Cette semaine en politique - Politics Across the Francophone Countries

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  • August 19, 2019

    Icholasen is going to the polls! Well, not all of Icholasen. Romain is heading to the polls following the call for a by-election for this dominion. Kate Germain has moved from the Party of June, the radical centrist movement that swept into government, to the NAP, the main centre-right party of Icholasen. Now can she retain that seat for the NAP or will the Party of June be victorious? Will this show larger signs for Icholasen's national government? Joining me, François Picard, is the chief political correspondent for the Télévisions Gaulois group and host of Politics Tonight on Le Trois, Agnes Poirier...political correspondent from Icholasen and Europe expert Jeanne Vartan...and a special guest, Nicolezian Treasury Minister and Senator for Romain, Henri Dupont.

    Picard: Thank you for joining me tonight. Let's get started! All questions are open for anyone to take. What does the by-election mean generally for Icholasen? Which house is it for and what does that house do?

    Jeanne Vartan: This is a huge election, absolutely massive. For Icholasen generally, it represents a potential turning-point in the three sided battle between the Socialists and the NAP - the only parties in government after the fall of communism in 1990 and before the 2015 election - and the Party of June running on a troisième voie platform did very well post-2015. If the result is a decisive NAP victory, we could see a return to two party politics between the Party of June and the NAP. Time will tell whether the Party of June project will even last, or fizzle out. But, the NAP hasn’t capitalised on the Party of June’s move to the left by moving to closer to the centre by even a little bit. So people who might have gone for the NAP if they filled the POJ’s political void, will simply not vote for them. Electorally, this election will elect representatives for the Saint Romain assembly, for Saint Romain’s seat in the Nonet and its seats in the Senate as well. Something to note as well is that the Senators of all Dominions in Icholasen shadow a Dominion assembly member 1 to 1. These people engage with each other to facilitate dialogue between the central parliament and Dominion assemblies, to make sure that devolved and central issues are still linked.

    Agnes Poirier: Yes, so ultimately the Nonet appears to be the house of the Dominions and the Senate the national lower house. I’ve been covering Francophone politics for a year now and I’m still trying to keep it together with the Nicolezian system. It’s similar to the idea that the Gaulois Chamber of Peers reflecting lords from across the country.

    Picard: Oui, now what triggered the by-election?

    Henri Dupont: This by-election was triggered because the Saint Romain assembly voted for it after Kate Germain resigned from the Party of June and also as Foreign Minister and asked for this. I’m still baffled as to why she did this, it’s clear that she never had any loyalty to her party or her post. I’m just shocked honestly that this is even happening. She was in a great position to talk to Eilidh and to state her case to us in the cabinet. I served as housing minister in the cabinet that Germain left, and I thought that our cabinet took into account everyone’s views.

    Vartan: I think what triggered this in a less literal sense is the fracturing of the broad coalition of centrists that is the Party of June. And really, that’s what the Party of June is: a coalition. You will disagree with me I’m sure Monsieur Dupont but I believe that that is what the Party of June boils down to.

    Poirier: I agree. I’ve observed the Party of June and it’s a rather diverse coalition of radical centrism that could yield powerful electoral results, but honestly could also lose steam and lose some people. They were always going to have to try and keep that broad coalition. Kate Germain is a more centre-right leaning person but in a radical centrist party, you borrow from both sides. It’s like the political movement that the Liberals are trying to inspire in Gallorum with Emmannuel Macron. If it catches fire, then it’s very dangerous but at some point the party will have to make a move left or right, and that is where Kate Germain felt she could not be there anymore.

    Dupont: I don’t agree with all of that, but I don’t think us being a broad-church is a bad thing. I think that we provide a political home to Nicoleizians who wouldn’t have had that in the two-party system of before.

    Picard: Is this seen as a referendum on the previous occupant of the seat or of the government as a whole?

    Vartan: Nonet members often try and get policies passed to benefit their constituency, and Germain was no exception. She pushed for infrastructure here in Saint Romain, and made it a policy of the central government to give funding specifically for private-ran public transport initiatives in all 9 Dominions in 2017. By extension of course, this applied to Saint Romain. The Saint Romain assembly allocated this money into a new tram network that would be then run by a company here in Saint Romain rather than the Dominion government. The first line has been completed and the 2nd and 3rd are on their way. People here are generally happy with this new tramway and many people credit her for its creation and are quite grateful. She’s popular in Saint Romain for that reason primarily. It’s also a referendum on the performance of the government absolutely and whether people support this move to the left - which I personally believe is being sensationalised. It’s not that big a move.

    Dupont: I think there’s definitely a huge mix of issues at play here as it is electing both members on the Dominion assembly and to the central government’s representative bodies. I think the Party of June are the best choice for both of these.

    Poirier: I think that it largely seems to be a competition between a very popular incumbent regionally and a very popular government nationally. Even though the POJ are letting the local issues take centre stage, I am confident that Whiteford is watching and waiting. Her premiership really begins its re-election here.

    Picard: Trends have shown that the Party of June is shifting from centre ground. Where will that leave the other parties?

    Vartan: As the Party of June moves to the left, parties such as the Parti Romain and the Socialist party will lose some voters to the Party of June, however polling has shown this is not as big a number as those leaving the Party of June in Saint Romain to go towards the NAP. This is of course not only down to this left-ward swing, but it is slightly concerning. If this happens nationwide at the next election, the Party of June won’t maintain it’s fragile majority.

    Dupont: I think that this small left-ward move will not dissatisfy most of our core voters and I think we can only gain on a national level by taking votes from the LDS and the Socialists. Of course I recognise that in Saint Romain the situation is less ideal, but that is because, admittedly, Germain is very popular. But I think the Party of June facilitated her projects in Saint Romain, if she is a Nonet member for the NAP, she won’t be in talks with the executive and won’t be able to get anything else like the Saint Romain city tramway passed again.

    Poirier: I don’t know. The appeal of the Party of June is the large tent that it is. Moves will always alienate some. They have to do more convincing that this is where the centre is. That’s the beautiful thing about politics is that no matter what politics you have...NAP, POJ, LDS, Socialists….you are convincing the electorate that the policies you have are sensible and meet the centre ground of the electorate. In essence, you create your own centre. That’s what I think the POJ is losing by being so hands off from the top down.

    Picard: Oh, that is true...Premier Whiteford is one of the more popular figures in Europe. Had this made her and the POJ an easier target for this election or has it stayed largely around local issues?

    Vartan: Yes and no. I think in this particular election the Nonet candidates have been much more influential than Whiteford has been, or any national party leader for that matter. The Nonet member represents the region almost how a governor would. That means a lot of importance is placed on them as they represent the values of the Dominion on the national level and maybe even on the international level.

    Poirier: I’m pretty confident that this will have national implications even if Whiteford stays out of it. If she wins, she’ll use it to power her re-election. If she loses, her opponents will jump on her as vulnerable. I’m sure Kate Germain didn’t intend to wound Whiteford, or maybe she did.

    Dupont: Whiteford is one of the big political personalities of our age, that might mean you love her or not like her at all. But Whiteford has always had a hands-off approach our union of Dominions, so she’s letting the people who will actually be elected in Saint Romain do most of the campaigning. I suspect she’ll go down during the campaign, but she’s intentionally not getting to heavy handed.

    Picard: One more question, a little more focused on our two nations...Gallorum traditionally has fallen more on the centre right side of politics but recently elected a centre left government. Does this result shows us that the Francophone alliances are trending left in the future or could a Gaullist like Martha Kensington or François Fillon make a strong comeback?

    Vartan: Martha Kensington the current leader of the NAP is honestly poised to be a Royal Premier within the decade, if not her, her successor. I think the country has moved to the right and the NAP and the POJ will become the principal rivals in Nicoleizian politics. I’m not sure if we are truly trending towards the left, I mean Eilidh Whiteford’s POJ isn’t as far-left as other parties in the Senate. I think Gallorum and Icholasen will be similar but fundamentally different forever. I think it’s hard to draw trend-lines between us, despite our linguistic ties.

    Dupont: I think it’s a happy coincidence that we both have centre-left governments at the same time. It won’t last forever, but I’m glad that we’re both on the same page for now!

    Poirier: Heading into 2020, Les Travaillistes are going to move ahead strong as long as they continue to do what they are doing. I don’t know if the esteemed guests are into the Gaulois politics, but the battle between Baschet and Fillon is proving a losing proposition for Fillon. He is going to have to get off of the popularity contest and instead work on policy. The thing that the Travaillistes have in Baschet is a leader who can reach the average Gaulois and speak to the values of the nation and intertwine them with social democratic policies. That does remind me of Whiteford and how she continues to put the centre ground as being Nicolezian intrinsically.

    Picard: Thank you so much everyone. That's all we have time for today! Tune in next time as we look at the two electoral systems and how they have changed our nations. I'm François Picard, jusqu'à la semaine prochaine.

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