February 22, 2018
The Week in Review Before Tomorrow's Election
Article by Justin Crawford
L to R: Abp. Paul Craticus (BSW); Bp. Ashton Perason (CL); Bp. Karinn Lallana (GI); Adrian Flemming (BSW); Cllr. Edward Firoux (CL - EPA)
SAINT DOMINICO - It is an impossibly rare sight in the European Union: a national government has successful come to a full term without an early election. In fact, this election marks the second time an Inquistan government has completed a full term, and is indeed Inquista's second time heading to the polls since 2011. Many European countries can't seem to get enough of the excitement that comes from marking ballot papers, but that excitement has not been as palpable in Inquista in recent weeks. For many Inquistans, this seemingly unnecessary election will merely be another coming out party for Archbishop Craticus and the Black Swan Movement, while, for others, they simply don't care about what's emerging as the greatest debate about this election season - European politics.
Archbishop Craticus and his Black Swan Movement, which just 5 years ago were making a loud splash in Inquistan politics, have stuck close to the script and have downplayed the election campaign in an uncharacteristically quiet tone. Few opinion polls have been conducted since June of 2017, when Archbishop Craticus was riding high with an exceptional 68% approval rating, but polls in recent months put the Archbishop slightly higher now at 69% approval. This approval rating is still lower than January 2017, when the Archbishop enjoyed an all-time high of 71% approval. Archbishop Craticus' approval ratings are not necessarily reason to believe that it will equate to support for the Black Swan Movement, as both the Christian League and Green Inquista command historically immovable bases of support. What's perhaps more interesting to see unfold, however, is whether the Christian League or Green Inquista will lead the opposition. Support for the Christian League has been consistently sliding for the past two years, and Bishop Karinn Lallana has emerged as a media darling for Inquista's opposition supporters. Polling data in 2017 suggested that Green Inquista has made considerable inroads, and could be in position to usurp the opposition throne. One should not forget that two bishops left the Christian League for the Black Swan Movement, and a further three bishops left for Green Inquista in June 2017. Even more worryingly for the Christian League, there is a growing threat to Councillor Edward Firoux's seat at the Europan Council. Councillor Firoux will also have his European seat contested in this election, and is again being challenged by the Black Swan Movement's Haiden Flemming. Recent opinion polls indicate that the Councillor election is too close to call, and with Archbishop Craticus publicly asking Inquistans to shake Firoux off the European stage, as well as with Bishop Karinn Lallana emerging as Craticus' rival at home, it may be time that Inquistans put Firoux to the curb and leave the Christian League both without a Councillor seat and in third place in the College of Bishops.
Now, let us take you through the week.
Monday: The Candidates Dig Their Trenches and Throw Accusations
The archbishopric candidates started their final week of the election campaign by engaging Inquistans in public and pitching their cases.
While Archbishop Craticus has run a quiet campaign that has purposely dodged media attention, that does not mean the Archbishop has shied away from speaking to big crowds. Speaking at the sites of several significant Inquistan cathedrals throughout the day, including the Burnt Cathedral - one of Inquista's European Heritage Sites - Archbishop Craticus emphasized a need to progress Inquista's cultural and religious legacy, and called for a greater embrace of the fundamentalist movement in the Inquistan Orthodox Church. Archbishop Craticus has certainly made a point in laying a plan out for the future of Inquista, one which will seek to tackle domestic and social issues more seriously, but spent equally, if not more time stressing the successes of his time as Archbishop. Archbishop Craticus knows how to play to his audience, dubbed in Inquista as the "Theresa Mays," with a pitch of strength and stability. It is not without Archbishop Craticus that Inquista has managed to become what was once impossible to imagine - Inquista has somehow not only become extremely politically stable, which was unimaginable during the time of Inquistan unification, but it has also become one of the most secure and safest states, with a tumbling crime rate and no recorded terrorist attacks in the last 6 years - which is a feat many other European countries can't claim to. The area where Archbishop Craticus is the strongest, however, is his play to his second 'base', the poor and the disenfranchised. On the topic of corruption and the economy, Archbishop Craticus has no equal. Not only has Archbishop Craticus been merciless in expelling and exposing Church corruption, but has looked to also remove financial corruption from the equation, and has banned corporate and union donations to politicians and political parties, including donations from overseas individuals and entities. Archbishop Craticus' economic record, while certainly having blemishes in recent months with stagnating growth rates, has been historically marked by roaring growth rates for the past 5 years that have catapulted Inquista to becoming the largest economy in Europe. Income levels, especially among the poor, have skyrocketed and Inquista has transitioned from one of Europe's most unequal societies to one of Europe's more fairer economies, albeit still lagging behind the likes of Fremet and Angleter. Unemployment in Inquista's most vulnerable neighbourhoods are at an all time low, with a record low 5% unemployment in South Inquista.
Bishop Ashton Pearson, the leader of the Christian League, has struggled to raise funds for a campaign that has traditionally been reliant on corporate donations. This has not stopped the business-friendly Christian League from running a vicious campaign however, with the party accusing the Black Swan Movement of tarnishing relations with the European Union and for not properly utilizing Inquista's economic clout. Despite the Archbishop's economic record, Bishop Pearson has traversed to businesses all across Inquista's main financial hubs, pitching how the Christian League could better Inqusitan business, and how the Christian League would push for Inquista to play a more active role as an economic powerhouse abroad. Bishop Pearson has also relied on Councillor Firoux's own publicity, using the Councillor's position in the European Council as a symbol of the party's willingness to engage abroad, which is contrasted sharply with the Black Swan Movement's relative euroscepticism.
Green Inquista's Bishop Karinn Lallana spent much of Monday afternoon and evening engaging with several internet news outlets. Bishop Lallana accused Archbishop Craticus of dividing Inquistan civil society, and advocated for a more inclusive and progressive Church doctrine. Bishop Karinn Lallana spoke of the importance to combat climate change, a topic nearly completely absent from Inquistan and European politics, and said that Archbishop Craticus had failed personally to protect Kaasian refugees. Bishop Lallana did not stop short of accusations there, going on to say that "the Archbishop doesn't really care about poor people", and that "the Archbishop makes buddies with the likes of Trympov, while making no effort to support the European Union."
Tuesday: Bishop Karinn Lallana Steals Debate Spotlight - For Better or Worse
Tuesday evening marked the first and only debate in the Archbishopric race. The debate looked to be an uneventful affair, as it was broadcast live at a relatively late 10 o'clock, but would nonetheless become a viewership goldmine. The debate topics for the evening looked to be pretty standard. At first the debate started on the subject of the economy, where Archbishop Craticus again took pride in reading out numbers and statistics that backed up his economic record, while Bishops Ashton Pearson and Karinn Lallana derided his record as being anti-business and anti-poor respectively, and Archbishop Craticus seemed to take visible enjoyment in pin-pointing to the contradicting nature of the two labels.
The debate topic then moved on to immigration, where, again, Archbishop Craticus used numbers and statistics to showcase how few refugees and immigrants were accepted into Inquista, which finally united Bishop Pearson and Bishop Lallana in their denunciation. Both Bishop Pearson and Bishop Lallana pledged to accept Kaasian refugees, as well as more Sahrawi refugees.
The real fireworks came as the topic shifted to international affairs. Archbishop Craticus wasted absolutely no time in disparaging Bishop Pearson and the Christian League for "putting Inquistans second" to "other Europeans", and accused the Christian League of using Councillor Edward Firoux to obstructing his foreign policy by having him take stances opposite of the Church in the European Council. As the beaming Archbishop smiled, thinking he had completed a checkmate against both Bishop Pearson and Councillor Firoux, it was Bishop Lallana who seized the moment. Bishop Lallana questioned what foreign policy Archchishop Craticus even had to speak of, and accused him of sponsoring terrorism in Black Sea against Kaasian refugees, and of allowing Dragan Trympov to infiltrate Inquistan politics. Bishop Lallana accused Archbishop Craticus of using Dragan Trymov as a puppet to make a speech on his behalf in Omnibus on Monday, and accused Archbishop Craticus of allowing Dragan Trympov to "store blood money" in Inquistan banks. Bishop Lallana went on to further say that she has been bombarded with horrifically malefic comments by "online bots," which she believes are coming out of Pravoslaviya and are paid for by the Black Swan Movement. Bishop Lallana ended her tirade by accusing the Archbishop of being a hypocrite for banning foreign political donations, but for allowing Pravoslaviya to participate in the Inquistan election against her.
The Archbishop, still smiling, denied all of Bishop Lallana's assertions. Archbishop Craticus stated he easily could of invited Dragan Trympov to campaign in Inquista, but he has not done so, and has in fact not spoken to him at all. Bishop Pearson was seen shaking his hips and jigging behind his podium throughout the exchange.
The debate was designed to then move on to further topics including education, healthcare, and other domestic issues, but was continuously sidetracked by Bishop Lallana who attempted to turn every topic into the subject of Pravoslaviyan interference. When the topic of hospitals came up, Bishop Lallana found the nerve to pivot the subject from hospitals, to surgeons, to plastic surgeon Ben Carlson, to Taylor Swift, to Dragan Trympov. Bishop Lallana then demanded for an immediate investigation into the Taylor Swift Affair, and demanded for an investigation of Trympov's involvement in the incident. Archbishop Craticus rebuked Bishop Lallana's comments by stating that an investigation into the Taylor Swift matter would eventually be made, but at a later date, and that a connection between the attempted murder and Dragan Trympov was "baseless."
Wednesday: Edward Firoux on the Defensive in European Councillor Debate
Another live debate was broadcast the following evening, this time involving the candidates for Inquista's European Council seat position. Incumbent Edward Firoux enjoys not only the backing of his Christian League and his European Progressive Alliance colleagues, but also the tacit approval of Green Inquista, who once again did not field a candidate for European Councillor. Councillor Firoux is widely seen as being exceptionally more progressive than most Christian League politicians, especially on social issues, which has won him just enough approval from the Green Inquista to shield him from a charge against him on their side. Despite this, it is little secret that Bishop Lallana and Councillor Firoux are by no means friends. In the past, Firoux has referred to Bishop Lallana's frequent media outbursts as "car wrecks", and has been caught off-camera referring to Bishop Lallana as a "moron." Bishop Lallana, too, has had sharp words for Councillor Firoux, famously saying "he talks a big game, but you will always find him in bed with eurosceptics - and I am not just using a metaphor."
Proudly calling himself a eurosceptic, however, is none other than Hadrian Flemming himself, who is looking to put Councillor Firoux out of his job in Europolis. Mr. Flemming, the Chief Director of the Black Swan Movement's foreign policy think-tank We March Forward, came into the debate looking to unnerve Councillor Firoux, which he may have successfully done. The debate between Councillor Firoux and Mr. Flemming teetered between a hostile debate and a teenage internet flame war, as the two exchanged harsh critiques of one another's values. Mr. Flemming contended that Councillor Firoux voted based on his personal musings or that of the Christian League, but almost never voted in position with the Church, and by extension, in alignment of the Archbishop's decree.
Councillor Firoux defended his voting record in the Council as being representative of the views that elected him, and that he had no responsibility to vote however way the Archbishop "begged" him. Councillor Firoux went on to assert that he has established himself as a veteran of European politics, and that he had more than enough experience and expertise to make decisions without the Archbishop's consultation. Mr. Flemming then accused Coucillor Firoux of using the European Union as a mechanism to undermine the Church, pointing to Councillor Firoux's latest comments on gay marriage as a signal that the European Union would impose gay marriage onto Inquista. Councillor Firoux did not even allow Mr. Flemming to finish before declaring that he, and a "a majority of Inquistans," are in favour of gay marriage and would seek to legislate it in the European Union. Mr. Flemming retorted by saying that Firoux was looking to dilute Church doctrine with "progressive nonsense." Mr. Flemming stated that if the European Union ever infringed upon the affairs of the Church, that he would immediately push for Inquista to leave the European Union.
Mr. Flemming's ability to unnerve Councillor Firoux may pay-off, as many analysts concluded that Councillor Firoux was seen as the clear loser of the debate. With the Councillor election already in a toss-up, Wednesday night could have been the start of the unraveling for Councillor Firoux's esteemed career in Europolis.
Thursday: It's Official - The Election is Not About the Archbishop, It's About the European Councillor (and Taylor Swift)
It's the day before the election and all previous campaigning seems to have officially gone out of the window following the dramatic back-to-back television debates on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Christian League has gone completely on the defensive as they look to save the one thing they still have - Councillor Edward Firoux. Following Wednesday's debate, all hands are on deck to ensure that Councillor Firoux is re-elected and that Mr. Flemming's ambitious advance is halted. Christian League bishopric candidates, even ones running in tight marginal races, have seemingly abandoned their own hopes and have joined others in knocking on doors and making last minute phone calls in favour of Councillor Firoux.
The Black Swan Movement seems to smelling blood, and has followed in suit, with Archbishop Craticus focusing all his energy on Thursday also by appearing in public, canvassing, calling for Inquistans to vote for vote Mr. Flemming as their European Councillor. Archbishop Craticus echoed Mr. Flemming remarks, telling Entertainment Tonight Inquista that Councillor Firoux soley represented the faction of progressive Inquistans in the European Council, and had no regard in representing all Inquistans, nevermind the Church or the Archbishop as its authority. Councillor Edward Firoux also joined Entertianment Tonight Inquista later that evening, stating that Archbishop Craticus is a fundamentalist within the Inquistan Orthodox Church, and that his views are not the views of all Inquistans either. Councillor Firoux asserted that he would openly use the European Union as a means to block the Archbishop of misguiding the Inquistan Orthodox Church.
Bishop Karinn Lallana made no effort to come to Councillor Firoux's side, instead looking at the last minute mayhem with envy. Deciding that she wanted the campaign season to end on a bang of her own accord, Bishop Lallana looked to make her own noise. Bishop Lallana visited several international radio stations in the late afternoon, claiming that Archbishop Craticus allows Dragan Trympov to store illegally laundered money in Inquistan banks, and in return, Dragan Trympov has agreed to act as his mouthpiece. Bishop Lallana went on state that Dragan Trympov "probably" orchestrated the attempted murder of Taylor Swift, but he did so "at the request" of Archbishop Craticus himself, and that should Bishop Lallana be elected as Archbishop, she would appoint Taylor Swift as her deputy and would immediately investigate the suspects of the attempted murder on Swift's life.
Polls open tomorrow, Friday, at at 8:00AM and close late in the evening, at 10:00PM. First results are not expected until early morning Saturday, with the full results of the election likely known by Saturday afternoon.
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