Thursday, 15th February, 2018
Article by Marissa Varvaris
No By-Election for Gibbon Seat
Angleter's new European Councillor, Dame Judith Gibbon
The Speaker of the Chamber of the Plebeians, Edeva Ziert, has confirmed that there will be no by-election in the seat vacated by Dame Judith Gibbon after her appointment as European Councillor.
Gibbon, 66, has served as Defence Minister since the Social Democrats came to power in 2015, and is known for her brusque, no-nonsense approach. One SDP insider told The National Observer that Gibbon was chosen because of her previous engagement with European affairs in discussions with foreign Defence Ministers, and because, in an election year, her blunt style will make the Government's ability to assert itself in Europolis 'as visible as possible'. "The last thing we want is Emryc Isla telling everyone that we're letting everyone else in Europe walk all over us," added the insider. "Judith makes sure people know we're standing up for ourselves."
The appointment of Gibbon, who has been an MP since 1993, has created two vacancies: one at the Defence Ministry, which has been swiftly filled by Procurement Minister Will Prosser (who in turn has had his former role filled by backbencher Lynn Montague); and another in her seat of Harran. Based in the commuter belt of the city of Maien, Harran is a competitive seat where all three main parties would expect to be competitive, especially after the departure of Gibbon, who hails from the city of Maien and has represented the area since the reintroduction of first-past-the-post.
However, what would have been a much-anticipated by-election has been avoided after Speaker Ziert announced that, due to elections being due in June, the seat would remain vacant until the pre-election dissolution of the Chamber. According to a statement from the Speaker's Office, "it would be impossible to justify the expense of electing a candidate in mid-March at the earliest, only for them to serve less than two months before having to re-contest the seat in the general election."
Both the Democrats and the Citizen Alliance have registered their protest at the Speaker's decision. James Fermier, Citizen Alliance spokesman for Maien and MP for the neighbouring seat of Telbarsip, issued a furious statement accusing the Speaker of "making a colony out of Harran in order to cover for the SDP." He continued: "We would win that seat in a by-election and they know it. We will win the seat, and countless others, in June because normal Angleteric people have grown tired of being taken for fools by the SDP and the entire ruling elite of this country. Judith Gibbon has always been, and always will be, a paper tiger; and Harran's gain is Europolis' loss. Sam Courtenay, Dame Judith, and Dame Edeva should all watch their backs."
Democrat leader Sue Fareham, who is out campaigning for her favoured candidates in the Democrats' primary elections, due to be held this weekend, told reporters on the campaign trail in Norham Gardens, Elkhand, that "we'll have our candidates in place by the end of Sunday, so we're ready. We'd have been ready for the by-election, but any Democrat MP knows that Speaker Ziert always makes sure the SDP Government doesn't get embarrassed."
When asked about the appointment itself, Fareham shared Fermier's cynicism. "She's only there to throw shade and cover up for an atrocious European policy. The SDP will throw her acid tongue in our faces and tell us you can trust them with Europe. But nobody will buy it. Everyone knows that the only reason the SDP are in power today and we're not is because they promised to end the DK War by New Year's Eve 2015. It's just broken promise after broken promise, and Angleter deserves better."
Fareham faces an uphill battle if she's to overturn the result of the 2015 election. Despite regaining some ground in recent months, the Democrats continue to languish in third place on 23%, trailing the Citizen Alliance on 27%, and a resurgent SDP on 37%. The SDP have opened up a ten-point lead despite an aggressive Citizen Alliance campaign reminding voters of Courtenay's pledge that 2017 would be Angleter's last year in Dromund Kaas, with analysts arguing that a strong economy and the relatively low intensity of the DK War giving Sam Courtenay a welcome fillip as the election draws near.