Divisions are, within the electoral system of the Empire of Austenasia, groupings of non-residential subjects (i.e., Austenasians who live outside of Austenasian land claims) which elect a Representative to Parliament. They were formed on 1 July 2023 by an Act of Parliament, which created them as - legally speaking - a type of Austenasian Town.
There are four Austenasian Divisions, between which most of the seventy non-residential subjects of the Empire are divided, namely, as of July 2023:
- The Asia Division, containing 13 subjects;
- The Britain and Ireland Division, containing 22 subjects;
- The Europe and Africa Division, containing 16 subjects; and
- The New World Division, containing 17 subjects.
The small minority of non-residential subjects who are already allocated to a territorial Town for electoral purposes, e.g. by living within a certain distance and having been elected Representative by the residents of said Town, are not allocated to a Division.
Prior to the creation of Divisions, parliamentary representation was limited to Austenasian subjects residing in traditional landed Towns. The proportion of Austenasian subjects who were "non-residential", that is, not residing within Austenasian land claims, was for most of Austenasian history a relatively small proportion of the overall Austenasian population. However, as this proportion grew, the issue of parliamentary representation for non-residential subjects became an increasingly pressing issue.
The issue was first formally discussed at a Cabinet-level in November 2020 when Lord John Gordon, the then Prime Minister, argued that an effort should be made to give Austenasians outside of Towns more of a say in politics. On 19 January the following year, the Ministry of Territories and the Diaspora was created to give non-residential subjects an avenue to have their views and concerns heard in government. Although this was a government ministry specifically empowered to give voice to non-residentials, it was in an advisory capacity only, and fell short of elected parliamentary representation. The Ministry was abolished and merged into the Home Office on 5 June 2022, with the remit of the Home Office having been accordingly expanded to include its functions.
In September 2021, Lord William Wilson was elected Prime Minister on a platform which included a pledge to see parliamentary representation for non-residential subjects. The need for this became increasingly urgent following a grant of non-residential subjectship to 36 applicants by the Home Office on 4 May 2023, making the proportion of non-residential Austenasians approach nearly half the total population (71 out of 150).
A Cabinet meeting on 8 June 2023 discussed two prospective models for the election of Representatives for non-residential Austenasians. The first was the Division system, that is, geographically-based groupings of non-residentials each of which would elect a Representative, whereas the second would have created "Diasporic Seats", a number of Representatives elected by all non-residentials through a STV list system. Draft legislation was written for each of these proposals, but the House of Representatives' Administration Committee felt it easier under the Constitution to expand the meaning of "Towns" to cover Divisions than to cover the alternative system proposed. As such, a bill was presented to Parliament on 26 June to establish the Division system, and was granted Imperial Consent on 1 July 2023 as the Non-residential Subjects Act 2023.
Upon the creation of Divisions on 1 July 2023, Parliament appointed Acting Representatives to serve until the election of Representatives proper, who took office a month later. Out of all non-residential subjects known to be active users of Discord (used by the Austenasian Parliament to meet online), those from each Division who had been an Austenasian national for the longest were chosen to serve as Acting Representative.
The July 2023 Austenasian Division elections saw Representatives proper elected for each Division. A list of each Division's Representatives is as follows, with incumbents in bold:
- The Hon. Shiro Mephistopheles, MAO: 1 July - 31 July 2023 (Acting)
- H.E. Professor Sir Sanjib Bhattacharya, KOB, KCA: 1 August 2023 - present
Britain and Ireland Division
- Lord Andrew Creed, Baron of Corinium Terentium: 1 July 2023 - present (Acting prior to 1 August)
Europe and Africa Division
- HM Emperor Aggelos I: 1 July - 31 July 2023 (Acting)
- The Hon. Dr. Kalin Yanev: 1 August 2023 - present
New World Division
- Lord Charles Ross, Duke of Occidentia: 1 July - 31 July 2023 (Acting)
- The Hon. Sir Isaiah Burdette, OAO: 1 August 2023 - present
This map shows the boundaries of the four Divisions. These areas are not claimed by Austenasia; rather, an Austenasian subject who lives outside of an Austenasian land claim is allocated for electoral purposes to the Division in which they live.