The News-Review

A Service of the News Bureau of the Government of the Twelve Colonies

Election Result Tonight — But did we really want this election after all?

Posted by Fleet News Service on January 27, 2008

Only 12 hours before we get the much-anticipated results from the Fleet’s first general election to choose a President of the 12 Colonies.

By Geranna Aeon

Looking back over the campaign
In a campaign sometimes tarnished by finger-pointing and name-calling, none of the candidates seems to have escaped entirely from the slings and arrows cast by both sides in what will be remembered as maybe not the finest example of Democracy-in-action. But, for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, Democracy it is – Fleet style – and the results are only hours away in the biggest game in town.

There are only two political parties contesting the prize. Seizing on the stirrings of a democratic movement in the Fleet, the fledgling Colonial Freedom Party was formed last year. The Party was the first to be formed and wasted no time declaring its ambitions for the Presidency. They recruited former President Zarta Vargas as star candidate. She resigned suddenly late last year from the Presidency citing inreconcilable differences with certain Quorum members and some high-ranking officials.

Often criticised for lengthy absences and only low-level involvement in the business of Government during her Presidency, Vargas has received a tongue-lashing by her rival for her low profile during the campaign. Some members of the Colonial Freedom Party (there are 22 of them) have even questioned whether Party Chairman Gerome Aeon may have blundered in recruiting Vargas as his senior partner in the campaign.

Far more active and high-profile in the campaign is acting Vice-President Captain Tanya Halberd (a reminder that she is the Presidential candidate and acting President Vickki Vielle is the VICE-Presidential candidate). Halberd is best known as the hostess of the Afterburners Bar. I described her in a previous article as the ‘smiling’ hostess, for which she fiercely tore strips off me. Anyone who has ever been to Afterburners (and that’s got to be almost everybody) knows Tanya is a gracious and very friendless hostess. Maybe after these weeks of campaigning, she’s not smiling so much these days.

But given her unquestioned dominance in this campaign, it is hard to understand why she isn’t smiling. Her ‘So Say We All’ campaign has been far more organised and energetic than Colonial Freedom with a number of news conferences, public Q&A sessions and loads of media coverage. The style of Halberd campaign has also been much more aggressive. She challenged her opponents to a public debate yesterday at very short notice at a time of day when her rivals ((were indisposed in real life due to moving house or asleep because of international timezones)) had no chance of attending.

The response from the electorate to these campaiging techniques has included some heated criticisms posted in the Fleet News for being too ‘personal’ and ‘unfair’. Perhaps the old political maxim rings true, that “Any publicity is good publicity” – everyone is talking about Halberd. Curiously, the response from the Colonial Freedom Party has been silence and yet more silence.

Are we better off for having had this election?
Has it been good for the Fleet or has it hurt us? We certainly have had a democratic process but talk to people around the Fleet and some will tell you that there has been some damage to people’s feelings, that the campaign has polarised the Fleet and has sometimes brought out the worst in some of us. Perhaps when this is all over, there will need to be some healing.

Be that as it may, politics in this Fleet will never be the same again. We have had our first taste of a democratic gloves-off stoush. We won’t be seeing anyone just appointed to a senior post because they know the right people. There is the expectation of accountability now. There is going to be a Government and an Opposition and the politicing is not about to stop – it’ll only escalate. And stand-by for the upcoming Quorum elections.

Whoever wins the Presidency tonight can look forward to constant bombardment from the Opposition, from the media, from comments posted by anyone and everyone in the News Service, being talked about behind their back, factions and rivals – topped off nicely by the next election campaign. Given what they are getting themselves in for, it’s difficult to accept that anyone would want the job. Thank the gods someone does.

But what if we had not had an election, what then? Someone would be placed into the Presidency by some anonymous power clique. They would have been elected by nobody and they would be accountable to nobody. The people would not have a say in who leads the Government, whether they are interested in politics or not. “Freedom Isn’t Free” and the burden is not on the next President alone (whoever she is) to carry the responsibility of the Fleet all by herself. The responsibility is shared by all of us who call the Fleet home.

I for one am grateful for this election campaign warts and all and I remain optimistic that from this bumpy and sometimes painful start, we will gradually acquire a more involving, fulfilling and rewarding experience for all of us in this Fleet of ours.

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