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Munich, Kingdom of Bavaria, German Empire
27 July 1974

"The final tally," announced Party Secretary Julius Montag, "is Herr Bemmler,
[1] forty-one; Frau Bitterlich, [2] twenty-two; Herr Merkel, [3] six hundred
eighty-seven; Herr Steiner, [4] fifty-five; and Herr Voth, [5] six hundred
seventy-eight."

Heinrich Kausler [6] frowned in thought.  In the last round of balloting Voth
had picked up three votes from Steiner, and Merkel had lost two to Bemmler. 
Angela's 22 from Greater Vienna had held steady throughout the balloting, and
the other four had remained more or less static for the last three rounds, with
neither Merkel nor Voth coming any closer to the 742 needed to gain the
nomination as Party Leader.  The caucus was hopelessly deadlocked.

Kausler and half a dozen other Merkel supporters were closeted with the
Exterior Minister in a booth overlooking the main auditorium.  The air was blue
with stale tobacco smoke, and Kausler had had a raging headache for the past
two hours.

"Angela is the problem," opined Fritz Hartmann of Breslau.  "She's got Vienna
in her pocket, and she won't make any deals."  Kausler agreed, of course;
Hartmann was only stating the obvious.  If any two of the second-tier
candidates got together behind Merkel or Voth, it would be enough to put them
over the top.  But Bemmler and Steiner loathed each other, and as Hartmann had
stated, Angela had steadfastly refused to make any deals.  She had had a taste
of power, and now, as far as she was concerned, anything less than the
Chancellorship was out of the question.

Merkel looked as weary as Kausler felt.  "Are you absolutely certain that we
can't bring Hans and Karl on board?" he asked Kausler.

The Science Minister shook his aching head, then immediately regretted it. 
"Hans probably, Karl possibly, both never.  Gaining one means automatically
losing the other to Voth.  There's just too much bad blood between them." 
Astonishing that the destiny of an Empire might turn on something so ultimately
trivial as a personal dispute between two men, but Kausler had spent enough
time in government to know how often such things happened.

"So what you're saying," Merkel clarified, "is that I can't become Party Leader
unless Horst himself agrees."

"That's the shape of it," Kausler agreed.  "And of course, it goes without
saying that Horst cannot become Party Leader unless you agree."

After that, the conversation lapsed for a time, as all those present tried to
cudgel their brains for a way out of the impasse (except Kausler himself, whose
brain already felt thoroughly cudgelled).

Darius Kohler, [7] who had been silent heretofore, quietly cleared his throat. 
"Perhaps," he said diffidently, "we could agree on a compromise candidate. 
Someone that both we and Horst could agree on."

"Easier said than done," objected Hartmann.  "I can't think of anybody Horst
would agree to that we could stand.  Or vice versa."

"Maybe Jaeger," [8] said Kohler.

"Won't fly," said Hartmann shortly.  "He's shot down too many of Horst's
bills."

"How about Baumgarner?" [9] Kausler suggested.

"A long shot," Hartmann answered.  "He and Horst had that showdown over that
Rockford affair, remember?  Besides, he's too much of a maverick."

The conversation died again.  An idea somehow managed to lodge within Kausler's
throbbing head, but the implications were so frightening that it was a good
five minutes before he was finally able to speak.  "If we can't agree with
Horst about someone we both like," he said at last, "perhaps we can agree with
him over someone we both dislike."

The looks this comment drew from the others present made it clear to Kausler
that they all understood the implications as well as he did.  There was another
very long period of silence until Merkel finally said, "All right, Heinrich,
since it was your idea, you get to go over to Horst's people and fill them in."

There were few things in his life that Kausler wanted to do less than he wanted
to obey Merkel, but there was no avoiding it.  He stood up from the table and
trudged over to the door.  Pulling it open, he beheld the figure of Helmut
Schenck, the Transportation Minister and an ally of Voth's.  His right arm was
raised, and it was clear that he had been about to knock on the door.

The two men stared at each other, and Kausler knew that they shared the same
purpose.  "Come in, Helmut," he said.  "We've got a lot to talk about."


>From the /Berliner Zeitung/
21 August 1974

Final Election Results
>from our political staff

With recounts complete from the Liege, Frankfort and Salzburg districts, the
final shape of the new Imperial Diet has become clear.

				Next			Last
Party				Diet			Diet

Bloc Franšais			12			11
Bohemia-Moravia			31			34
Democratic			211			219
Germany				246			273
Liberal				39			45
National				48			25 
Peasants				26			32
Polonia				34			30
Socialist				51			29

Total				698			698

The German Empire has suffered a number of setbacks in recent weeks, including
the assassination of Chancellor Markstein, the civil war and Scandinavian
intervention in the Free Russian Republic, the Anglo-Neogranadan military
alliance, and most recently the election day suicide attack in Beirut.  It was
inevitable that the ruling Germany Party and its coalition partners would be
held responsible for these reversals, and suffer the consequences at the polls.
 Pre-election polling indicated that the Germany Party might  expect to lose at
least fifteen and possibly as many as twenty seats in the Imperial Diet.

As the above numbers show, the Germany Party actually lost a total of 27 seats,
including Labor Minister Karl Bemmler's Berlin North seat.  More surprising was
the eight seat loss suffered by the Democratic Party, the main opposition
party.  This is the first time in the history of the Empire that /both/ major
parties lost seats in the Diet.

Equally surprising were the gains made by the Socialist and National Parties,
the former seeing its numbers rise by 57% from 29 seats to 51, while the latter
saw its numbers nearly double from 25 seats to 48.  Other gainers were the
Polonia Party rising from 30 seats to 34 and the Bloc Franšais rising from 11
to 12.

The overall trend of the voting has been to transfer power from the more
moderate parties such as the two major parties, the Liberal Party, the Peasants
Party and the Bohemian-Moravian Party, to more radical parties such as the
Socialists and the National Party.

Most ominously for the current ruling coalition of Germany, Liberal and
Bohemian-Moravian Parties is the loss of their majority in the Imperial Diet. 
Between them, they now fall 34 seats short of the 350 needed for a majority. 
Thus, the Germany Party, under the leadership of Acting Chancellor Angela
Bitterlich, must either form a National Unity government with their Democratic
rivals, or bring in as a fourth coalition partner either the Socialists, the
National Party or the Polonia Party.

Notes:

[1] Karl Bemmler, Labor Minister and Member of the Imperial Diet for Berlin
North.

[2] Angela Bitterlich, Acting Chancellor and Member for Vienna.

[3] Joshua Merkel, Exterior Minister and Member for Leipzig.

[4] Hans Steiner, Interior Minister and Member for Westphalia East.

[5] Horst Voth, Defense Minister and Member for Bremerhaven.

[6] Science Minister and Member for Magdeburg.

[7] Member for Nuremberg.

[8] Karl Jaeger, Member for Hanover.

[9] Jacob Baumgarner, Member for Hamburg.
-- 
Johnny Pez
Newport, Rhode Island
August 2002