Zeitgeist Magazine, for the story behind the news
Issue 15,
Volume 9,
2 September 302 AP

The Story
behind the news.
Edition
Business
Inflation still rising
Share market blips


Politics
Okarvit's policy gamble
President Cryer??


Law
How will Tax Office cope with CimRail?

International Aethelnia's radical Tobin Law
Rovens: Tensions rise over DMZ incursions

Sport
To Vexcup or not to Vecup?
Football: Isaston's change of heart


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Jerman for "Spirit of the Age". In this case it is to mean the "spirit" of the Utanian people, the magazine reporting the people's thoughts behind the press-releases and reported news.

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Okarvit's policy gamble

President Okarvits announced on Friday evening a series of radical measures he would introduce if given a second term as President that will reform the country in the space of a few years. But, they are something of a gamble. The President is hoping to secure the support of his own coalition, particularly disaffected Utani, and hold his voter base in the Utani community without alienating the rest of the country.

President Okarvits speech on Friday evening, to say the least, was stunning. The President effectively gave in on many of the policy demands of Utani nationalists and others demanding real and tangible change in Utania, reversing many of the historical injustices of the past three hundred years.

The following morning, one of the President's own MPs stood against him in the nomination race in protest at the radical agenda that would effectively deprive Uta-Decashi of their farming land, and arguably greatly impact the Utanian agricultural industry on which our positive trade balance is so heavily dependent. Worse yet, the renegade challenger got as many as 13% of the conference votes, when the President was expected to get in excess of 95%.

So, why would the President risk alienating so many voters with such a radical agenda? But, firstly, what has he proposed?

Land Reform

The most radical of his proposals was land reform. Precisely like the system in place for foreign owners, the President is proposing that Uta-Decashi farmer's land be returned to their Utani tribal owners, and that a lease be agreed that provides them usage rights for a set period.

"This will provide a sound basis for the farmer to continue his business, while providing an additional lease income for local Utani communities", the President told the conference. "It will be a win-win situation for agriculture and Utani alike."

Though it received wild applause from many Utani at the conference, there were considerable numbers stunned by the proposed announcement. By the President's own admission, there was no detail in the policy because he has no intention of "imposing" a mandate without considerable -- read "years of" -- community consultation. Yet, that it will be Presidential policy means that it will become law, if ratified by the Parliament, in one form or another.

Land reform, that is, the return of lands confiscated by Guwimithian authorities for non-Utani, has long been a rallying cry of Utani Nationalists, even before independence, and some Uta-Decashi. Thus, the President's inaction on the topic has caused a great deal of angst for government coalition Utani MPs trying to justify how the President IS different to any other party's leader. Thus, it has constantly been a thorn in the side for the President.

The reason is that the President is firmly of the conviction that Utani revolution was not an option, and, to be sure, many Utani expected a whirlwind of radical change in the first few years of independence. That they would be returned their lands, that the Esreni (lit. "foreigners") who has economically exploited them and their land would be expelled, or, at least, forced to live under Utani rule. The country WAS, afterall, named Utani-a.

Alternatives

President Okarvits, backed by a moderate Utani nationalist party, the Utani-Saedaj, and his own moderately-leftist Peoples Party, was convinced that Utani and Uta-Decashi had to live side-by-side, in peaceful co-existence. In addition, he and his coalition were firmly convinced that "rule of law" must be obeyed, that land occupations and other attempts to force the government's hand would not be tolerated.

The opposite end of the spectrum, one place short of the "doing nothing" solution that many Uta-Decashi hoped the President would follow, was to buy Uta-Decashi lands off the owners, as a cost of some Û1,100 billion.

In fact, Zeitgeist Magazine considered these possibilities in earlier editions, including the July 1st edition, praising the President's "open-handed" approach. In that edition, the Tobacco Farmers Federation said the idea of exchanging land-for-leases would "destroy" agriculture in Utania. Utanian Farmers Federation members declared the biggest threat to farming was land being confiscated without compensation.

Yet, the Utanian Business and Economic Foundation, a progressive Utani think-tank, told Zeitgeist that farmers could still be given loan guarantee rights to a portion of the land they once owned.

This issue has been stalking the President for years. If he fails to act, Utani may make good their threats to take land by force, or, worse-yet elect their own radical Utani leader to the Presidency. And their anger and dissatisfaction with the President's "do nothing" approach has been building for months.

Now, the President has agreed to do something, and it is the farmers' turn to get angry and disatisfied with the President's approach. The question for the President is how strong the wider community's reaction will be: will pro-reform Utani votes outnumber those opposed?

Belson

Ever since Belson Corporation announced a Û33 billion profit in March, Utani MPs have declared that they have "had enough", and have been actively campaigning within the government to have the company nationalised, that is, to have the government take over ownership of the company. The past three days of conference speeches have been heavily flavoured with talk of Belson and nationalisation.

Yet, Peoples Party moderates in the coalition are appalled at the idea, not to mention those in the conservative parties. To Liberal Nationalist MPs, Belson should be seen as an Utanian success story, a flagship that can take the Utanian brand-name worldwide.

But, opponents point out that all this success has come at the price of the Utani farming communities that have been receiving less payment from Belson for their produce than Belson itself makes in profit off those items. Belson, they say, is bloated and inefficient because it really makes Û60 billion in profit off farmers that it must hide.

"I have heard your pleas, I have heard the cries of the many who suffer at the hands of the Belson produce contracts. Belson is the largest recipient of farm produce in this country, and its contracts are one-sided", the President told the cheering throng.

"Therefore, I will introduce a Bill to the Parliament that will, effective June 30, 303ap, make null and void all Belson and other company's negotiated produce-contracts."

The roar from the conference masses could be heard outside the Conference stadium.



This web-based version of the article was abridged. For a complete version, see the latest Edition of Zeitgeist Magazine, on sale now. Only Û10.00.
Related links:

Land Reform (July 1 edition)

Utanian Government site

Utanian Press Agency

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Belson, Utania's largest food processing company. Link to homepage.