1688 Normark political crisis

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1688 Normark political crisis
Date 21–22.XIII.1688 AN
Location Normark
Result Suppression of the Nordisketing by the Elian Militia
Belligerents
Einhornselskapet Einhornselskapet Normark Normark
Commanders and leaders
Sigrid Årud Ethan Setsman
Units involved
Normark Elian Militia


The 1688 Normark political crisis was a political conflict in Normark between the left-leaning coalition government and the resurgent Einhornist faction.


Background

Following the heavy electoral defeat of the Einhorn Society, the Nationalist & Humanist Party, and the Reindeer Herder Alliance in the 1685 Nordisketing election, the Einhorn Society, led by Sigrid Årud, had arranged an electoral pact with the victors of the election whereby Sigrid Årud would retain her seat on the Council of Eliria and in return the Einhorn Society would provide supply and confidence for a government consisting of the Democratic Socialist Workers' Coalition, the Ayreonist Alliance, and the Free Juice and Bagels Party.

Årud thereby nominated, as her first act as speaker, FJBP chairman Ethan Setsman, to the position of Prime Minister. He was confirmed with the support of his coalition, the Bovic Brotherhood, and the Einhorn Society.

The manoeuvre had fragmented Normark politically, alienating the Norse Reform Party, which won a plurality of votes in the election and yet which found itself in opposition, while the N&H and the Reindeer Herders remained unable to make common cause with either the NRP or the Einhorn Society, and instead formed a third bloc of the disaffected.

The FJBP-led minority coalition struggled under these circumstances to assert its authority over Normark, where successive civilian governments had been obliged to work alongside the military authority of Keltia Command, which had been slow to relinquish its control over the nation - gained as a consequence of the war and still legitimated in the eyes of many by the ongoing threat of the Bassarids.

By 1688 the N&H and the Einhorn Society, now known as the Einhornselskapet, had managed to overcome the animosities of the 1685 election and arrived at an affiliation agreement which would see the N&H in Normark pledged to support the Einhornselskapet through resource and asset sharing, electoral pacts based on likelihood of victory in electoral districts where parties are both represented in return for a commitment to support the N&H in regards to Council of Eliria and to support the N&H candidate for Princely elections.

In the same year as this agreement was reached however the Nordlyset newspaper released a cache of government documents linking the Umeå hytte, an ESB owned clubhouse located in the countryside outside of Sårensby, to the disappearance of a number of prominent journalists, left-leaning politicians and intellectual figures during the premiership of Statsminister Sigrid Årud (1679–1685).

The revelations prompted a scandal, with the minority government under Ethan Setsman making the promise to conduct a "full and fearless" investigation into the activities of the previous administration whilst the Norse Reform Party and Democratic Party members of the Nordisketing called for the immediate suspension of Sigrid Årud and her resignation from the Speakership. In response to these demands the Einhornselskapet denounced the planned investigation and announced the immediate termination of the confidence and supply agreement which had supported the present governing coalition. These actions threatened to precipitate the collapse of the coalition government.

Collapse of the government

The oppositional Norse Reform Party issued a motion of no confidence in the government, which Speaker Sigrid Årud (Einhornselskapet), fast-tracked through the chamber, ensuring a vote on the same day (scheduled for 22:00, thus allowing for EHS and N&H representatives temporarily abroad to arrive to vote) in . Surprised by the fast events, Prime Minister Setsman, invited the leader of the NRP, Amund Sivertsen Ravn, to talks over lunch. Ravn obliged. The discussions were fruitful, and the two agreed to seek to form a coalition government headed by Ravn. They appeared to agree with one another that the Einhornists and Nationalist-Humanists had to be kept out of government, at the very least until the investigation into irregularities had concluded. After the meeting, they the other coalition parties – Democratic Socialist Workers' Coalition and the Ayreonist Alliance – into forming a coalition. It was clear, however, that with a larger moderate majority within the new government, the Socialists and Ayreonists would be sidelined. The latter two parties announced that they would not give a carte blanche into forming a coalition. Rather, they offered negotiations, planned to last three to four weeks, where a new government programme could be decided.

Setsman and Ravn considered this plan stupid. The next Nordisketing elections were planned for next year, so that the new government would only have one budget to pass and one year of reforms. A new government needed to be in place immediately, lest the Nationalists, Humanists and Einhornists would take over.

"We must not give in to fear," replied the Socialists in a press conference around 18:00. "But we will support the vote of no confidence in the government, as it has lost a majority in the Nordisketing. Following the passage of the no confidence vote, normal government formation can continue under the current rules."

The Ayreonists agreed. At a press conference only 20 minutes later, their leader, Markus Torsteinsson, echoed the Socialist calls. "We are a stable democracy. There is no need to fear any harm. The normal democratic processes will protect us. The fear-mongering from the Free Juice and Bagels Party and the Norse Reform Party has no basis in reality. We cannot let paranoia govern us. Reasoned politics require reasoned minds."

Upon hearing this, Ravn and Setsman agreed to not allow the no confidence vote to pass (even though Ravn initiated it), and instead, should the vote fail, the government, as headed by Setsman, would be reorganized with bringing ministers from whatever parties supported them. The position of the smaller parties remained unclear, and the Democrats had similarly not issued a position on the vote, but were informed of Ravn's and Setsman's plan to avoid Nat-Hums and Einhornists in the government.

At 22:00, Speaker Sigrid Årud called the Nordisketing into order with one item on the agenda, that of the motion that "this House does not have confidence in the Norse government". Using the anti-filibuster rule in the rules of the Nordisketing, Årud denied any speeches on the floor, citing it unnecessary. "Parties will at this point already have arrived at a view. Speeches to the gallery will not persuade any backbencher. It is a waste of public resources to allow speeches."

The vote concluded three minutes later:

AYE NAY ABSTAIN
EHS 60 1 (Årud)
NRP 60
DEM 45
DSWC 32
AA 23
FJBP 19
RHA 14
N&H 12
BB 3

There were thus 127 votes in favour of the motion and 127 against it, with 14 (the Reindeer Herder Association) abstaining. Årud quickly cast a vote in favour of the motion. This was against precedent, as usually whenever a tie-breaking vote by the speaker was required, it would be in favour of the status quo.

Årud spoke: "The government has clearly fallen. Herr Setsman, this house does not have confidence in your government. You are all relieved".

Usually in Normark, when a government has resigned or lost confidence, the same government would however be appointed a caretaker government until a new one could take office. Årud explicitly did not so, instead saying, "Until a new government has formed, I call upon Tarjei Thorgilsson to form a caretaking government, with immediate effect. This meeting is now adjourned."

Citing procedural irregularities in the manner by which the Speaker conducted the vote of no confidence, the Prime Minister, upon returning to the chancellery, issued an immediate bulletin notifying all departments of state that Sigurd was suspended from the office of speaker with immediate effect. The suspension to last only for so long as required for a Court of Impeachment to be convened to investigate the Umeå hytte affair and any other allegations of gross misconduct as might come to light. The Prime Minister's statement confirmed that the outcome of the no confidence vote would be respected but that owing to the unconstitutional and unprecedented manner in which Årud attempted to impose her own preferred candidate - the Deputy Speaker of the Nordisketing, Konstantin Idervegg (NRP), would be invited to assume the speakership and supervise the regular process of government formation.

Within an hour of the bulletin being issued a response was received from the Committee of Defence in Riddersborg affirming its loyalty to the "elected and constitutionally legitimate government".

Division of the state

At 06:13 on the morning of 22.XIII Konstantin Idervegg arrived at the Nordisketingbygningen accompanied by bailiffs, NRP activists, and Elian Militiamen from Elijah's Rest equipped in public order gear, to take full possession of the legislature in accordance with the directives of Prime Minister Setsman. During the night Speaker Årud had remained in the building, giving direction to the Serjeant-at-Arms and the corps of ushers for the windows to be shuttered and all doors to be barred and barricaded. At 06:40, following the testing of the doors, none of which yielded, Deputy Speaker Idervegg read aloud the directive of the Prime Minister confirming the suspension of Speaker Årud and charged all within to immediately comply with the instructions issued by superior authority. With no response having been received from those inside the building, Idervegg then proceeded to direct the bailiffs to breakdown the exterior doors leading to the plenary chamber of the Nordisketing. As the bailiffs commenced with the swinging of sledgehammers against the locks and then the doorframes of the ceremonial entrance to the Nordisketing jeering began to be heard from the upper storeys of the plenary chamber, where ushers appeared upon the balconies overlooking the scene of the bailiffs attempting to effect an entry into the building. This appearance prompted hostile taunts from the crowd of supporters assembled by the Deputy Speaker. At around 06:57 the bailiffs were hurriedly forced to disperse after one in their company was knocked unconscious by a falling stone ornament, either accidently knocked or deliberately dropped from the upper balcony. Furious at witnessing this scene, Idervegg called forward a magistrate and berated him until the magistrate concurred that a scene of riotous affray was unfolding. This declaration was notified to the Elian militiamen in attendance who responded by firing tear gas canisters towards the windows and balconies of the plenary chamber, forcing the ushers to retire inside and to shutter the windows once more. Some of the tear gas drifted back towards the positions of the supporters of the Deputy Speaker, agitating the crowd. At 07:20 the bailiffs resumed their work attacking the entrance to the plenary chamber. A minute later an activated fire extinguisher was dropped onto the bailiffs from the roof of the Nordisketingbygningen. Considering this an act of pre-meditated attempted murder, an officer in the Elian Militia discharged his M1525 service pistol at figures visible on the roof silhouetted by the dawn light of the rising Atos. The officer succeeded in firing off three rounds before his weapon misfired and jammed. The gunshots panicked the crowd of activists into dispersing and going to ground, seeking cover where they could if they felt unable to flee. Word soon spread amongst the supporters of the Deputy Speaker of an active shooter on the roof top of the Parliament building. As these reports soon reached the other Elian Militiamen surrounding the building, confirmed by witnessing one of their own shooting upwards at the perceived assailants, a general fire against the building commenced as militiamen opened up with their service weapons, either M1525 pistols or M1656 submachine-guns.

At 07:28, as the fusillade against the building continued, Speaker Årud released a short clip onto the Elwnet, with gunfire audible in the background, announcing that she and her supporters were under a "murderous assault" by the forces commanded by Prime Minister Setsman in a "flagrant coup attempt against the constitutional order of the Republic". She concluded her message by appealing to the public, the Council of Eliria, to the UDF garrison in Normark, and to Keltia Command, to "make every effort to bring pressure to bear upon those responsible for this attack to cease the outrage immediately".