Bergonian Politics:

Parties, Elections & Campaigns

The New Government:

On 31 July the NDP and SFP announced a coalition government.  With an slight SFP plurality in Congress, SFP leader Acrinei will become the new speaker.  With two years remaining for President Coalimei's second term, NDP will retain the PM post.  SFP takes the bulk of Exec. Council seats and cabinet posts.

Results of the 3 June 2006 Congressional Vote:

A "Green Surge":  Harmony picks up 27 seats, giving SFP a 5-seat plurality. NDP loses 19.  10 years of NDP domination in Congress ends.  See an electoral map.

The Issues that drove the Election: The EconomyState issues and results. Gay Marriage.

What comes next: negotiations among the 3 parties to form a new government.

Leading up to the June 2006 Congressional elections:

A preview of the 2006 Congressional election: in the wake of Prime Minister Manco Trefar's tragic death, is the NDP rudderless?

A profile of SFP leader Telemon Acrinei: is he fated to always be "everyone's second favorite?"

The 2004 Election: President Cuolamei-- the ultimate "comeback kid" won the tightest election in Bergonian history.

The Pattern of Bergonian Politics:

Many people in their cities, towns & villages join local political clubs, often dominated by local bosses and cliques.  

The clubs federate on the state and national level, forming the major political parties.  The parties formally gain ballot access on the local, state and national level, and run slates of candidates in campaigns.

A sizeable percentage of the voting population, as in every other country, is relatively apathetic, but do tune in at election time-- this is the "soft middle" that tends to vacillate between the major parties.

There are also independent movements that lean on the parties & government.

"Politics is theater; campaigning is sport; democracy is art." --Umac Dherein, 1924

The Major Political Forces:

The National Democracy Party (NDP)

The Socialist Freedom Party (SFP)

The Harmony Alliance (HA)

The Socialist Country Party (SCP)

The Communist Workers Party  (CWP)

The Anarchist Clubs 

The Various Social Movements

Also on this page:

The Two Party system-- 1934-1972

Realignment after 1972--
the Three-Party system

2006 election calendar

Map showing party leanings
of the 31 states

How Bergonians Campaign

Local Political Clubs

Other Goverment Topics:

The Constitution

National Government Structure 

Foreign Relations

State  & County Government

The Socialist Economy

Specific Economic Sectors 

FLAGS of the commonwealth, the states and the parties.


Post-Revolutionary Political Parties:  

After the 1934 Revolution, voters typically cast ballots according to their strong party loyalties.  The parties have rather faithfully represented their special constituencies.  

The two revolutionary parties represent the "Red" and the "Blue" tendencies in Bergonian politics.   After 1970 the Harmony Party represent a new "Green" tendency.

The NDP 

 --the National Democracy Party grew out of the most radical elements of the Democratic Movement, loosely called the Rosists, which led the "Radical Regime" in 1932 and gave the Berg Revolution it's "Terror," e.g. its most radical excess, but then deserted their coalition with the Communists in 1934 to join with the Mistrala to create the present constitutional government.

The NDP is the party now in power, maintaining a majority in Congress by a coalition with the Harmony Alliance.  The current president, Amon Cuolamei, is of the NDP.

This party embodies the "Red" element in the Bergonian revolutionary process-- Socialists (some neo-Marxists), big picture guys, builders, folks with aspirations for the whole nation.  This is the party most tolerant of big government, that tends to think that the obnoxious power of the State can be tamed by democratic institutions.  They also embody the secular, anti-religious element.  They also inherit the old tendency in Bergonian politics that always supported progressive national institutions and looked out onto the world, originating with Chaladoni.  Industrial workers and their syndicals, government bureaucrats, the science establishment, and sailors and soldiers all tend to favor the NDP.  This party tends toward promoting the big national institutions-- like the National Health Funds, the National Pension Fund and the development banks-- and keep them on sound financial footing.  The NDP has championed the Socialist Pay Law and the Basic Income, as well as the space program.

The NDP is (a) stronger on the coasts and weaker in the interior, (b) stronger among Europeans and Sherei and slightly weaker among the Atrei, (c) stronger among industrial workers and weaker among the crafts, (d) stronger in the cities and weaker in the country, and (e) stronger among the main Minidun and Nacateca populations and weaker among the minority dialects.   

The SFP 

--the Socialist Freedom Party grew out of the more moderate elements of the Democratic Movement, loosely called the Mistrala,  It embodies the "Blue" element, which is more Syndicalist.   (In Bergonian political symbology, blue in addition to black represents anarchist tendencies.) 

The SFP was organized after the Revolution by the Mistrala "moderates" who reacted against Red tendency excesses during the "Thermidor" of 1933.  The anarchists swung the balance of power by joining the Blue in rebelling against the emerging Red dictatorship. These moderates took over the government in a coup and worked quickly to stabilize the revolution.  But after they became the dominant party, they alienated the anarchists. 

Still the SFP remains the party most distrustful of state power, and decentralization (Principle #5)   They also inherit the centuries-old tendency in Bergonian politics of sticking up for local independence, looking inward to one's home town, valley or county, and resisting outside or national control.  The SFP protects the interests of independent professionals, and small collectives of craftsmen, services and technicians.  The SFP has resisted national education initiatives and prefers a leaner space program.  The SFP prefers state-based health planning, even at times when the states have not wanted the responsibility.

The SFP is (a) stronger in the interior and weaker on the coasts, (b) slightly stronger among the Atrei and slightly weaker among Europeans and Sherei, (c) stronger among the crafts and weaker among the industrial workers, (d) stronger in the country and weaker in the cities, (e) stronger among the minority dialects and weaker among the main Minidun and Nacateca groups.  


-- the Socialist Country Union, represents many farmers, peasants, fishermen and herders.  It is, as its name implies, a strictly rural party.  It only wins 5% of the national vote, but holds a lot of power in a few states, including Sefaieri, Lampanira, Cuecha, Omaika, Sanraniclai and Pasiana. 

It has tended to resist many environmental reforms, especially land use restrictions.  It usually stands with the SFP in emphasizing state and local control.  Its main issue, of course, is farm policy, and because it is so focused on its constituency and its main issue, it ends up with disproportionate influence on farm policy-- and the crucial system of price supports.  It has had some success attracting the votes of shopkeepers.

The Harmony Alliance represents the new Green tendency and embodies the environmental movement that mushroomed in the mid and late 1960s.  This is Bergonia's equivalent of the Greens.

Environmentalism began with teachers and academics, artists and writers, professionals and scientists. The environmental movement benefited hugely from the support of Miradi priests, who cloaked it immediately with the respectability of a moral and religious basis. No other religion in the world has actively backed environmentalism as much as the Miradi. 

Throughout the late 1960s, all over the country, environmental "caucuses" seceded from local political clubs and formed rival "green" clubs.  In 1971 most of the green clubs came together in a national convention and decided to use the Harmony Party, formed in 1966, as its electoral vehicle. More radical clubs formed in the late 1960s and the 70s, with anarchist beliefs and practices.  Many of these clubs participate in local electoral coalitions with clubs affiliated with HA, but refuse to join HA themselves

HA has from its beginning had suffered internal division between two rival tendencies of greens: the majority "Light Greens":  those who want to attack the specific problems of global warming & pollution and are open to high tech solutions as well as conservation & recycling; and the minority "Dark Greens":  those pursuing a more comprehensive anti-materialist change in the whole culture-- "deep ecology," fervent "anti-carbonists" and organics, vegans, generally leery of tech solutions to anything, including deconstructionists who would agree with the thrust of Ted Kaczynski's ideas (not deeds).  

The CWP 

--Communist Workers Party  (See Communists for a complete history of Communism in Bergonia.)  Part of the Red tendency, this party is directly descended from Bergonia's original communist party, formed in 1892.  The CWP is the only Marxist party in the panoply of Bergonian socialism, and is thoroughly western and modern in its outlook.  In the early 1920s it resisted Russian Communist domination of the International, but generally followed the Soviet lead.  It joined with the Rosists in the Revolution's most radical phase and almost managed to take over the central government in 1933.  After suffering defeat in the revolution's final phase, the CWP became a tiny party in ill-repute, but it resurged some after it separated from the Soviet line, completely denounced Leninism, and formally embraced the Eight Principles (even the principle accepting religion).  It still regards itself the protector of the Marxist legacy.  There is a Trotskyite caucus within the party.  The CWP still displays the Hammer & Sickle, but a long time ago they dropped the little five-pointed star that appeared on most other Soviet inspired flags above the point of the sickle's blade.  In the 1990s, after the fall of the U.S.S.R., Hammer & Sickle brand sportswear was all the rage. 

The CWP recognizes its role as a Marxist party in a post-revolutionary society, and applies Marxian and neo-Marxian dogma to its unique situation.  It has sometimes paralleled the post-war European interpretations of Marxism, but it concentrates on the problems of practical application of socialism in a post-revolutionary time.  They are very aware of how changes in the mode of production-- from industrial iron and steel to digital electronics-- affects social structure.  They have been the only Marxist party in the world to see that we are undergoing another profound change in the "mode of production."  They have retained their relevance by becoming advocates for communalism and extreme decentralization.  It is ironic that Marxism provided the excuse for some of the world's most inexcusable experiments in centralization, but in this one country it has remained relevant only by advocating the opposite.  They have specifically advocated every program designed to make managers out of common workers.

It now gets about 5% of the vote, though at its worst in 1952 it scored only 1.6% of the vote.  It has formed coalitions from time to time with the NDP.

Click here for information on the Democratic Front and the pre-revolutionary leftist political parties.

Party Alignment 

The Two-Party system from 1936 to 1972: 

Immediately after the Revolution, Bergonia formed a relatively stable two party system balancing the NDP and SFP.  

The SFP has always championed localism and the interests of small towns and villages, as well as small shops and collectives.  During this era the SFP's core remained around 35% of the electorate, and won more national elections than the NDP or any other party.  The SFP largely dominated the national government after the revolution until the mid 1950s.

The NDP has been more of an urban party, enjoying support in coastal cities.  Its coalition includes many of the nation's industrial interests, including the syndicals .  Its voters are more aggressive about securing a place in the world for Bergonia and defending Bergonia against America & the West, including military voters, and voters attached to the ever-controversial space program.  Its voters include those who feel dependant on national government programs, such as pensioners.  They've always had a grand view of socialism, and the ability of national institutions to plan a good socialist society.  The NDP's core grew from around 25% in 1940 to around a third (33%) in 1964.  The NDP gained parity with the SFP in the 1950s and 1960s.  

The Multi-Party situation from 1972 to now:   

In the 1970's the emerging Harmony Party called for a radical make-over of society.  Voters from both SFP & NDP turned to it.  Since Harmony's emergence Bergonia has had an unstable three party system, and party affiliations and demographics have remained unsettled.  However, Harmony's growth has come more at the expense of NDP than SFP, so that NDP has been decidedly weaker than the other two.  

In the 1980's millions of voters defected to Harmony, giving Harmony an absolute majority of Congress from 1982 to 1988.  The voters wanted as much to strike a blow against old SFP-NDP cronyism and rejuvenate socialism, as to protect the environment.  Harmony elected a president, Aram Presaona, for one term in 1984, and thus had total control of the government from 1984 to 1988.  This so far has been the apogee of Harmony's power, as the two older parties have regained ground.   Better educated voters form Harmony's core of 20%, but Harmony has frequently attracted the votes of another 25% of the electorate.  

The NDP retained loyalty from industrial workers who at first felt threatened by the new radical environmentalism, so it is ironic that since 1994 the NDP has been in a rickety alliance with Harmony.  The "light green" wing likes this coalition, but the "dark green" purists think it requires too many compromises.  NDP retains a core 20% of the national electorate.  

SFP remains the vehicle of independent-minded citizens.  It has become a little conservative, and represents a coalition of more parochial interests, including autonomous-minded minorities, although it is the party most fiercely devoted to protecting civil liberties.  It runs well among the European population, but also among Miradi traditionalists.  SFP retains a core of 25% of the electorate.  It has also done very well among the growing high-tech sector, where independent collectives predominate.  

Better educated urban voters form Harmony's core of 16%, but Harmony has frequently attracted the votes of another 25% of the electorate.  

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Electoral Campaigns: 

"Passion is the milk of democracy."

Selection of Candidates:  Parties are strong in Bergonia, both in terms of controlling access to political power, and in terms of commanding voter loyalty.  By law only parties can sponsor candidates for higher electoral office.  On the local level the political clubs often are the ones who Politics is group activity in Bergonia, which lacks American style individualism.  Unlike the USA, and like most other nations in the world, it is very easy to organize new parties and gain ballot access.   

In Bergonia people usually think and work in cliques, clubs and collectives, and so their parties are strong collective entities.  Parties and clubs name candidates at conventions. A candidate emerges after he has earned the respect of senior office holders, proven his worth as a leader or organizer within the party, and has made friends with a share of the party leadership.  Campaign organizations are permanently standing forces maintained and directed by the party and clubs.  Individual candidates do not appoint their own campaign managers.  They get almost all their money from the party or club sponsoring them.  In Bergonia party loyalty is a virtue.

In the USA political parties are stages or arenas for the development of individual political careers.  A candidate declares his candidacy as a strategic step in his career.  He forms a temporary organization devoted to the sole end of advancing his ambition.  Raising resources (e.g. money & volunteers) and forging the campaign effort is entirely an individual effort.  The parties provide only the mechanism for ballot access and the mechanism for allocating power in legislative bodies.  Their organizations are weak, and they cannot bind the candidates.  In the USA party loyalty is somewhat eschewed, in favor of the scattered and unfocused notion of "voting for the individual."


The Media and Political Advertising:  For the past hundred years almost all successful political campaigns in all countries have involved mass media propaganda offenses.  Cheap printing presses, radio and later television have made this possible and inevitable.  A vigorous democracy requires vigorous public debate in the mass media.  Thus proper access to and control of the mass media is crucial to modern democratic processes.

In Bergonia the constitution makes the media a public trust, dedicated to open communication, vigorous debate, and multiple voices.  This guarantees political access to printing presses and TV and radio time.  Thus the election laws require newspaper, magazine, television, radio and internet outlets to turn over blocks of time and space to the parties and clubs, to allow direct exposure of the candidates to the voters.  

However, the parties & clubs actually control many newspapers and stations-- and thus can sell advertising space to commercial vendors.

In the USA information and the media are just commodities, like everything else, to be rationed on the basis of money.  The sheer force of money crushes all other considerations, including public need.  Thus only a small portion of the media is given over to political expression, and only then at prices so high as to corrupt politics altogether.  Like all other American media, political expression is stylized, bleached and driven by safe marketing considerations.  Everything is canned and rehearsed. 

The worst aspect of the American system is that the candidates have no direct avenue to the people; instead the people see and learn about the candidates solely through (a) the filters erected by network "news," (b) 30 and 60 second spots on TV, and (c) the (decreasingly0 televised political conventions.

Party advertising in the media:  Bergonians do not have to suffer through the insulting barrages of 30 second television ads.  Instead every television spot must be at least two minutes long-- forcing some detail into the advertising.  Some TV presentations just before the election are fifteen or thirty minutes long.  The law requires all television outlets, both broadcast and cable, must surrender hours of time to the parties during the initial six week campaign period and the three week interval before the run-offs.  

The parties also run newspaper and magazine ads, and they buy additional time from the television networks.  Brief radio ads provide the parties the one opportunity for the thirty second shouted slogan or happy jingle.  In recent years more and more of the discretionary campaign money is spent on direct mail.

Independent panels exist to assess the fairness of all election advertisements, and can condemn an ad as materially false.  Such a condemnation can greatly embarrass the offending candidate or party.  Campaign laws empower the panels to pose specific questions to the parties and individual candidates.  The panels can then publicly pass judgment on the basis of evasiveness and falsehood.  The media is required to print verbatim any report issued by the panels.  Of course, the selection of the panel membership to insure objectivity is itself complicated and controversial, and usually end up including journalists, academicians, priests and common citizens.  

Fundraising:  The free media access liberates the parties from the astronomical expenses that drives American politics.  But the parties still must make the television and radio messages, print the literature and signs, and arrange the frequent campaign rallies and candidate travel.  This all takes money.  The parties get some public money from the government, in amounts proportional to the last election's results, but they may accept donations of up to a thousand dollars from individuals and cooperatives.  They may also accept any kind of services and any amount of money from the local political clubs. 


The laws also requires all media to carry the debates, and the law requires the parties to participate.   The parties must send candidates or representatives, and cannot duck the debates.  The parties and candidates frequently campaign through surrogates (e.g. popular party functionaries & past officeholders), who can represent them at debates.  

The election commission in every race sponsors specialized debates on various subjects (e.g. education, land use).  Very few citizens can tolerate watching all the debates, but these debates inform the specialist constituencies.  For example the education debate claims teachers' attention, while the commerce and trade debate interests shopkeepers, bankers and career corporate managers. 

There are always at least two main debates.  The first one is (supposed to be) very dispassionate.  The candidates stand up and take turns stating their respective positions on issues.  It is a "substantive" debate, more of a comparative presentation, but judges will jump up and criticize a candidate for dodging a question, speaking too generally, or stating a plain lie.  The candidates themselves must refrain from criticizing or insulting one another.  

The second debate usually occurs a week before the election.  Here the candidates challenge each other with hostile questions and retorts, and their supporters in the audience raucously show their support.  The festivities are managed by a judge with a big clock, switches for all the microphones, and a squadron of sergeant-at-arms.  Everyone watches this one.  

The election commission compiles debate transcripts into brief digests and mails the digests to every voter.  Full transcripts are posted on the Web, along with party platforms and candidate speeches.  The Election Commission arranges a television show a few days before the election, which shows excerpts from the debates and the candidates speeches to summarize their stands on the issues. 

Campaigning in the Streets:   

Above all else, since Bergonians love spectacles, they find the parties' demonstrations and campaign rallies fun and uplifting.  Rallies satisfy the Bergonian taste for pageantry and drama.  People attend rallies for a great many reasons, some out of conviction, some with a taste for some color and noise, some to see friends and acquaintances.  The clubs and parties, not individual candidates, sponsor the rallies.  The organizers always have at least one band present to provide music, and after the speeches the people always chant and then dance.  Unlike Americans who keep to themselves (and their television sets), Bergonians love public life-- "plaza life" they call it (there is also "market life")-- which engenders a different type of civic culture.  In politics they indulge in the kind of loud boosterism that Americans reserve for football games and wrestling extravaganzas.  In fact, many campaigns have a "game weekend" two weeks before the vote, where soccer teams sponsored by opposing local clubs and parties play well-attended matches.  


Bergonians, it is said, gravitate toward to extremes: calm, graceful, studied & reserved on one hand, and passionately expressive on the other.  Campaigns require calm study at the beginning, but then heat up.  Just before the election, when the parties stage their big rallies, passions can roar.  Every campaign sees its unfortunate share of brawls between young male partisans, and some fights are frightfully large, but the Bergonians say "too much passion is better for democracy than too little."  Every responsible candidate and party official decries the violence, but everyone rather tolerates it.  A handful of candidates have had to face disclosures that in their "irresponsible" youth they themselves brawled, but such disclosures rarely hurt.


The Political Clubs:  

caserei in Nacateca; orac in Minidun.

Both before and after the Revolution, Bergonia's political parties have been federations of local and state political clubs. rather than centralized organizations with cohesive top-to-bottom discipline.  This fact alone has predisposed generations of politically active citizens to decentralization.

There are thousands of clubs across the country, and even clubs within clubs.  Each has its own elected officers and council.  Each has a headquarters, an emblem, usually a flag, anthem and "fight song."  In the civil wars of the 1800s and during the Revolution, the clubs sponsored armed militia units. They now wrestle over control of local government councils, and they compete in the elections of local representatives to regional and state-wide bodies.  They vie for influence within the parties they have joined.  They compete against one another for public attention by sponsoring games, public service, rallies, dinners and dances.  They often run newspapers and even radio stations, and get access to TV channels. Sometimes clubs undergo internal struggles and split apart. Other times clubs merge.  They often cultivate alliances and "marriages" with one another, joining together to provide services and sponsor media.

Clubs nearly always reflect one of the three political tendencies.  They nearly always affiliate with a regional or national party.  Occasionally a local club dramatically defects from one party to another (often by burning the old party's flags), but usually clubs remain tightly integrated with each other in a regional or national party.  If enough of the clubs affiliated with a national political party take a common stand on an issue, then the national party leaders had better take heed. Members of clubs often vote on resolutions concerning national and state issues, giving people on a local level a forum to debate issues, and certainly the national media and national politicians monitor how many clubs (and which ones) passed what kind of resolutions on issues.  

Many clubs depend on the allegiance of multiple communities (e.g. the neighborhood next to the steel mill, the French-speaking community, the clique of politicians in the Southern Ward, the Rijibein Valley Farmers Association, the local Association of Syndicates).  

Clubs also often depend on the guidance by one or a few strong, smart leaders, who can fairly hold everyone together and make strategic decisions.  An unfortunate minority of club leaders become corrupt bosses and break the law.  For example, the law makes it a crime for anyone to subvert the system for assigning housing and real estate, which bosses often try to do. 

Even with the risk of  bossism, the clubs keep politics decentralized, and thus healthy on a grass roots level.  They give the average person an opportunity to participate in politics.

In Bergonia most people belong to a club or at least have some personal loyalty to one.  Many club members participate passionately.  They attend meetings, help organize rallies and events, wear pins, and recruit.  The less active members & followers attend the club rallies and and votes according to the club's endorsements.  The clubs offer social life (dances & fiestas) which attract passive but interested voters. Once a year clubs have conventions where members conduct internal debates, elect officers, pass resolutions, sing songs and dance into the night.  The clubs enable the average citizen a way to get involved, and direct energy that can flow upward and affect the national political picture.

In the USA the money culture has reduced the active citizen to a mere passive consumer -- a consumer of safe, packaged politics.  While commercial marketing directs the passive consumer toward the single act of purchasing, political marketing pushes him to the single act of voting.  Voting is thus analogous to the purchase of a product.  As a result, active citizenship become redundant in America's new culture.  A citizen "participates" in his government only by watching TV (physically fat & mentally dull) and then voting (as if going to the store).  Capitalist "marketing" (like all propaganda) is a one-way process, flowing downward, a changing of one person by another, not a dialogue or an equal relationship.  The citizen becomes an object of manipulation.

The clubs often run stores (books, stationary, gifts, seconds, flea markets, food) to finance operations.  Most clubs sponsor daycare centers for children and elders, counseling clinics, and information services, and thus have substantial budgets.  They often own villas and condominiums at vacation destinations in Bergonia, and then sell travel packages to members.  They also sponsor groups tours.

The Social Movements:   

This term "movements" include groups which are politically active as advocacy and issue groups, but which do not run candidates in elections.  Only the parties, by definition, run candidates.  But like the parties, the movements are for the most part federations of local clubs.    Thus the Nation Anarchist Front is a federation of local anarchist clubs.  Unlike other advocacy & interest groups, which typically center on a single issue, the movements are permanent, broad-based, organized to represent a major ideological trend, and organized to insert their ideological perspective to virtually every debate.  The movements do often endorse or condemn the parties or specific candidates, and they lobby and demonstrate in favor or against specific legislation.

These movements include groups analogous to the USA's Christian Coalition, People for the American Way, John Birch Society, NOW, and civil rights groups.  The most prominent movement is by far the Anarchists.  There is also 

  • the League of Christian Voters, 
  • the  Union of  Miradi Civic Clubs, 
  • the very prominent National Woman's Movement,
  • a group of national federations combined into the "National Education Union" that promotes educational reforms and pushes for funding for schools, 
  • the Union of  Socialist Scientists that lobbies forcefully for the space program, big telescope projects, and all forms of scientific research, and 
  • The Shopkeepers Guilds that advances the cause of small business.  

   The flag of the League of Christian Voters.

   The flag of the Union of Miradi Civic Clubs.

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Electoral Calendar

2006, voting for Congress only:

February -- under the law, parties & clubs nominate their candidates this month.  

Sat 11 Feb -- Most parties have their national & state primary elections on this day, to chose their candidates, in conjunction with their conventions.

Sat 4 March -- Formal submission of candidate slates by the parties.  The campaign officially begins with kick-off rallies.

20 March -- Official publication of the party platforms in all the media. 

20 March-14 April -- The "Issues Debates," at which party reps debate policy in specialized debates, e.g. one debate on education, one on health care, one on foreign policy, nationally televised, for those interested constituencies to watch.  

17 April -- Commencement of television presentations by the parties, including recorded speeches of candidates.

Mon 1 May -- First Candidates Debate, in which party leaders present their positions.  

Tues 9 May -- Debate between party leaders -- these are the men & women vying to become Speaker of Congress or Prime Minister.

Thurs 18 May -- Last Debate, in which the leaders attack each other.  Also the beginning of the last phase of scheduled television allocations, with the parties now running their presentations.

Fri 19 May -- Commencement of the pre-electoral rallies.

Sat 20 May -- "Game Saturday," when soccer teams of the local political clubs play each other.  It is a pretty raucous day all over the country.

Sat 3 June -- Election Day, a national holiday, with all businesses, banks & government offices closed.

Thurs 15 June -- the Run-Off Debate.

Fri 16 June -- Commencement of the pre-electoral rallies.

Sat 1 July -- Run-Off Election Day.

Sat 5 August -- Installation Day -- the new government takes its place in power, barring critically contested election results. 


Electoral Calendar 2004, a presidential election year:

February -- under the law, parties & clubs nominate their candidates this month.  

Sat 14 Feb -- Most parties have their national & state primary elections on this day, to chose their candidates, in conjunction with their conventions.

Sat 5 March -- Formal submission of candidate slates by the parties.  The campaign officially begins with kick-off rallies.

22 March -- Official publication of the party platforms in all the media. 

22 March-17 April -- The "Issues Debates," at which party reps debate policy in specialized debates, e.g. one debate on education, one on health care, one on foreign policy, nationally televised, for those interested constituencies to watch.  

18 April -- Commencement of television presentations by the parties, including recorded speeches of candidates.

Mon 3 May -- First Candidates Debate, in which presidential candidates present their positions.  

Tues 11 May -- Debate between party leaders -- these are the men & women vying to become Speaker of Congress or Prime Minister.

Thurs 20 May -- Last Debate, in which presidential candidates attack each other.  Also the beginning of the last phase of scheduled television allocations, with the parties now running their presentations.

Fri 21 May -- Commencement of the pre-electoral rallies.

Sat 22 May -- "Game Saturday," when soccer teams of the local political clubs play each other.  It is a pretty raucous day all over the country.

Sat 5 June -- Election Day, a national holiday, with all businesses, banks & government offices closed.

Thurs 20 June -- the Run-Off Debate.

Fri 21 June -- Commencement of the pre-electoral rallies.

Sat 3 July -- Run-Off Election Day.

Sat 7 August -- Installation Day -- the new government takes its place in power, barring critically contested election results

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In the Wake of the 2006 Congressional Elections:

A New Coalition Government

The two old foes, NDP and SFP, form a coalition.

SFP leader Thelomon Acrinei will be the next Speaker.  In a surprise, current Speaker Esro Kelton to become PM.


[Monday 31 July 2006]


On the morning of Sunday 30 July 2006 President Coalimei and SFP leader Thelomon Acrinei appeared together on the platform in the Press Room at Government House to announce the creation of an NDP-SFP government.  They disclosed that the parties had reached a coalition agreement that will make Thelomon Acrinei the new Speaker and Esro Kelton, current NDP Speaker, the new Prime Minister. 


The agreement also calls for the two parties' delegates in Congress to vote for a singles slate of candidates in the election of the 10 councilors who will sit on the Executive Council.  The slate will include 6 SFP and 4 NDP candidates.  The new Executive Council will, with the 10 councilors and the ex officio members, include a total of 9 NDP and 7 SFP members.  (see explanation of Exec. Council membership.)


Eleven ministerial portfolios will go to SFP, and NDP will retain only eight.  The two leaders' announcement disclosed nothing more about the allocation of minor ministerial posts or legislative positions, although later in the day numerous sources in both parties' congressional caucuses confirmed an agreement to an 11:8 ratio for filling such posts. 


While they demurred on any question concerning the allocation of posts, the two leaders were quick to assert their new joint legislative agenda.  And here their announcement contained a number of surprises, since no one expected such a comprehensive agreement on the issues.  Later in the day Speaker Kelton confirmed that the disputes on the issues that delayed the final coalition agreement, not questions about dividing posts or portfolios.  The agenda that Cuolamei and Acrinei announced included these goals:


▪  a slight increase in the carbon tax to fund capital improvements to hospitals, a more modest version of Harmony's campaign proposal.

▪  a secure national internet banking system with all individual bank accounts in the country being consolidated and made parallel to secure individual use accounts on Bergnet, enabling every citizen to conduct all banking and make all payments electronically. 

▪  space program:  The leaders announced that they will commence planning of a sophisticated robotic mission to Mars, and a second orbiting earth station, to increase monitoring of weather anomalies and to man an orbiting far-distance telescope.

▪  begin a new round of reverting land to wilderness, but instead of giving county governments the authority to select which lands, as Acrinei had proposed during the campaign, regional water priorities will prevail in selection.

▪  The leaders expressed agreement that different strategies will have to be applied to different regions of the country, conceding that the controversial "small lakes" plan might have merit for many regions.  

▪  creation of an Amota Region Water Commission to draw up a specialized plan for this troubled region, in response to the dropping aquifer. 

▪  establishment of new wilderness areas, in part to collect more ground water.  A new initiative of Dh 1.68 billion will pay for acquisitions of 1.9 million acres (almost 3000 square miles).

▪  the leaders proposed a national debate next year on the gay marriage issue, in order to promote creation of common national consensus, resulting in a  national referendum.  Cuolamei cited the disparate results in the recent state elections.  "Let us focus the attentions of the entire nation on this delicate issue and work to get a single resolution to it," said Speaker-designate Acrinei. 

Esro Kelton's elevation to the post of PM surprised nearly everyone.  As recently as April he foreswore any interest in ever holding the job.  "I love being Speaker," he said then in an interview.  "This is where a man can be creative.  The Prime Minister's job is miserable by comparison.  The Prime Minister is in the middle of all the fights, and is expected to carry everyone else's water.  I never want that job."  In a television interview Sunday afternoon, reporters reminded him of these earlier statements, and he responded with his typical grin.  "Nothing has changed.  It is still a bad job that no sane man should want.  The only thing that has changed is that I can't be Speaker anymore, and I need to do something.  So yes, I'll take this miserable job for a while."

The announcement had been long in coming-- 57 days after the 3 June election, the country was losing patience with the political wrangling.  No less than three times in the last three weeks had an announcement been scheduled, and then cancelled because of last minute unraveling.  No one ever expected the negotiations to be easy, but no one could have predicted that almost two months would have been necessary to conclude them.  The degree of difficulty in the negotiations suggests that this will not be a peacable coalition.


But the moment, when it came, was quite satisfying.  The two leaders appeared at two simple podiums on a simple stage, each leader standing with his own party's flag, but between the two men, in the middle of the stage hung the old red Democratic Front flag, harkening back to revolutionary times, when the Bergonian socialist-syndicalist movement was last united.  In 1932, during the revolutionary process and in the midst of the civil war, the Democratic Front split in a contentious schism, producing two factions.  The "socialist" Rosist faction became the present-day NDP, while the SFP emerged from the "syndicalist" Mistrala faction.  President Cuolamei said, "I think our first generation of leaders would be delighted to see their descendants reunite, especially after seventy years.


The Harmony Alliance, which spectacularly gained 27 seats in June's voting, is now excluded from power, and stands as the primary opposition party.  Jean-Paul Kiaseca, Harmony's legislative leader, said he did not mind the eclipse.  "Sometimes having no power is better than being the junior party," referring to the chronic friction that had beleaguered the previous NDP-Harmony coalition.  "We now have complete freedom of movement, and we have our sights set on 2008."




The 2006 Congressional Elections:

"A Green Surge"

SFP wins 5-seat plurality.  Harmony picks up 27 seats, NDP loses 19.

10 years of NDP domination in Congress ends.

State races mirror the national trend-- NDP loses control over 6 state legislatures.


[Sunday 4 June 2006]

On election night this year both the "blue" Socialist Freedom Party and the "green" Harmony Alliance had much to celebrate.  Harmony surged in the final weeks of the campaign, almost entirely at NDP's expense.  The "red" NDP slumped 4% from its 2004 national vote, losing 19 seats and allowing the SFP to eke out a plurality.  NDP has held the plurality position in Congress since 1996.

Harmony added 27 seats to its 2004 total of 113, while SFP won its plurality by adding a mere 3 seats and 1% over its 2004 totals.

"I suppose I'll be looking for new work," quipped Claude-Adolphe Arishe, the current NDP prime minister, as he watched the returns late last night.  He was appointed to the post after former PM Manco Trefar's tragic death last November.  With the three major parties scoring 155, 150 and 140 delegates respectively, it is almost anyone's guess as to who will emerge as the next Prime Minister, and Arishe is by no means yet excluded.

On the other hand it is highly likely that Thelomon Acrinei, SFP's popular leader, will become the next Speaker.  However, the undisputed personal winner emerging from this year's electoral fray is Harmony leader Carmen Postoa. The former stage and film actress, model and presidential candidate, now 50, campaigned more sharply and with more focus than she did two years ago, improving her party's share of delegates from 23 to 29%-- an impressive feat in this age of tri-party politics.  Carmen Postoa, Harmony Alliance leader

In 2004 she won 27% as Harmony's candidate in presidential voting.  Then she displayed much of the extravagance and grandeur that made her a favorite in her former public professions, but this year everyone agreed that she was much more approachable, subtler and warmer, even as she scathed the opposition in speeches and debates.  Last night, appearing before 17,000 cheering supporters gathered in Ceiolai's Kemori Convention Center to watch the returns, she reverted to her old style, coming onto stage wearing a dazzling multi-colored gown that looked more suitable for a movie opening gala.  The crowd loved it.  Waving green-and-blue party flags, they chanted "Postoa 08." 

2004 Congress

The 2006 Result

The New Congress
152 31 % Socialist Freedom 155 32 % +3
169 35 % National Democracy 150 31 % -19
113 23 % Harmony Alliance 140 29 % +27
29 6 % Socialist Country 27 6 % -2
20 4 % Communist Workers 14 3 % -6
6 1 % minor parties 3 1 % -3
489 100 % total 489 100 %  

See a map showing how the various states voted.

The voters were unkind yesterday to minor parties.  Socialist Country lost two seats, falling from 29 to 27, while the Communist Workers Party lost over a third its strength, falling from 20 to 14 seats.  Only 3 seats went to local parties, compared to 6 seats in 2004. 

National voter turnout was a robust 81%, only modestly lower than 2004's turnout of 85%. 

Ironies abound in the results: 

  For most of the last ten years the NDP and Harmony have maintained an alliance in Congress, yet yesterday a substantial number of voters turned their backs on NDP in favor of Harmony-- consolidated polling put the shift at 4.6%.  The coalition has always been tenuous at best-- with Harmony acting to terminate the coalition three separate times. 

 Voters ignored President Cuolamei's plea to keep his party in power, even though his personal approval ratings remain very good.  This reverses the 2004 election results, when in first round voting Cuolamei won only 31% while his party won 35% of congressional seats. 

▪  Thelomon Acrinei and his SFP won a plurality yesterday by doing only slightly better than they did two years ago.  In an early Sunday morning press conference Acrinei, still coifed and perky despite an all-night celebration, made no immodest claims.  "We won this election by running in place," he said.  "I hate to admit it, but my comrades and I must give some considerable thanks to Carmen Postoa."


The issues that drove the election


Compared to the United States, Bergonian national election issues can be pretty boring.  There are no issues like immigration, poverty, bad crime, inner city rot & homelessness, lack of health care, and corporate sleaze.  More of a consensus exists in Bergonia on social issues (e.g. birth control, alcohol), and where there is no consensus (e.g. abortion) the decision is often left up to the states.


The Economy


The Economy, as President Amon Cuolamei said a week a after the election, "did not elect the Congress in 2006."  Indeed the Bergonian economy this year should have worked to the incumbents' advantage, but as Mr. Cuolamei lamented, it didn't. 


Originally the Economic Planning Secretariat had forecast a gloomy economy for 2006, and indeed the figures for 2004 and 2005 had all been uniformly flat.  EPS surveys of academic economists, local planners and EPS internal staff all predicted a "stagnate" economy, with continued criticism of the curious plan implemented by the NDP and the Manufacturing Syndicates to schedule and delay certain projects to accommodate existing manufacturing stock, with a slow conversion to new green high-tech capacity. 


The economy suffered rising costs of imported oil, natural gas and other foreign commodities.  But the 2005 forecasts for exports had been happily low, and as it turned out, as President Cuolamei and PM Arishe had kept insisting, exports picked up in almost all markets, and relieved high inventories of some consumer goods. 


So the basic economic measures, as used by the socialist economists, as released May 2006, were: 

Household Income: stable.

Household Cost of Living: slightly inflating.

National Import/Export Balance: slightly to the good.

Productivity measures: continue to rise, especially in information technology and manufacturing precision tooling.

Product durability measures stay flat.

Environmental Impact measures continue improvement, especially in energy consumption, carbon emission and wilderness impact, with increasing concern about allocation of water resources.

National Health and Income Funds: actuarially in moderately good shape, with long-range concerns.

The drastic increases in global petroleum prices probably have affected Bergonia less than that any net oil importer in the world, since it has already made such significant strides in limiting gasoline use.  But it still prompted Harmony to campaign for more limitations on both petroleum use and carbon emissions.  This election was notable for Harmony winning votes in grain and sugar producing states.


Harmony's share of the vote in coal-producing states like Bun-Vosuget and Zeinran remained modest, but voters in other parts of the country liked Harmony's long-range plan to reduce coal consumption.  This multi-part plan involves expanded invest in solar, small-scale wind, small co-generation coal burners, industrial heat recovery, and development of private in-house generation of electricity, coupled with use reduction.  NDP's plans have involved lots of scrubbers, part of NDP's tendency to ease up for the benefit of its industrial base.


Water conservation may have been the issue that contributed more to the Green surge.  It has become more and more apparent that eastern Bergonia may be looking at serious water shortages, assuming current meteorological trends.  While the NDP was slow to respond to this issue, SFP advanced a radical proposal to augment regional water systems with a a network of interconnected "small reservoirs" interconnected by lines, to allow pumping water from one region to another as needed.  Some of the available fresh water would be "banked" in this system.  Harmony protested both the logic and the expense of the SFP plan, and Postoa repeated throughout the campaign that a fraction of the money could achieve a much better result by addressing wastage in water consumption.


Health Care


Thelomon Acrinei didn't give a single speech this season without mentioning failings in the National Health system, particularly the deteriorating state of facilities and the ever-controversial fee structure for office visits.  But in the last major debate NDP's Kelton said to Acrinei, "You just go on and on, but you have contributed nothing, you've proposed nothing helpful."


NDP aggressively advanced its proposal to allay shortfall in Nat'l Health Capital Funds (different from the all-important payment-for-services account) by increasing patient fees for some services and for pharmaceuticals, in order to fund capital improvements and for the healthcare payroll.  Prez. Cuolamei said, "We have the world's best medical technology, but we house it in buildings that are cramped, crumbling and falling apart."  Although NDP's proposal was an honest call for sacrifice, the initial reaction was very negative.  However, final pre-election polling and exit polling showed that the fee increase proposal was only marginally a factor in the 4% drop-off in National Democracy's support, and suggested that after the initial bad taste the public was prepared to pay a few more dollars for routine services.


When Harmony picked up health care as an issue, Acrinei accused them of being part of the problem, as junior coalition partner.  Harmony came out with a proposal to increase carbon-based energy taxation, particularly on the electricity tax, to increase capital improvements on the health care system, and also to permit a reduction in offices fees to patients.


Constitutional Issues


Likewise we may see constitutional changes in the near future.  Postoa put the presidential term limitation issue front and center, with her tag-line: "Some accuse me of presidential ambitions.  Certainly I'm not the only person in Bergonia who dreams of being president someday, but I'm the only one so far who has sworn to limit herself to one term."  Polling shows that opinion on this issue has begun to shift in favor of a one-term limitation.  Postoa got into a minor flap over whether this should mean one term in succession or a lifetime limit of one term.  But after a stumbled response, she said, "well, let's everyone talk about this for a while before deciding.  I'd welcome a debate on which way to do it."  


National Programs


Even if Harmony is not part of the next government, the two other parties should still have concerns about what Harmony's 29% says about military spending.  Perhaps the people have decided that the American threat is overblown, and they want slightly less funding to go to the military.


It appears that the voters were not particularly moved by either NDP or SFP's proposals for future space programs.  An NDP-SFP coalition will probably reach some accord on a second space station, but a manned Mars mission will not move much further than across the designers' computer screens.  Harmony has always generally opposed the program, and if Harmony is part of the coalition then space travel will slow.



A Survey of State Results


Local issues drove the Congressional voting in some states.  In Bunamota, an uproar over industrial pollution to the lower Escondi River cost NDP control of the state government, as well as 4 of the state's 20 seats in Congress.  In 2004 Bunamota elected 10 NDP delegates, 4 HA, and 5 SFP delegates, but this year Bunamota elected 8 delegates from the HA, a mere 6 from the NDP,  and 4 from the SFP.  In contrast, neighboring Halemarec, which historically has favored the SFP, was the only state where NDP improved over its 2004 showing, largely because voters there still grieve over the loss of favorite son Manco Trefar.


Every state elects at least part of its legislature every two years.  Thus the balance in all state legislative chambers was in question.  Many of the state results for state legislative and executive offices were at odds with the same state's voting in the congressional race, and a lot of voters in a lot of states split their ballots. 


Nevertheless the national trend of NDP losses was largely replicated in the state capitols.  NDP going into this election held either majorities or "controlling pluralities" (at least 40%) in 14 of the 31 state legislatures and participated in governing coalitions in another 6.  It now has outright majorities in only 10, and will probably participate in only 4 coalitions, a net loss of six state capitols for the "Red."  Overall the parties appear almost evenly matched in the disposition of the 31 state legislative contests, to mirror the 32-31-29% split in the national vote for Congress.


Four states, held referenda on how to resolve gay marriage / union issue.  The results were very mixed:

Paiatri in a 64% vote approved gay marriage as an undifferentiated form of legal marriage.


Sanraniclai voters surprised prognosticators by adopting a referendum repealing all legal marriage and replacing marriage with civil unions.  The measure was placed on the ballot in tandem with the question that is customary in Sanraniclai constitutional referenda, "by what percentage should this measure be required to earn in order to pass?"  A plurality voted in favor of a 55% threshold, and the measure won 58% of the vote.


A similar measure was less surprisingly adopted in more liberal Sansan, where this year there was a total "green" takeover of the state government. 


The measure on the ballot in Pasiana to allow counties to govern marriage and civil unions lost narrowly by 48%.  The catholic minorities continue to be relatively upset over the issue.  A majority of Pasans generally favor civil unions, but with little passion.

Most states had heir own versions of the national debate on how to pay for health care infrastructure-- again a question of bricks and mortar.


And the various states and localities faced a milieu of environmental issues.  The final surveying of the newly discovered oil reserves off the coast of southern Bruntaigo has stirred up a state-wide uproar of debate.  8 states had proposals to increase wilderness protection.  Voters in Pasiana approved an emergency 1% sales tax for two years to fund an "environmental emergency and improvement trust fund," in reaction to Volcano Camoro's continued rumbling and smoking.


What's Next:  Negotiations to Build a Coalition


The rules ensconced in our constitution mandate a majority coalition in Congress, yet with the three major parties virtually tied, the difficulties facing national politicians seem immense. 


NDP leaders admitted that the intensity of Harmony's criticisms during the campaign were both surprising and upsetting to them.  "Postoa has never hesitated to open fire on us," said NDP Chairwoman Chalo Caierimen, "when it suits her purposes, while [Jean-Paul] Kieseca kept making nice.  That stick and carrot approach may work with burros, but not on the NDP.  It won't be easy for us to remain coalition partners."


If Harmony and NDP fail to revive their coalition, they will both come courting Acrinei and the SFP.  Speaker Kelton in his Sunday morning press conference admitted that he will likely lose his job.  "I concede that comrade Acrinei in the driver's seat, but I think NDP still has the keys to the car.  Amon Cuolamei is still President," he said, alluding to the president's role in choosing the prime minister.  All observers agree that this gives NDP an advantage over Harmony in the upcoming negotiations.


Thus the political handicappers of all persuasions have reacted to the results by predicting that an NDP-SFP coalition is the most likely outcome.  "It would be the greatest irony of all if Postoa's great victory at the polls resulted in her party being excluded from the next government altogether," said Michel Rechitlen, the Deputy Speaker.  Sunday afternoon Postoa gave an interview over tea to six select journalists.  She spoke softly and hoarsely, and admitted that she was exhausted.  "Harmony did exceptionally well yesterday," she said, "but I have no illusions.  We are still the third place party.  I am so proud of what we did, but I had hoped for a wee bit more." 



The 2006 off-year Elections:

In the Wake of Manco
Trefar's Tragic Death

[15 March 2006] 

The 2004 Election: NDP won Congress and re-elected President Cuolamei; Manco Trefar is appointed Prime Minister.

NDP President Amon Cuolamei is in the middle of his second term, like George W. Bush, and cannot run again.  The current Congress, elected in 2004 with the current president, includes

170 NDP delegates, 35 %
152 SFP delegates, 31
113 Harmony Alliance delegates, 23
29 Socialist Country delegates, 6
20 Communists, and 4
6 minor parties. 1
490 total. 100

After its victory in 2004 the NDP plurality enabled it to re-elect Speaker Estro Kelton, who has served since 2000 with a firm hand.  Requiring a majority to elect a prime minister, the NDP resumed its former alliance with Harmony, and after promising half the ministries to Harmony, Congress elected as Prime Minister the NDP's Manco Trefar, former governor of populous Halemarec and former rival to President Cuolamei.  The SFP was completely shut out out of power, and the NDP's Cuolamei, Kelton and Trefar formed a constitutional triumvirate.

Yet in the 2004 voting only 4% separated the SFP's delegate count from the victorious NDP's. 

The flashy, fashionable and controversial Carmen Postoa, 51, still leads the Harmony Alliance, having ended her feud with former party leader Jean-Paul Kiaseca, twenty-seven years her senior.  Likewise the steady Thelomon Acrinei (see below) still leads a unified SFP. 

The Tragic death of PM Trefar--
and the NDP's Sudden Power Vacuum

President Cuolamei, though enjoying more popularity now than ever before, cannot run again in 2008.  The very popular NDP Prime Minister Manco Trefar had been the natural choice to succeed Cuolamei, but on 25 November 2005 Trefar died tragically in a speedboat accident that is still being investigated. 

Estro Kelton, also 51, a bull of a man who once worked as an oil-rigger and briefly as a prize fighter in kick-boxing competition, has held the reigns tightly in Congress, in large part because he works well with Harmony's venerable old man, Jean-Paul Kiaseca, on the Floor.  Indeed he and Kiaseca, along with several other leaders of their two parties, occasionally meet to play each other at poker.  Kelton and Cuolamei have been allies for years; indeed Kelton in the 2004 party convention boisterously fought for Cuolamei against Trefar's rebellion. 

After Trefar's death, people immediately looked to Kelton as hair to party leadership.  But he has made it clear he is content in Congress, and has no interest in seeking the presidency in 2008 or becoming PM ever. 

Claude-Adolphe Arishe, 63, was elected Prime Minister on an interim basis the day after Trefar died, and on 10 December was elected permanently to the post without controversy.  Before Trefar's tragic passing, the average voter outside Claude-Adolphe Arishe's home state of Pasiana had no idea who he was, although he had served in Congress for 18 years, rotated through the ministries, and became a consummate NDP insider.  It is said that Cuolamei and Kelton chose Arishe as an intentionally weak prime minister at the backroom insistence of Kiaseca and other Harmony Alliance leaders, to keep the coalition intact.  He has only served a few months and is still something of a cipher.  Indeed, no one is talking about Arishe's future prospects yet, and NDP's 2008 presidential competition is wide-open, with the names of over twelve potential candidates being parlayed.  No doubt Cuolamei and Kelton will play kingmakers.

The polls reflect a decease in NDP support to the net benefit of Postoa and Harmony.  Certainly, until NDP's leadership questions are resolved, its continued control of Congress is not at all certain.


To the top of the page.


A Profile of SFP Leader Thelomon Acrinei

[15 March 2006] 

Thelomon Acrinei, tall, dark and serene, with signature bushy eyebrows, wavy hair and knobby chin, and just as dapper as ever, remains leader of the second-place SFP, and hopes that just a slight tilt of 3% of the national vote-- if distributed favorably among the state constituencies-- will propel him into the Speaker's chair in 2006, and to the Presidency in 2008. 

He went into the home stretch of the 2004 presidential election the comfortable leader in the polls, and found himself edged out by an incumbent once left for politically dead.  SFP insiders admit that Acrinei still feels personally bruised from this surprise licking, and more than a little bitter in how Cuolamei manipulated the debate.

But so far this year his public appearances have been relaxed and well-humored, and he refuses to say anything bad about Cuolamei, Kelton or any of the other NDP leadership without mentioning a current policy difference.  He now seems to enjoy the unexpected role of opposition leader, vigorous to point out every lapse in NDP judgment, a ubiquitous figure on every talk show, and unfailingly good-natured.  His soft-edged sarcasm on the Floor has left even Speaker Kelton, his main rival, chuckling on occasion.  Nevertheless, Kelton has never invited Acrinei to a poker game. 

Acrinei now seems solidly focused on the future, advancing a range of fresh proposals including

(a) building a secure national internet banking system with all individual bank accounts in the country being consolidated and made parallel to secure individual use accounts on Bergnet, a proposal designed to move the entire country into electronic banking and transactions.

(b) the first-ever SFP proposal for space exploration, abandoning the manned Mars mission in favor of a sophisticated robotic mission, and in favor of a second orbiting earth station, and

(c) begin a new round of reverting land to wilderness, but give county governments the authority to select which lands.

His years as foreign minister and economics minister during the SFP years in power make him imminently qualified to serve as president.  He continues to wear the luster he acquired as foreign minister during Bergonia's Bosnian intervention, when he appeared daily on international television to denounce Serbian atrocities.  No one doubts his integrity and overall fitness.  But many politicians when discussing Acrinei call him "everyone's second choice," and he always seems to get crowded into the background whenever more polarizing politicians like Amon Cuolamei or  Carmen Postoa come out.  His partisans remind us all that Thelemon Acrinei has the lowest unfavorable ratings of any national politician.  So far this year he is leading a disciplined, appealing SFP campaign, constantly traveling, appearing at rallies everywhere, determined it seems to appear in every county in the country before election day.

But it remains unknown whether this stalwart can improve his party's performance in this year's national elections.  The new round of opinion polling at the official commencement of the campaign in early March showed that SFP's allotment of seats in the 2006 Congress would remain what it was before-- just 31%.

To the top of the page.


The 2004 Presidential Election


When the dust settled after the tumultuous 2004 election, people were calling Amon Cuolamei the ultimate "Comeback Kid."  In Nacateca they have an equivalent nickname-- pacheo-pasati -- which means roughly "the guy who got back up off the floor."

Amon Cuolamei, a bright, affable man, short, rotund, bald and plain-looking, but for his puckish grin, coasted into office in the 2000 election with a firm coalition between his NDP and Harmony.  Together these two parties won 68% of Congress, while SFP was down to a humiliating 24%.  He appointed the Harmony Party candidate, Jean-Paul Kiaseca, to the powerful post of prime minister.

But Cuolamei's presidency was immediately beleaguered with a series of amateurish missteps and bad luck.  Cuolamei alienated Harmony right away by presenting a big new proposal for space exploration without full consultation, and embarrassing Kiaseca in the process.  Worse, going into the 2002 congressional election Camon Tureinle, the high-profile NDP justice minister had to resign over an scandal involving a vindictive prosecution. 

The voters in 2002 trimmed the NDP-Harmony coalition to 54% (29-25 respectively), and the SFP rebounded impressively to 36%.  Afterwards, Harmony's rank and file were clambering for their leadership to withdraw from the coalition.  The final blow came when the NDP minister of health, was accused of withholding from the Environment Council certain data about nitrogen run-off from farms.  At Harmony's 2003 annual convention the vote was overwhelming to reject Jean-Paul Kiaseca and break the coalition.  They elected the charismatic Carmen Postoa, a former actress, as their new leader and they pronounced a new, reinvigorated platform

The SFP also chose a new leader going into the 2004 election, Thelomon Acrinei, former President Vortron's Foreign Minister.   

Trefar's Challenge

Cuolamei was down in the polls, and even his own party was becoming disaffected.  So in September 2003 the NDP governor of Halemarec, Manco Trefar, announced that he would challenge Cuolimei for the presidential nomination.  In November Cuolamei ranked 4th in all the national preference polls.

His advisers suggested that he give up, but he insisted on going down in a floor fight.  All the delegates were surprised by his serene good humor, even as everyone was writing obituaries and eulogies for him. 

As he and Trefar campaigned among the delegates, he also deftly and unrepentantly built up a consensus for a new platform beyond his own range of support, and thereby won the support of the last minute undecided clubs and delegates. At the eleventh hour he persuaded enough of them in a series of well-balanced, crafty back-room deals that he eked out a victory by only 12 out of the 1856 votes cast.  

In his national acceptance speech he announced that Trefar had just agreed to become his new man for the job of prime minister and brought Trefar onto the stage with him, inciting the clamorous approval of the delegates on the convention floor.  So Cuolamei succeeded in unifying his party.  

Cuolamei's Contrition

Coming out of the conventions, the SFP's solid and competent Acrinei was in the lead, and Harmony's dynamic and attractive Postoa ran second.  In framing the debates March, Cuolamei & the NDP decided to put its ambitious space program proposals front and center, and made scientific research a major issue.

But in the first debate Cuolamei made an amazing mea culpa, starting off by saying, "Now this honorable lady and gentleman have come here tonight to tell you that I have made mistakes, they will say so accusingly, but I have to say it as well, if I am to be honest even just a little bit with you, that I have made considerable mistakes.  What I hope to claim, what I want to explain here, is that I have learned from them."  As he said, the other candidates came to the debate intending to attack, but his blunt contrition threw them completely off balance, and whenever they attacked they came off looking  mean.   

The results on the morning after the election were:  Acrinei 36%, Cuolamei 31%, and a shocked and disappointed Postoa 27% (leaving 5% for the minor party candidates).  Just as-- even more-- surprisingly were NDP's victory in the congressional races.  The seats of Congress were allocated as follows:

35% NDP (with 31% for Cuolamei)

31% SFP (with 36% for Acrinei)

23% HA (with 27% for Postoa)

  6% SCU (with 2% for its man)

  4% CWP (with 3% for its man)

Only a handful of single-seat constituencies went to run-off, and so these results were conclusive.  The results reflected more ticket-splitting than predicted by most polling experts, and manifesting the flux still prevailing in Bergonian electoral opinion.   Acrinei (36%) did so much better than his party (31%) because, it turned out, a lot of the NDP base were still punishing Cuolamei for his screw-ups, and because many Socialist Country Union voters went for Acrinei.

The immediate polling going into the run-off showed Acrinei leading Cuolamei by 12%. The Harmony Alliance voters were now the swing voters.  Postoa and the Harmony Executive Committee refused to endorse Cuolamei after a week's worth of negotiations failed, much to SFP's great relief.  But Jean-Paul Kiaseca was still influential in his party and was still friendly with Cuolamei-- who had publicly apologized to him.  

The "War Against America" Memo

A week before the last debate, the Piatalani National Journal, one of the nation's premier newspapers, claimed to have received a copy of an internal national security memo from an informant.  

The 47 page memo set forth an assessment of the nation's  long-range strategic options.  It contained shockingly harsh language about the U.S. and speculation about the occurrence and outcome of a war between Bergonia and the U.S. sometime in the future.  

It described  U.S. policy and outlook as "fundamentally so unrealistic as to qualify as pathological,"  and predicted that the U.S. would in the foreseeable future refuse to reduce both its energy consumption and its carbon emissions and other environmentally harmful outputs, "no matter how loudly facts and reason cry out."  The memo also predicted that the U.S. was perched on the edge of precipitous economic decline, that U.S. leadership would maintain its hyper-powerful armed forces at any cost, and that it would use its military to defend its ability to squander the world's natural resources.  The memo predicted that air pollution from the U.S. would one day cause serious harm to Bergonia, that the US would continue despoiling the Atlantic Ocean, and that the U.S. would increasingly bear disproportionate responsibility for increasing global warming. 

It contained a review of options, which included Bergonian military aggression, if a disabling attack on the American  economy-- electrical grid, natural gas pipelines, oil refineries, railroads, ports-- might be needed to protect the planet.  The 9-11 attacks proved the vulnerability of a large capitalist economy, and suggested that multiple attacks on a large number of economic and infrastructure  targets could shut down the American economy with a minimum of casualties.

There was all kinds of scandalizing about the content of the memo and about the careless leaking of a national security document.  Outraged statements came from Republicans in Washington, and Colin Powell demanded a clarification. 

Cuolamei dismissively disavowed knowing anything about the document, although the Foreign Minister admitted under questioning that what the National Journal printed was authentic, but described it as a "speculative working draft assessment, although such "working draft assessments" were typically prepared for the ministerial level.  Cuolamei also denied that the memo reflected either "official policy or official thinking," and affirmed "Bergonia's good relations with her great neighbor." 

This flap occurred in the context of intensely inflamed  anti-American feeling still prevailing in Bergonia in the wake of the invasion of Iraq.   While the politicians and journalists predicted that this incident would finish off Cuolamei, they did not realize that the memo allowed Cuolamei to imply his anti-American bona fides, while keeping commonwealth policy intact.  

The Final Victory 

In the last debate Cuolamei dropped all his contriteness and came out swinging, advancing the NDP banner and platform.  He dismissed questions about the memo with just a few words, saying, "the real question is why did anyone in government feel a need in the first place to speculate about America's environmental browning.  The real question is whether America will force anyone to such desperation."

In the end it was probably Acrinei's election to lose, and he did, by becoming unfocused in the last weeks, and spending too much time talking about the "War Against America" memo.  Cuolamei, now focused clearly on the future, was setting the campaign's tone.  But his best argument was implicit-- everyone understood that the next president would have to work with the congress they had just elected, and for once the people had a chance to return to undivided government. 

Still, on the eve of the election, all the polls and expectations favored Acrinei, despite all the renewed NDP energy.  But it appeared by midnight on election night that Cuolamei would win the election by less than 200,000 votes out of 111,500,000 votes cast.  (Turnout 85%.)  The formal vote count went on for eleven days, and for a few days it appeared that Acrinei might eke out a victory with contests and challenges here and there, but the final certification established that Cuolamei defeated Acrinei by a measly 47,662 votes-- the closest margin in any national election ever.

It was a dizzying ride for Cuolamei, and for the country, but it ended with the NDP winning both Congress and the presidency for the first time since 1972.


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rev. 3 Aug 06