Heidelgard is an early Constitutional Monarchy with the head of state being the King (or occasionally in the past a Queen) but day to day running of the nation lies in the hands of the Glass Parliament, named for the many windowed Parliament House and its magnificent glass dome that acts as the roof of the central Parliament chamber. The Prime Minister is the head of the Parliament and Government and has a Cabinet of Ministers called the Black Oak Table with elections taking place every 5 years (or earlier if Votes of No Confidence or Impeachment occur), and currently the PM is Lord Olyver dal Kijnveg of the Party for Progress who has maintained his party’s control of the Black Oak Table in a recent General Election and so looking at another 5 years in power. There are 4 other political party’s in contention as well as a number of independents, with in descending order of current prominence the Party of Prosperity, the Hejskijn Movement, the Party of Concern and finally the Gentry Party.
There are currently 285 Seats in the Parliament, and a first past the post electoral system is in place, with the party having the most seats being the one who forms a Government (with permission from the ruling monarch), though to avoid coalitions and unwanted (by the winner) deals to be made an outright majority of having more seats than all the other parties combined is preferable. This is something that the Party of Progress has managed to achieve in the recent General Election, and the first time in over 80 years that any party has managed to achieve this, currently holding as it does 178 seats in the Glass Parliament. The second placed Party occupies the Opposition benches and acts as a vocal if not powerful foil to the ruling party’s policies, with the Party of Prosperity currently holding that position.
Each party is regarded as having a certain goal or interest, with a brief overview of each below.
The Party of Progress
Also known as the Progressives, this party has been on the rise in Heidelen politics for decades and is regarded as being the most socially progressive and forward thinking. It is more in touch with the middle and lower class voting bloc and also attracts the favour of the intelligentsia, scholars and those with an interest in positive change. It is known that a friendship or good working relationship exists between this party and the Monarchy (King Maximillian and his son Prince Bernhardt are both enthusiastic supporters of the University for example). Promoting science, social improvement and the everyday lot of the ordinary Heidelen citizen is a cornerstone of policy, and one of the big fears amongst political opponents (especially the Prosperity and Gentry parties) is that the push for extending and lowering the qualifications for being able to vote is high on the agenda of the Progressives. Also, there is a strong slant in matters of religion within this party, with a great many being of the Non Afiliated persuasion, something that again runs in contrast with the Prosperatives and the Gentry. They have been in a long political tussle with the Prosperatives for many years with control shifting back and forth in that time, but the second term they have recently won has been the first time they have managed to take control of the Table again, and their first ever outright majority.
The Party of Prosperity
The current Opposition to the Progressives, the “Prosperatives” (as they are known) are the party of privilege, wealth and many landowners and for many tears were the ruling party, albeit they themselves had not had an outright majority since 440 AC or thereabouts. They have been in decline for decades and first lost to the Progressives 45 years ago and though they have checked their decline, they are most definitely the second party now. Many nobles, big businesses and entrenched wealth are their interests and they liked the old status quo of the political system, though in recent years society seems to have changed quicker than they have been able to keep up with. Lambasted in the gutter press and oft satirised on stage and in the streets, they are still a potent political force, though if the suffrage of the lower classes becomes a reality in future, they could enter political free fall.
The Hejsjkijn Movement
A luddite like party, they view the onset of science and in particular the growth of technology in society as a great evil and try to oppose and fight everything from the sale of tindertwigs on streetcorners all the way up to factories and airships with all in-between being anathema to them. Rural landowning families and rigid religious views (Society of Harmony) are examples of the supporters and voters for this party, and whilst it is wealthy, has lessening influence with the onset of the technologies and changes they oppose. They have some mutual interests with the Gentry Party and the 2 often speak out and unite over certain issues; perhaps they may merge in future.
The Party of Concern
The Concern in this party is pure and raw capitalism, with its members being those of the wealthy and mercantile classes and minor members of the Gentry. They have some influence in their spheres but are for now squarely set in the 4th tier of the political circle, though they do seem to make modest gains every time an election comes, overtaking the Gentry party for the first time 2 elections ago.
The Gentry Party
Landed Gentry and small landowners, this declining group are composed almost entirely by minor nobility and landed gentry who try to keep their country ways (and privileges) secure, opposing any progress that erodes what they see as they inalienable rights and ancestral rights. They share some interests with the Hejskijn Movement and may merge with them in time if they see no other way in defending their situation.
The right to vote is currently extended to “productive and respectable” citizens, and for a person to be eligible to vote they need to be resident in Heidelgard for at least 2 years, speak Heitzen, earn 500 Gold a year (and so pay more tax) OR own over 1000 Gold in property (business or land). Needless to say this excludes a large amount of the population though local councils in cities, towns and villages have representatives who petition MP’s or other lobby groups over issues and concerns that may or may not be ignored or acted upon as the MP or lobby group decides.
Female suffrage occurred in 482 AC due to the efforts of the Progressives (who then went on to lose their following election by a narrow margin but that’s politics for you), with obvious disapproval from the easterly nations though Cantabrius and Schwereinn have long been open for females in society and politics and so welcomed the change in their erstwhile ally and friend.