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."