The Greycoat Election of 1896:
"The Imperial Government" (Kejserliga regeringen):
It’s been over three years since the Bohemian Revolutionary War broke out, and not a single soldier, Prussian, Austrian, Bohemian, or any other kind as far as that is concerned, has entered into Nordic territory. Still, much to the opposition’s amazement and despair, no cracks have yet appeared in the Preparedness Ministry, which remains firmly united and closes ranks.
The Skeptical Party: Despite only leading the second largest party in the ruling composition government, Bille-Brahe’s position as Chancery President remains insurmountable, being the only individual capable to bridging Unionists and pro-Conscription Liberals. In his own party, the only talent that could truly rival him is the chief whip of the government, Erik Sparre, a moot point, seeing their alliance are as hewn in granite. Still, rumours are afloat that Bille-Brahe's coupon scheme for the upcoming election might just be the first step for a more permanent alliance of parties, if not an outright merger. Nothing is official, of course. Nothing can be traced back to Bille-Brahe personally. But if you know one thing about Bille-Brahe, it is that such rumours would never be allowed to even spontaneously come about, let alone persist, without his tacit approval at some point. And to most senior Skepticals, such a notion appears about as palatable as arsenic, which I understand is not only poisonous, but also tastes pretty foul.
The Unionist Party: Poor Ulrik Lundeborg was going to revive the fortunes of the Unionists after Robert Falkvinge's catastrophic showing in 1881, and become Chancery President. Yet he has been sidelined and bullied relentlessly by Bille-Brahe, becoming his lapdog. Though he technically holds the prestigeous cabinet portfolio of President of the Treasury, the extent to which he actually gets to set economic policy is debated, with some officials within the College regarding him as a mere functionary, if not an outright figurehead. Sure, as long as the War of the Bohemian Revolutionary continues and it might yet come to war, Lundeborg retains a firm grip on the poisoned chalice that is the Unionist leadership, and the stability of the government remains unthreatened. But everyone from the traditionalist Unionist grandees and donors at the Tricorne Club to the young reformist Young Turk faction (‘ungtupparna’) of the Unionists in Stockholm are gearing themselves up for the inevitable.
The Liberal Conscription League: To think that Mattias Alexander von Ungern-Sternberg was once Sønderheim’s closest political ally! His lieutenant, his advisor, his protégé, his dauphin and heir! The Grand Old Fart himself once compared the two of them to Elijah and Elisha! But that was before the young Swedish nobleman broke with his Norwegian commoner mentor and benefactor on the issue of conscription, and took a chunk of Swedish and Danish Liberals with him, to join in the cabinet of the hated Bille-Brahe. Still, some respect has to be afforded to the pro-conscription Liberals, who so far have managed to assert themselves in government far more effectively than the Unionists, and von Ungern-Sternberg got to keep his portfolio as Union Minister for Foreign Affairs as a reward for his treason. It has first been in the past six months that the Liberal Conscription League was hastily cobbled together as the North head to the ballot box once again (indeed, nobody expected the crisis to last as long as it has), and had it not been for Bille-Brahe’s coupon scheme whereby the government will only field a single candidate in every single-member constituency, most LCL members of the Unionsdag would likely lose their seats. They might yet suffer backlashes from their constituents. Ungern-Sternberg and the other pro-conscription Liberals in the cabinet have yet to officially repudiate their long held line that they intend to return to the Liberals proper once the crisis is over. Whether Sønderheim would be amenable to welcoming them back, of course, remains to be seen.
The Patriotic Radical Party: It had hardly been a year since the Reform Unionists, the Radical Liberals, and Radikale Højre joined forces when the current crisis broke out. And Hasselqvist, former leader of the Reform Unionists and the leader of the new Radical Party front wasted no time in taking a strong stand for conscription, much alienating the sensibilities of the new party he had just helped found. When the party congress voted down his appeal for the Fatherland, he angrily resigned his membership and formed the Patriotic Radical Party, whom Bille-Brahe was only happy to do business with. It is unclear what will happen to Hasselqvist, let alone his party, once the crisis comes to an end. Indeed, even with the coupon scheme, many political observers doubt he will keep his seat.
The Nationalist Party: For all intents and purposes, this party exists only as a vehicle for Bille-Brahe to shore up support among a constituency that never would have voted Skeptical otherwise. It’s leader is a disgraced, dishonourable discharged, officer in the Imperial Nordic Army, of whom the less is said, the better.
Supporting the government:
Landmannspartei: Basically the party of wealthy German landowners in Slesvig, Holsten, and Lauenborg. They threw their weight behind Nicolas Andersen back in the day, but once the 1880s rolled around made their shift to mainly supporting the Skepticals under Bille-Brahe. Though they certainly have Bille-Brahe’s ear, and Bille-Brahe has frequently referred to their prominent Members of the Unionsdag as great men, the symbiotic relationship does not extend to a formal alliance. The Lantmannspartei is not represented in the cabinet, and does not take part in the coupon scheme (though of course, the government isn’t fielding candidates in the Duchies).
Pommersche Patriotenpartei: The party of nigh-perpetual government in Pomerania has very limited interest in seeing their Duchy overrun by Prussian soldiers any time soon, and as such have pledged their support for conscription, and by extension, the government. Though the particular international situation is such that it has encouraged the Patriotenpartei and the Landmannspartei into greater parliamentary cooperation in the Unionsdag, this should not be interpreted that the two parties are eyeing a merger any time soon. For starters, suffrage in Pomerania is wider than that in Slesvig, Holsten, and Lauenborg, and the two parties generally rely upon different sets of voters to support it, the Patriotenpartei growing increasingly urban in every election, and the Landmannspartei, as the name implies, relying almost exclusively on a rural electorate. That said, if the past few years have taught the two parties anything, it is that if they play their cards right, German Scandinavians can easily amass greater influence in the Unionsdag than their numbers would suggest.
The Liberal Party: The development of the Liberal Party over the past thirty years is one great irony. They took a lot longer to form as a united party on a federal level than the Unionists and the Skepticals, and have generally opposed further concentration of political power to federal level since 1867. Still, internally, their leadership on federal level today is the single most centralized creature ever witnessed in Nordic politics. Asbjørn Abraham Sønderheim, who once would complain about how Cap policy and strategy was being dictated “by a few artistocratic Swedish grandees in the Phrygian Club” now wields far greater power than they ever could dream of. He reigns supreme, having led his party since the mid-70s. His lieutenants have been battled-hardened by two great internal struggles leading to very painful splits. Loyalty is valued above all else, and on the Grand Old Fart’s mere say-so, candidates can be named and deselected by the party in every constituency. He celebrated his eighty-fifth birthday just earlier this year, yet he has the energy and mental clarity of a man fifty years his junior, and the bitterness and spite of a man five hundred years’ his senior. He is determined to defeat what he calls “Bille-Brahe’s grotesque hydra”.
The Radical Party: The split provoked by Hasselqvist’s departure is still deeply felt. Old Baron Cohen-Brandes, Nicolas Andersen’s old radical Treasury President in the 60s and 70s, who did much to encourage the formation of the party, has been courted rather aggressively for weeks now to agree to leave retirement and lead their few MPs and candidates into the election. It remains to be seen if another couple of fine dinners at Copenhagen’s fanciest restaurants might persuade him to throw his hat back in the ring. Talks about fielding joint candidates with the Liberals to form a united front against the government in the upcoming elections broke down before they even started. Sønderheim plainly will not tolerate any alliance with what he calls “elements of questionable allegiance”.
The Lavender List: Of the four women that currently serve in the Folketing, the Lavender List accounts for, well, all of them. They have started to become somewhat concerned lately about the Committee of Secrets appointing a subcommittee to look into whether or not it is feasible to start conscripting women for work with maintaining the supply lines and in various clerical posts. Their concerns are mainly over whether or not this will legally be deemed service in the armed forces, though, as current Nordic law stipulates that anyone who serves in the armed forces for more than three hundred and sixty-five days gets the vote.
The Labour Party: The party’s sole MP, Hakon Kirstein from Malmö, has signalled that he will support conscription on the condition that full universal suffrage for men is introduced. Since the government already has a majority without him, they have elected not to pay him any attention. Since he has theoretically indicated a willingness to work with the government, the Liberals deem him an “element of questionable allegiance”. The Lavender List feel that while suffrage certainly should be extended for women in the propertied classes, the idea of extending it to working class men is not in keeping with good statesmanship. The Radicals have elected not to field any candidates in Malmö, however, so as to help Kirstein’s chances of being re-elected.
The Loke Fagerlund Party: Loke Fagerlund of Jerrestad and Albo left the Liberals in 1890 when Sønderheim, then still Chancery President, introduced a small levy on homebrew, and in doing so, he took his entire constituency party with him. He concurrently serves as Chieftain of the Hundred in both Jerrestad and Albo, though he deputizes the two posts to his two eldest sons Lars and Leif. He feels strongly that all this talk about the war on the continent and conscription have obscured the real important issues in this election, namely tax rebates for cider orchards and pig farms, and the quality of the gravel used on roads in Southeast Scania.