Social Democratic Party (Laeral)

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Social Democratic Party

Parti Social-Démocrate
Mandarin name社会民主党
FounderRéne Gramont, Jean-Philippe Salaun, Sun Jia-wei, Julien Cheng, Zhou Wei-lin
FoundedFebruary 7, 1922 (1922-02-07)
DissolvedJune 29, 1965 (1965-06-29)
Succeeded byRepublic Party
HeadquartersHanshui (1922-1924)
Laeralsford (1924-1965)
NewspaperSocial Democratic Appeal
Think tankFive Pillars Policy Office
Student wingNational Students' Union of Laeral
Youth wingSocial Democratic Youth Congress
Women's wingAll-Laeral Women's Congress
Oversight wingSocial Democratic Internal Investigations Office
Labor wingCongress of Laeralian Trade Unions
Paramilitary wingRose Banner Brigades (1922-1929)
Membership (1951)18,550,000
IdeologyGramontism, Social Democracy, Democratic Socialism
Political positionCenter-left to Left-wing
Colors     Red

The Social Democratic Party (French: Parti Social-Démocrate; Mandarin: 社会民主党/Shèhuì mínzhǔdǎng) was a Gramontist, socialist Laeralian political party which was the dominant party in the autocratic Republican Era. Established in 1922 by the former Committee for Democracy and Progress upon their victory in the Laeralian Civil War, the party used vote-buying, the suppression of political opponents, and control of the media to remain the dominant party in Laeral until the party's schism at the Seventh Social Democratic Party Congress in 1952 and the ensuing Bloody Summer, which led to the writing of the 1954 Laeralian Constitution and the transition to full democracy.

The SDP was a center-left to left-wing political party based upon Gramontism and the Five Pillars espoused by the party's founding elite, the Gang of Five. These principles of republicanism, reformism, socialism, secularism, and anti-imperialism were enacted through the Rose Revolution, a series of social reforms taking place throughout Laeral's Republican Era. A schism in the party between pro-democracy and hardliner factions led to the decisive victory of Sun Jia-wei's reformist "scarlet" faction following the Bloody Summer, leading to the first fully-free elections in 1954. The party initially received electoral success even once free elections had been instituted, forming majority governments in the National Assembly until 1964. However, the excesses of the Emergency Period, when Social Democratic President Réne Gramont suspended civil liberties, led the party to officially reconstitute itself as the Republic Party in 1965. Today, the Social Democratic legacy remains a matter of contention in Laeral, routinely condemned as autocratic or hailed for its social and economic achievements, while the Progressive Party identifies itself as the spiritual successor to the SDP.

History[edit | edit source]

Founding and Early Republican Era[edit | edit source]

The SDP was founded by the Gang of Five in Hanshui during the fading days of the Laeralian Civil War as an instrument of control over the forthcoming Republic of Laeral. Party membership was extended to all who had fought under the banner of the Committee for Democracy and Progress. Réne Gramont was the founding Party Secretary, and the only figure to hold the position of President of Laeral alongside Party Secretary of the Social Democratic Party, as the positions were formally made separate at the 1932 Third Social Democratic Party Congress. During the early years of the Republican Era, the Army of the Committee for Democracy and Progress remained under arms as the Rose Banner Brigades, paramilitary troops of the SDP, but were dissolved in 1927 with the end of the Brissac War.

Gramont's 1922 to 1932 tenure as Party Secretary saw the party developed into a robust organization encompassing youth, women's and organized labor wings, with the intent of embedding Social Democratic Party institutions into the daily life of Laeralites. Party membership became a swift ticket to social advancement, with the ranks of state-run corporation leaders, the military officer corps, and political office being drawn almost entirely from SDP members.

Salaun and Zhou Eras[edit | edit source]

At the 1932 Third Social Democratic Party Congress, party procedures were revamped to meet the needs of the party's growing membership. Rather than aspiring to count "two in three Laeralites" as party members, as Sun Jia-wei had previously advocated, membership was made contingent upon a thorough background check, a probationary period, and proven understanding of the Five Pillars and other tenets of Gramontism. J.P. Salaun's tenure as president, from 1932 to 1942, saw the expansion of Rose Revolution programs, an increased focus on secularist ideology, and the further development of the planned economy, while organized political opposition was legalized via the Liberal Democratic Party, Laeralian National Congress, and National Cooperative Party. Salaun also presided over the May 21st Affair, in which eight leading members of the National Assembly, public companies, and provincial governments were arrested and imprisoned on corruption charges by the Social Democratic Internal Investigations Office. This incident temporarily quelled, yet did not suppress, incidents of corruption and self-enrichment among party officials.

Zhou Wei-lin, third president of the Republic of Laeral, was seen as a leading reformist member of the SDP.

Zhou Wei-lin's nomination as president at the 1942 Fifth Social Democratic Party Congress was seen as a victory for liberalizers within the party, as restrictions on the press were lifted, broader criticism of party programs was tolerated, and political participation was further expanded, although opposition parties never held a realistic chance of winning control of the National Assembly. Zhou set his personally modest lifestyle as a counter-example to the lavish lifestyles of some party elites, and launched new anti-corruption measures and the confiscation of excessive assets, alienating many influential Party members. A growing party backlash to Zhou's reforms, as well as Zhou's outreach to Libertas Omnium Maximus and other "imperialist" foreign nations, led to a hotly-contested nomination race at the Sixth Social Democratic Party Congress in 1947. As it became clear that Zhou lacked support from delegates to pursue another term as president, Sun Jia-wei, the favored choice of moderates, narrowly defeated hardliner Hong Kuo-shu, who was forced to accept the position of Party Secretary. Sun's first term as president was largely consumed by the Accession of Lienne, known also as the Second Fellsian War, when Laeral intervened militarily to support the border region of Lienne's bid for independence from High Fells.

Seventh Social Democratic Party Congress and Bloody Summer[edit | edit source]

By 1952, the date of the Seventh Social Democratic Party Congress, tensions within the party between President Sun's "scarlet" or "presidential" faction, seen as favoring reform, and Hong Kuo-shu's "vermilion" or "countryside" faction, which opposed reform, had risen. In an extraordinary session of the Central Working Committee in November 1951, Fai Chao-ming, leader of the powerful Social Democratic Internal Investigations Office, was forcibly removed by scarlet faction members after he had moved to arrest several SDP grandees on charges seen as politically-motivated. However, the Central Working Committee did not muster the votes to remove Fai from party leadership. The incident stoked tensions between the party's two factions, leading Fai to call for Party Secretary Hong Kuo-shu, the leader of the vermilion faction, to replace Sun Jia-wei as the party's presidential nominee for the 1952 election. Fai and other vermilion Social Democrats sought to win a majority on the Executive Central Committee during the elections at the Seventh SDP Congress, yet over a marathon four-day session, were defeated, with Sun narrowly winning renomination.

Emboldened by this victory, the reformist wing of the SDP moved to purge the vermilion faction from leadership entirely, leading to violence when Hong's supporters in the Laeralian Army, led by General Alain Mette, attempted a coup against President Sun. This Bloody Summer resulted in immense street violence and the supposedly-accidental death of former SDP President Jean-Philippe Salaun at the hands of vermilion faction members of the Laeralian Army. The defeat and treason trial of the conspirators of the Bloody Summer coup attempt emboldened Sun, Zhou Wei-lin, and other SDP reformists to call a new constitutional convention at which the Second Allied Provinces of Laeral was founded.

Post-Republic Activities[edit | edit source]

The SDP faced political headwinds during the nation's first fully-free elections in 1954, at which François Guirard, of the Laeralian National Congress, was elected president with 54% of the vote. The SDP retained its grip on power in the National Assembly, however, winning 154 of 300 seats and electing Sun Jia-wei as prime minister. Although Sun Jia-wei was defeated in his bid for president against Gramont in 1958, the party retained its grip on the Assembly of Commons in coalition with the Laeralian Communist Party. The 1962 presidential election, in which former president Réne Gramont's political comeback resulted in a narrow victory, saw the fortunes of the SDP rise, yet a sluggish economy would lead a Laeralian National Congress-led coalition to take power in the National Assembly following 1964 snap elections. In response, Gramont declared a state of national emergency, purportedly due to the Great War, resulting in the suspension of the constitution and ended only by Gramont's death of a stroke in 1964. This hugely discredited the party in many corners of the country. Many influential members of the party opposed to the Emergency, including Zhou Wei-lin, Edmond Yeoh, and Matthieu Dallaire, left the SDP to form the Progressive Party of Laeral in December 1964. In an attempt to revive the party's flagging fortunes, the SDP's final Party Secretary, Ren Jian-kuan, reformed the party into the Republic Party, its legal successor, which persisted until a poor showing at the 1984 parliamentary election spelled its demise.

Platform[edit | edit source]

The SDP was a Gramontist, social-democratic party which espoused the Five Pillars as coined by Réne Gramont and J.P. Salaun: republicanism, reformism, socialism, secularism, and anti-imperialism. Under SDP leadership, women were empowered in many areas of public life, free public education and healthcare were established, social reforms such as the ban of the topknot and the affirmative action policies were enacted, and the power of Arrivée-supremacist militias and the Catholic Church were curbed. The ideology of the SDP underwent evolution throughout the Republican Era, but core pamphlets and texts, such as Gramont's Five Pillars for National Progress, Hong Kuo-shu's Scientific Programme for Virtue and National Self-Strengthening, and Sun Jia-wei's Aphorisms of the Rose Revolution all retained their place in the development of SDP doctrine.

Organization[edit | edit source]

Under the Social Democratic Party's 1932 amendments to the party constitution, the party structure operated as follows. The lowest organs of the party were township and municipal committees, who organized local party members to carry out various elements of government programs and mobilized the public for elections. Alongside the various trade unions and professional organizations within the Congress of Laeralian Trade Unions, the township and municipal committees elected delegates to the Social Democratic Party Congresses, which occurred every five years and elected the party's nominees for office and the members of the party's various decision-making organs, which were as follows:

Incumbent president Réne Gramont and his soon-to-be successor, J.P. Salaun, at the retreat of the Executive Central Committee in 1932.
  • The Executive Central Committee, comprised initially of eight but ultimately 14 party grandees, was the chief-decision making apparatus for the party, meeting annually for two weeks, typically in a remote location such as the beach town of Marilly-sur-Mer to discuss the overall course of the party.
  • Day-to-day party business was managed by the Central Working Committee, a council of eight party members with largely-overlapping membership to the Executive Central Committee. Their influence waxed and waned during the Republican Era, achieving its greatest prominence during the Zhou and Sun administrations, where they often were a bulwark of SDP orthodoxy against Zhou and Sun's reformist tendencies.
  • The drafting of party platforms and oversight over government functions such as the five-year plans was conducted by the Central Policy Affairs Committee, comprising both technocrats and influential party officials. President Salaun in particular relied greatly on this "brain trust," yet it ultimately lost influence to its frequent competitor, the Five Pillars Policy Office.
  • Beginning in 1932 with its creation at the Third SDP Congress, the Central Internal Affairs Committee had rein over disciplinary matters and party membership. The Social Democratic Internal Investigations Office was later granted authority over high-level corruption and disciplinary matters, becoming a chief tool in the factional fights that characterized the later years of Party rule.
  • In 1952, faced with increasingly-competitive democratic elections, the Central Campaign Committee was established to coordinate nationwide campaigning efforts.

The Social Democratic Party apparatus also including subsidiary organs:

  • The All-Laeral Women's Congress was the first subsidiary organization, founded in 1924 and responsible for mobilizing women to support the reform programme of the Rose Revolution, as well as encouraging women's participation in Party activities, sending delegates to the International Women's Congress, and advancing Gramontist views on women's role in society, including through its weekly magazine Women of Laeral. Not merely an organ for mobilization, the All-Laeral Women's Congress produced several Chairwomen who wielded great influence within the party, particularly during the Gramont and Salaun periods.
  • The majority of labor unions in Laeral during the Republican Era were members of the Congress of Laeralian Trade Unions, which aimed to bring organized labor in line with SDP desires and to counter the appeal of communist ideals. Detached from the SDP in 1954, the Congress remains a major organization within the Laeralian labor movement.
  • The National Students' Union of Laeral comprised the majority of university students nationwide, active on all university campuses. With the slogan "Education is the Avenue for the People's Advancement!", the National Students' Union led thought session aimed to inculcate the Five Pillars among students.
  • Established in 1932, the Social Democratic Youth Congress aimed to provide opportunities for young people interested in Party and civil service work, as well as convey the wishes of young people to SDP leadership. Unlike youth organizations in other dominant-party states, the Youth Congress served as a socialization mechanism for youth in support of the Party, rather than an all-encompassing youth mass organization; at its height, the Youth Congress counted around 20% of Laeralian young adults as members.
  • The Five Pillars Policy Office was the official think tank of the Social Democratic Party, established at the behest of longtime party elites in 1942 wary that President Zhou would seek to depart from Gramontist orthodoxy. At the height of its influence a major influence on the development of the Fifth and Sixth Five-Year Plans, the office was largely neutered by the scarlet faction following the Bloody Summer, although never abolished entirely.

From 1922 to 1929, many former members of the Army of the Committee for Democracy and Progress (known as the Rose Army) who were not reformed into the Laeralian Army were deputized as members of the Rose Banner Brigades, a paramilitary group involved in clashes with communist, nationalist, and gynarchist militias during the tumultuous early years of the Republic. They were abolished by order of President Gramont in 1929, following the Brissac War.

Election Results[edit | edit source]

Presidential (Republic of Laeral)
Election Presidential Candidate Vice-Presidential Candidate Votes Result
1922 Réne Gramont Edmond Yeoh 100% Elected
1927 Réne Gramont Edmond Yeoh 72.4% Elected
1932 Jean-Philippe Salaun Sun Jia-wei 68.1% Elected
1937 Jean-Philippe Salaun Hong Kuo-shu 57.6% Elected
1942 Zhou Wei-lin Alban Hamel 62.7% Elected
1947 Sun Jia-wei Tsai Ming-yan 54.1% Elected
1952 Sun Jia-wei Zhou Wei-lin 60.9% Elected
Parliamentary (Republic of Laeral)
Election Lead Candidate Seats +/- Result
1922 Jean-Philippe Salaun
194 / 200
Majority Government
1927 Jean-Philippe Salaun
170 / 200
-24 Majority Government
1932 Hong Kuo-shu
172 / 200
+2 Majority Government
1937 Julien Cheng
155 / 200
-15 Majority Government
1942 Tsai Ming-yan
131 / 200
-24 Majority Government
1947 Rolland Hsu
130 / 200
-1 Majority Government
1952 Tsai Ming-yan
116 / 200
-14 Majority Government
Presidential (Second Allied Provinces of Laeral)
Election Candidate First-Round Votes Second-Round Votes Result
1954 Tsai Ming-yan 46.7% (2nd of two) N/A Not elected
1958 Sun Jia-wei 42.8% (2nd of three) N/A Not elected
1962 Réne Gramont 44.6% (2nd of three) 53.0% Elected