Conservative Party (Themiclesia)

Conservative Party

守成黨 (n′ju′-djeng-dang′)
Founded1821 (1821)
Preceded byGar-lang's Party (1790s – 1818)
NewspaperDemesne Post (縣報, gwênh-puh)
Student wingAlliance of Socialist Students
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 (守, n′ju′) or Conservative and Progressive Party (守進, n′ju′-tsjinh) is a left-wing political party in Themiclesia active on both the national and local levels. The party was founded as a coalition of dovish aristocrats that took power after the Maverican Wars, and subsequently it has been re-organized several times around evolving interests and under influential figures, with factions splitting from and joining it throughout its history.  It currently stands as the official opposition to the Liberal government.

History

First party (1790s – 1818)

The party, as a league of anti-war politicians, evolved during 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 on three separate fronts. Resentment grew since the mid-1600s, when a land tax was raised on large tracts of aristocratic land, funding the increasingly-frequent conflicts in Meridia and Columbia. Additionally, conscription to support the professional armies resulted in scarcity of agricultural labour, and at the same time heavy tariffs decreased competitiveness of exports. The Lord of Gar-lang emerged as the leader of a national opposition to the Imperialist faction, printing anti-war pamphlets and accruing support in many prefectures.

The Imperialist faction was a network of the emperor's supporters built around sharing of colonial profits and political power. The Themiclesian crown had lost power following the Siege of Kien-k'ang of 1385, beginning an age of relatively stable, aristocratic government; however, in the 1600s, the crown returned to prominence by investing and harvesting in colonies or giving the opportunity to do the same to aristocrats in exchange for their political support. This court faction was long-lived and aided in the opening of many Themiclesian settlements in Columbia, but it also demanded metropolitan resources, Gar-lang's supporters believing saddled unfairly on themselves, to repulse threats and competitions offered by Casaterran settlers. As the defensive situation worsened, the royal party split over whose interests would be defended in priority, and many denied it joined Gar-lang's dovish faction instead.

In early 1796, Gar-lang accured enough support to block the emperor's executive actions in the Council of Peers. After the forcing the emperor's hand to end the war, at the price of considerable concessions to Hallia, Maverica, and Sieuxerr, Gar-lang's faction sought to alter the balance of power between the crown and aristocrats permanently in favour of the latter. Due to his poor performance that alienated his supporters and infuriated his opponents, almost all aristocrats, whether at court or not, agreed that Emperor ′Ei should not be permitted to govern, and on those terms Gar-lang's faction strengthened the elective Council of Protonotaries and hereditary Council of Peers, half of both being now required to pass royal edicts as statutes.

Furthermore, the franchise in civic elections was now granted by existing franchisees, rather than through civil service in which the throne held considerable influence. Gar-lang's faction expected that electors would enfranchise only those of similar views and interests, namely aristocrats who easily stood to lose from warfare, and deny it to those who benefited form warfare—the emperor's supporters that profited from its secondary effects. In the regard of neutering royal power, Gar-lang's faction was highly successful. While Conservative propagandists at the turn of the 20th century have portrayed Gar-lang's reforms as democratically-minded, historians and political scholars have described Gar-lang's motives and actions to be intensely partisan.

Between 1801 to 1814, Gar-lang governed nearly without opposition, with the assistance of political reforms that fostered an anti-war, anti-rearmament atmosphere. Some political scholars describe this as a dominant-party system where an institutional bias favoured a political party, but others do not arrive the same assessment. They say that Conservative reforms of 1801 "created a very feeble dominant party at best and, rather than creating lasting support for itself, successfully suppressed one specific opposition party." Historians dispute whether Gar-lang intended to create a political party in the modern sense, and there is some evidence he may have initially regarded his measures as a contingency, but "that he had a central role in the birth of the Conservative Party is generally not disputed," writes historian C. Gro.

Gar-lang is usually regarded as the keystone figure in the "First Conservative Party" in the terminology of C. Gro. In later political propaganda, he is sometimes called the "Father of Themiclesian Democracy"; however, many authorities hold this characterization is far from accurate, there not being any evidence that he ever wanted a political system with more than a few thousand franchise holders of predictable demands and opinions. These authorities also note a trend in Conservative literature to portray the pre-1801 Themiclesian political system as despotic, with "a fairly discernable attempt to beautify and enlarge Gar-lang's achievements, and further to connect them with the fruits of later reforms". The First Conservative Party was not so called when it was active; rather, it was called "Gar-lang's Party" after its organizer.

Other measures meant to perpetuate dovish power in the government included the re-assertion of the civic election system for officials.

Gar-lang decouple franchise from civil service to protect it against emperor, who could preferentially promote his supporters and suppress opponents to alter the list of electors.

Second party (1821 – 69)

After Gar-lang's death in 1815, the anti-crown party's control over politics weakened. This is partly due to the activities of Prince Bran (磐子), who was crown prince during Emperor ′Ei's final years. The Lord of Mjenh-lang, Gar-lang's lieutenant, became the party's most senior figure. Prince Bran's succession to the throne triggered a renewed fear for autocratic and collusive rule, since he had surrounded himself with nobles that once supported a hawkish foreign policy under his father. With their support and a general commitment to avoid expensive policies, the Lord of Sghjang was appointed prime minister in 1821.

The 1820s saw the development of the official opposition in Themiclesia, when the Conservatives remained powerful in both councils but permitted the Lord of Sghjang, who promoted a heavily reformative programme, to govern. The Conservatives under Mjenh-ljang maintained their former goal of limited taxation and was not categorically opposed to social reforms. Sghjang's administration suffered an early setback on the Lord of Rjai-ljang's naval pay policy that triggered a severe munity, but it was able to curry favour from aristocrats to remain in power until Mjenh-ljang overthrew it in 1823. Mjenh-ljang's second administration was uneventful, but it was during this period that the title of "Conservative Party" was born, referring to the defence of government by aristocratic consensus championed by Gar-lang.

Conservatives retained power after Mjenh-ljang's death in 1825, whereupon the Lord of Skrus and then Lord of Dubh became recognized as the foremost figure amongst the courtiers that made up the party. According to some authorities, the liberalization of Themiclesian society encouraged many rural aristocrats to become involved in commerce, which drew them to reformist causes. Dubh resigned in favour of the Reformist Lord of Ran in 1833. Ran represented the view that Themiclesia had been too timid during the three previous decades to strengthen its international position and launched several intrigues into the relations between Camia and Kashubia, providing the latter with weapons in exchange a share of minerals. His policies, though decried as war-starting by Conservatives, ultimately did not result in warfare.

Conflict between Reformists and Conservatives intensified after 1833, when the former began to campaign for expansion of the franchise. Conservative factions, fraying under Dubh who could neither govern nor lead a party effectually, were alarmed by this development and, ousting Dubh, joined forces under a series of ephemeral leaders. Given Emperor Ng′jarh's unusually enthusiastic support for Reformist causes, Conservatives thought that electoral reforms would weaken elective institutions and render them susceptible to royal influence. The Conservative core hoped that the franchise, limited to landed gentry, would disfavour electoral reforms that took away control over the Council of Protonotaries from them, but the gentry's preferences were less uniformly affected by a didactic fear of warfare and taxation therewith than they anticipated.

The Conservative Party split into two factions following Dubh's departure in 1836—the right wing, around the Lord of Mrangh (孟侯), that opposed any reform whatever, and the left wing, with the Lord of R′egh-′rjum (徠陰侯), sympathetic to reforms that did not include expansionism or autocratic government. The right wing consisted of mostly rural landowners, while the left wing were more urban and entrenched in the commerce. Additionally, most of the unfranchised merchants and junior administrators had been converted to Reformist causes.

Third party (1873 – 90)

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.

Fourth party (1894 – 1955)

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.

Fifth party (1955 – now)

In the wake of the Reclamation Crisis, Bi Nak's government lost a vote of confidence in the House of Commons in late 1952. The evidence presented by the Liberals in the House and the press overwhelmed the government's attempt to apologize for the 1950 policy, which effectively grant local councils the rights to sell government property to the gentry friendly to Conservatives. The Conservative Party split into three factions after the December 1952 general election around the issue of selling government properties purchased during the Pan-Septentrion War. The right wing, which supporting simply returning all purchased industries to their owners, fared very badly in the election. The left wing, which believed that industries that could be used to subsidize quotidian goods and quell the wild price fluctuations aftre economic controls ended in 1951, gained seats in the Commons. In the House of Lords, the same situation occurred, except for a serious emigration to the Liberal Party.

The left wing of the party regained footing in two by-elections in 1954 and elected Harry S. Gup as their new leader, since Nak lost his own seat and felt unable to continue leading the party or nominate a successor. Gup was not endorsed by many other members and dedicated himself to re-orient the party towards social democracy. In 1955, the party ratified a voting pact with the Progressive Party, which captured 24 seats in the 1952 election and was the third party in the House of Commons. In 1957, they formally merged to form the modern Conservative and Progressive Party.

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