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Election Season Falls Upon Pará


Lestari
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It had been nearly two years since the Republic of Pará had declared independence, during which a provisional government headed by Premier Isabel Vieira, former independence faction leader, had guided the nation in setting up the proper institutions for elections. That time has come at last. Today, at the capital city of Amazônia, three candidates for the Premiership, the highest post in the Paráense government, have convened before a live crowd of countless citizens eager to hear the opinions of the three candidates, of various backgrounds, ideologies, and opinions, in the first Paráense Premier Debates.

Introducing the candidates, one does not fail to note first and foremost the incumbent Premier [b]Isabel Vieira[/b], who stands with a wide grin running across her strong, chiseled features and a hand outstretched in an enthusiastic gesture to the crowds cheering at her entrance. Already a significantly popular figure in Pará even before independence as a result of her role in the Holy American Civil War, Vieira has both attracted, polarised, and repulsed citizens with what some describe as her "honest, down-to-earth, informal way of speaking" and fiery, passionate invective--others provide a less kind analysis of her "crude, disrespectful inelegance" and "coarseness unfitting of the representative of a nation". The towering ex-soldier is described as socially extremely liberal and an advocate of strong federal government, a staunch atheist and opponent to the influence of religion, personal and institutional, on government.

Second to step onto the debate stage is [b]Cristian da Silva[/b], Regional Minister of Finances in Pará during both the Holy American Empire and afterwards in the administration of the Lunar Republic. Displaying a soft-spoken, dignified persona, da Silva stands with his hands clasped behind his back, permitting a quiet little smile to cross his aging features as he bows lightly to the applause of the crowd. Da Silva has become well-known as the spearhead of the conservative faction in Pará operating in opposition to Premier Vieira's highly liberal policies, and as such has gained considerable momentum in the southern provinces where conservatism is strongest. He has made clear his intent to minimalise federal influence on economy and on regional and local governments, to pursue a capitalist model of government on which to base the Paráense economy, and has also underlined his Catholic faith as one of the driving factors in his pursuit of the Premiership.

Last to approach his podium is Dr. [b]José Salvadores[/b], a professor of international politics and political theory at Pará's first state university. Clearly an intellectual even in the very way he carries himself as he crosses the debate floor and shakes hands with the other two candidates, Dr. Salvadores turns to the audience and places a hand over his heart before extending it out to the crowd. As a self-described communist, Salvadores' base of support is arguably much smaller than those of the wildly popular Vieira and da Silva's regional conservative base, but Salvadores claims highly dedicated support from a wide spectrum of voters--from far-left liberals and socialists to Marxist communists. Salvadores has stated that most important to his platform is to pursue a socialist economy for the Republic as the first step to a more Communist system, and the elimination of economic inequality and closing the gap between the wealthy and the poor in Pará.

Moderating is journalist and executive editor of Paráense Journais Denis Nascimento, who takes his place at the moderator's desk before the three candidates, and prefaces the debate with a comment directed to television audiences around Pará and the world.

"Good afternoon, citizens of Pará and of the world. My name is Denis Nascimento of the Paráense Journais, and it is my honour to welcome you to the first national Paráense Premier Debates!" Ardent cheers erupt as Nascimento pauses with a smile to allow the enthusiasm of the audience to say all that needed to be said. "Indeed, I suppose I need not elabourate the importance of this debate and of the upcoming election on the future of our nation. Tonight will see one hundred and twenty minutes in which the candidates will address a wide spectrum of questions from citizens of Pará and of nations abroad, as well as discuss the issues that face our nation today and what lies ahead for our growing country."

Nascimento turned back to the three candidates. "Let's cut to the meat of the matter, shall we? The first question that I feel needs to be asked, and one which many voters have sent in, is quite simple--and, I feel, fitting to get things started: what do [i]you[/i] believe you have to offer Pará and its people?"

[b]Vieira[/b]: What have I to offer the people of Pará? Only my love for Pará, for South America, for the people of South America and for humanity as a whole. I have dedicated my life to serving the advancement and freedom of all people, whether it was playing a proud role in the overthrow of an oppressive, destructive tyranny or seeking to guide a newly independent nation to an age of liberty and prosperity, into an age where our nation can be an example of peace and cooperation. So if you ask me what I have to offer as Premier, I could underscore experience, in military and political affairs, I could underline successful policies and the great progress our nation has seen in the past two years, but I feel that the most important thing I have to offer is my ardent love for my country, for the beautiful land of South America, and for this beautiful planet of ours--which we all, regardless of country, class, or creed, share and must learn to share peacefully. And I truly feel I can make Pará an example of that.

[b]Nascimento [/b](as cheers die away): I see. Mr. da Silva? How do you answer the question?

[b]da Silva[/b]: I stand before the people of Pará as I stand before the judgment of God himself--as an honest, hard-working patriot. For forty years I have faithfully served the people of Pará as I have served a--

[b]Vieira[/b] (interjecting): An oppressive dictatorship.

An uproar erupts at the premier's interruption, and Nascimento's attempts to quiet the crowd fail. Through the din, da Silva's reply can barely be heard.

[b]da Silva[/b] (quietly): I believe you also served that government, Premier Vieira.

[b]Vieira[/b]: But I was there to fight for freedom when we the people rose up against oppression at last. Where were you? Ah yes, back in your office in the capital, still faithfully serving your government even as the people of Pará rose up against it in the name of liberty. To spin this as loyalty to your people is hypocrisy and misinformation of the most despicable kind.

[b]Nascimento[/b]: Please! Each candidate is to be permitted the full duration of their time to speak uninterrupted. (slowly the clamour fades away) Please continue, Mr. da Silva.

[b]da Silva[/b]: Thank you, Mr. Nascimento. As I was saying, I have faithfully served the people of Pará for forty years now--my dedication [i]and [/i]my loyalty (glances purposefully to Vieira) should not be in question as I have done nothing but that which I felt was best for the people of Pará. Furthermore I offer my considerable experience and knowledge of economy, of financial policies on the federal, regional, and local level, which both my colleagues with me here today cannot match--talk of love for one's country is all well and fine, but do we want a lover, or a leader? (A smattering of laughter echoes through the hall.) I bring both dedication and the knowledge needed to advance Pará as a nation. Knowledge that this country needs. Knowledge that this country wants. And I stand before you, as a dedicated family man, as a man of god, and as a man who has that knowledge.

[b]Nascimento[/b]: Well-put, Mr. da Silva. And yourself, Dr. Salvadores? What do you feel you can offer the people of Pará?

[b]Salvadores[/b]: Well, Mr. Nascimento, what can I say that hasn't already been said? Patriotism? I think all of us three here bear more love for our country than we can possibly put into words, or we would not be here. Experience and knowledge? Each of us three can claim them in spades and claim them honestly. But let us not forget that there is more to a man than patriotism and knowledge. When you ask if you would have a man be your premier, you must also ask another question: would you have him be your friend? I will bring to the capital building that same spirit of friendship and brotherhood that one seeks in one's friends--for I believe I more than anyone present can bring Pará together not only as a nation, not only as a people, but as brothers. Because brotherhood is immortal: economic policies may fail, patriotism and nationalism may fade and falter, but brotherhood and love for one's brother never dies.

[b]Nascimento[/b]: Thank you Dr. Salvadores. Interesting answer all around that reveal much of your [the candidates] respective beliefs and goals--but we will move now to specifically address those issues now.

((Basically, post questions and/or issues, whether as a citizen of Pará or as a journalist of foreign press, to pose to one or all of the candidates to answer. A poll may be added at some point, too.))

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