Berengaria Caucus ends, candidates speak
BERENGARIA VII – The main event of the Berengaria Caucus took place earlier today with the Presidential Panel featuring three of the four established major candidates thus far and a surprise announcement of a fifth candidate, Anari Kthria of Trill.
“As we approach the 25th century, now is a good time for us to consider new ways to make sure we can continue our mandate of exploration of the galaxy while upholding the ideals of the Federation,” said Kthria during her announcement speech.
Excellency Kthria has served as Trill’s Chief of Staff since 2377. She along with Ambassador Lily Ventu, Governor Adellia Vor and Councilor Kevin Steiner all participated in a debate on issues concerning the Federation and beyond. For nearly two hundred years the Berengaria Caucus has been an arena for the exchange of ideas and the discussion of the most important issues of the day. During election years, the Presidential Panel is held at the close of the Caucus and is the first event where all major candidates are presented to the Federation at large on an equal footing.
This year’s panel was moderated by the legendary Maronida Shiir, who took the various candidates to task in her usual style, asking hard hitting questions on a wide variety of topics from holographic rights to Cardassian foreign policy.
The Ambassador, The VisionaryAmbassador Lily Ventu is a woman with impressive credentials. A former Starfleet Officer with a background in both the mental and physical sciences with several decorations therein. Also a Command-level officer and former Captain of Starbase 118, Ambassador Ventu first emerged on the interstellar stage when she resigned her commission to play a role in the formation of the Thracian Alliance. Afterwards, Ventu ran to replace Kasumi Shakaturi as Earth’s junior Councilor after she died in office and was narrowly defeated by Malcom von Tesch.
Since then she has been something of a celebrity in diplomatic and foreign policy circles. In three years she has handled over thirty first contact situations and her influence as Ambassador-at-Large to the Galactic West is widely felt in the Menthar Corridor. Astrofori One, while coming to a rocky start, has proven a success thus far. Future prospect for Federation development in the region, along with continuing peaceful relations with the neighboring powers, are largely thanks to her.
Having a Starfleet and foreign policy background is certainly an unusual combination in a Presidential Candidate and many have been wondering if Ambassador Ventu can bring the same type of vision that helped her form two major interstellar initiatives to the Federation proper. During the Panel, Ambassador Ventu highlighted her accomplishments, but did not rely on them and voiced her opinions on every topic raised.
Having spent several years along the Federation-Klingon border, Ambassador Ventu offered a unique, hands-on experience on Federation-Klingon relations:
“Since the Khitomer Accords, the United Federation of Planets and the Klingon Empire have been staunch allies, the evidence of which is plentiful in the decades since — from Ambassador, then Captain, Jean-Luc Picard serving as the Empire’s Arbiter of Succession to our wartime alliance in opposing the Dominion. The way forward, then, is neither to respond to rattling sabers nor by rattling our own. Only peaceful dialogue and diplomatic congeniality can sustain our long friendship, as they have since the Accords and as they will continue to do as the Federation and the Empire learn and grow together.”
More a dove than a hawk, Ambassador Ventu continued her diplomatic language when speaking on the possibility of renewed Tholian expansion.
“Never has the time been more ripe for productive conversations between the Tholian Assembly and the United Federation of Planets. The recently reopened diplomatic missions to Earth, Vulcan, and Andor, as well as the Tholian Embassy currently serving Astrofori One, demonstrate for us that the Assembly, or at least some within it, are as interested in discourse as we are. We must appeal to these elements as we encounter the Tholians, as their expansion marks an exciting time for the Assembly, a sign that the political factions that favored insularity may have been supplanted by other, more liberal voices.”
While if anyone could finally bring the Tholians into the fold, it would be Ambassador Ventu, many wonder if the Assembly’s knee-jerk expansionist tendencies and isolationist mantras can be curbed.
Ambassador Ventu did not shy away from criticizing President Bacco on her deal to end the Federation Transport Union strike and her strong words and tone surprised many.
“Privatization to please the interests of individual corporations and commercial entities flies very much in the face of the nationalized, egalitarian framework that have successfully supported the United Federation of Planets for two centuries. While President Bacco must be commended for her part in amicably ending the Federation Transport Union strike, I feel very strongly that she used the wrong methods to do so. I do not cling to our ideology hollowly, either; the openness and equality that have been rooted so deeply in the running of bodies like the Federation Transport Union must remain so if we are to have a Federation that we recognize and can continue to cherish.”
With her reputation as a deal-maker, a forger of alliances, but also someone with the right Starfleet background, Ambassador Ventu certainly has appeal to a wide variety of voters though many question if she is ready to take on the monumental task of leading the Federation without any previous administrative experience. With the Alpha Quadrant showing some signs of instability though, a great diplomat, a great peacemaker, may be just what the Federation needs.
One thing is for sure though, Ambassador Ventu is a visionary with several success stories behind her and a keen eye for the flow of history that is not to be underestimated.
The Governor, The BuilderYoung, beautiful and immensely popular on her homeworld of Axanar and throughout the Federation core worlds, Governor Adellia Vor is a symbol to many of the Federation’s youngest citizens about what can be achieved at any age if one has the will. Elected to the governorship of the economically important Federation world at the age of 30, Vor is both the youngest and first Human governor elected.
Running on a progressive and politically asymmetrical platform of multi-culturalism, economic growth and job creation, Governor Vor has exceeded even her own mandates in just two years in office. Axanar’s economic growth has been in the double digits for two years, replicating the startling economic growth she instigated in the polities where her electoral list Patash Molok was in government. The woefully lopsided growth compared to other areas of Axanar was noted and four years later, she and her party washed over Axanar in an election known as the Blue Wave.
During her time in office, Governor Vor has “pruned” the Axanari government and its institutions of ineffective policies, inept administrators and cut a swath through the bureaucracy for a lean and efficient political machine that has allowed a river of credits to flow into the system. Her most controversial decision, but now regarded as a success story, was the partial nationalization of the Axanar Fleet Yards. Streamlining the administration of the Fleet Yards, growth has been tremendous since the Yards started fulfilling private contracts, even more so than during Axanar’s heyday from 2250-2350. Using these new funds and resources, Governor Vor has expanded the building and reform program begun in Varia-Nueva Alajuela to the entire planet, building vast amounts of infrastructure and reforming the education system.
With a strong economic and administrative background, Governor Vor is certainly a natural choice but in an election where foreign policy is taking a lead and experience is key, Governor Vor has tried to present herself as wise beyond her years.
Speaking on her own experiences with nationalization and privatization, while highlighting her own successes, Governor Vor refused to criticize President Bacco’s deal.
“Nationalization and privatization are two very powerful tools in any government’s tool set. On Axanar, I instituted several initiatives that mixed both processes to maximize efficiency along with job and economic growth. The nationalization of the fleet yards was a very arduous process though and the process of privatizing mining contracts opened up a lot of unknowns. It is the duty of any administrator, any government, any leader, to foster cooperation between the concerned parties and reassure the electorate that they are still in control of the situation. This deal took a very long time to iron out and I think any deal that stopped this destructive strike is a good deal.”
Governor Vor also spoke on Klingon Expansion and the general expansion of any other power, voicing opinions on foreign policy issues she has not had to face on Axanar.
“For the past twenty years there have been policy experts saying that the mentality among the Klingon leadership is ‘expand or die’ as a response to perceived cultural and military stagnation. Since the Klingons rarely integrate planets peacefully any expansion should be treated as a worrisome development but the reaction must be tempered. The President of the Federation needs to leverage the diplomatic, economic and cultural capital that the Khitomer Accords have afforded our two great interstellar bodies to see that Klingon expansion does not threaten the relationship we have worked so hard to build.”
Like Ambassador Ventu, Governor Vor favors keeping the peace, but puts more emphasis on political and economic ties than pure diplomacy, though many wonder if economic ties matter to the Klingons or anyone else. When pressed on the issue of imperialism and whether she would go to war to prevent it, she had only this to say.
“That would depend on the nature of the situation.”
A woman noted for her grand plans, Governor Vor also spoke plainly about her vision for the 25th century.
“Vision is a word we should talk about a lot in this election, and the elections to come. After nearly fourteen years of a Bacco Presidency I think many of us are yearning for a fresh take on politics, on our democracy, our values, a lot of things. I’m not saying President Bacco did a bad job but I think the past four years have definitely felt stagnant for a lot of people and stagnation breeds all kinds of ills.
I would like to see a grand enlargement of the Federation. I would like to see the fostering of new ideas and new interpretations of old ones. I think the 25th century could be just as great a time for the Federation as the 22nd. Advances in warp technology have been few and the frontier has shrunk because of it. Now with new territories opening up, we would be fools not to cease the initiative out there, while promoting growth and an intellectual Renaissance at home.
And we should build! Build roads, build buildings, build ships, build cities, build institutions, build things people haven’t yet conceived of yet. I think the people of the Federation need to feel a sense of accomplishment and fight the feeling of stagnation by showing them that the task of building our great civilization is not yet done. We should constantly have a hammer in hand building new things, if not improving old ones. Just because something is the way it is now, does not mean must always be this way.”
The Councilor, The HawkFederation Councilor for Terra Nova Kevin Steiner has been a fixture of Federation politics for decades. Conservative and hawkish on foreign policy, Councilor Steiner is often quoted in the media when Federation interests are threatened or relations between other powers break down. His famous “crows” speech in 2373 on the Council floor where he passionately declared that “the crows have come home to roost” as the Dominion War broke out made him a household name and is still quoted by others to express the political naiveté some in the Federation have about the galaxy we live in.
Like many other candidates, Councilor Steiner has also put a strong emphasis on service and responsibility and has used these past assertions against “baseless” accusations that he is an isolationist. Councilor Steiner himself served in the Peace Corps for six years before returning to his homeworld of Terra Nova and says he has a deep appreciation for other cultures, though says that we must not be blind to the ambitions of other powers. He has also fought for the admission of several of the more controversial recent member worlds, including Bajor and has repeated time and again that diversity is the Federation’s greatest strength and continued cultural diffusion is the only way that the Federation grows and becomes greater.
Councilor Steiner is also a noted supporter of Starfleet and other service organizations. Many accuse him of being militant and overly aggressive but he maintains that “exploration” should not be an excuse not to defend the Federation’s borders. He has long been a critic of President Bacco and President Inyo before her over their perceived weaknesses in dealing with other powers. With some of his words prophetic in the wake of the Dominion War, the Hobus Incident and the Klingon Invasion, it appears that his once “reactionary” and “extreme” views now have a base in the electorate that is to some degree tired of non-starter shows of strength.
While he says the right things, the experienced legislator is known for being a bit long winded and not carrying the same dynamic presence his competitors have. Painting himself as a sort of different politician however, Councilor Steiner says his use of “real words for real policies” should be taken as a positive. Such as when he spoke at the Panel on President Bacco’s handling of the Transport Union strike.
“I’m not about to pat the President on the back for this supposed solution, especially when it’s been her poor stewardship of our Starfleet that has led us to this act of desperation. I and other concerned councilors have been saying for years now that we simply do not have enough ships for Starfleet’s mandate. Some have accused me of being a militant, but I’m not just talking about defense. Starfleet’s exploratory division is a fraction of what it was even five years ago. It’s simple math: if you have to reassign ships back to patrol duties, that’s fewer ships out on the frontier.”
He also spoke on his chosen cause of foreign policy, giving harsh words for those who think that peace is an easy thing to maintain.
“Whether it’s the Klingons, Tholians, or Romulans, whoever takes office next year in Paris must understand that both our enemies and allies ultimately respect one thing: strength. Let’s take the Tholians, for instance. The layman’s analysis is that their xenophobia means that if we stay out of their space, they’ll stay out of ours. And yet this ignores history, where time after time, the “isolated” Tholians have gone out and annexed surrounding territory. They are opportunists, and if we’re not careful, they’ll continue to encroach on our interests.”
Councilor Steiner ended with a side of him few people get to see or remember, a man who is deeply appreciative and supportive of the Federation’s diversity. Speaking on his vision for the 25th century, he had this to say.
“I talk so often about foreign policy and defense that I think sometimes people forget that’s not only why I’m running. This election is about the soul of our Federation as we move towards the next century. Just in the last one hundred years, we have seen countless challenges our forefathers would have never imagined. We faced total annihilation from the Borg and the Dominion. Thankfully, the solid foundation laid in place in government by those past leaders–and the sacrifice of so many in Starfleet–enabled us to weather those crises.
Yet despite the numerous innovations and cultural achievements across all our member worlds, I’d argue the advances in technology and society from 2161 to 2261 were a lot greater than from 2261 to 2361. I think part of that has been the centralization and homogenization of many Federation agencies. As President, I will encourage greater cultural exchanges among our members and allies. Our strength has always been in our diversity, that we are greater than one solar system and one species.”
The Administrator, The CrusaderWhile declining to be at the Caucus, citing her commitment to both her own world of Nimbus III and “action, rather than words”, Chief Administrator Narala is still very much in the running for the Presidency. A woman with firm convictions and an unquenchable drive to get things done, Chief Administrator Narala turned the infamously lawless and failed colony of Nimbus III into something its people could be proud of. Once the poster child of a failed planetary society, muttered in the same breath as Turkana IV, Nimbus III is now thriving, if in the early stages of development.
Fighting corruption at every level, the road has been long and hard for once the only honest politician on the planet but Chief Administrator Narala has taken it in stride. She has worked tirelessly to transform her planet at every level and it appears to be working. It hasn’t been without its hiccups however, the Chief Administrator’s legal decisions were notably called into question several months ago but she has brushed off these allegations just like she brushed off the allegations that she is unable to run for President.
Out of all the candidates, Chief Administrator Narala has had to work the hardest to get people to trust her. Virtually unknown, half-Romulan and leader of a planet that most people are unaware has changed for the better, Narala has had to fight an upward battle throughout the entire election cycle. She maintains that this is just another battle among many and she remains undaunted by the challenges stacked against her. A lifetime of service to the people, fighting gangsters, corrupt officials and pirates has given her a thick skin and she has rolled with the punches.
The Negotiator, The FederalistWhen Anari Kthria, the Chief of Staff for Trill, asked to join the Presidential Panel, no one suspected this would be a prelude to making her own bid for the office. While a Candidate declaring late in the race and at the Caucus no less, has been done before (most notably by Chelia of Catia in the early 24th century), Anari Kthria was not the woman pollsters picked as a dark horse candidate. For the past fifteen years, Anari Kthria has served as the Chief of Staff for Trill’s government, a non-partisan position amongst Trill’s sometime factious parliamentary politics. Akin to a non-executive or ceremonial President, the only mandate the Chief of Staff has is serving as a national unifying figure and is often the one to conduct negotiations with other powers, be they Federation members or not.
Most of these dealings were conducted with fellow Federation members in the Kalandra Sector, a diverse grouping of polities that has been in flux since the Dominion War. When she started serving as Chief of Staff, Excellency Kthria tried to be a voice in the storm amongst many worlds who desired preferential treatment in reconstruction resources. To facilitate a better allocation of resources, she established the Kalandra Reconstruction Authority, a Sector agency which controlled the flow of reconstruction materials into the sector. It was perhaps here, where Excellency Kthria formed her opinions on Federalism and the need for a more centralized administration in the Federation.
Proposing sweeping reforms of the Federation and on Starfleet, Excellency Kthria proposes setting up Sector governments and more sector versus planetary commands, designed to facilitate rapid response and a more cohesive Federation government. Some see her proposed reforms as too extreme a reaction to recent crises and say that this would defeat the purpose of the Federation by marginalizing the various polities that it consists of. Excellency Kthria does not see it this way however and maintains that this would be a necessary evolution of the Federation and perhaps the first steps in establishing a common Sector or even Federation identity. While it is contested that these reforms are putting the cart before the horse, they are quite ambitious.
As a woman who calls for unity, Excellency Kthria has taken a dim but somewhat sympathetic view of the Colonial Coalition.
“It is regrettable that they feel the need to discuss remonstrance’s with us. It may be us, it may be them, but I can imagine with the recent need of Starfleet to have to hire outside help – and one sincerely hopes that it’s properly overseen – that we’ve began to outpace our ability to administrate and properly see to the safety and prosperity of our outlying colonies.”
While remembering the Prime Directive, Excellency Kthria did express hope for the future of Inox in the wake of the recent revolution which has overthrown the allegedly corrupt central administration.
“While I do not wish to overly comment on what is an Inoxian internal affair, I just hope that in their zeal, the new revolutionaries do not create a government worse than the old one.”
She has also been wary of the Klingon Empire, much more so than many of her fellow candidates.
“I hope the accords we have reached with them start smoothing out the difficult relationship we have had since the fall of Romulus. I can’t help but imagine something is going on behind the scenes.”
A woman with much to prove and little enough time to do it, time will tell if Excellency Kthria will add flavor to the election or go down in history as a candidate who was late to the start and last to the finish line.
With the end of the panel, the election season is seen to have officially begun and the next three months will be a torrent of campaign events, speeches and press opportunities as the five candidates jockey for votes.
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