National Conservative Party (Caldia)

National Conservative Party
Páirtí Náisiúnta Coimeádach
Founded1914
Dissolved1936
Preceded byGeneral Election Pact
Succeeded byLiberty Party
IdeologyConservatism

The National Conservative Party (Ghaillish: Páirtí Náisiúnta Coimeádach, commonly referred to as An ceart: "The Right") was one of the dominant political parties in Caldia before the Great War period. It was formed in 1914 as an expansion of the 1897 General Election Pact (Comhshocrú Olltoghcháin), an electoral alliance of conservatives in the Tionól. The National Conservative Party and its successors battled with the Caldish Democrats for electoral dominance in Caldia prior to the post-War realignment of Caldish politics.

Only two of Caldia's taoiseachs were members of the party. However, through its predecessors the party claimed a total of six.

History

Conservatives in the Tionól were slow to organize compared to other factions. During the 19th century, conservatives organized within the legislature but did not have a party to support them. Conservative members of the Tionól belonged to a political faction known as An ceart (lit. The Right). The group was able to elect three taoiseachs between 1872 and 1887. However, their lack of formal organization made campaigning difficult. This made it hard for conservative taoiseachs to remain in power.

Threatened by the continued dominance of the Caldish Democrats and the increasingly organized socialist movement, conservatives established the General Election Pact (Comhshocrú Olltoghcháin) in the run up to the 1897 general election. The conservative electoral alliance was able to unseat Séamus Domhnach. Ealasaid Nic Leòid was the pact's first and old taoiseach. She played a central role in the establishment of the National Conservative Party in 1914. Nic Leòid argued that the Caldish right needed to formally organize in the aftermath of the Great Collapse. The rise of the Social Democratic Party and other socialist parties were viewed as threats to established politics.

On 17 May 1914, the party was officially established in preparation to contest the 1917 election. The party unexpectedly campaigned in the 1915 snap election after the collapse of the government of Saorla Ní Chonaill. Her government's response to the Great Collapse and response to a strike by agricultural workers in County Folcthagh triggered a snap election. The National Conservative Party secured a majority of seats and formed its first government under Leannain Mac Seonag. Mac Seonag was a senior minister in Nic Leòid's government and one of her close allies. His government pursue protectionist agricultural policies and placed restrictions imports. Caldia's young heavy industry experienced a sharp period of decline, resulting in many factory closures. Following pressure from factory owners, workers, and socialist organizations, the National Conservative government provided financial support to heavy industry to prevent further closures and reopen some factories. Mac Seonag stepped down as leader following health complications in April 1917. He was succeeded by Brigid Nic Gormáin who won the 1917 general election.

A scandal over illegal government support for industrialists with ties to the party resulted in the fall of Nic Gormáin's government. The National Conservatives were defeated in the 1919 snap election. The party was in opposition to the governments of Liam Ó Mathúna and Éamon Ua Buachalla. While in opposition, the party experienced a series of internal political fights. In 1924, 27 of its TCs were expelled from the party and nearly a quarter of the party's membership was kicked out of the party. The New National Party (Páirtí Náisiúnta Nua) was established by those ejected, led by Fearghal Mag Uidhir. Mag Uidhir was Nic Gormáin's agriculture minister. He was openly critical of the party for focusing government intervention on heavy industry, instead arguing farmers needed support. His faction was expelled from the party after a failed attempt to oust Niamh Ní Bhraonáin from the party leadership. The party went on to lose the 1922 and 1927 general elections.

During the Occupation, the party was criticized for its inability to challenge Ua Buachalla and the Caldish Democrats. It also experienced another split when members who supported functionalism left the party to form the Ghaillish League (Conradh na Gaeilge). Some joined the Fiann Gael, a paramilitary organized active in the Quasi-War. The party protested the suspension of the 1932 general election, but was unable to successfully push for the reversal of the decision. Beset by infighting and plagued with a series of electoral loses and splits, the National Conservatives only won 47 seats in the 1935 election. The party moved to dissolve itself in 1936. Its leadership entered talks with liberal and conservative movements in order to explore forming a new party. The Caldish centre-right and right felt threated by the Social Democrats, who won a landslide victory in 1935. Concerned that the Caldish Democrats were no longer elecorally viable due to their role in the Occupation, liberal and conservative groups joined together to establish the Liberty Party in May 1936. The National Conservative Party was officially disbanded several months later and many of its members joined the new party or stood as Independents.