A government has been formed in Mercia following the first meeting of the Mercian Parliament House. In a surprise defeat for the coalition of opposition parties, the NLP were able to form a minority administration by winning the vote for First Minister. This development was unexpected, as a coalition of the PDP, SDP and one Green-Socialist MP, who hold six seats, was expected to outvote the NLP, who hold the other five seats, and form their own government.
The coalition scheduled today’s meeting in advance with the Speaker of the Mercian Parliament, formally known as the Convener of the Crossbenches, Count Frisch. It commenced at 8 p.m. G.M.T., with the Speaker opening the session when a majority of members were present. 9 of the 11 members were present, with Baron Wu of the PDP and Baron McCarthy of the SDP being absent. The first item on the agenda was the nominations for First Minister. The NLP nominated their new leader Earl Eden, who was selected to replace Baron Ó Cathail following his resignation a few days ago. The PDP leader, Baron Whyatt, nominated himself on behalf of his party. NLP MPs also nominated Baron McFarlane, Baron Newton and Baron McCarthy of the coalition parties, a move the purpose of which is not particularly apparent.
The vote then proceeded, before being suspended and re-ordered by the Speaker in order to make sure all votes were cast in the same format. The result was greatly surprising, given the presumption by some media outlets that the coalition would take power. Earl Eden won 5 votes, while Baron Whyatt won 4 votes. The absence of two of the coalition MPs resulted in the opposition losing the vote to cast the NLP out of power. The coalition MPs made clear their protests to the Speaker, who eventually had to call an end to the vote when it became clear the two absent MPs would not be appearing. Baron Belcher, of the SDP, expressed his condemnation towards “the actions of the NLP in purposefully derailing the business of the House in the interests of their own party”. Baron McFarlane of the PDP said how it was “outrageous that the NLP is trying to ignore 2 democratically elected MPs.” Nonetheless, the vote was called to an end, with Earl Eden nominated by the house as First Minister-elect.
In accordance with the rules of parliamentary procedure, a motion of confidence was then held in Earl Eden, which he also won with five in support and four against. The Speaker then announced the result, and declared Earl Eden to be the First Minister of Mercia. Baron Newton left the House in protest at the announcement. The Speaker called the house into order, after which the House approved a motion for a recess in order to allow the First Minister to prepare a speech. The House reconvened to adjourn for the day an hour later.
The NLP has thus been re-elected to a third term in government, with Earl Eden succeeding Baron Ó Cathail as First Minister and NLP leader. However, as a minority administration, Eden’s government remains vulnerable to being outvoted by the opposition, particularly in a motion of no-confidence. The new Mercian government thus faces additional challenges in the weeks ahead. Earl Eden will be announcing his cabinet in the next few days, and will schedule the next meeting of Parliament with the Speaker.