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News in Shffahkia is reported on by a myriad of news organizations the largest of which are known as the Elle-Apostrophes. The name comes from the fact that each organization's name begins with the letter L and an apostrophe. These organizations are: The Macaw/L'ara, The Inquiry and The Aurelian. From its most popular to its oldest to the continental, these news organizations alongside other publications shed a light on the daily goings-on in Shffahkia and bring a myriad of viewpoints to the table. 

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Larue Administration Proves Divisive According to Approval Ratings Report

According to a recent report on President Larue's approval ratings released by the non-profit electoral organization, La Sfaquie Élit, opinions on the president and her administration vary starkly on a regional basis in the country. To many critics of the president, this shows that Larue who promised to unite the nation upon election has achieved the opposite of this goal. The president on the other hand has passed down the blame for these results to other factors which they had no direct control over. The approval ratings look disconcerting to the president who is in the penultimate year of her presidency as re-election in 2022 is proving to be less likely

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According to the report, President Larue is most popular in the southern states of Catherine, West Catherine and Eustathe. She is especially so in her home state of Catherine where she sports an approval rating of almost 74% which is almost unheard of in Shffahkian politics. At the same time, however, the president's approval rating in the northern state of Monteferro is a record low of 29%. Many find this regional discrepancy alarming. Her high approval rating in Catherine can not only be explained through the fact that Larue and her party, the Citizen Initiative (IC, Initiative Citoyenne), draw much of their support from the state but also through the fact that through the reunification of Paranne and Shffahkia, the state expanded in land area. A feat few politicians can boast about. Larue was rated notably highly by communities located in the previous Paranne-Shffahkia border while her approval ratings elsewhere in Shffahkia have gone down. Some political pundits have begun talking about a "president that is popular outside Shffahkia but not very much inside it."

The report certainly proves worrying to the administration now in its third year. President Larue's first term has seen a total of 3 elections that are gradually wearing down Larue's and Citizen Initiative's support nationwide. The question whether or not Larue will be elected for a second term is uncertain as the president has not even confirmed whether she will run for a second term. However, if Larue is to truly run for a second term, the key to her re-election is her term-defining reunification of Shffahkia and Paranne. 

Larue was elected president in May of 2018 and immediately upon election called for a Senate election to solidify the IC's lead in the same year. The gambit payed off as the party won around 34% of the popular vote making it the largest party in the Senate. She then formed a coalition with the Workers Forum (FO, Forum Ouvrier) and several smaller parties which allowed the administration to go after the president's largest political promise, the Reunification of Shffahkia and Paranne. However, as talks with the Parannais Republic began in 2019, the relationship between the Workers Forum and the Citizen Initiative soured with the FO claiming that the IC had neglected the coalition at every step of the way. As the talks concluded and the ruling coalition broke apart, Larue did not have the votes needed to pass constitutional reform set out in the reunification agreement. The word "recalcitrance" began following the president and her party as party after party refused to support them.

As the political house of cards was falling in Shffahkiaville, the Parannais Republic was officially dismantled in late 2019. This left millions of former Parannais citizens effectively stateless which was seen as the result of gross incompetence from both sides of the agreement. To remedy this situation, the Larue Administration used the executive and diplomatic authority of the President's Office to its fullest extent. Larue officially withdrew Shffahkian recognition of Paranne as an independent state and claimed it as an "area for which Shffahkia is internationally responsible." The President proceeded to claim these officially stateless people as Shffahkian nationals and extended citizenship to them through an executive order. The administration was criticized heavily for perceived abuses of executive power and incompetent diplomatic shenanigans. Criticism spiked when the Executive Office announced a new Senate election for February of 2020 to solve the gridlock. 

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The February election proved a confusing affair as the Citizen Initiative was seemingly pitted against 16 diverse parties all of whom vowed to not work with the recalcitrant president. Yet at the same time, these smaller parties were unable to form a coalition after the elections. The IC claimed victory in the elections gaining the most seats despite their vote share dropping from 35% to 23%. Especially noteworthy is the fact that the Citizen Initiative gained most of it support from the newly added Parannais territory and the home state of the president. The path to 257 seats looked arduous but promising as the Citizen Initiative entered coalition talks with Massimo Amamihe's New Alternative party (NA, Nouvelle Alternative) to form the base for a North-South coalition. However, these talks stalled in March and were cancelled in April. The political stalemate showed no signs of being solved. 

The February elections were seen as disastrous to the point that Larue began to face calls to resign from within her own party. Enough members of the Citizen Initiative supported the movement that Larue had to face a leadership vote. During the leadership debate, Larue expressed deep disappointment to what she coined as the "opportunistic vultures" from the party. The president also pushed back at the claims of recalcitrance made by the FO in 2019: "The IC has not been recalcitrant, on the opposite, the other parties ran on a platform of refusal to work with the party with the democratic mandate," Larue said during in-party talks. Larue promised to solve the stalemate claiming that a third election in May was the only way her party could push through the constitutional change required to see Reunification through fully.

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The reasoning for a third election was dubious at first but as parties began to campaign yet again, a suspicious absence of the Citizen Initiative in the north clued political spectators in on the president's plan. This time around Larue and her party steered clear of places where the party had little support to such a point that Larue refused to attend debates held north of Shffahkiaville. The IC's plan was to bet on Shffahkian voters' oldest known habit: non-committal voting. Shffahkian voters tend to often switch the parties they vote for especially in federal elections. However, the Citizen Initiative has always been a starkly regional party in nature relying on the southern vote. Larue bet on her party's ability to rile southern support and the inability of other parties to maintain their own support. Larue's plan did not rely on the IC getting stronger but for them to survive a political game of attrition.

This second gamble of Larue succeeded as the Larue-sceptic vote, previously seized by 3 parties, fractured and was seized by 5 parties. Similarly, the total number of parties in the Senate decreased from 17 to 13 freeing up seats for coalition building. Despite this "success," the Citizen Initiative's support fell further to 20%. The IC originally represented a third of all Shffahkians which has now fallen to a fifth. Following extensive talks in June, Larue finally succeeded in forming a coalition with the Communitarians (COM, Les Communautaires), the Social Centre (SC, Centre Social), the Four Star movement (QE, Les Quatre-Étoiles) and surprisingly the New Alternative (NA) controlling a total of 287 seats. 

The passing of the Paranne Reintegration Act saw the end of the Shffahkian process partly concluding Larue's unification promise. However, unifying the nation has in an unexpected way made Shffahkia less unified internally as Larue and her conduct continue to divide Shffahkians. Some hold the opinion that the president did what she had to do in order to push through her political promises while others see the president as an unpredictable, dangerous to Shffahkian democracy — the epitome of a corrupt populist. In a press release, the president stressed the importance of Shffahkian national unity above any slight political disagreements. It remains to be seen if the Shffahkian populace having gone through three exhausting elections would choose to elect Larue as president a second time in the event that she chooses to run in 2022.

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