After the 1934 Revolution, voters typically cast ballots
according to their strong party loyalties. The parties have rather
faithfully represented their special constituencies.
two revolutionary parties represent the "Red" and the
"Blue" tendencies in Bergonian politics. After 1970
the Harmony Party represent a new "Green" tendency.
--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
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
This party embodies the
"Red" element in the Bergonian revolutionary
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
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
--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
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
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
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.
Harmony Alliance represents
tendency and embodies
the environmental movement
that mushroomed in the mid and
late 1960s. This is Bergonia's equivalent of
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
--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
here for information on the
Democratic Front and the pre-revolutionary leftist political parties.
Two-Party system from 1936 to 1972:
after the Revolution, Bergonia formed a
relatively stable two
party system balancing the NDP
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
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
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.
To the top of the page.
In the Wake of the 2006
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
[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
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
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
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
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
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.
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."
The New Congress
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, 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.
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."
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.
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."
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
[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.
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
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.
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--
To the top of the page.
2004 Presidential Election
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.
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
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.
Cuolamei was down in the polls, and even his
own party was becoming disaffected. So in September 2003 the NDP governor of
Manco Trefar, announced that he would challenge Cuolimei for the presidential
nomination. In November Cuolamei ranked 4th in all the national preference
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.
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
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
The "War Against
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
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."
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
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
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
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.
To the top of the page.