Conservative Party (Themiclesia)

Conservative Party

守成黨 (n′ju′-djeng-dang′)
AbbreviationTCP ("The Conservative Party")
Founded1857 (1857)
Split fromGrand Alliance (1835 – 1857)
Preceded byFiscal conservatives (1797 – 1835)
NewspaperDemesne Post (縣報, gwênh-kwal-puh)
Student wingAlliance of Socialist Students
Youth wingGuardians Society
Women's wingAssociation of Conservative Women
Ideologydemocratic socialism
paternalistic conservatism
classical conservativsm (pre-1850)
Political positionCentre-left
International affiliationProgressive Alliance
SloganFor What We Care
Commons
72 / 212
Lords
129 / 231

The Conservative Party is a left-wing political party in Themiclesia active on the national level. The party was founded formally in the mid-1800s as a reaction against the tightly-organized and dominant Liberal Party. It historically consisted of several factions united less for ideological harmony than political convenience, but since the early 1900s they have settled into its current political position as the primary left-wing party in Themiclesia.

History

Birth of the party (1795 – 1801)

The Conservative Party, as a league of politicians, took shape in the wake of the Second Maverican War, in which Themiclesia's coffers were drained to rebuilt a fleet after the Raid on Rad and mobilize for a prolonged war. Resentment grew since the mid-1600s, when a flat land tax was raised on large tracts of land that the aristocracy owned, to fund the increasingly frequent conflicts in Meridia and Columbia, in which Themiclesia sought to defend its influence. Additionally, conscription to support the professional Colonial Army generated a scarcity of agricultural labour, and at the same time heavy tariffs decreased competitiveness of industrial output. These factors combined to bankrupt as many as 50% of aristocratic houses, who resorted to their political influence in the Council of Protonotaries to prevent the continuation of the war. The Lord of Gar-lang emerged as the leader of a national opposition to the hawkish government, printing anti-war pamphlets and accruing support in many prefectures. The resulting political faction at court relied upon strict internal discipline to rein in the executive, preventing it from performing any action whatever it did not approve.

Ultimately, Themiclesia was forced to sign a treaty with Hallia and conclude the war in 1796, having lost a considerable amount of land. The Emperor ′ei (r. 1788 – 1820) criticized members of the aristocracy for failing to support the war and attempted to sidestep the Council by diverting his personal but considerable income to re-arm. This resulted in the dismissal of the staff in several palaces and reductions in salaries in others. Viewing the emperor's actions as dangerous, the Council refused to pay salaries to the emperor's money-making officials. Eventually, ′ei was so unpopular that he was almost strangled by a group of maids enraged by their indigence. At the behest of the Imperialist faction, he planned to reduce civil service positions and salaries, making clear he would encourage the promotion of any who supported him. ′ei grossly miscalculated civil servants' stance: led by aristocrats, they opposed the emperor's desire to streamline it. His threat to close down unimportant departments forced the hand of those in them to join forces with the Lord of Gar-lang.

Conservatives in power (1801 – 30)

The emperor was forced to make the Lord of Gar-lang prime minister. To make the Council less susceptible to imperial influence, Conservatives raised the bar to assent to half of its members, rather than any ten. Further to tighten the aristocracy's control over the Council, elections were fixed three years apart, so that members of the Council could not grow complacent of the demands of their electorate. These actions showed strong Casaterran influence, though not described as such by Gar-lang.

What followed in 1800 to 1830 is remembered as a golden age for exports, since Themiclesia held a technological monopoly over silk, porcelains, and tea against Casaterran importers. Conservatives were eager to restore vitality to metropolitan agricultural and industrial sectors, at the cost of the empire. The Imperialist faction suffered as it relied upon bribery and lobbying to ministers, unable to control the political process. While the Imperialists attempted around 1807 to motivate the Council to re-fund the forces to recapture lost territories in Columbia, the Conservatives established the first formal franchise in response, banishing lobbyists from the elections. In 1801, Gar-lang abolished the land tax and tariffs on exports. In the following year, he issued a general amnesty for all crimes; this restored at least 200,000 people to freedom, previously confined to penal labour.

After Gar-lang left office in 1814, he was replaced by Lord Kjalh-djeng (建成君), who was not a member of the party. He had no foreign policy but devoted his time to re-organizing finances and stamping out corruption. In 1816, he attempted to rebuild the navy, but the Council blackballed him. The emperor was forced to replace him with the Lord of Mjenh-lang (汶陽侯), who was a Conservative. Emperor ′ei died in 1822, his son Krjang taking the throne. Krjang hated Gar-lang for "giving away" Njik-nem, which was the financial base of one of his chief sycophants, Lord Sghjang (庠君). He therefore replaced Mjenh-lang with him, but he was neither a good politician nor a skilled administrator, like Kjalh-djeng. Furthermore, he was corrupt and ruined some of Kjalh-djeng's achievements.

Reformist discord (1830 – 45)

Emperor Krjang died in 1825. Fearful of discord early in his reign, the succeeding Ng′jalh dismissed Ljang and recalled Mjenh-lang. Ng′janh realized that he was unable to govern without the support of the Council; however, he observed that during his father's reign the Council was not dominated by such a uniform political party and sought to restore flexibility to it. He thus began to assist opposition to the Conservative Party in hope of making his voice heard. The old Imperialist lobby found themselves locked out of the political process and came to believe their disenfranchisement was unjust, under the influence of Casaterran Enlightenment and comparisons with foreign states. The progress of the Industrial Revolution in Casaterra and cancellation of tariffs had increased quantity of Themiclesian exports and allowed more profits thereof to enter manufacturers' and merchants' pockets, which made them even wealthier than before the war.

The death of the Lord of Mjenh-lang in 1829 signalled a new era for Themiclesian politics, the throne supporting an end to one-party rule. The Lord of Rjai-lang, former Navy Secretary, prominently argued that Themiclesia could not permanently rely on its current exports to generate income, since the Mengheans and Dayashinese also produced them. He predicted that the Casaterran powers would force the two states into contact, that Themiclesia's export market be displaced. In the 1830s, few aristocrats believed Rjai-lang's predictions or had a direct interest in the export economy, their income primarily from rent and staple agriculture; however, Rjai-lang believed that trade income was crucial to maintenance of Themiclesian influence, if her arms were not to bear, now that it lost the gold mines in Columbia to Camia. Championing grievances Themiclesian merchants faced in the Subcontinent, the merchant community more readily accepted Rjai-lang's arguments and backed him with money, with which he began to bribe electors in favour of supportive candidates.

Positing the Lord of Gar-lang as his spiritual forerunner, Rjai-lang travelled widely into the rural electorate to disseminate his views about the future of the nation. His voice became a thorn in the side of the Conservatives, who could not legally prohibit it, now that political opposition to the crown has been legitimated by Gar-lang's actions in the late 1700s. In 1832, the Tyrannian Reform Act passed and was taken as proof that a "open franchise" was not inimical to monarchy, which the Conservatives were apt to imply. Mjenh-lang's successor, the Lord of Dubh (濧侯), was not as experienced and could not prevent the growth of sympathies for Rjai-lang.  Efforts to unseat Rjai-lang were unsuccessful, and Emperor Ng′jalh promoted him to be Marine Prefect, which enabled him to assist the merchant community with public resources. Dubh was incensed at the emperor's insolence and threatened resignation, which Rjai-lang fended off by resigning. The emperor became his friend for resolving what may have become a political crisis.

In 1834, Dubh was compelled to resign by public pressure when an entire quarter of Kien-k'ang burnt down.

Reactionary conservatism (1845 – 90)

New Conservatism is a philosophy championed by a series of proactive Conservative leaders challenging the traditional, reactionary form of conservatism supported by the landed aristocracy, mostly represented through the House of Lords. The Liberal Party in the 1850s and 60s sought to introduce public education, military reforms, poor relief through workhouses, and other business-friendly policies, defrayed by a progressive land tax raised on aristocratic estates, which was vetoed by the House of Lords. This led to deadlock with the House of Commons and heightened social tensions, which the Liberals encouraged to pressure the Lords into passing bills. Younger Conservative peers hoped to defeat the Liberals and their "reckless politics" in the House of Commons itself, rather than resorting to the veto, which is known to inflame public anger and benefit the Liberals. This would be achieved by repositioning the Conservative Party as a reformer, introducing policies that appeased the disenfranchised working class, at the expense of the Liberal industrial and commercial class.

The Conservative Party formally adopted the New Policy in 1872, though this had been argued for since the mid-1860s, especially by the Lord of Tek-lang. In his speech in 1867, he deplored the reaction of the aristocracy, which he claimed owed "an moral debt of justice to the common people, who exalted us by their vileness and enriched us by their indigence. This ghastly debt we now must paid, or one day be made to pay", referring plainly to the results of violent revolutions in Casaterra. Tek-lang's appeal is compared to the Casaterran doctrine of noblesse oblige, where the nobility justified their privilege on the assumption that they somehow assisted the common people; this represents a major departure from the reactionary paradigm, which either ignored the question of social justice or rejected the question completely, believing it was the natural right for the aristocracy to exploit the lower classes.

New Conservatism (1891 – 1909)

The success of the New Policy peaked during the long, stable government of the Lord of Snur-lang (綏陽侯, in office 1891 – 94) and Lord of Krungh (洚侯, 1894 – 1909), during which Themiclesia introduced a progressive income tax (1896). Peers, high-ranking civil servants, and their families were exempt, causing outrage in the commercial class for its iniquity; however, the bill would not have passed the House of Lords otherwise. Nevertheless, the revenues lost from a handful of peers' estates was not nearly as much as that raised from business owners, stock investors, and highly-paid executives. Krungh reduced maximal working hours from 16 to 14 (1899), improved the poor relief system (1900), and introduced labour arbitration (1902) and the National Employment Register (1903), which legally required all businesses to submit post open positions on a public gazette, so that the unemployed could compare the terms offered by different businesses. In 1903, he ordered a "template curriculum" to teach children about collective action. The Lord of Krungh was hailed as the Hero of Workers by the Union of Unions in 1905 for his policies. However, his government's policy of limiting business liberties earned his premiership a much less glamourous nickname in the middle class—the Great Darkness.

In 1903, the Conservative government further changed the playing field by passing the Representation of the People Act, which enfranchised all adults over 25, irrespective of sex. The enfranchisement of women severely discredited the Liberal, middle-class identity, which had adopted a new sense of domestic morality that prevented females from participating in public and commercial life. In fact, a large number of middle-class wives defected to the Conservatives from their Liberal husbands, so much that the Liberals accused the Conservatives of "inducing domestic discord" and "dissolving families". In the 1904 general election, the Conservatives captured 301 out of 335 seats, producing the greatest majority ever seen in the House of Commons. To achieve this degree of social cohesion rallying behind a concessive aristocracy, Krungh welcomed union leaders into the Conservative Party, under his motto of "everyone does his part". While some peers did not welcome labour leaders, Krungh chastised them for placing their interests above national harmony. He kept peers under control by reminding them of their proper image as public servants, "entitled to a fair but small share" of rewards. By his shrewd character and reputation for principle, he was able to hold together a party of "contrary interests".

At 90 in 1907, his succumbed to senility very visibly yet refused to name a successor. The two final years of the Lord of Krungh's premiership were marred by poor judgment and public blunder, which resurrected the Liberal Party from a state of "ideological confusion". The senile Lord of Krungh made for a sharp contrast with the Liberal leader Go Mjanh-grigh, who was forty years his junior. Due to Krungh's overwhelming popularity in the public, the Liberal Party was forced to revise their official ideology, just as the Conservatives had earlier in the decade officially endorsing union action. Rather than opposing all government intervention, the Liberals declared their support for the "progress of the whole", casting itself as a proactive party that not only attended gave to each his entitlement but also offered true opportunities for the working class to become entrepreneures and capitalists. In contrast, they took advantage of the Lord of Krungh's senility and labelled him the "new reactionary" that had no principles or motivation except the maintenance of the privilege of the aristocracy. Go further aligned the Liberal Party with the ideal of equality and achievement, which highlighted the Conservative tendency towards inequality and concessions. Krungh in 1909 only made a single speech in public, where he veered off topic and spoke about his preferences for certain kinds of hats; he proved unable to address criticism, but none in the Party felt comfortable motioning for his removal.

Unifying the left (1909 – 20)

After the death of the Lord of Krungh, the Conservative Party first endorsed the caretaker government of Lord of Rjem-′al (臨安侯, rjem-′al-go) then went through a few political leaders after electoral defeat in 1911.

Post-war hybrid government (1947 – 53)

Opposition (1953 – 62)

"True socialism" (1962 – 64)

Opposition (1964 – 71)

Lords ministry (1971 – 72)

Fracture and opposition (1972 – 92)

Resurgence (1992 – 97)

Ideology

The Conservative Party is in an unusual position compared to the world's parties of the same name, in that it not only support left-wing policies but is the main socialist party in Themiclesia for the past century. It is more similar to labour parties in Casaterran states. The Conservative Party officially replaced the New Policy, which favoured the aristocracy in alliance with urban labourers against industrialists, with the Modern Policy in the 1950s. In 1953, the House of Lords lost its absolute veto, weakening the already-ailing aristocratic influence in the party organ. The Modern Policy is partly founded on the experience of the post-war consensus of Casaterra, favouring state intervention in industry and international commerce to check unemployment and discontent, and partly to avert the class conflict that characterized Themiclesian politics of the 1920s and 30s, or the extreme oppression of workers in the late 19th century. Conservatives lifted some of its more collectivist goals, such as nationalization of all key industries, making way for private management, but the state remained on the boards of many major companies or created supervisory agencies over them.

In general, Conservatives support the redistribution of wealth through taxation, state monopolies, and welfare programs. Their health policy does not oppose private practice, but it is uncompetitive in most instances, since the national health insurance, which is mandatory and subsidized, is only valid against public health institutions. Conservatives have also supported an aggressive income tax, starting at 5% for the bottom bracket to 65% for the top bracket, though each higher rate applies to only marginal income above its bracket. While such a tax was part of the New Policy, the Modern Policy has expanded it to non-work income such as rent, investment, and other profits from land. They also support a tax on gifts and donations, inheritance, and forms of non-work income.

Modern Conservatives place an emphasis on accessible culture, rather than "esoteric culture". Accessible culture is defined as cultural activities that the average person can enjoy, rather than naturally-exclusive activities that only the very rich, privileged, or aristocratic participate in. It should be noted that an activity is not esoteric because it is currently enjoyed by a small number of people; rather, the potential for massive consumption is subsidized. Conservatives are not against the existence of exclusive groups, but they oppose supporting them implicitly or explicitly. This is a stark departure from the New Policy, which diverted public funds to protect aristocrats and their "way of life".

Constitution and structure

Electoral performance

General elections

Local elections

See also