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2024 Schennish Elections (The July Crisis)


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Chapter 1: Hannemann Calls a Snap Election

15 JUNE 2024

HARBURG, Schennland

President Gustav Hannemann called a press conference this afternoon and announced his intention to dissolve the national parliament and hold a snap election on 15 July 2024. This came as a surprise to many political commentators, as Hannemann's NKP-led right-wing coalition has lost significant ground in national opinion polls, and elections were not due until 2025. The governing coalition is led by the Nationalist Conservative Party (NKP) — who won a plurality of votes in the 2020 elections — as well as the center-right Agrarian-Democratic Alliance (AA) and the far-right Schennish Patriots Party (SP).

Justifying his decision, Hannemann stated that he had “full confidence in the Schennish people to reaffirm the position of the NKP.” He also said that calling an election was a “calculated and strategic decision” to “end the chaos created by a coalition partner,” a not-so-subtle jab at the so-called 'Schlesinger Affair,' where former Schennish Vice President and SP chief Albrecht Schlesinger resigned from political office amid a corruption probe, sinking his party's popularity in the process.

Pundits theorize that Hannemann's strategy may be to stop the bleeding of public opinion by cutting off all association with the SP. Since the Schlesinger Affair broke headlines earlier in the year, all three parties in the ruling coalition took a hit to their popularity. The SP in particular was badly injured by the scandal, and now polls below the election threshold, while its party unity is in disarray. Indeed, seven Deputies in the Nationalrat from the SP have left the party, with 3 joining the newly-formed New Schennish Way (NSW) as an opposition group. With the fall of the furthest-right party represented in parliament, and no obvious successor yet present, Hannemann may hope that the SP voter base supports his party for the upcoming election.

A second reason may be that Hannemann does not believe the opinion polls — and this may be reasonable. Although the NKP currently polls in second place, Schennland's steep 6% electoral threshold historically deters voters from the smaller parties, and so right-wing challengers like the NSW — who have seen a rise to prominence due to their criticism of Hannemann's government — may not see their gains actualized by an electorate wary of a spoiler effect.

Another potential reasoning for Hannemann to unexpectedly call for an election is to catch opposing parties off-guard, and give them less time to prepare their party list for the election. The main opposition party and current electoral favorites, the center-left Democratic Party (DP), will now have less time to write a cohesive campaign platform. Also, this is bad news for various smaller parties to the left of the DP — including, most notably, the Aurelian Revolutionary Popular Party (ARV) — who had been in talks to form an electoral alliance for a 2025 election. With a month until the election, it is less likely that a satisfactory alliance agreement could be reached.

The big-tent, isolationist NKP has dominated Schennish politics since the late 1980s, capitalizing on anti-socialist and nationalist sentiment to rule almost uninterrupted. The party has seen a decline in vote share in the past few years, due to economic stagnation and a rise in corruption.

Major election issues are expected to be the state of the economy, the migrant crisis caused by the Grand War, Aurelian League membership, political corruption, and the aforementioned Schlesinger Affair.

More news to come as the election shapes up, including individual party announcements and further polling results.

OOC: The HoS title is 'president,' but is in effect a Hos-HoG-combined prime minister that is elected by parliament, like in South Africa.

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Chapter 2: Schennish Left Forms 'New Left Alliance'

17 JUNE 2024

HARBURG, Schennland

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:pic: The new alliance's revealed logo.

Three of Schennland's left-wing political parties say they have united to form a “New Left Alliance” (BNL) to compete in next month's elections. Led by the Aurelian Revolutionary Popular Party (ARV) — who are the only party in the alliance currently in the parliament — the united party list also contains the similarly Pan-Aurelianist and left-wing Agrarian Socialist Party (ASP) and Schennish Communist Party (SKP).

ARV leader Peter Bedrotti announced the alliance at a press conference earlier today. As the leader of the largest party in the alliance, he is expected to lead the bloc in its unified electoral campaign.

Some theorized that the left may not be able to come to an agreement in time with other smaller left-wing parties to stand as a united electoral alliance. This was proven incorrect, as the parties worked with speed to compile a unified candidate list for the ballots.

The two largest left-wing parties not part of the alliance are the Democratic Party (DP) and the Party of Schennish Gemotamism (PSG). Both already have members in the Nationalrat; the DP is more moderate than the parties in the New Left Alliance and currently leads all parties in polling, while the PSG is controversial for its left-wing nationalist rhetoric and its ties to the ruling Dolchic Socialist Gemotam Party in Stedoria. Indeed, the PSG has been the subject of a cordon sanitaire in many municipal governments, and is not expected to enter government in the event of a leftist victory.

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:pic: Peter Bedrotti, President of the Aurelian Revolutionary Popular Front and projected leader of the New Left Alliance

In national polls, the ARV is currently polling with around 12.1% of the vote, while the SPS has around 4.6%. If the alliance can capitalize on that combined support, it propels the BNL into third place in the polls.

It remains to be seen how the other left-wing parties will react to this announcement. If the NKP loses its plurality, it is plausible that this new alliance may form a center-left government with the Democratic Party.

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Chapter 3: The Parties

With election season fully underway, and parties having established their candidacies and platforms, here is an overview of the major contenders in the election:

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National Conservative Party (NKP)
Political Position: Right
Ideology: National conservatism, right-wing populism, illiberalism, isolationism
Leader: Gustav Hannemann
Previous election: 51 seats
The NKP, the party founded by Paul Amsel following the Neuer Staat dictatorship, rose to power in the late 1980s on a platform of economic reformism, conservative values, and nationalism following the disastrous Beich presidency. Amsel lead the nation nearly uninterrupted until his death in 2009, improving the economy and remaining relatively popular. His son and successor, Walter Amsel, was not nearly as successful, leading the country through a turbulent economic time and losing the party leadership to young challenger Gustav Hannemann in 2015. Hannemann, a leader of the more populist and illiberal faction of the party, weaponized populist rhetoric to steady his party's popularity and remain in power through the usage of successive coalition governments. Though his reign has been mired by a floundering economy and increasing corruption, Hannemann remained fairly popular due to a disorganized opposition and utilizing nationalism and the country's historic isolationism to his advantage. But following the Schlesinger Affair, problems among the right have reached a fever pitch, and voters may not be willing to give his government another chance. His coalition partner, the Schennish Patriots Party, has been rapidly imploding, with some members leaving his government to join the newly-founded New Schennish Way. In an attempt to capitalize on the chaos, give the NSW less time to organize, and revitalize his base, Hannemann called a snap election earlier this month. But this may backfire; already, polls show the NKP behind the DP. And while it seems that this strategy may have stopped the party from haemorrhaging its supporters to the NSW, some of the more extreme nationalists have started to look for alternatives to the NKP.
The NKP is running on a platform of nationalistic conservatism, promising to keep Schennland on the isolationist path, increase funding for the armed forces, further restrict immigration, and continue its enforcement of law and order.

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New Schennish Way (NSW)
Political Position: Center-right
Ideology: Liberal conservatism, Market liberalism
Leader: Birgit Kolka
Previous election: N/A
Newcomers to the political scene, many of their members broke away from the NKP and the Schennish Patriots Party. They resemble the more economically liberal side of the political right, and look to recapture the original economic-reformist spirit of the NKP. They seek to end the cronyism of the NKP and implement market reforms, while still remaining a conservative nation. Furthermore, they also seek to open up trade with its neighbors on the Typhon Coast and open cooperation with the Aurelian League.
Headed by former SP Deputy Birgit Kolka, the NSW runs on a platform of economic liberalization, inviting foreign investment, and tax cuts.

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Agrarian Democratic Alliance (AA)
Political Position: Center
Ideology: Agrarianism, regionalism
Leader: Rainer Nolte
Previous election: 13 seats
One of the minor parties, the Agrarian Democratic Alliance, has always been popular among rural farmers in Schennland, which make up a substantial portion of the population outside the northern coastal regions of the country. They seek more autonomy for rural regions and more concessions to small farms and farmers.

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Democratic Party (DP)
Political Position: Center-left
Ideology: Third way, social democracy
Leader: Peter Böttcher
Previous election: 42 seats
Historically the main opposition party to the NKP, the party has waxed and waned through interparty leadership and ideological scuffles. But since the charismatic Peter Böttcher secured leadership, the party has rallied around his Third Way politics and looks to take advantage of a weakened NKP. But just as it draws supporters away from the NKP, the polarized political landscape sees other leftist parties drawing supporters towards the further left, leading to some historic enmity between the DP and the further-left Aurelian Revolutionary Popular Party.
The DP is running on a platform of social and economic reform, trying to transform Schennland into a prosperous social democratic state by instituting regulations on businesses, ending NKP cronyism, and implementing universal healthcare.

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New Left Alliance (BNL)
Political Position: Left to far-left
Ideology: Left-wing (various), Pan-Aurelianism, Democratic socialism
Leader: Peter Bedrotti
Previous election: 11 seats (as ARV)
The New Left Alliance is on-paper an electoral alliance between various leftist groups, but is dominated by the democratic socialist and Pan-Aurelianist Aurelian Revolutionary Popular Party (ARV). Pointing to the economic woes of the NKP administration, they draw voters disillusioned with the DP's moderate solutions and look to the nearby Democratic Socialists in Advocatius as a model for the economy.
The BNL runs on a unified platform of the nationalization of key industries, further cooperation with and entry into the Aurelian League, and the promotion of unions.

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Party of Schennish Gemotamism
Political Position: Far left
Ideology: Gemotamism, Left-wing nationalism, Left-wing populism
Leader: Hans-Georg Jelan
Previous election: 10 seats
The PSG is controversial among the other leftist parties for its unabashed nationalism and its connections to the Stedorian ruling party. Gemotamism is an ideology of socialist, Pan-Dolch nationalism, giving it popularity among the Stedorian and Dolch diaspora in Schennland. With the fall of the Schennish Patriots Party, and some in the NKP base tired of its ineffective governance, the PSG has seen a moderate rise in popularity among traditionally right-wing voters searching for a new nationalist party. Though the PSG is affiliated with Stedoria's Dolchic Socialist Gemotam Party, having been founded by Stedorian exiles in 1988, it merely seeks increased Pan-Dolch cooperation rather than integration, and has slightly different economic policy than its fraternal organization.
The PSG seeks to reform the state in the image of Stedoria, and runs on a platform of increased militarism, dirigisme, nationalization, and state unions.

Less than a week after the announcement of the election, the political scene in Schennland is buzzing with activity, and national polls conducted after the election announcement are expected to be released in the upcoming week. Time will tell if the Hannemann's decision to spring the election early to take advantage of an opposition in chaos will be in his benefit, or if it will instead deliver his party from power for the first time in decades.

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Chapter 4: A Meeting

In a stately meeting room in the presidential palace, three of the most powerful men in Schennland sit around a table. At the one side of the table sits Paul Schmidt, the President of the Nationalrat, whose restless disposition makes no attempt to hide his discomfort and apprehension.

“Gustav, it seems you were wrong.” said Schmidt, holding up the front page of the Schennmünder Zeitung. “The DP still polls ahead, while Kolka and her NSW have made significant gains.”

The man across from him at the table sighs. Nine years at the helm of the nation for Gustav Hannemann was evident from the gray in his hair, yet he addressed his deputy with the same calm demeanor that he had become famous for.

“We had no choice. It was only a matter of time until the downfall of the Patriots Party became the downfall of our governing coalition. This was the best way to grab as many SP voters as possible, before the new NSW can organize. Besides, the polls are often wrong.”

The third man, Werner Biermann, pushed his glasses up onto his bald face, and looked again through the polling data he prepared.

“The DP may poll ahead, but even if that holds, they're unlikely to be able to form a government. No combination of two parties achieves a majority.” He paused. “Other than a grand coalition, of course, but there's no way they would work with us. Or we with them.”

Hannemann chuckled. “No, that won't come to pass. And as long as they can't form a government, then they can't remove me from power, and we remain a minority government.”

“That's true” said Biermann. “As polling currently stands, neither a BNL-DP nor a DP-AA-NSW coalition would have a majority. There's no way the center parties would give support to a government that includes the socialists, and there's no way that the socialists would support a government with NSW. And as we know, even if they hate your guts Hannemann, they can't remove you without nominating a successor.”

Schmidt pursed his lips. “Our best strategy is to hope that our opponents don't reach the magic number of 150? So that, what, Hannemann hangs on a little longer? It's not as if we could find any partners for a potential minority government. Besides, the way that the DP and BNL are polling, they may have enough numbers just by themselves.”

“It's not just about retaining the presidency” said Hannemann. “Although keeping control of the executive is always advantageous. It's about selling our party as the party of competence and stability. If it comes to pass that they can't form a government, the hung parliament will be disastrous for all parties involved in the negotiations. Inevitably, another snap election would need to be called, and at that time we present ourselves as the party of the united right. We show the people that they wasted their votes in voting for the AA and the NSW. Combining that with our general strategy against the DP should have acceptable results.”

“Acceptable results?” said Schmidt. “What's acceptable about any of that?”

“It's cutting our losses. I'm sure I don't need to tell you, but the Nationalkonservative Partei has had quite the poor reputation recently, what with all the scandals and infighting. If we didn't face the NSW now, we'd be facing them next September, after they organize themselves better. Kolka already got many SP Deputies to turn coat, and it's likely that she'd get some from our party as well.”

Biermann nodded. “Instead of waiting for the NSW to drain support from us, we're taking the fight to them. A relatively poor showing from the NSW in next month's election should make voters wary of going back to them in the following snap election. After all, we are the biggest party of the right, and the main bastion against socialism and internationalism in this country.”

“That's exactly why our branding and rhetoric going forward is very important.” added Hannemann. “We have to represent ourselves as the party of unity, of neutrality, of patriotism, and of anti-communism. The DP and BNL are already meeting to form potential policy? Denounce those anti-Schennish traitors of being in bed with the Advocatians. Grease some palms. Use our media connections. Call up the newspapers and let them know. Write speeches telling the good people of Schennland how Böttcher and Bedrotti want to sell our country to the communists.”

Schmidt gives a weak nod. “Understood, although I still think we would've fared better if we had waited. There was no guarantee that we couldn't work out a governing deal with the Deputies who defected to the NSW, and we could've passed more pro-agrarian reforms to shore up support going into the election cycle.”

Biermann stood up from his chair. “There's no reason to discuss it now. What's done is done, and there's no reason to question Hannemann's decision on the matter. Things aren't going exactly peachy for us either way. At least this way, we prevent the risk of being upset by an ideologically similar challenger. F*ck the NSW and f*ck Birgit Kolka. And f*ck the Peters, those socialist wh*res.”

“F*ck them indeed” said Hannemann. He watched the two men gather their papers and leave the room, before making his own exit.

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Chapter 5: A Speech

Just before his speech, Peter Böttcher waits in the room adjacent to the stage. The middle-aged man sits in a chair, resting his head in his right hand while holding a cigarette in his left.

“Don't look so solemn.” said the young lady sat across from him. “As soon as your brother is done introducing you, you're due to walk out there. Might as well put on that smile now.”

Peter chuckled. “That's half the issue, Anja. As soon as your father stops talking, I have to address a city that already gave me their warmest welcome.”

“Oh come on, that protest at the airport was obviously directly organized by Hannemann to make you look bad. Pisekow is a DP city through-and-through, and it's been more than proven by the turnout to hear you speak here.”

Peter takes a drag from his cigarette. “Hannemann really is getting desperate, isn't he? All the NKP are. They're maximizing their fearmongering at every opportunity, to paint our party poorly. To paint our family poorly.”

Anja rolled her eyes. “They can call us names all they like. Hannemann would call anything other than his own corrupt politics 'communist.' Any reform to improve the country is 'communist.' Any politician with new ideas is 'communist.' He's weak and hopeless.”

“And yet, his tactics are working. Our lead has shrunk significantly, and there are protests against our party that are as large as the protests against his.” He took another drag from his cigarette. “If the trends continue, the NKP might not even lose their plurality.”

His niece looked at him. “Uncle Peter, you know as well as I do that public opinion is fickle. We have the promises and policies that will make a difference, and that is what will ultimately matter. You'll go on stage and tell them all about how you'll work to fix the broken system. We just have to stay our course, appeal to the citizens' wish for change. Then we can start dismantling the NKP's system of kickbacks and corruption that has kept this nation from its potential.”

The room grew silent, except for the faintly audible speech by Karl Böttcher out on stage. The two sat for a moment, before Karl's words ended and a muffled applause rumbled into the room. Peter stood up and buttoned his suit; a young assistant poked his head in. “Mr. Böttcher, it's time.”

Viel Erfolg,” said Anja.

Peter gave her a curt nod, stubbed out his cigarette, and walked out onto the stage to the cheering crowd.

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* * *

Just after his speech, Peter Böttcher greets supporters outside the hall alongside his brother and right-hand man. Schenns young and old have lined up along a fence to see the brothers, and the pair shake the hands of their supporters. People voice their support as the crowd grows large.

“Peter! Throw out that coward Hannemann!” “We need reform!” “The Böttcher brothers will save Schennland!” “Not one more year of the NKP!”

Karl grins and waves. Peter addresses an older woman in the crowd.

Then, suddenly,

BANG! BANG BANG! BANG!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Chapter 6: Böttcher Brothers Shot, Karl Slain

5 July 2024

PISEKOW, Schennland

Democratic Party leader Peter Böttcher was shot Wednesday, along with his brother Karl, shortly following a speech given by the former in the city of Pisekow. Four shots were fired, with Peter being struck once and his older brother being hit twice. Both were taken to a nearby hospital, where Karl was pronounced dead hours later. Peter, who was struck in the arm, is recovering from his injuries.

The brothers were shot whilst greeting supporters after a DP rally. Witnesses say the gunman had disguised himself amongst the other supporters. Once the brothers approached his section of the crowd, he drew a hidden pistol from his coat and lunged forward.

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:pic: The suspect, Steffen Bohm, being arrested.

The suspect, who was apprehended almost immediately, was named as 51-year-old Steffen Bohm. Bohm, a dairy farmer from the nearby town of Talling, has no previous criminal history, and is a registered voter of the Schennish Patriots Party. He is a veteran of the Schennish Army, and carried out the assassination using an old service pistol.

Speaking outside the hospital, Anja Böttcher-Hennig, daughter of the late Karl Böttcher, gave a statement calling the shooting “politically motivated” and claimed that the shooter was motivated due to “the inflammatory and radicalizing language used by President Hannemann and his party in slandering his opposition.”

Anja, who made news the previous election for being the youngest ever Deputy in the Nationalrat, is very popular amongst the Democratic Party's support base, and is rumored to succeed her father as the party's second-in-command.

A spokesperson for President Hannemann condemned the attack, calling it “an attack on Schennish democracy” and denounced violence “in the strongest possible terms.” However, he also criticized Böttcher-Hennig's comments, stating that “mud-slinging… isn't an appropriate response to tragedy.”

* * *

Back inside a meeting room inside the Schennish presidential palace, President Gustav Hannemann meets again with Paul Schmidt and Werner Biermann. A fourth man joins the NKP politicians: Brigadier Johann Kiefer, head of the military police.

“So we're certain that the gunman was wholly unaffiliated with us and our party?” asks Hannemann.

“Yes, it seems he really was an independent actor. Life-long SP voter. A lone-wolf attacker with a personal motive.” replied Biermann.

Hannemann rubbed his chin. “But this can only be bad news for us. They're going to make a martyr of him.”

“Look, the election is a week away. Even if the DP gets an extra five percent of the vote, with the current polling, they still won't be able to form a left-wing or centrist coalition” says Biermann. “Without an alliance, they can't replace you, and you'll remain president in a minority government.”

“You say they have less than half the vote with a left-wing coalition, but that's assuming that only the DP and the BNL cooperate” says Schmidt. “What if they get the Gemotamists on side?”

“Oh please. The DP has a long-standing cordon sanitaire against the PSG, and the BNL and the Gemotamists can't agree on anything other than being left-wing.” retorted Biermann. “I have a hard time believing that Böttcher would pick the devil he doesn't know.”

Hannemann now turned to the military police chief. “Irrespective of our politicking, it's unacceptable that such a slaying occurred in the first place. The last thing we need is violence in the streets. It hurts our government's image. What good is being the party of law and order if military veterans are assassinating politicians?”

Kiefer nodded. “It won't happen again. Their DP staffers didn't inform our gendarmerie of the plans to greet supporters until the last minute. We'll allocate resources better in the future, now that would-be assassins may be more emboldened.”

“Good. In that case, I don't have much else to say, Brigadier. You're free to go.”

Kiefer stood up, straightened out his uniform, and walked to the door. As he closed it behind him, the three politicians continued discussing other electoral matters.

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