IBC Frontrunners Debate
IBC'S IMPERIAL ELECTION FRONTRUNNERS' DEBATE
Voice-over: "Welcome to IBC's Imperial Election Frontrunners' Debate. Please welcome your host for this evening, Colin Hoskins."
Hoskins enters the studio as the audience applauses. Hoskins: "Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the first and last frontrunners' debate leading up to the 2017 Imperial By-Election. Tonight, His Imperial Majesty Emperor Artabanos will take on His prime challenger, former Emperor Hugh Doyle. Although, in the polls, Doyle has been leading for the last few weeks since the election was called, the Emperor seems to be climbing in approval the last few days, making the vote, held in 13 days' time, unpredictable as ever. The two candidates have not been told which subjects will be up for debate tonight, with the two main topics having been set by our online panel: democratic accountability, and Inimicus's nuclear weapons programme. After extensively debating these, the gentlemen will then be allowed to put one question to one another before discussing this question for ten minutes. So without further ado, please welcome, Emperor Artabanos and Pro-imperator Hugh Doyle."
After the candidates have taken to their lecterns, Hoskins begins: "Welcome, gentlemen. Your Imperial Majesty, You called this election after a row about your legitimacy and a dispute between Yourself and Mr Doyle over his management of his Triumviral authority. You have always claimed You acted in the interests of the Inimician people and with their mandate, but what will change if they should choose to re-elect you in two weeks' time?"
Artabanos: "Let me get straight to the point here, Colin. Since my election as Emperor in 2014, I have been forced to share some of the absolute Imperial authority, derived from our Empire's Constitution, with Mr Doyle and the Third Triumvir. A re-election would, constitutionally, empower Me with a new, absolute mandate. Therefore, one of my first Decrees as re-elected Emperor would involve the total abolition of the Triumviral structure, which has done the country tremendous harm and has only added another layer of unaccountable, undemocratic bureaucracy."
Hoskins: "Mr Doyle, would you like to respond?"
Doyle: "Well Colin, let me first take a moment to thank you for hosting this important debate and to everyone watching for giving up their time. It is indeed a democratic tradition to have these debates. And this election is all about democratic traditions, which is why I'm very glad IBC's wise online panel voted the topic of democratic accountability to be the main subject tonight. Last week, the nation was woken up by an article written by arguably the bravest journalist in history, Mrs Sophie Brierley, who exposed the Emperor for the man He really is. The only reason He has not ravaged the entire country is because we, Triumvirs, were there to stop him. The fact He is now announcing His intention to abolish the three-man government is testimony to His malicious intent."
Artabanos: "I was wondering when Mr Doyle would bring up Brierley's article. I hadn't guessed it would be quite this soon. But, since I haven't been able to respond formally to the article in public, let me do so now. Mrs Brierley's investigative skills are, I think we can all agree, admirable. But problems start occuring when one combines this journalistic spirit with bias and fantasy. Let me state very plainly what about her article is true, and what is not. Yes, I housed several important members of the Teluminan Monarchist Party and financed their operations, which granted Inimicus unparalleled freedom and prosperity after the Civil War was won in 2012;
"Yes, I was close to the late Emperor William, as I had been one of His main strategic advisors during the same Civil War, and He often called on me for counsel during His reign.
"Yes, Mrs Brierley stumbled on an Imperial Guard facility near Orbis Terrarum during her research, a facility which is off-limits to unauthorised personnel and which she penetrated without prior permission, after which she was arrested for questioning, and later released without charge.
"Yes, I continued to be a regular Palace attendant during Mr Doyle's reign. I had developed several friendships inside the Palace, but what's more, Mr Doyle repeatedly invited me to give him my advice.
"Yes, Mr Doyle and his cronies later assaulted the Palace when the National Imperial Council was in session and attempted to disturbe the democratically legitimate government of this country. Was this my doing? No, but--"
Doyle: "Mr Hoskins, I hope you can at least keep some order during tonight's debate and allow me some words in between the Emperor's apologetic rants. Artabanos, I know---"
Artabanos: "If you respected the office of Emperor, you should at least use the titles that come with it, Mr Doyle."
Doyle: "Let me take that as a comment. I know that everything Brierley wrote is true, for one key reason. Because I was part of the intrigues for over three years. Yes, I plotted with you and the late Emperor William - if dead he really is - during the Republican years. I was even in on your plot to fake-kill William and install me on the Throne. But you then forced me from the Palace because I refused to do your absolute bidding. You are a disgrace to this nation."
Hoskins: "Your Majesty, Your response, please."
Artabanos: "For one, let's keep this debate civilised - there's no need for us to descend into personal insults. Second, I don't think that in all my time as an Inimician statesman I have heard this level of absolute, uncontrollable, unevidenced rubbish. I don't know where Mr Doyle finds the guts to accuse me of these lies, and were he to be a real man, he would bring charges to me formally, as I did to him. As for now, all he has is one baseless article and absolutely no evidence for his claims. I would suggest to him that he stops misleading the Inimician people for once. I have worked for three years - three years! - to bring about unprecedented prosperity to this Empire. He failed to do this during his reign, it's true. And it must be very painful for him to realise this, but it is no reason to start accusing me of the most grotesque and slanderous crimes it is possible for an honest human being to imagine."
After debating the Emperor's legitimacy for a further twenty minutes, the subject of the debate is switched to Inimicus's nuclear weapons programme.
Hoskins: "Mr Doyle, as the Emperor started on the first topic, I'd like to ask you to start off the discussion on our Empire's nuclear weapons."
Doyle: "Thank you, Colin. Inimicus, as we know, acquired a licence to produce 150 nuclear warheads by the European Nuclear Applications Authority a number of years ago, and in a remarkable show of speed, only a couple of months later the Emperor announced we had produced the full 150-head stockpile. Not that we are ever going to use them, or that anyone looks any differently upon us now that we have them, but there we are. I opposed Inimicus's nuclear weapons programme from the start, and continue to oppose it. If I become Emperor, I will ---"
Artabanos: "I'd just like to remind viewers that the first application Inimicus made to the ENAA was during Mr Doyle's reign."
Doyle: "Well, and who do you think was responsible for that? The man pulling all the strings backstage, of course."
Artabanos: "If I had wanted to pull any strings in 2013, I would have stood for Emperor."
Hoskins: "Gentlemen, could be please return to the topic of nuclear weapons? Mr Doyle."
Doyle: "Right, where was I? Yes, last summer the Emperor announced His plans to test Inimicus's weaponry in outer space. I suppose the only thing I can credit Him with is that it still hasn't happened - even though His plans scheduled the explosions for last October - because it's complete lunacy to spend millions of guilders sending huge amounts of material and several Inimician citizens into space, simply to prove a point. If I become Emperor, I will start dismantling Inimicus's nuclear weapons stockpile, and send Artabanos's testing spacecraft flying far, far away from this earth of ours."
Artabanos: "Mr Doyle has the gut to accuse me of wasting money, when he is proposing scrapping the vitally important nuclear project we have spent so much effort and funds trying to complete. Laughable. I don't know if he remembers - after all, he seems to think I was in charge during his one-year reign - but in 2013 Inimicus was on the brink of armed conflict with the rogue state of Groot-België, where an autocratic Emperor had executed his entire cabinet on live TV before committing suicide on-screen. Later, in 2014, I was kidnapped by Rimrothian terrorists and held for several days before Imperial Guardsmen were able to liberate Me. Who is to say what happens next? Nuclear weapons allow the Inimician government to protect our citizens more effectively - trust me on this, I have been fighting for it for over three years.
"To turn our back on the programme now that it is reaching its final stages would not only be a huge waste of money, it would also be a major disappointment to the Inimician people, who, I am confident, realise the leverage possessing a nuclear arsenal gives to any government. I worked long and hard to sort our ENAA application, and was extremely grateful it was accepted. I will not see three long years of hard work discarded by Mr Doyle."
Doyle remains quiet.
Hoskins: "Mr Doyle, would you like to add anything?"
Doyle: "Well, I'm sorry to keep coming back to it, Colin, but the Emperor's bragging about 'three years' of hard work is utterly demagogical. He had been at work all His life, working towards the office He now occupies."
Hoskins: "Mr Doyle, you will have an opportunity to question His Imperial Majesty on this later in the programme. The current topic is ---"
Doyle: "I'm well aware of your format, Hoskins, but I simply won't stand here and take this nonsense from the Emperor! Brierley did not go through her torture and intimidation - which Artabanos hasn't even had the gut to comment on! - just for you to cut me off when I question Him about her. I won't have it."