Saturday, 6th May, 2017
Article by Sophie Berkeley
Fareham Wins Democrat Leadership
Sue Fareham, new Democratic Party leader
Sue Fareham has been elected leader of the Democratic Party, in a vote that is unlikely to heal the party’s deep divisions.
A backbench MP and standard-bearer for the party’s conservative wing, Fareham, 38, had campaigned heavily on a conservative platform, accusing liberal candidates Desmond Bayeux and Robert Rice of trying to turn the party into ‘SDP B’, and comparing herself to the United Kingdom’s Theresa May.
In the first ballot, Fareham led with 47% of the vote, followed by Robert Rice with 29%, and Desmond Bayeux was eliminated with 24%. Though former Mayor of New Birmingham Bayeux had instructed his supporters to put Rice, a businessman, as their second preference, not enough of his voters took heed. On the second ballot, Fareham received 57% of the vote to Rice’s 43%.
Demonstrating the more conservative bent of the party’s membership compared to its more centrist hierarchy, Fareham had received the endorsement of only 44 of the Democrats’ 194 MPs. Rice had received 50 endorsements, and Bayeux 32, while 68 MPs had refused to endorse any candidate.
Fareham has called for unity in a conciliatory victory speech. “Robert Rice and Desmond Bayeux have given a voice to our party’s strong tradition defending liberty, and I would like to extend a hand to them to join me in taking the fight to Sam Courtenay,” she said, adding: “Together we are strongest.”
However, Fareham was unapologetic about her conservatism. “What our members have said is that they want an unabashedly centre-right opposition party, a new government in waiting. So we will be defending individual liberty and traditional values. We will be patriots, supporting our troops and protecting our borders, while being open to the best, brightest, and most vulnerable of the world. Neither the SDP or their allies in the Citizen Alliance offer this – but I firmly believe that it’s what the Angleteric people want.”
Fareham continued to blast the government, accusing Sam Courtenay of “riding an economic uptick which masks the true harm of his left-wing policies,” and of “surrendering totally to the Citizen Alliance’s nasty policies on migration.”
Desmond Bayeux, former Prime Ministers Navdeep Khatkar and Levon Bagratian, former Foreign Minister Vitus Duryzatehende, and recently-departed leader Maria Sakrakur have all congratulated Fareham on her victory, and have offered her their full support. Fareham is also broadly well-liked by the general public: 28% of Angleterics have a favourable opinion of her, according to an Interrego poll this week, compared to just 14% who view her unfavourably.
This does, however, mean most Angleterics still do not know enough about Fareham to form an opinion about her, and the new leader already faces a storm ahead. Robert Rice has refused to comment on his defeat in the leadership election, despite clamour from party grandees to congratulate and support Fareham.
Veteran liberals Terry McCain and Robert Uvacant, meanwhile, have caused rancour by calling on Rice to quit the party and form “a new liberal force, which can challenge all the main parties – the socialists in the SDP, the conservatives in the Democrats, and the nationalists in the Citizen Alliance.” When asked about this possibility, Levon Bagratian was dismissive: “none of these people are MPs any more – why are we listening to them? They probably won’t go, and if they do, it’ll be sad, but we won’t suffer. Everybody knows the Democrats are the true party of the centre-right, and that includes folks of a slightly more libertarian persuasion.”
Interrego’s polling shows a small fillip for the Democrats under Fareham. The SDP lead with 33% of the vote, and the Citizen Alliance follow with 28%, with the Democrats up to 24%. The far-left CSL are on 10%, and others are on 5%.
Had Rice been leading the party, the Democrats would only have managed 23%. However, the SDP would have been tied with the Citizen Alliance on 30%, with the CSL on 12%, indicating that the candidates’ target voters came from very different sections of the electorate.