Sanctus – The first election to a federalised House of Deputies has resulted in a hung parliament, it was announced this morning, with the last few batches of cantons declared putting first the Sanctarian Conservative Party, and then the Democratic Left Party short of a majority to form a government. It’s the first time since the November 1981 elections that no one party has a majority of seats in parliament and, like with that election, we could see parties resorting to coalitions or minority governments to avoid a second election.
Though polls had suggested a very slight DLP majority, in the range of about 233-236 seats, the night began rather ominously for Ethan Ringrose and his party when early on Harry Bell, Social Welfare Secretary in the last DLP government, lost his bid to take Galvium’s 53rd canton to the Green Party’s Will Vance. A short time later, the Green Party’s Crystal Headley also edged out the DLP’s candidate for Novum Aeternum’s 15th canton – what was a must win for the party. The DLP did succeed in push back a number of very strong Green challengers, but it’s clear today that an unexpected Green surge is what did it for the DLP’s chances of a majority. Overall, a mixed night for Ringrose and the DLP on his first outing as leader. They’re best positioned to become the main party in a coalition government, or even have a minority government, but their seat percentage did drop from 54% to 47%.
Speaking of what’s been dubbed as the Green Surge, Josephine Chari-Jones will be a very happy woman today. At 32 seats, the Green Party is the third biggest in parliament again and, crucially, no other party can form a coalition government without them (excepting, of course, the unlikely idea of a national DLP-SCP government, which has already been ruled out by senior officials in both parties). The Green Party has gone from being 5% of all seats in the House to 7%; a 2% rise which, for a third party in Sanctaria, is incredibly good growth. Chari-Jones has been tight lipped to reporters today about what she and the Greens plan to do in terms of government support, but it’s believed she’s open to a coalition with the DLP, or potentially supporting them as a minority government in confidence and supply votes. Going into government with the SCP and the New Sanctaria Party would be a possibility numbers wise, but given their position on the political spectrum, seems very unlikely.
Another happy woman tonight, relatively speaking anyway, is the SCP’s Kate Cruz. Though she would need a miracle to get into government and become Chancellor, in terms of percentage of seats in parliament, the SCP have had a massive recovery from 2018, going from 31% to 39%. Party members will point to this almost 10% growth as a good sign in the party’s recovering from the absolute drudging the electorate gave them in 2018 and so it’s likely her position as leader is safe – for now anyway. Her next priority will be looking at how to get seats back from the NSP – and how to build out in areas like Aquitanium and Galvium; the SCP is a socially liberal party, so picking up marginal seats in these liberal states shouldn’t be impossible.
As expected following their former leader’s tarnishing of the brand, the NSP’s percentage of seats has fallen from 6.6% to 5.2%. To be fair to the party though, this was also their first general election, and achieving over 5% and gaining 24 seats is nothing to scoff at. The problem with the NSP, though, is their appeal is limited. What is the upper ceiling? Their socially conservative policies, as has been demonstrated with the CUP over the last 50 years, has limited reach in a country that’s one of the most progressive in the International Democratic Union. The NSP just barely lost out of a number of seats to the SCP in places like Novum Limium and Novum Aeternum, but it’s clear that the party in its current form will struggle to ever clear the 30 seat bar in an election.
The CUP will similarly struggle to ever see the heady heights of government again. Their decline has been notable in the years since the end of the last hung parliament, but they now hold one 1.7% of seats in parliament, and all of those seats came from one state – Terra Monticolarum. This is a 50% drop in seat percentage and it’s likely to go even less in five years time, with the SCP and the NSP cannibalising the conservative votes between them. Some sources in the CUP has already, forlornly, suggested disbanding the party, or merging with the NSP, but party officials point to their presence in states like Terra Monticolarum where, for example, former leader John Halligan was elected Governor only a few years ago, and where they have a a lot of seats in the State Assembly and are junior partner in the government there too. It could be they pivot to becoming a state party, and may be happy to do so.
It’s understood that Ringrose and Chari-Jones have already met today, and that Kate Cruz also held a brief phonecall with the Greens leader too. The House of Deputies returns on Wednesday and has to elect a Chancellor by noon, or else fresh elections will be called. All parties likely want to avoid this, so there’s not much time to sort out a coalition or minority government. It’ll be a tense few days.
JOEY SESSIONS, Political Editor