in the government to make cuts in the budget whilst raising taxes as part of an austerity measure to reduce the large budget deficit. In 1990 Rainier had recorded its first budget surplus since 1967, but by 1994 this surplus was slashed as the economy slid into recession. Despite opposition from his backbenchers Maddock forced through the introduction of a goods and services tax (GST) in August 1994, despite having campaigned against a consumption tax in 1993. This resulted in a drop of support for the government particularly the LDP who had been seen in 1993 as the strongest opponents of a GST.
Changes in the opposition[edit | edit source]
The government's unpopularity was hampered by changes in National Union party. In April 1994 National Union MP's unhappy with the right-wing leadership of Michael Gwent held a vote of no confidence against him. Gwent lost the vote of confidence and entered a leadership contest against a candidate from the NUP's centrist wing, Gerald Fairbrook. Fairbrook, a "conservative with a social conscience", promoted neoconservative policies but unlike Gwent did not have connections with Christian right or nativist groups that were seen to be undermining support for the NUP. Gwent withdrew from the contest with Fairbrook being confirmed as the sole candidate and thus winning the leadership.
Upon his election as leader Fairbrook made several changes to the party, cutting off its official relations with the Christian right and appointing a permanent media office to improve the party's image. At the 1994 party conference Fairbrook launched "Five-Point Plan", a set of policy proposals that called for economic liberalism, lower taxes, trade union reform and populist right-wing policies. The Five-Point Plan invigorated the NUP as it began to be seen as the party ideas. A reshuffle on the frontbench and a strong media campaign promoting Fairbrook saw the NUP establish a commanding lead in opinion polls well ahead of Labour. Fairbrook's emphasis on low taxes appealed to the traditional supporters of the LDP and his support for lower immigration Labour supporters disillusioned with the government's social policy.
Fall of the government[edit | edit source]
Divisions in the Labour party over its free-market policies had been apparent since the late 1980's, with Minister of Defence Johannes Vogel resigning from the government in 1987 following the privatisation of the National Water Service. The tension between the party's social democratic and socialist factions increased following the election of Maddock as leader, with Maddock being seen as more of a economic liberal than Griffiths.
In 1992 the government launched a commission to examine the long term viability of the healthcare and education systems. The commission stated the systems were unsustainable in their current forms and in order for them to retain cost effective they should either introduce private finance initiatives or move towards full privatisation. The LDP heavily supported the latter option in order to ensure a more efficient, smaller state so that the government could achieve a budget surplus more quickly.
In early 1995 the government introduced legalisation to begin privatising the education and healthcare systems. Anticipating resistance from parliament the government limited the time of debate on the bills, bypassed the committee scrutiny on the bill (at the time parliament committees were formed officially on an ad hoc basis) and enforced a three-line whip on all Labour/LDP MP's. The Cabinet did not consult MP's prior to the introduction of the bill and threatened them to vote for the bill whilst dissuading them from scrutinising it in full. These heavy handed moves intended to smooth the passage of the bills backfired as 14 Labour rebels led by Vogel announced on the 3 February they would not support the bills and would leave the Labour party, founding a new parliamentary grouping named initially as New Labour. The name was changed to Social Democratic Labour on the 5 February which quickly registered as a new political party with Vogel being appointed leader. The creation of the SDLP was supported by the National Confederation of Teaching Staff and the Rainian Nurses Association.
The defection of 14 Labour MP's lost the government their majority. Anticipating a vote of no confidence against the government Maddock asked President Griffiths to prorogue parliament to avoid a vote of confidence, planning to approach the Social Credit and Green parties to join the government and boost his majority. Griffiths in an unprecedented move refused to grant this request calling the idea undemocratic; many have since pointed out the deep personal animosity between Griffiths and Maddock.
As such on the 10th February Vogel put forward a vote of no confidence against the government, with the SDLP having consulted the NUP and Green parties beforehand - the SDLP only felt confident launching the vote after getting assurances from Fairbrook that the NUP would vote against health and education privatisation. Vogel accused the government of reneging on its promise to not implement the GST and for pursuing health and education privatisation, being backed by the majority of opposition parties.
The vote ended up being extremely close. The motion however was successful with 145 voting against the government and 143 in favour. As such the entire cabinet announced their resignation leading to the President to announce that the House of Councillors would be dissolved on the 20th after a ten day wash-up period.
Vote of no confidence in the Maddock ministry
Motion proposed by Johannes Vogel MP
Absolute majority: 151/300
|Aye||Social Democratic Labour Party (14), National Union Party (109), Social Credit Party (16), Rainian Green Party (6)|
145 / 300
|No||Labour Party (96), Liberal Democratic Party (47)|
143 / 300
|Abstentions||Speaker of the House (1), Liberal Democratic Party (1), Rainian Green Party (6)|
8 / 300
|Tellers||Labour Party (2), National Union Party (2); not counted in vote totals|
4 / 300
Campaign[edit | edit source]
Labour[edit | edit source]
Despite having a substantial campaign war chest and retaining the team that had led them to victory in 1993, the Labour's campaign was dogged by defections and infighting. Almost half the caucus announced they would either not contest the election or run instead under a SDLP ticket. Several trade unions - such as the teachers and nurses union - supported the SDLP rather than Labour depriving the latter of funds and support.
The Labour campaign was based on deficit reduction and reducing unemployment. Labour pointed to their record of fiscal discipline in office and that the NUP's tax cuts would result in a higher deficit. However Labour refused to state what future deficit reduction policies would imply; Maddock said the party would launch another review into social service reform, but refused to confirm if Labour would privatise health or education. This led many to accuse Labour of flipflopping over the issue of public sector reform, allegations already seen as damaging since Labour's u-turn over the GST.
With dismal approval ratings in the last week of the campaign Labour attempted to use negative campaigning against Gerald Fairbrook, with the Labour campaign calling him inexperienced and implying he was a covert hard rightist who would amongst other things ban abortion and abolish trade unions. The campaign was generally seen as a failure due to Fairbrook's well known centrist stances.
National Union[edit | edit source]
Fairbrook's populist approach, personal charisma and clear message led to many to shift their support from Labour to the NUP. Fairbrook's populist policies appealed to many working class voters disillusioned with Labour whilst fiscal conservatives warmed to their deficit reduction proposals and moderates their tax cuts. In addition to the five-point plan Fairbrook said he would limit immigration but did not this or social issues a major feature of the campaign - this move turned out to be successful as this aspect was seen as undermining previous NUP campaigns. Fairbrook also stated that the NUP would retain the Health Action Programme and the education system in its current form, with Fairbrook criticising Labour for attempting to privatise both.
The NUP's campaign was supported by many big businesses resulting in it to be well financed. The NUP's poll ratings received a further boost after a leaders debate saw Fairbrook challenge the real deficit figures incurred by the Labour government which Maddock was seen as unable to effectively respond to, attempting to dodge the question. The unsuccessful negative campaigning against Fairbrook further raised the NUP's approval ratings.
Social Democratic Labour[edit | edit source]
The SDLP went into the campaign poorly financed with their only major backers being teaching and nursing unions. However leader Johannes Vogel quickly mounted a vigorous campaign that outlined a clear alternative to both the NUP and Labour, with Vogel accusing Maddock of betraying Labour supporters. The centrepiece of the SDLP's campaign was a strong opposition to the GST and an anti-austerity stance that called for less cuts and greater investment in public services.
The SDLP at first struggled to get media attention as the party's funding means were limited. The turning point of the SDLP's campaign was the leaders debate in which Vogel attacked Maddock for failing to stick to Labour's promises they made in the 1993 election, listing the broken promises on national television. He also ran through the policy similarities between the Labour and National Union parties stating that the SDLP was the "real opposition from the political elite". This resulted in the SDLP to rise in the polls to overtake the Labour party.
The limited funds of the SDLP meant their candidates often flew in economy class planes and stay in cheap hotels which strengthened their appeal as "ordinary people". As the campaign progressed the SDLP built up a sizeable grassroots movement that campaigned for SDLP candidates, often against Labour candidates, leading to some criticism that the SDLP would split the left-wing vote and give the NUP a bigger mandate.
Social Credit[edit | edit source]
The Social Credit party entered the campaign with the intention to hold the balance of power after the election and to this end mainly attempted to take rural votes away from the NUP. The Social Credit Party's campaign however was hampered by the focus given to the NUP, Labour and SDLP. Social Credit leader Anthony Platt was seen as wooden and uncharismatic, being unable to galvanise support in the provinces especially against the populist programme put forward by the NUP.
The Social Credit party campaigned on a traditional platform of increased subsidies for farmers', social conservatism and opposition to environmentalism. The Socreds also called for a "plan of national reform" that would cut taxes and decentralise power to provincial governments over the central government. This plan was widely derided as a poor copy of the NUP's five-point plan and was soon dropped from the Socred's campaign.
Liberal Democratic[edit | edit source]
The LDP as Labour's main coalition partner faced abysmal polling going into the election. Key to the LDP's poor polling was its reneging of its promise to oppose GST - in the 1993 election opposition to the GST was the centrepiece of the LDP's campaign with leader and Treasury Minister Frank Sargant voiced his strong opposition to the proposal. Sargant's implementation of the GST in 1994 was as such seen in an extremely negative light by voters, with there being talk that the LDP's unpopularity would result in them falling below the 4% threshold at the next election.
Despite calls for him to resign, Sargant led the LDP campaign where he called for fiscal discipline. In order to appeal to the LDP's urban base Sargant said that if re-elected as Labour's coalition partner the LDP would fight for tax cuts and more investment in urban areas. However the LDP's record in government was so heavily criticised that during the campaign support barely increased with most LDP supporters deserting the party for the NUP.
Greens[edit | edit source]
Results[edit | edit source]
|National Union Party||tba||tba%||104||6,400,678||48.70%||48||152||+41|
|Social Democratic Labour Party||tba||tba%||9||2,303,674||17.53%||45||54||+54|
|Liberal Democratic Party||tba||tba%||5||564,573||4.30%||8||13||-35|