The Commission Candidates Debate - Nov. 2013
With nominations for the election to Commission XV closed, it is time to get a feel for each of the men and women who want to get your vote. It goes without saying that any candidate who wants to be in with a decent chance of securing votes needs to give off that positive image, that spark that's going to convince a "maybe I'll vote for him", to change into a "that guy there, I'm voting for him." Of course, not all candidates are required to debate with their colleagues, but let's hope we can get as many as possible to answer questions and sell themselves to the electorate.
We have sent out formal invitations to take part to the following candidates, all of whom have officially nominated themselves to become part of Europe's next commission:
Augustus Barrington (Inimicus, UEC) [Incumbent]
Dann Eriksson am d'Iunio (Duxburian Union, ECL)
Peter Montfort (Angleter, UEC) [Incumbent]
William Roebuck (Gun-Toting Animals, ECL)
Blair von Schroeder (Red Croatia, UEC) [Incumbent]
Now, we have the standard rules and regulations that we need to get out of the way:
- Questions to be posed to the candidates must be sent to yours truly, i.e. me.
- Be sure to specify who each question comes from when you send it to me, along with where they live (be as specific as you want), and what their occupation is.
- Questions may be submitted anonymously.
- The debate moderator (AKA me) reserves the right to reject any question if I feel I have legitimate grounds to do so.
- Pose questions to an individual candidate, or to the whole group, whichever takes your fancy.
- Be as biased or as unbiased as you like in your question.
- Only myself and the Commission candidates may be allowed to participate in the debate
-Racism in any form will not be tolerated, and the offender will be subject to Mrs. von Schroeder's wrath. Trust me, you do not want to get on the wrong side of her. (Looking at you Augustus...)
[An attractive man enters from left, adjusting his tie as he walks. He comes to a halt in front of the camera, and begins his direct address to the audience]
"Hello everybody! How is everyone today?! Happy, excited, suicidal? I'm Avery Chaffey, don't laugh, and I'll be your host for this very special debate. We have waiting in the wings the candidates who want your vote in this election to the European Commission, Commission XV if you can believe that! Now, before we get into the customary "You never done anything in your term!!!"s, and "Make me Premier or I'll nuke your capital"s, I'd ask you to welcome the candidates to the stage!"
[The candidates enter, approaching the five lecterns. Barrington brushes past von Schroeder, with the latter then giving him the iciest stare imaginable. The audience mostly applauds, with the occasional "racist thug" and "beastly bigot" audible.]
"Now, now settle down. There will be opportunities for autographs after the debate. Before we get into the nitty gritty of the questioning, I'd like to ask the candidates to make their opening statements."
Augustus Barrington looked at the other candidates before beginning:
"If my colleagues permit me, I will start. First of all, I would like to congratulate my fellow candidates on their succesful nominations. As there are only five of us, we are certain to achieve a commission spot, and from what I'm seeing here, the coming commission might become even greater than the last one. Dann, Peter, William and Blair are all capable candidates, and I'm sure we will do very well forming a commission.
So, the real 'battle' is about who becomes the Premier. I would certainly like the job, as I would like any other commission spot. If I am not elected to the Premiership, however, my second choice would be to resume my spot in the Foreign Affairs Commission. The Foreign office was expertly managed by my predecessor Colleen Bennet, and I think I have done a good job replacing her. Under me, the cultural ambassador programme has finally been executed, with ambassadors putting out updates about our region as we speak. I have also written two good monthly updates and I have, together with my recruiters, managed to keep the EU at a reasonably stable member count. Unlike, and forgive me for saying this, Marie Rivas, who has done virtually nothing for her Commission Office in four months. I have done more in two. I hope to be able to continue this strait of achievements in either the Premiership or the Forgein Affairs Office. Thank you very much"
"Thank you for this lovely speech Augustus, I just hope that I can out-do you." Blair smiles and laughs,
"First of all, It's quite noticable that within these elections, we have only five candidates, which immediately ensures each and every one of us a spot on the commission unless we do something terribly stupid, therefore, many will guess that this is probably going to be one of the easiest and dare-i-say one of the most boring elections and terms, but I believe just the opposite. Because the European Union has failed to even get enough interested and eligble candidates, it means that this commission will have to battle the people that put them in their place themselves, and try to inspire our people, convince them into wanting more, and try to have them regain their will, and that's going to be a challenge that I, and I hope my present and future colleagues will have to take on with everything in our power, and in order to do that, the most important thing we have to do is organize ourselves, prepare ourselves, and learn more about each other, so we can try to get something great and something valuable out of this commission."
Blair clears her throat and continues her speech
"I indeed am not glad that the young politicians of the European Union aren't willing to take on this challenge, and that the competition to once highly wanted positions in our community is greatly reducing, but that's the least of issues that the lack of activity Europe is showing is causing. There are many issues that are left unresolved that will fall unto us to finish, with the greatest example being the Dromund Kaas war, which is still trying to be resolved."
Blair looks around, making eye contact with everyone in the crowd
"..And how do things like these make us look like? Like we're uncapable of putting enough will towards a goal and acomplishing it, and that with our many years from which we've obtained so much experience we haven't been able to do a somewhat simple task. Well, that's not the Europe I want to live in, and I'm sure none of you want to either, which is why I during these elections am going to do my hardest to reach out to all of you, and I am going to try my hardest to have everything finally fall into it's place..."
"...And because of that, I'm going to put all my energy and all my time in attempting to resolve the issues that Europe has left unresolved with the power I have now, and the power I'm still going to have for another term, hoping that with the help of my colleagues I can become a better woman in a better Europe..." Knowing that she said everything she needed to, Blair sits down, showing slight uncomfort and then smiles.
Good evening everyone. As you may already know I've been heavily involved in Europolitics for nearly two years now as the European Councillor of the Confederacy of Gun-Toting Animals. I have experienced first hand at working with people of all political backgrounds and I have been able to affect change by bringing different sides together.
I like to pride myself on tackling the big issues facing the region, such as ENAA reform and resolving the EDF/ERF situation. This is why I was disappointed when Commission XIV didn't put much focus on discussing or working on many of our past unresolved issues like education cooperation, environmental preservation, Constitution reforms, and UDoHR reforms. The Commission failed to spark conversation amongst the nations of Europe in a time where it was sorely needed. The Council Consultations were nice but the topics were chosen by the Commissioners not by the nations and many of the discussions did not have a follow up on the legislative front.
Commissioner Von Schroeder talks about wanting to focus on Dromund Kaas, but such a statement only proves that she is oblivious to the political climate of the situation. The nations involved in Dromund Kaas have made it quite clear that they will take the lead in bringing that conflict to a close and have shunned past Commission involvement. Now if those nations have changed their stances on the situation then fine, we will assist them in any way we can, but we can't afford to have the Commission waste time on the conflict when their effort is unwanted and will be for naught. We need to focus on a wider range of Europeans and get back to working on the issues that involve everyone.
My Rechroatian colleague laments that there wasn't enough outreach to the nations of Europe but she was in the position to do all of that in her last term as the Internal Affairs Commissioner, but instead chose to focus solely on the URE. Her work was commendable, but she forgot about serving the rest of Europe and was part of the problem she pointed out in her opening statement. And now it looks like she wants to repeat the same actions of last term by turning her sole focus to the Dromund Kaas conflict.
I say we need to think bigger and we need to let everyone be heard, and when I'm on the Commission I will work tirelessly to not only give people a platform to express their views, but assist them in enacting change.
Dann Eriksson rose to speak. It was his first time on the international stage, but he was not nervous at all. He was excited and could barely contain his enthusiasm.
Hey everyone, my name is Dann Eriksson. Before introducing my goals for the 15th European Commission, I'd like to thank Moderator Chaffey and Halsberg for hosting this debate. I'd especially like to thank you, the people, for caring enough to attend it and hear what the Commission candidates have to offer. Without your continued passion for, and dedication to, the European Union, none of us would be here.
We have an extraordinary opportunity to revitalize the European Commission. The institution has become inactive and largely ineffective at solving regional problems. NOW is the time to turn it around and restore your faith in the Commission. NOW is the time to tackle the great issues of our era.
I realize that being younger and having less experience, I am not the strongest candidate for Premier, and am thus not explicitly seeking that office. I support my experienced colleague, Dr. William Roebuck, for Premier. Instead of that position, I am aiming to become your next Commissioner of Internal Affairs.
Past Internal Commissioners have asked, surveyed, and reported, but have not acted. There are many good ideas out there that have been discussed to death, but sit neglected. Some were tried in the Council and failed to pass. However, not everything needs to be an Act of the Council. We can implement ideas through this office with those who wish to be involved.
For one, I would love to see some environmental action. Such efforts have failed in the past due to lack of coordination across political divides and lack of inclusion of more affected parties. The environment impacts us all, we depend on it, we cannot survive without it. But, in order to protect it, we must take everyone's needs into account, species and ecosystems, businesses and industries, clubs and civilizations. We are also part of the environment. Until we compromise and ensure that no party will be screwed in the new regulations, initiatives like the Ocean Protection Act will never be implemented.
I would like to try to do more with education. Not just making the university exchange program a reality, but also examining how Europe can help underperforming students and schools, without busting the EU budget or trampling someone's sovereignty. Education is critical and everyone deserves a fair chance from a level playing field.
As for war, I am realistic enough to know that some conflicts are unavoidable and that the Commission can't always talk its way in or talk belligerents out. I would like to at least send observers to monitor conflicts and make sure that no human rights violations are occurring. I'd also like to find out why no information has been coming from the war in Droumund Kaas. The European Union deserves to know what is going on and how close it is to resolution.
Finally, I think that Commissioner Schroeder is quite mistaken about young European politicians being unwilling to step up to bat for the Union. Turnout is rising, youth are knocking on doors, and a new crop of energetic, idealistic, aspiring politicians are challenging incumbents and laying the foundation for a great future. There is an electrifying wave of optimism and political involvement taking place in democracies across the European Union.
This is why I am here before you all tonight. I was just an ordinary person wishing for change and action. I realized that it won't just happen if you go about your daily business with high hopes, you have to actually stand up and make it happen. You must be the change!
Good evening, and thank you for having me. Tonight, and in fact since this election campaign began, there's been a lot said about things like action, and activity, or the lack thereof. I think we all agree that we need more action and activity, and that the next Commission needs to do more to bring that action about. But the question remains - what sort of action do we need, and how do we get it?
I shall admit that Commission XIV was not perfect - its degree of activity left a lot to be desired, and that is partially my fault. However, look at Europolis as a whole. We're in a political malaise at the European level. The Council chamber is quiet. The party system is in decline. And so on. My committee reform proposals, if passed, will hopefully begin to turn that tide, but there remains a lot to do.
But what to do? Well, we are in need of some sort of structural reform. In the Commission, I believe this will involve even clearer goals than before, and an end to the four month terms experiment. In the Council and the party system - the true drivers of our political system - the question is a difficult one, and we need to initiate a discussion about why the processes there have ground to a halt.
And that is the main priority - getting activity back into our legislature. But it needs to be genuine activity. It needs to be as much as possible a self-reliant institution, not one propped up by the Commission. That, above all, is what I wish to see delivered in Commission XV, be I Premier or Internal.
What about the other offices? Well, work needs to be done in all. In Defence, we need to complete the equipping of the ERF. In Economics, it's high time we slashed the cost of a patent and the national contributions to a budget in a massive surplus. And in Foreign Affairs, we need to carry on consolidating the good work of Colleen Bennet. So in short - in every office there is work to do, but our main priority now must be encouraging real reform and real activity in all branches of European government. Thank you very much.
[After each candidate had concluded their opening speeches, the host was speaking once again.]
"Thank you, candidates for these informative opening statements. Now its time to move into questions from the audience. Its like a wee bit of Question Time, eh? The first question comes from the lady up at the back there, a Mrs. Lori Jadush. Mrs Jadush, take it away."
[A bespectacled and somewhat hawkish female arises from her seat, near the back of the auditorium. She gathers her notepaper together, but not before dropping said notes. Blushing, she quickly regains composure and begins her question, speaking somewhat nervously. It is obvious she is not used to the spotlight.]
"Hello everyone...candidates. As you know, I'm Lori Jadush, and I'm a physician from Os Corelia. This...uh...question is for all the...uh...candidates, if that's alright. My question is, what will you do to bring activity to a quite slumbering council chamber?"
Well this is a good question, Mrs. Jadush, I believe I've already somewhat answered this in my opening speech. I would, at the beginning of the term, reach out to Councillors and citizens of Europe to figure out which issues are important to them and then, starting with the answers given the most frequently, I would help lead a discussion about the topic. However, it won't necessarily be a string of questions like past Council Consultations led by Commissioners, I hope to provoke a more substantive debate where Councillors have to interact with each other to give their answers and we'll see if there can be some common ground met to advance some of these causes and work on these important issues. That's step one.
Step two, is to transition from the discussion stage to the implementation stage. This is where Consultations have failed in the past. If people are interested enough in legislating or entering a multilateral agreement to implement some of the ideas brought up during discussions then we have to assist them with this. We can assign a group of Councillors to help write a bill or a treaty. These groups would give the perfect opportunity to help newer Councillors get involved in writing bills by matching them up with more experienced authors, so that in the future they can write them on their own if they want.
These things combined should help get the Council moving and talking, and this as a result will help improve the region as a whole.
"Thank you for your question, Lori, I will try to answer it as best a possible. As Foreign Affairs Commissioner I have been confronted with an empty council personally when I was writing the last monthly update. It's a genuine problem, and not to be underestimated. A good start to get the Council lively again is the Committee Reform Act. My colleague the Inimician councillor has therefore voted in favour of this act. Committee Reform, though, is not the only thing that needs to be done to get the council active once more.
Another thing is forming a group that will start brainstorming ideas for new bills, and how they should be written. Whether this should be a special committee or a different organisation is hard to tell right now."
"I'm not doing anything particullary out of the blue when it comes to shaking up the council, I already
have several projects such as the Europolis Security and Ocean Protection which I will try to turn into acts
to bring to the council floor and I'm already setting up discussion which they may freely take part in,
and that's pretty much all."
"Well, this is a major priority of mine, and I believe it should be a major priority for the next Commission as a whole. I don't pretend that I know the solution, but I do know what won't work, and that's the Commission churning out bills, be it directly or through the committees we had a few Commissions ago. We need genuine activity from Councillors in the Council, and I think what we need to do is to call a meeting with the whole Council and the major party leaders to work out why the stream of Council bills has dried up. Work out what the underlying problems are, and then we can sort them out."
It is interesting to watch candidates overreact to this question, particularly Augustus Barrington and Peter Montfort. Has the Council actually become a ghost town? Does it need fixing? I don't think that the numbers support such perceptions and conclusions.
What happened in the Council during this past Commission term? We had 4 consultations on Europolis security, the European Relief Force, nuclear weapons, and LGBT military personnel (whatever that is). We voted to deploy the ERF in its first ever mission and amended its act to improve response times. The ERF mission was the most approved proposal in the history of the European Council, with some 16 yea votes. 2 acts were shelved and one was just passed.
Does that really sound like an inactive Council? We may have only passed one actual Act, but we also only passed one in the previous (Liszckoszi) Commission. The acclaimed Frank Commission only produced 2 Acts, and 10 months of Kligenberg Commissions only produced 3 Acts. Several of these other Commissions have had more actionable proposals, but the differences are not drastic in volume.
Average voting turnout in the Montfort Commission was 11.67, vs 10.5 in the Liszckoszi Commission and 10.4 in the Bass Commission. These all beat the lifetime 9.5 vote average turnout of the Council. 2013 has been the 2nd most active year in Council history by proposal volume.
The items that came to vote in the Montfort Commission had a gap of 1 month and then around 2 months. Are these large gaps? No, the previous Liszckoszi Commission had a gap of over 2 months between actionable proposals, the McDowell Commission had a 4 month gap, and the Vooleeck Commission had a pair of gaps in excess of half a year each.
Thus, while I think that the Council could use some improvement, with a renewed push to complete the Constitution and UDoHR, and some new legislation, we do not need the Commission to heavily intervene. The Council's results are statistically healthy and its activity level is within reasonable expectations.
As for Blair von Schroeder, shaking up the Council with 2 actionable proposals in the twilight of your term doesn't exactly count. You've had about 3 months to do that for the Ocean Protection Act and an entire term for Europolis Security. Plus, the Ocean Act has not been substantially improved, a critical step mentioned in its original debate. None of its previous opponents could be expected to change their positions without a complete refactoring of the bill.
"We know have a couple of questions for some individual candidates. I know right, this thing's just got real. These questions were all sent in by..."
[Chaffey squints at the autocue, as if he was making sure that it indeed says what he thought.]
_"...some anonymous Rhinians who are unsure if they'll even bother lobbying their government to vote for anybody. Huh. Why not, I suppose.
"The first question is for Blair von Schroeder: After serving a term as the Internal Affairs Commissioner of the United Romulan Empire, do you feel as if though you have gained enough experience to lead the whole region?"
"Our second question, again from those anonymous Rhinians, is for Peter Montfort: For as long as I can remember Europeans always knew the name of the Premier Commissioner whether it was good or bad. There was Liszckoszi, Bass, Frank, Liszckoszi again and Kligenberg twice. Commission XIV was the first time in a while where many Europeans could not even remember who the Premier Commissioner was. Do you think this reflect positively or negatively on yourself and why do you think this phenomena occurred?
"And finally, our third question, for Augustus Barrington: **You are probably universally recognized as the most competent Commissioner this term following Commissioner Bennet's departure from both the office and life itself. The only criticism that can be made about your half-term is that the number of nations in European Union has been on a steady decline since you've been on office. Is there a specific reason for this decline that is out of your control or is this indeed a failure on your part? Do you think Colleen Bennet was a good Commissioner? Were you better? **
"Well, that's the end of this round of questions, I now invite the candidates to ans..._
[Chaffey puts his finger to his earpiece, listening to what the producer was saying. The producer is called Gerald. He was born a woman...went to Bangkok for a hen night...long story.]
"My sincere apologies, ladies and gentlemen and...[He looks weirdly at the control room above the camera]...in between. It seems we have one more question for one Augustus Barrington! Could a Mrs...what the...umm...Jane Barrington please ask your question!"
[An extremely elderly woman arises from her wheelchair. She looks incredibly like her son...imagine Barrington with a white wig and makeup. She begins to speak, but her dentures become lose. With the dentures swiftly corrected by the always on hand carer, Augustus' mother begins her question]
"Hello deary! Look at my son, all big and important. Oh I'm so proud! Anyhoo, I'd like to ask why are you such a racist vile bigot who sees the individuality of humans as a threat to your personal existence? We're having mince and potatoes for tea, honey! Don't stay out too late!"
_You are probably universally recognized as the most competent Commissioner this term following Commissioner Bennet's departure from both the office and life itself. The only criticism that can be made about your half-term is that the number of nations in European Union has been on a steady decline since you've been on office. Is there a specific reason for this decline that is out of your control or is this indeed a failure on your part? Do you think Colleen Bennet was a good Commissioner? Were you better? _
"I thank the Rhinians for giving me this question, and I thank them even more for the wonderful compliment they give me. The decline in nations is a huge problem indeed, yet I and some of my recruiters worked very hard to keep the region up on its feet. Some other recruiters, though, have not done their jobs at all" Barrington seemes to give Mrs Von Schroeder a look, "so we had less recruiters to work with, and therefore we didn't manage to stop the decline in members we have had to cope with since this summer. Perhaps I should have encouraged these inactive recruiters more and tried to recruit more recruiters, but the fault is not entirely mine.
For the second part of your question, I would like to say Colleen Bennet was an absolutely fantastic commissioner. I certainly do not think myself better than her, for two reasons. First, it is never a justified thing to think yourself better than another when that fact is not clear at all. And second, I simply think Colleen was such a great colleauge that I simply have not been a better commissioner. I think that if she would have completed her term, she would have been able to achieve much more than I have. And no, I do not say this because she was a Rhinian and I want to be in the Rhinians' good books, I sincerely think she was a fabulous commissioner. I really mourn her death.
But in short, I think that if I get elected to the Foreign Commission (which is kind of what I expect and want, to be honest with you) I will have to motivate the inactive recruiters and get new ones to join the ranks. Once more, thank you Rhinians for your compliments and your questions."
Then, Barrington looked over to his mother, who had unexpectedly turned up at the debate: "Mother.", he blushed a little "I thought you would be supportive of your son. Either way, I am not happy with your question. 'Why are you such a racist vile bigot who sees the individuality of humans as a threat to your personal existence?'. First of all, I am not a racist. I despise racism. I have never had any racist thoughts in my entire life. If anyone proves otherwise, he may say so now. I have also never considered individuality of humans as a threat to my own personal existance. Quite frankly, mother, we seriously have to think about the retirement home..."
After serving a term as the Internal Affairs Commissioner of the United Romulan Empire, do you feel as if though you have gained enough experience to lead the whole region?"
"Solving the issue was surely a experience that I will never forget, and I certainly believe that I have learned a lot from it, and it's going to help me in the future, but does it prepare me for the leadership role in the european commission? Well, that's is certainly not a question I want to answer, because I would prefer to have others judge me, rather then judge myself."
For as long as I can remember Europeans always knew the name of the Premier Commissioner whether it was good or bad. There was Liszckoszi, Bass, Frank, Liszckoszi again and Kligenberg twice. Commission XIV was the first time in a while where many Europeans could not even remember who the Premier Commissioner was. Do you think this reflect positively or negatively on yourself and why do you think this phenomena occurred?
"Well, I think you sort of answered your own question - these 'big names' can either be good or bad. I wouldn't say it reflects on me either positively or negatively. I think it does suggest two things, though - that our politics has become less lively, less contentious, so that my name doesn't elicit such strong responses as 'Liszckoszi' or 'Kligenberg' did. That's an issue I've addressed, I do believe it's serious, and I intend to help fix it. It also suggests at my less Presidential style of governing, and that's wholly deliberate - I don't intend to concentrate all the authority in my hands, because I'm a strong believer in the power of the legislature, in democracy, and in national sovereignty."
_"I thank the candidates for their answers. Now we have another question for all our candidates: **I see two failed Commissioners, a proven leader in the European Council, a new face and the man I'll likely vote for Premier Commissioner. I'd like the candidates to guess which description likely fits them and I would also like them to tell me why I should vote for them above Augustus Barrington. Oh, it looks like I may have just given away one of the answers. **
"The question was yet another that was sent in by the anonymous Rhinians."_
Hahahahaha. Well I guess I have the second easiest job guessing which I am, compared to Augustus, seeing as how I am the only Councillor in the field. I would say that the description that fits me is the proven leader in Council. As far as why you should vote for me ahead of Augustus, I would say because I have a vision for the European Union and I'm not sure that Commissioner Barrington has one and that is absolutely necessary to have a successful Premiership. Don't get me wrong, Augustus filled in admirably after Commissioner Bennet's death and continued the agenda that she set forth, but when it gets down to it, will he be able to inspire people and lead the EU on its way to vast improvement. A good Premier has to be more than just competent at their job.
I believe that I have the experience working with people of all backgrounds to get things done that will allow everyone in the EU to have their voice heard so that ultimately as a region our relationships will grow stronger. If we're going to soar to new heights we need someone who is willing to accept the challenge. I'm willing to and I'm ready to. Commissioner Barrington said in one of his earlier responses today that he prefers the comfort of the Foreign Affairs office. There's nothing wrong with that, I think he'd keep doing a good job there, but if his heart's not into the Premiership how can we expect him to excel there?
I definitely have the easiest job figuring this out, being the newcomer. How can I earn your higher preference over Barrington?
I wish to inject fresh energy into the Commission and provide closure for several objectives that have stalled. I am a dedicated, hard working, serious, passionate candidate. You've already had time to evaluate what Barrington is like as a Commissioner. I think you deserve better service and results out of your Commission, and I aim to deliver that.
"Are you sure you're not cold - only your veil's a bit thin. Anyway, considering that the three other descriptions have been taken, I'll press on to the substance of the question. I freely admit that my Commission has not been as successful as I'd hoped. However, what I believe I have is the right vision for the region's political health, and that's what I think matters most. You can only guess whether our sincere promises of activity will come good, but you do know from this debate what we believe in."