Zeitgeist Magazine, for the story behind the news
Issue 24,
Volume 9,
4 November 302 AP

The Story
behind the news.
Edition
Business
Belson Rail: the consequences
Could Langley be good for business?


Politics
The Battle begins
Okarvits and non-Utani farmers
Kemp, causing trouble on the sideline
Final week of campaigning in Utani-Byan election


Law
Venter steel's redress
Would an ID card really work?

International Cimera falls apart
Castronovia under threat
Castronovians rally to their own defence
Listonians thumb their noses the world
Sport
Football: Richmond's last real chance?


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© Zeitgeist Magazine, 302 AP.
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©Mike Ham, 2002. All rights reserved. No reproduction without, at least, tacit approval. ;-)
Final week of campaigning in Utani-Byan election

This will be the final week of campaigning for Dr Knowles and Gov. Artos before Saturday's election, and no one is yet prepared to declare a winner.

Policy comparison
Assessment of polls

Dr Knowles Democrat-lead coalition was 12-points ahead of the Artos coalition government only two months ago. Yet since then, the Democratic Party appeared ready to self-destruct, severely damaging the Democratic Party's polled-support, which has dropped by as much as 20%.

The federal party was supposed to be leading the race against Pres. Okarvits, being the most moderate right-wing party, but is now ceding the crown to either Conservative Governor Hope or Liberal Nationalist leader Kyle Langley, because of the federal Party in-fighting. Furthermore, Dr Knowles' opposition coalition is now only two or three points ahead of the corruption-tarnished Artos government.

Courageous leadership

For Governor Artos, it is a testament to his steady leadership of the Peoples, Utani Saedaj and Republican coalition government in the aftermath of the corruption scandal that badly crippled his government. Government MPs and Ministers were discovered to have covered up their parties' involvement in council-level corruption over apartment construction funding. The federal funding was for public housing to replace the shanties that fill Utan Krysaror's and other cities' poorer suburbs. Such corruption was exposed when an apartment collapsed, costing a dozen lives in May, 301.
"If you root out your own weaknesses you will leave nothing for your opponents to exploit.


Rather than allow the government coalition to turn in on itself with in-fighting, cover-ups and other self-destructive behaviour, Artos embarked on a twelve month crusade against corruption, costing the careers of several MPs. He did not have the full confidence of the coalition members, many of whom felt his efforts were further exposing the government, underlining the message that the coalition was corrupt in voters' minds. There was at least one unpublicised attempt to oust Artos, but he survived.

"If you root out your own weaknesses," the Governor famously said last year, "you will leave nothing for your opponents to exploit. So, the path to victory for this government is to expose what we would normally want to cover-up and hide."

October poll It worked. The anti-corruption crusade injected confidence back into the coalition, and MPs' spirits were lifted enough to fight this campaign. Furthermore, it DID leave little for the opposition to attack, making the opposition, lead by Dr Knowles, have to work much harder to win support.

Within three points of the opposition, Governor Artos now stands a reasonable chance of winning what many believed was the unwinnable election.

The issue of reform

Whatever the result, the fact will be that Governor Artos and Dr Knowles have campaigned hard. Without corruption as a major issue, the pair have instead faced off over how best to tackle the state's overbearing poverty.

Both men, unlike some of their federal counterparts, acknowledge the issue is "critical", but their approach to solving the issues at a state level differ. Both know that most of the power to effect change rests with the federal government, but that there is still much that can be done.

Dr Knowles says:
  • Infrastructure the key to getting business to low income regions
  • So too better rural schools and hospitals
  • Stick to a balanced budget
Dr Knowles proposes to spend big on developing the state's infrastructure, to encourage business to set-up in rural cities, where millions remain un- or under-employed. He will improve rural services, too, hospitals and schools, to make companies more interested in being in the backlands.

Gov. Artos says:
  • Direct subsidies to rural Utani entrepreneurs ("Utani Development Bank")
  • Better health care and schools for rural Utani
  • Balancing the budget should be secondary
  • Better emphasis on urban housing crisis and jobs
Governor Artos agrees in placing emphasis on schools and health services, but for their own ends, to improve the lot of rural communities. He also believes in better infrastructure, but does not agree that companies will thus move to the Utani regions. Instead, direct subsidies and development funding should be provided to subsidise Utani entrepreneurs.

To that end, the Governor is planning to introduce an Utani Development Bank that would make loans to Utani entrepreneurs at market interest rates, but without the same guarantee requirements for loan security.

"The governor will be giving that money away for free", warns Dr Knowles.

Still, the issue is working in the government's favour, if the in-fighting within the federal-level of the Democratic Party hasn't done enough. Many voters are now distrustful of the Democrats, no longer believing as firmly that Dr Knowles will be governing with a stable coalition.

The issue has cost the Democrats dearly, and there is every chance it could yet cost them the election, but, with polls so close, no one is prepared to say.

Divided we fall


Undeniably, this election result is a complete unknown. The almost equal strength of the two coalition's support means guessing the outcome is just too difficult. However, most also say the quirky nature of Utania's electoral system will benefit the government.

Utani B'yan's electoral system is the same as the federal system: between two and six members elected to Parliament from the each electorate, the state's 37 electorates elect 165 MPs to the state parliament. Within each electorate, the voting is otherwise just first past the post, with seats allocated to the party with the highest vote, then second-highest, and so on, with one exception: if a party about to receive a seat has less than half the vote of another party already having a vote, then this greater party will receive a second seat before the smaller party receives its first.

What this means, strategically, is that parties can, and do, effectively take votes off eachother, a concept that has not yet been grasped by the parties of the right. With five opposition parties competing for the same right-wing vote, they are potentially defeating eachother's chances of a win. The same applies to the governing parties of the left, but with only three parties, the system is ultimately benefitting them.

The more parties drawing on the same factional vote, the better off their opponents are.
For example, if the Peoples party and Democrats were facing off alone in a five MP electorate, and had 45% and 55% of the vote respectively, then the Democrats would win 3 seats in Parliament to the Peoples 2.

However, if the Democrats vote is split by the Conservatives in that same electorate, leaving the votes as Peoples (45), Democrats (35) and Conservatives (20), then the vote allocation would now be 3, 2 and none. Now, the Peoples Party is winning in that electorate even though their level of support is unchanged.

Pundits believe that this will weigh heavily in favour of the government, but how much in favour is subject to debate.

"The truth is that no one knows"

"Some pollsters have predicted that if each party wins the same number of votes, the government will win the election by a handful of Parliamentary seats, maybe a dozen or so", says Sam Best for the Utanian Times newspaper, sister newspaper to the Luka Herald, "But, the opposition is between three and seven points ahead according to some polls. How much difference will that make to seats?

"The truth is that no one knows," he admits, "because, unless you have a detailed analysis of the margins in each electorate, you really cannot predict the outcome.

"Plus, we have so many smaller parties, such as the Nationalists and the Yannists who might yet win seats messing up all projections.

"No one likes to admit it, but the only polls you can really trust are ones in which several hundred people in each electorate are polled. But, these are expensive and only Kapur-Zeitgeist have gotten into such polls. Even then, there is no certainty in this game."

However, the latest Kapur-Zeitgeist poll in Utani B'yan (
here) was conducted as far back as August, the Presidential election capturing all polling resources since then. Then, with the opposition leading the government 52% to 40%, the opposition was tipped to win 86 seats to the government's 77. (The two remaining going to the Burovians.)

No one can guess what effect the quirky system will have on the final result.

"There is really only one certain way to find out", declares the Times' Mr Best.

"Wait until Saturday."
Related stories:

Would an Utani development bank really work?

Poll shows Democrats lose many votes in federal fight

Utani B'yan Kapur-Zeitgeist August poll

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President Okarvits leads in latest poll

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The only hope for capital markets in Utania: Hope!

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