AdferoLive.nvp | News | National | ELECTION '09 COVERAGE
SDP launches re-election campaign
Dwyer to make way for Kingsley
SDP leader Kingsley has vowed to abolish university fees if re-elected.
The governing Social Democrat Party has launched its official campaign in Harcourt. On Thursday, 1500 party faithful packed the city's main convention centre to hear their leader's opening address.
Warm-up speakers included Prime Minister Simon Dwyer, who used the occasion to announce his intention to relinquish the premiership in favour of Mr Kingsley once again taking the reins of power, should the SDP succeed in securing a historic second-term of government.
Mr Dwyer considered his two months as premier to have been a "temporary assignment". He took a moment to acknowledge Mr Kingsley's "enormous talents" and "energy". Responding to media commentary that the 62 year old Kingsley was "too old" for politics, Mr Dwyer said age would prove "no barrier".
"He has a fit mind, and possibly a fit body too."
Following the launch, Mr Dwyer confirmed speculation he intended to reprise his former role of treasurer in a new SDP administration.
The room rose into applause when Mr Kingsley, running "fashionably late", finally took to the podium - against the backdrop of the '90s pop song Things Can Only Get Better. Mr Kingsley, flashing his trademark smile, thanked the audience before turning his attention to the issues of the day. He said the previous three years had been "enormously challenging" for the SDP.
"For the first time in its history, the Social Democrat Party took the reins of government, and not once did we sacrifice duty or responsibility for the baubles of office. Not once did we deviate from our manifesto. Not once did we compromise our founding principles.
"Be assured, this is one party with no hidden agendas. No secret deals. Just straight-talking, honest policies in line with our commitment to a decent and fair society!"
The SDP had governed in the interests of the "many not just a privileged few". Living standards had risen in line with higher public spending and economic growth, and Novus Prosperitas continued to improve its standing in the international community. However, little time was spent discussing the SDP's proclaimed achievements. That, Mr Kingsley declared, was the role of historians. Instead, Mr Kingsley focused on the future. He said the SDP would seek a fresh mandate to continue its "bold" legislative programme.
Education and skills training would be a key plank in the SDP's re-election campaign. In outlining the party's 2009 policy, Mr Kingsley pledged to make all university education free to its recipients . He shrugged off Opposition fears that the country could not afford to abolish tertiary fees, saying: "We did the 'impossible' once, we'll do it again."
The SDP would also introduce a retraining allowance for people who have been in the workforce 10 years and wish to retrain in a new area of employment. The allowance would be available for up to a year for enrolment in a recognised full-time course, including to those who had previously used up their full-time student allowance entitlement.
Regarding the tax system, Mr Kingsley promised reform there as well. The SDP leader said the introduction of a new child tax credit would "ease the burden" on working families and "lift thousands" from proverty.
The former prime minister dismissed claims there were early signs of a recession. Mr Kingsley said that despite an expected slowdown in exports growth, the economic outlook remained "promising" .
In closing, Mr Kingsely acknowleged the SDP had made mistakes but asked Prosperitans to look past the "character assassinations" and "smear tactics" of the "desperate" and "power-deprived".
"We're in this to win, and we're going to win!" He declared, raising his hands in a "v" salute. The SDP leader then left the venue to unveil the first in a series of election billboards.
Libertas is expected to launch its own campaign in Prosperitas on Friday.
Libertas kick-starts campaign with emphasis on economy
Bach to push for continental partnership
Libertas leader Servius Bach is focusing on economic growth.
Libertas leader Servius Bach says less government is the key to greater prosperity and freedom for all. Mr Bach has also spoken in favour of continental integration, using his speech to criticise the Kingsley-Dwyer government for failing to pursue closer relations with neighbours Pacitalia and Fidelia.
On Friday, over 1500 supporters packed the National Convention and Exhibition Centre in Prosperitas City in a display of buyoancy and confidence that victory would be theirs. Warmed up by an R&B cover act of 1960s hit Ain't No Mountain High Enough, party-faithful waved placards and danced for the cameras. Some in the predominately middle-aged and elderly audience wore white t-shirts that proclaimed "I'm a Bach person", while others were content with party rosettes.
Finance spokesman Jonathan Keyes addressed the audience ahead of leader Servius Bach. Mr Keyes, whose glittering business career abroad has made him one of the wealthiest men in the country, spoke of smaller government and personal responsibility.
"We have to cut tax so that people have the incentive to work longer and harder," Mr Keyes said.
"We have to stop wasting billions of dollars on social welfare programmes that encourage dependency and mediocrity."
A large round of applause followed Mr Keyes' speech and the audience remained standing for Mr Bach who then took to the podium. The Libertas leader, accompained by his wife, waved and blew kisses to the enthusiastic crowd.
Mr Bach began his speech by asking audience members whether they wanted the same "directionless" management from the SDP, to which they chanted "no", or whether they wanted "fresh leadership", to which they enthused "yes". The Libertas leader attacked the Kingsley-Dwyer government for imposing on Prosperitans a "hefty" tax burden, only to "squander" that revenue on "enterprise-strangling" bureaucracy and "inefficent" public works. He described Simon Dwyer's promise to lower the bottom two tax brackets and introduce a new child tax credit scheme as a "cynical election ploy". The Prosperitan people, he said, would not be fooled.
"The electorate doesn't trust proven liars."
In outlining the party's policies, Mr Bach said the economy would remain at the top of Libertas' agenda. Mr Bach said Libertas would deliver "across the board" tax relief, both for individuals and businesses, in order to stimulate economic growth. Libertas would also make greater use of public-private partnerships to speed up the construction of infrastructure and to improve the delivery of core services such as in health and education.
"We will usher in a period of modernisation and renewal to the benefit of all Prosperitans," Mr Bach declared.
"Less government and greater personal responsibility have always been the key to enduring freedom and prosperity. In the 21st century, we must learn to value 'innovative thinking' and 'partnership' as well."
Mr Bach also promised to strengthen the country's international standing, with a particular focus on continental relations. He criticised the SDP for its "short-sightedness" in failing to recognise the necessity of closer political and economic ties with Novus Prosperitas' neighbours. For the first time he spoke in favour of moves towards formal "continental integration" by Pacitalia and Fidelia. Novus Prosperitas, he said, was being "left behind". The "inaction" of the Kingsley-Dwyer administration was "damaging" to Novus Prosperitas' credibility as a regional partner.
"Integration makes sense politically, economically and culturally," he said.
Political commentators say the decision by Mr Bach to align his party firmly in favour of continental integration is a gamble. Dr Susan Walker of the National University told Radio Adfero Live that the reason the SDP had appeared inactive on the matter was because of "public apprehension".
"Prosperitans have mixed feelings about what integration would mean and this may stir nationalistic emotions. On the other hand, Bach will be seen by many as bold and visionary."
One thing is for certain: the 2009 general election promises to be a closely fought race.
Family values and trust central in Christian Democrats' campaign
Electoral reform also a priority for George
Conan George will put families first.
The family must be at the forefront of all political decision-making, says Christian Democrats leader Conan George. Mr George told 650 party faithful in St John's City on Saturday that a strong nation depended upon strong families.
Conan George chose St John's City hall as the venue from which to outline his party's policies. The affair bore little resemblance to the spectacles organised by Libertas and the SDP earlier this week. With the only entertainment being 'family-oriented', one might have been forgiven for at times mistaking the political campaign launch for a children's concert. Nevertheless, with latest opinion polls showing a surge of support for the CDP, the politically aware had every reason to feel energised.
Mr George, looking relaxed, spoke with a microphone in his hand and did not refer to notes. The Christian Democrat said his party was the only one which could be trusted to keep the next government honest, and was the only one committed to family values.
"We support parents and families for one basic reason: they are the building blocks of our communities."
He pointed to the liberalisation of divorce laws and the decriminalisation of the adult entertainment industry in the 1980s as policies that had "undermined" the family. Mr George also blamed "free-market economic theory" for a "bleak" individualistic outlook that had been responsible for many of society's ills. Both the SDP and Libertas were guilty of destroying the nation's social fabric.
Libertas, he said, focused "narrowly" on the free market and reducing government. However, Mr George also rejected "overly centralised" and "father-knows best" approach.
The party's campaign slogan was "Family's First" and its core policies reflected this. The Christian Democrats would focus on: free tertiary education, cutting all taxes, introducing paid parental leave, cheaper doctor fees and establishing a Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the causes of family break-down and domestic violence. The party would also seek to block moves to introduce gay marriage.
Mr George also hinted that electoral reform may also be in the agenda. He said many Prosperitans had been frustrated by "distorted" electoral results in recent times, such as in 2003 when the governing Libertas party won more seats than the SDP despite receiving a smaller share of votes. He pointed to the Pacitalian electoral system as an alternative.
"The composition of our Parliament should more accurately reflect the national vote," Mr George said.
Political scientist Dr Susan Walker of the National University agreed that the Pacitalian system of mixed member proportional voting or MMP had proven "effective" in a number of countries. Some researchers have suggested that dissatisfaction with the current system of First Past the Post may be a cause of voter apathy in Novus Prosperitas.
Dr Walker called Mr George's comments "fascinating".
Kingsely: Education, education, education
Bach talks farming in Dermot
Visiting a school in the southern city of Istropolis on Monday, SDP leader William Kingsley Jr said that intelligence was the nation's most important resource. The SDP would lift teaching standards and make higher education accessible to all.
Children, parents and teachers alike flocked to meet the former prime minister with flowers. Mr Kingsley arrived at Isca Silurium Academy, in the Astanian heartland, in the front passenger seat of a red Fiat Uno - a car of popular choice among locals. The SDP leader's small security contingent tailed closely behind in an unmarked police car. Half a dozen journalists and news cameras waited on the side-lines. But stopping only to shake hands and smile, the SDP leader evaded the pervasive questioning that followed.
"This election isn't about you."
Inside the school auditorium, Mr Kingsley told students of the importance education played in every day life. He advised them to study hard and to never let an opportunity at self-improvement pass them by. Education, he said, was the route to happiness and a better life.
"If you can read, write and do artihmetic, then the world is your oyster."
Mr Kingsley also acknowledged the "critical" and "under-appreciated" role played by teachers and parents. He reminded his audience that the SDP had increased expenditure on education by 5% each year it had been in office and had worked "productively" with educators. The SDP had increased teacher salaries by 8% over the last Parliamentary term and Mr Kingsley pledged to keep their pay rates above inflation. Intelligence, he said, was the nation's greatest resource.
"We must do more to stop our highly qualified and talented teachers from crossing the border into Pacitalia. If that means increasing salaries by 50% then maybe we should at least consider that as an option."
Mr Kingsley also warned of a "hidden" Right-wing agenda. Libertas, he said, would seek to gradually privatise the education system thus making it only accessible to the "elite".
"The SDP, on the other hand, will ensure that education is accessible to everyone. Education, education, education."
Bach in Dermot
Libertas leader Servius Bach hit the campaign trail in the marginal electorate of Dermot. The seat, which was formally held by Mr Kingsley, is shaping up to be one of the election's toughest battlgrounds. Incumbent Christian Democrat John Howard has a majority of just 0.3% over Libertas candidate Jeffrey Lincoln.
Responding to Mr Kingsley's comments on education, Mr Bach said he believed only economic growth could bring about salary rises.
"We are not in a situation in which we can throw money out of the window," he warned.
"Salary rises alone will not improve the quality of the education system."
He denounced Mr Kingsley's claim that Libertas would "privatise" the education system as "scare-mongering".
While at a rally, Mr Bach addressed a number of local issues, chief among them were the future of the countryside and Novus Prosperitas' suffering dairy and meat industry. Mr Bach told locals that Pacifica's recent decision to repeal "archaic" farming subsisides and tariffs on Prosperitan goods would be beneficial to the nation's economy. He supported free trade and spoke in favour of exploring new markets.
Asked whether he would ban gay marriage, the Libertas leader said his party was neutral on the matter.
Those who took the time to meet Mr Bach described him as affable.
Kingsley spars with protestors
SDP leader William Kingsley Jr exchanged verbal blows with a member of the public and media in Kingstown today. Mr Kingsley, who is touring southern Novus Prosperitas, told an Astanian activist to "get lost".
An early morning drizzle was not enough to deter Mr Kingsley and his entourage from hitting the campaign trail in Kingstown on Tuesday. At lunch-time, Mr Kingsley caused a stir in the city centre. Flanked by local MPs Akilina Benita and Dionysus Emelda, Mr Kingsley spoke with shoppers and local business owners. Fascinated members of the public, both young and old, flocked to shake the SDP leader's hand and pose for photographs.
"You are a strong man. A courageous man. You have my vote," said a man named Elias.
"He is very handsome," an elderly female constituent told the media contingent.
The serenity of the day was not to last, however. In the nearby King George Square, a group of protestors lay in wait for Mr Kingsley, who was due to address a small crowd of a few hundred. They hurled abuse at him as he arrived and clashed with SDP supporters who told the three men and one woman to "go home". The demonstrators claimed to be part of a "separatist" movement dedicated to the restoration of Astanian independence.
Mr Kingsley dismissed the protest as a "mere impertinence".
"This is a nation that is united, not divided. These clowns would have us march into apartheid," Mr Kingsley told his audience
The crowd clapped. The protesters, beaten and embarrassed, chose to retreat rather than face further humiliation.
Libertas unveils full economic and tax policy
Libertas finance spokesman Jonathan Keyes unveiled the party's much anticipated tax relief package at a function in Prosperitas City on Tuesday. The package will give a significant income boost to most Prosperitans but Mr Keyes has warned that the government must reduce expenditure elsewhere to pay for it.
Libertas would cancel business and research tax credits introduced by the government and seek to reduce the amount spent on infrastructure in the next three years so that borrowing may also be reduced. The new child tax credit system, which Mr Keyes has denounced as "communism by stealth", would also be abolished. Spending on health and education would be held constant in real-terms.
"The most respected economists in our nation agree that shrinking the government's share of the national income is an essential step towards accelerated economic growth," Mr Keyes said.
Libertas intended to introduce a flat tax rate of 35% for both personal income and corporate profit. However, those earning below 10,000 prospera per annum would be exempt from the regime. Mr Keyes claimed the proposed change would mean a less rigid tax system that offered no loopholes, was easier to administer and required less tax inspectors.
"Most importantly of all it is a fairer system that will ultimately create more investment, more jobs and more wealth."
The poor would pay no tax at all and the rich would pay their due, Mr Keyes said. Flat tax had worked "remarkably well" in a number of other nations and would, if given the chance, work in Novus Prosperitas.
The package was well-received by the finance spokesman's audience of corporate executives and professionals, but others have been more cautious.
Dr Gaius Etruscan, Professor of Social Policy at the National University, told Radio Adfero Live that Libertas' "radical" economic agenda threatened the future of public services. He said healthcare might become less accessible to the average Prosperitan and warned that the nation could not afford to neglect future investment in infrastructure.
"Novus Prosperitas is already in dire need of better roading, better rail and a more reliable national energy programme. We are severely lagging in those areas."
Dr Susan Walker, also of the National University, said the decision by Libertas to campaign on the introduction of a flat tax was "bold".
"Middle-class voters may be attracted to the idea at first. But once there is a realisation that this is at a great cost to the national budget, the policy may just become anathema to the public. It is certainly another gamble on the part of Servius Bach and Libertas."
Libertas leader Servius Bach rejected criticism of his party's tax policy on Tuesday. He said flat tax, greater personal freedom and less government intervention in the economy would lead the country to prosperity in the 21st century.
Sparks fly in first leader's debate
The gloves came off in the first televised leader's debate on Wednesday night. The SDP's William Kingsley Jr went head to head with main rivals Servius Bach and Conan George.
Conan George was the first to make an opening statement, after earlier winning a lottery to do so. In it, Mr George reiterated his party's commitment to strengthening family values and the "real" issues of the campaign. He denounced the petty squabbling and name calling between the two major parties. That was where the civility in the debate ended. The statement invoked an immediate response from Mr Kingsley who said Mr George should "get on with it".
Moderating the affair was Channel One political editor James McLean who called on the party leaders to be "calm" and "considerate" in their response to questions, advice that was not heeded for long.
Three times during the 95 minute programme producers were forced to take "early" commercial breaks while tempers were tamed. At one point, Mr George threatened to walk off set unless his Social Democrat and Libertas counterparts stopped interjecting.
GEORGE: "Look, I'm not going to put up with this school-yard nonsense. These are serious questions that require serious answers."
KINGSLEY: "Grow up."
MCLEAN: "Mr Kingsley, I am going to ask you again to refrain from making such unnecessary and flippant remarks. I want to now move on to the next question."
The issues covered were diverse, ranging from tax to climate change, to the leader's drinking habits. In response to a question on continental integration, the SDP leader accused Servius Bach of being a "snake oil merchant". Mr McLean reminded Mr Kingsley to stay on topic, but this did not dissuade the former prime minister from launching into another tirade.
KINSGLEY: "Let me answer the question, James."
MCLEAN: "You're not answering the question, though, Mr Kingsley. I have asked you a very specific question: does the SDP support continental intergation?"
KINGSLEY: "Well, if you would let me finish... You know, one minute you accuse me of saying too much. The next I'm not answering the question. You can't have it both ways."
BACH: "Answer the question."
MCLEAN: "So is that a no?"
KINGSLEY: "Mr Bach has trivalised the question of integration. There are wider issues to consider here. What form will intergation take for a start? He has essentially signed up to something without reading the terms and conditions."
The question of intergation would have to wait for another time. Discussion of Libertas' controversial flat tax package and plans to cut government spending dominated the rest of the programme. Mr Kingsley was adament that flat tax would inevitably lead to the privatisation of schools and other state assets.
KINGSLEY: "Just let's be clear here. The country knows it, I know it, even you know it, James. Mr Bach is the poster-boy of the New Right in this country. He is a Manchurian candidate for big business and the adherents of failed economic theory."
BACH: "Oh, please"
KINGSLEY: "You're an adherent of the Pacitalian School of Economics."
BACH: "Pacitalia is a role-model for this country."
KINGSLEY: "Let's talk about your plans for the education system and the provision of healthcare, shall we."
MCLEAN: "That will be quite enough, Mr Kingsley. I am asking the questions. It is not at all customary for..."
KINGSLEY: "Well, James, I don't much care for what is customary. This is an important matter for Novus Prosperitas and I think Conan here would appreciate it if you would help us get to the bottom of it."
BACH: "Oh, for God's sake..."
MCLEAN: "Mr Bach, what will your party do in education?"
BACH: "Well, Mr Mclean, I am pleased you asked me that. First of all, I want to say it is not our intention to, as Mr Kingsley puts it, privatise the schools. We are, however, in favour of introducing secondary school fees, which..."
MCLEAN: "And I see you're nodding you're head, Mr Kingsley, does this mean you are in agreement with Mr Bach?"
KINGSLEY: "Of course not. It means I'm right."
As time ran short the leaders were forced to end the debate without closing addresses. Asked afterwards how it went, Mr Kingsley said the exercise had been "poorly organised" and accused moderator James McLean of being "incompetent". Mr Bach said Mr Kingsley had made the debate a "farce". Mr George declined to comment.
PNN.pc | News | Foringana | Leaders "snappish", "uncouth" in first NP debate
Social Democratic Party leader William Kingsley Dmn (picture,
right) makes a point at the first general debate of the Prosperitan
election campaign. Libertas party leader Servius Bach (left) and
Christian Democrats leader Conan George (centre) look on in a
photo taken during one of the less-heated points in the evening.
Leaders "snappish", "uncouth" in first NP debate
Sparks fly, analysts say actual policy discussion "severely lacking" in "disrupted charade"
Martina Felicida in Kingstown
The first leaders' debate of the Prosperitan general election is now finished but not without the participants first launching sometimes "uncouth" attacks on each other — a process that appears to have opened deep, new wounds in the battle for power in Pacitalia's northeastern neighbour.
Debate analysts, like Dr Fabio Margansa of Monterio's Universitado Tecnico, Artes Liberales y Policiencias (Unital-Po), saw the debate as "severely lacking" in any substantial discussion of the party's policies and platforms.
"What took place last night in Kingstown was more a verbal slaughter than any substantive discourse of policies and important issues," Dr Margansa told PNN. "It makes for great television but it definitely does not inform the average elector or help them decide for whom they should vote."
The debate's moderator, James McLean, appeared to struggle to keep Social Democratic Party leader William Kingsley Dmn — with his well-known pomposity and vitriolic dislike of the media — in line. At several points during the evening, Mr Kingsley's comments bordered on ad hominem attacks on his two counterparts.
Mr Kingsley, the technical incumbent despite resigning in early December due to fraud charges, lashed out at his two opponents, Libertas leader Servius Bach and Christian Democrats leader Conan George. He was seen repeatedly interrupting them even when Mr McLean's questions were directed to Mr Bach or Mr George.
Pacitalia became a major issue of the debate evening after Mr McLean posed a question to the SDP leader on continental integration. Mr Kingsley did not directly answer the question but ended up making a strong implication that he was opposed to integration with Pacitalia and Fidelia.
Mr Kingsley then criticised Mr Bach for his allegiance to the Pacitalian school of economics, a "failed economic theory". He labelled the Libertas leader "a Manchurian candidate for big business". Mr Bach responded by saying that Pacitalia was a "role model country" for Prosperitans and a strong case in favour of liberalising the economy in Novus Prosperitas.
At three separate times during the 95 minute program, television producers had to interrupt with commercial breaks in an attempt to allow cooler heads to prevail. At one point, Mr George threatened to walk off set unless his Social Democrat and Libertas counterparts stopped interjecting.
The Libertas leader was also attacked for his party's new flat tax package. The centre-right party will create a flat income tax rate of 35 percent if it forms government, which it says will create jobs, shift the Prosperitan workforce onto a merit-based employment system and encourage business growth. The day before, Libertas finance spokesman Jon Keyes claimed the new flat tax would cut down the number of tax inspectors, simplify the tax process and close loopholes in an arguably complicated national revenue scheme.
Critics of Libertas' flat tax package, like Mr Kingsley, claim it will favour the rich establishment, leading to mass privatisation and a new elitism that will leave the poor out in the cold.
Dr Gaius Etruscan, a professor of social policy at the National University of Novus Prosperitas, told Radio Adfero Live that Libertas' "radical" economic agenda threatened the future of public services in the country. He said healthcare might become less accessible to the average Prosperitan and warned that the nation could not neglect future investment in infrastructure.
The country's road and rail networks, while extensive, are in dire need of repairs, upgrades and, in some cases, even safety audits. A 2008 report by Pacitalian Development International rated Novus Prosperitas as having the third-worst transportation infrastructure in Atlantian Oceania, ahead of only Lamoni and Turori. The same report estimated the lack of sufficiently maintained road and rail works in Novus Prosperitas costs the country's economy almost Đ 7-billion (NSD 23.9-bn) each year.
With files from Adfero Live and Agensa Prensato Repubblicana
Copyright © 2009 Pacitalian News Network
An operating agency of Pacitalian News Media Group SpA
Polls show SDP ahead
For the first time in six months the governing party is ahead of rival Libertas. Three voting intention polls released this week gave the SDP leads between three and seven percentage points.
The IMR/Prosperitan Herald poll gave the party a 6.9% lead over Libertas, the biggest SDP lead in any poll for over a year, while Consensus/AdferoLive gave a 5.5% lead and the NOP/Guardian poll registered a lead of only 3.2%. Meanwhile, a second poll released by Consensus/AdferoLive suggested that voter turnout could be its highest in years, with 87% of the electorate expected to cast votes on 7 March, compared with 75% in 2006.
Political analysts say the sudden reversal in fortunes could be attributed to public scepticism of Libertas' controversial "neo-liberal" policies. Dr Susan Walker of the National University told Radio Adfero Live that the SDP leader William Kingsley had been successful in stirring fears of a "New Right revolution" in Novus Prosperitas with his strongly-worded rhetoric that appealed to the emotions of a conservative nation.
Dr Walker also noted the rising popularity of the country's third largest political party. The Christian Democrats had reached their highest level of pre-election popularity ever. Conan George was striking accord with much of Prosperitan society and marginal seats in the north-east looked as though they could swing the Christian Democrats' way.
"These factors will have a significant effect on the final outcome of this election," Dr Walker said.
Some polls had the Christian Democrats between five and nine percent behind the main opposition party Libertas. But with two weeks remaining before booth day, commentators warn that anything could happen.
[ Bump ]
Prosperitan vote indecisive: Christian Democrats hold "balance of power"
Novus Prosperitas plunged into political uncertainty on Sunday with neither of the major parties winning an outright majority in the weekend's general election. SDP leader William Kingsley said he would attempt to form a new minority government, but opposition leader Servius Bach has sought coalition talks with the Christian Democrats.
On Saturday, the centre-right Christian Democrats exceeded expectations with 27% of the national vote and claimed the marginal seats of Dermot and St John's Central, once a Libertas strong-hold. Leader Conan George hailed the result as a victory for family values. Addressing supporters in Prosperitas City, Mr George said his party would put Prosperitans first. He did not rule out the possibility of a coalition with either the SDP or Libertas. However, analysts say a coalition with the SDP is unlikely given Mr George's strong criticism of the Kingsley-Dwyer government. However, the probability of a coalition with Libertas is also in question following the party's disastrous final week of campaigning.
Opposition leader Servius Bach said that while it was too early to claim victory, he was certainly not prepared to concede defeat. Few were upbeat, however. The party's failure to hold the marginal conservative seats of Dermot and St John's Central has been directly attributed to a series of gaffes in the lead up to polling day, the most notable of which was finance spokesman Jon Keyes' suggestion that Libertas would consider the privatisation of beaches. However, Bach was confident Libertas could form the government.
"The Christian Democrats have indicated a real desire for change and we are prepared to work with them to achieve that change," he said.
SDP leader William Kingsley Jr was also confident his party could form a coalition. Mr Kingsley said Prosperitans had rejected the neoliberal radicalism of Mr Bach, a 'dry economist', in favour of pragmatic policies and centrism. He believed the SDP and the Christian Democrats could work together effectively in government. The SDP holds 114 seats in the 334 seat House of Representatives, one more than Libertas. However, the party's socially progressive policies may be at odds with the social conservatism of Mr George's Christian Democrats, making a coalition between the two difficult. Scandal has also caused the party considerable harm. Last week's revelation that cabinet minister Christian Benedict had been romantically linked to the First Lady is believed to have cost the SDP dearly in the south. On Saturday night, Mr Kingsley openly criticised Mr Benedict for his 'debauchery'.
Talks between the parties are said to be well underway.