|Flag of Hurfordia|
|Motto: "It's good to be free, but don't take liberties"|
|Capital||Hurfordia, Unity City|
|Official Language(s)||English (Official), French, Latin, Gaelic|
|NS Sunset XML|
The origin of the Comonwealth of Hurfordia is to be found in the signing of the Treaty of Hurfordia in 1800. Named for an obscure industrial town on the borders of the Republic of Attica and the Kingdom of New Devon, the Treaty began life as a simple free-trade agreement between two local powers. Over the next fifty years, the neighbouring states of Erin, Les Iles, and Italica were drawn in by the promise of trade with what was rapidly becoming a major market. Before long, the Hurfordian Trade Bloc had been established.
Gradually, the Bloc began to encroach into other areas, particularly social matters, which many citizens of the members states were unhappy with. Opposition was particularly fierce in the states of Erin and Italica, the smaller mainland states. When the Bloc, led by the powerful Attica attempted to create a single currency, Italica and Erin both left the Bloc, precipitating a short, sharp series of wars between the states. As the dust settled, it became clear that both Erin and Italica were ruined financially, and had little option but to return to the Bloc, which continued it's reforming zeal. This culminated in the signing of the Hurfordian Constitution in 2005.
The Commonwealth is divided into five Counties, each of which retains a certain degree of autonomy. This harks back to the original states which combined to form the Commonwealth (see above). Each County elects it's own local assembly which governs matters of immediate interest to the inhabitants. This is subject, however, to the Commonwealth Constitution, which provides for a Charter of Fundamental Rights, which binds all the Counties, and the designated powers of the National Government.
The list of Counties, and a brief description of each follows;
Attica; The most central County, and the location of the offically separate Hurfordia Capital District. The County Capital is Marathon. Attica was founded by broadly English speaking settlers, but received from it's founders a profoundly Athenian feel. The people of Attica pride themselves on their direct particpation in local government. Uniquely in the Commonwealth, Attica has a unicameral legislature, and no Governor. The Governor's role is filled by the Archons, three of whom are selected at random from the electoral roll for a one-month term.
Devonia; The County Capital, Kingstown, is the location of the Commonwealth's oldest and most prestigious University, the University College of Kingstown. A heavily industrialised County, it is arguably the economic workhorse of the Union. Other major towns include Portown and Fleet.
Erin; Originally founded by Irish immigrants, Corcaigh is the smallest of the mainland Counties. Frequently at odds with central government, the County has made attempts to seceed in the past, and a majority of the population still use Gaelic as their first language. The region itself has suffered from under-investment in recent years, and is one of the poorest Counties. It is, however, one of the most beautiful regions in the Commonwealth. The County Capital is Tara.
With a very Roman outlook, Italica has served as the model for the National government. The Capital, Ravenna, is built in the style of Ancient Rome, and the County is generally considered the cultural and artistic heart of the Commonwealth.
A small set of Islands, colonised by French-speaking immigrants, Les Iles is the smallest County in terms of land area. The Capital, Rocklands, is the only major town on what is generally a rural County.
The Western Marches; The Western Marches are not officially a County. Rather, they are a Military Occupation Zone. As a result, military law is generally enforced, although there is an Assembly which represents the few civilians. The Marches also send a delegation to the Senate, who may debate and contribute to decisions, but cannot vote.
Hurfordia's main language, and indeed the official language, is Hurfordian English. This particular dialect has evolved from the native tongues of the people of Devonia and Attica, and is certainly recognisable as English, but is strongly dialectic. Many of the terms and word forms owe considerable debt to the spoken English of South-West England, although the accent has been toned down by the influence of Attican English. Terms of particular interest include the use of the verb "d'rect" in place of "quickly", and "awa' up the line" to refer to areas outside Hurfordia.
Gaelic is heavily used by a majority of the population of Erin, altough it is heavily influenced by Hurfordian English. A considerable portion of the population of Les Iles speak a dialect of French which owes much to the Mediterranean region.
Latin is the language of government in Italica, but the population generally uses English in everyday speech. This quirk appears to be derived from an eccentricty of the founders.
Hurfordia's government is openly atheistic, and tends to discourage public worship, although it does not victimise citizens who wish to attend places of worship. Religious organisations are taxed at corporate rates, and state schools can teach religious thought, but only in the context of history and cultural studies.
The most controversial issue in the relationship between the government religions in recent years has been the Criminal Law (Criminality Within Religions) Act, often referred to as the Barbaric Practices Act. This law provided that any conduct which would otherwise be criminal should not become legitimised merely by virtue of it being a religious practice. Enacted initially in the face of a fringe group demanding the government to permit human sacrifice, the law was controversially held to circumcision of minors in a split decision by the High Court. By a 6-5 majority, the court held that the law was constitutional, both as an exception to the right to Freedom to Worship and Manifest Religion, and as a protection of others from Cruel and Inhumane treatment. Religious groups have since petitioned the government for an amendment to the Constitution, but this is unlikely to happen in the forseeable future.
Government at a national level is divided between the Senate, the Assembly and the First Minister.
Assembly members are elected by single transferrable vote in each constituency (known as "Districts" in all counties except New Devon, which uses the term "Hundreds"). At present, there are 500 members, although this varies depending on population growth.
Senate members are selected by the County Assemblies, with 10 representing each county.
The National Capital is the Hurfordia Capital District, which consists of the two cities of Hurfordia and Unity City. Hurfordia is the home of the Executive branch, and the First Minister, and both the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal for the Capital District Circuit care to be found within it's boundaries. Unity City, formerly the town of Setton, but later rebuilt and renamed under the auspices of First Minister Benjamin Samson, is home to the Parliament.
The Court system is divided between the Counties and the Coomowealth. The County courts deal with most matters within the competences of the Counties, subject to appeal to the Commonwealth courts on issues relating to the Constitution. The Commowealth Courts consist of First Instance and Appeal Courts for each County, and a single Supreme Court at the head.
Although there are a number of independent parties at County and District level, the majority of members of the assorted assemblies are drawn from one of the main parties.
Social Democratic Party Centre-left, loosely socialist ruling party (230 Assembly seats, 28 Senate seats).
Liberal Party, Centrist (103, 13)
New Republic Party Centre-Right, nationalist (69, 5)
Unionist Party Centrist, nationalist (30, 2)
Worker's Rights Party Leftist, moderate Marxist (43, 1)
Green Party, Leftist, ecological (5, 1)
Hurfordian National Party Far-right, extreme nationalist (2, 0)
The Commonwealth is fanatical about sport, espcially Association Football, in which the national team Hurfordia Conures have enjoyed some success.