Silent Revolution

The Silent Revolution resulted in the creation of the present system of parliamentary democracy in place in Caldia. Led by a number of prominent liberal politicians influenced by the Euclean Spring of the mid-nineteenth century, the Silent Revolution resulted in a number of major changes to the Ghaillish constitution, which was adopted in 1814. Dónall Ó Conaill, incumbent Laird Chancellor, was the most prominent member of the Silent Revolution, which earned its name from the comparatively quiet nature of the political changes implemented in Caldia. Demands for greater political representation and a system of government more in line with other Euclean states drove the reformists.

As a result of the Silent Revolution, the Instrument for Governance of 1857 was passed by the Seanad Glítteann, altered the 1814 constitution by making the legislature bicameral. The Comhthionól Náisiúnta was created as the lower house of the newly created Tionól and became its principal chamber. The reforms also saw the creation of the office of the taoiseach, which would serve as the nation's prime minister. Ó Conaill negotiated with Elton I in order to secure royal support of the reforms. For his part, the king largely accepted the reforms and relinquished significant authority to the office of the taoiseach.

Elections were held after the reforms were implemented. Voting rights were extended to all citizens over the age of twenty-one, lowering the age from twenty-five and abolishing the prerequisite of owning property in order to vote.

Other prominent reformists involved in the Silent Revolution were Úna nic an t-Saoir, Seoirse Mac Giolla Eáin, and Róisín Nic Coinneach. Prince James, later James IV, was also a supporter of the movement, and successfully lobbied his father into accepting the reforms with minimal resistance.

Background

Liathdruim in County Tóinderry, originally where the Déisi met
The 17th century House of the Déisi in Spálgleann

Before the Silent Revolution, Caldia was governed in accordance with the 1814 constitution. Legislative power was vested in the Seanad Glítteann, which was partially democratic. A representative for each of Caldia's twenty-five counties was elected every four year. Originally, the Seanad was composed of the twenty five elected senators, twenty hereditary peers, nine Lairds Spiritual, six Lairds Academia, and four senators appointed directly by the monarch. The new legislature replaced the Déisi Glítteann, which was a council of the nation's nobility. With the abolition of the Déisi, the existing system of tanistry was altered so that the monarch had the power to name their heir apparent from among the righdamhna, a power that was previously invested in the Déisi.

Mary III played a central role in the adoption of the constitution, nominating the liberal Aoibheann Ní Chuinn to the position in 1812. The position of Laird Chancellor has its earliest roots in the thirteenth century during the reforms of King Alastar. The expansion of the powers of the Déisi in the seventeenth century limited the powers of the monarch and in turn the Laird Chancellor. However, both the monarch and the Laird Chancellor retained significant authority. Such authority remained in place after the implementation of the 1814 constitution. Executive authority was officially held by the monarch, who would delegate such authority to the Laird Chancellor. The Laird Chancellorship was almost always held by peer or bishop.

Prince James was a crucial ally of the reformists.

Despite the changes, which significantly increased democracy and introduced suffrage for all property owners and their relatives over the age of twenty-five, there was still a strong desire for reform. The reign of Fiona VIII saw few political changes and successive appointments of conservatives as Laird Chancellor. Her death in 1837 saw her son and heir-designate Elton II ascend to the throne. The beginning of his reign was similar to that of his mother's, until his son, Prince James, came of the age of majority and began to build his own political power base. Displeased with the established conservative ruling class, which resisted calls for industrialization and implemented policies that stiffed private investment, he aligned himself with a growing liberal faction. After watching the events of the Euclean Spring unfold, James was privately concerned that the 1814 constitution was not enough to satisfy the population and that the reactionary policies of the conservative elite would result in the end of the Ghaillish monarchy, one of the oldest in Euclea. While Caldia was largely unaffected by the turmoil of the period, the Blight of 1854 saw worsening economic conditions in the largely agrarian country and an uptick in poverty. A number of corn riots broke out throughout the country, which were successfully suppressed. However, government inaction further threatened national instability. He began to associate with Dónall Ó Conaill and his reformist allies. The group concluded that reforms were essential to securing the survival of the monarchy and preventing the overthrow of the government.

Prince James convinced his father to nominate Ó Conaill as Laird Chancellor in February 1856 and his liberal party, known as the Caldish Democrats, secured the majority of elected seats in the Seanad. The electoral success of the liberals allowed them to pursue constitutional reforms.

Instrument for Governance of 1857

The Comhthionól Náisiúnta was created in order to serve as the lower house of the now bicameral legislature, which was to be known as the Tionól. The Instrument for Governance mandated that the Comhthionól be composed of 400 elected representatives, to be known as Teachti Comhthionól (TCs). TCs were to be elected from constituencies across the nation under a first-past-the-post system. Two TCs were chosen for each electoral district, with the two candidates receiving the most votes by plurality winning the seat. The position of Laird Chancellor was also abolished and replaced by the newly created office of the Taoiseach, who had to chosen from among the Comhthionól. The privy council was also abolished and replaced by the Crown Council, which was composed of representatives of the monarch, TCs, and the Great Offices of State. Government ministries to implement and oversee government initiatives were also created independently of the council and made up the Cabinet.

Aftermath

A two-party system emerged following the implementation of the Instrument for Government. Ó Conaill's Caldish Democrats competed with the rival National Conservative Party to form governments. Both parties were big tents for various liberals and conservatives and dominated the system. They were the only parties to form a government from 1857 until 1935 when the Social Democrats won the 1935 general election.

Both the Caldish Democrats and National Conservatives built robust voter bases throughout the country. Both parties embraced industrialization, but to different capacities. The Caldish Democrats favored laissez-faire policies while the National Conservatives favored protectionist policies to protect the land-owning class's vested agricultural interests and state capitalism. While there was an urban-rural divide, it initially tended to support the Caldish Democrats. Ó Conaill's personal popularity bolstered support for his party. The agrarian focus of the National Conservatives was also not to protect the farmers themselves, but the wealthy land-owners - many of which tended to be members of the nation's nobility. Caldia's emerging middle class and working class were the primary base of the Caldish Democrats, who were also supported by the peasant class in the immediate decades following the Silent Revolution.

The Silent Revolution radically altered Caldish government and created a system that was largely unaltered until 1935, when changes made to Caldia's electoral system post-occupation replaced first-past-the-post with mixed-member proportional representation. Further changes were made after the passage of the Instrument for Governance of 1965. However, the system put in place by the Silent Revoltuion has continued uninterrupted since 1857. In 2017, its 150th anniversary was celebrated by the Caldish government.