Politics of Guelphia
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Politics and government of Guelphia
The governance of Guelphia is heavily influenced by the Westminster System, which Guelphia inherited from the United Kingdom upon gaining independence in 1907. This has given Guelphia a framework of strong democratic traditions, which have developed their own unique flavour that is not seen anywhere else in the world. Since independence, the governance of Guelphia has taken place within a constitutional framework of limited monarchy and parliamentary democracy.
The constitutional framework of Guelphia consists of a mixture of various documents, both written documents and as political convention. However, the most important piece of the framework is the written Constitution of Guelphia. The Constitution is the basis for the operation of government in Guelphia, and all the principal organs are created and empowered by this document. The current Constitution consists of seven articles, each of which defines the powers of the government and other requirements to ensure that the administration of the Kingdom is conducted by the rule of law.
Neither the Monarch or Parliament have the power to change the Constitution, which can only be amended by referendum. Changes to the Constitution are carried out by a Constitutional Convention, a special body that is assembled by Parliament to make recommendations on a proposed change. Changes recommended by the Constitutional Convention require the approval of parliament before they can proceed to the people for a referendum. Like the Constitution of Australia, the conditions for approving changes are somewhat difficult, but act to protect the Constitution from partisan tinkering. Since 1907, there have been just five successful changes to the Constitution.
Guelphia is a constitutional monarchy. The King of Guelphia is James II (usually styled HM The King), the eighth Monarch to have reigned over Gulephia since the Kingdom was established in 1836. Although an integral part of the process of government, the King remains politically neutral and deliberately stands above the political contest. The King, along with his family, also perform a number of charitable and community duties that bring them into contact with Guelphians from many different walks of life.
Despite being above politics, the power of the monarchy is quite significant, although royal power and authority is bound by the Constitution just like that of all Guelphians. Many important actions of the government are done 'on behalf of' the King and the monarch normally exercises his powers on the direction or advice of the Prime Minister. Many of the powers which remain within the Royal Prerogative are uncodified, and exist as only political conventions, albeit with a very powerful influence over the business of government. Only a handful of powers were codified in the Constitution when it was created in 1907.
Guelphia's central government is divided into three principal branches, each of which must act with a degree of independence in accordance to the provisions set down by the Constitution. The principal branches of the government are the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary. Above these branches, and ensuring the smooth operation of government, sits the Crown. The notion of a separation of powers is blurred in Guelphia, and does not have the same meaning as it might in the United States.
The executive is the most powerful arm of government, and is headed by the Prime Minister. Despite it's perceived power, the executive is dependent on the support of the Parliament. A Prime Minister who loses the support of the House of Assembly is obliged to resign his commission of government to the Sovereign.
The Parliament of Guelphia forms the legislative arm of government. Parliament makes all laws and scrutinises the actions of the executive through a rigorous committee system.
The judiciary is charged with the administration of law and order, and is also responsible for the interpretation of all laws, including the Constitution.
As a unitary state, Guelphia has no autonomous sub-national entities such as states or provinces. Instead, the constitution provides for the creation of a democratically elected local government, whose existence and power is determined by the Parliament.
There are presently three tiers of local government in Guelphia. At the top sit eight cadastral units known as counties, which are elected to administer matters such as civil defence, public transport, and water supply. Below the counties sit over 80 municipalities, who are responsible for the administration of matters such as building ordinances, garbage collection, and public libraries. Finally, there is also a third tier of local government known as a parish, which are elected to manage minor matters such as allotment gardens, disused cemeteries, neighbourhood watch programmes, and the management of the local village hall.
Guelphia is a multi-party democracy, with a open and competitive political environment. There are a number political parties vying for the right to be elected not only to parliament, but to go on and form a government. According to Elections Guelphia, there are 20 parties registered to contest elections at both levels of government. Of these, only three parties (considered in general parlance to be the 'major parties') have won enough seats to be considered able to form a government. These parties are categorised in the parliament as the 'government', 'opposition' and the 'third party'.
By law, elections must be held every four years for both houses of Parliament and each of the local authorities. Guelphia maintains a complex electoral system to ensure a fair an equitable representation of the people can be achieved.
Unlike many nations, voting in every election, plebiscite, and referendum is compulsory for all people over the age of twenty-one.