President Okarvits concedes!!
Governor Hope leads 74-69
Only four electorates unknown
84-73 result considered likely
Saturday, February 15, 302 AP
Web posted at 2318 UST.
With counting almost three-quarters complete, and the results fairly certain, the Utanian President has conceded defeat, ushering in the country's first peaceful, democratic transition of the Presidency.
President George Okarvits has formally conceded defeat in the country's first democratic Presidential election, conceding that Governor Hope had "a 99% chance" of victory.
"My friends, this is not the moment any of us wanted to come, nor the announcement that you want to hear," the President told party and campaign supporters in Utan Krysaror's Luxor Hotel, "but it seems very unlikely that victory is within our grasp."
The results currently stand at 74-69, counting electoral seats, with Governor Hope leading.
There remains only four electorates whose results are not known -- Vela Luka, Utan-Nystos, Tusana and Utan Krysaror, the latter two in the country's capital -- and though these electorates total fourteen electoral seats, the President would need to win at least three to claim victory. At the moment, it is Governor Hope that is leading in three of the four.
Very close result
The President's decision to concede defeat appears to have been sparked by UEC figures suggesting that he was not gaining on Governor Hope in the final four electorates.
In Vela Luka, Governor Hope holds a lead of 8,500 votes with half a million or 86% counted. In Utan-Nystos, Hope again leads by over 10,000 with 420,000 or 90% counted. And in Utan Krysaror, the Governor leads by 9,000 with 87% counted.
The electorate of Tusana remains completely unknown and un-estimatable: with even 85% of the vote counted, the margin is whisker thin, a few hundred votes at best, and each candidate taking the lead in turn. Even three advance, computer counts of the votes have yielded results that are simply too close to call.
However, most other electorates have margins in excess of 5%, with only a handful with a margin of less than 10%, including Arayona and Dalesforth in the south and Okarvits in the city of Luka, plus the four marginals.
While extremely close, for the President to win victory, the votes would need to swing very substantially in his favour, instead of 49-51 in the Governor's favour, they would need to be 55-45 in the President's.
Therefore, it would seem prudent for the President to concede. Victory is not impossible for him, but it is now very unlikely.
The election was always going to be close, but the majority of Utanians -- 60% in a recent web-based poll -- believed that regardless, President Okarvits would still claim victory this evening. In Utan Krysaror's Luxor Hotel, campaign workers gathered in great number in the hotel's main ballroom, with the mood very positive.
There was cheers whenever Conservative Party numbers men, on either Zeitgeist News or TV1, both of which were being displayed on huge video screens in the ballroom, would concede an electorate, and boos whenever they would claim one.
Further north, in the city of Shecker, the converse was true. An optimistic atmosphere also filled this great ballroom in the Pearl Hotel, where Governor Hope was based, but there would be cheers at the news of the Okarvits electorate falling to the Governor, and jeers at the news of the Bathenne electorate in the city of Agraam falling to the President.
However, by 9pm, the mood in the Luxor hotel started to get a little more agitated, or worrying, as Governor Hope appeared certain to gain the marginal electorate of Okarvits in the city of Luka.
How could this be, campaigners asked eachother. It's a working-class electorate. There are tens of thousands of Utani there. They're poor. How could the electorate be lost? But, it was, with a margin of about 5% appearing certain.
The President also failed to turn several marginal electorates in his favour, such as Mulgrave and Dalesforth, which, by now, were definitely looking like victories for Governor Hope. Nor were previously declared marginal electorates, such as Vela Luka and Utan Krysaror, looking particularly favourable.
By 10pm, the President's team admitted that Governor Hope had a stronger hand than they, with 60 electoral seats looking to be in his favour, but only 55 for the President.
While the electorate of Tusana flip-flopped from a Hope to an Okarvits victory, and then back again, the three other marginal electorates were looking more and more certain to be in Governor Hope's pocket, which would bring him to 84 electoral seats.
If only two of the three fell his way, the Governor would still claim victory.
The mood in the Luxor hotel became increasingly sombre with each new revision of the figures in those, and other electorates. Nothing was changing substantially, and the President's hopes of re-election were fading fast.
By 10:40pm, campaign officials were rounding the media up, hinting that an announcement was imminent. Yet, even at that late stage, few considered the President's concession speech to be the offering.
Even less so his supporters, who frequently interrupted with cheers and pleas for the President not to concede just yet. His defeat is inconceivable to many of his supporters.
However, perhaps surprisingly, Governor Hope's staff have not yet claimed victory. From their hotel room in Shecker, the Governor and his senior campaign staff watched eagarly but cautiously the President concede defeat.
When asked whether he would be claiming victory tonight, Governor Hope told Zeitgeist News that there remained too many unknowns for the Presidency to be claimed just yet.
"Just as the President says no one benefits from his 'clinging to hope', I also believe that no one will gain from my premature claim of victory. If I am proven wrong, what will happen to the country?"
An extract of the President's speech to party and campaign supporters in Utan Krysaror's Luxor Hotel
"Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to thank you all for being here this evening. It is by your tireless efforts that I stand here this evening, and by your tireless efforts that we have made real progress forming this nation in the aftermath of our colonial masters.
"My friends, this is not the moment any of us wanted to come, nor the announcement that you want to hear, but it seems very unlikely that victory is within our grasp.
"The numbers are definitely pointing to a victory by Governor Hope, and I do not believe that the country or the people are served by my hanging on for the slight chance that I may yet win. Tomorrow will reveal, in the cold light of day, that what I am doing now will be right.
"Therefore, it is with a heavy heart that I must agree that the people of Utania have spoken, and concede that they have spoken in favour of Governor Hope."
(Cries of "no" and "Don't say it" punctuate the President's statement.)
"My friends, this is a difficult day for us all, and I implore you not to make this harder. The people have spoken, and they have chosen that Governor Hope, not I, shall lead this country over the next four years.
"I would firstly like to congratulate Governor Hope on his victory. I would ... Ladies and Gentlemen, commend Governor Hope to you as your new President. He has fought an equally hard campaign, and has presented an alternative path to the people of this country and I would like to thank him for making this campaign about the issues, about the principles of government, and not about personalities.
"There should be no doubt in our minds, as supporters of an alternative path for this country, that Governor Hope will be our President, our democratically elected leader who has the right under our constitution to govern us.
"He will enjoy my full support as our leader, and I commend him to all of you as our new leader as of the first of March."
Despite the endorsement of the new President, President Okarvits also included a stern warning to govern for all Utanians.
"Leading a nation is about inclusiveness," the President told his supporters, "representing all of the people, from those who have supported you from the very beginning, to those who regard you as an anathema of a political leader. At no time more than now does Utania need such determinedly unifying leadership. And I have faith that Governor Hope will exemplify such leadership."
While the final results are not yet called, there is still a chance the President could be re-elected by turning around two of the Hope-lead seats, and winning Tusana. However, even the President sees this as unlikely.
No doubt in the next few days, if not tomorrow, the nation will know whether he was right.
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