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1868 Presidential Elections (A Federation of Equals)

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1864 DanubianFederationEqualsFlag 1872
The Danubian Election of 1868
1868
Turnout 89%
François-Xavier Fabre - Portrait of a Man - WGA7716
Nominee Wolfram Liberalen Enrico di Sanctis
Party Independent Danubian Patriotic Union
Alliance FDP ADCP
Home state Austria Cisalpina
Running mate Imre Than Peter von der Pahlen
Electoral vote 304 144
States carried 6 7
Popular vote 5,209,462 4,808,734
Percentage 52% 48%
DanubianElection1868
The results of the presidential election, 1868
President before election
Gabriel Soukup-Valenta
Radical Union of the Federation
President-Elect
Wolfram Liberalen
Independent
And so it came to pass that the primaries of 1867 were uneventful, seeming decided before they even began – the margin of victory was so great for Di Sanctis in the DPU’s primary that it was rumoured that not even his opponent voted against him! The election looked set to be anything but, with both parties holding conventions roughly equal in size and a close contest promised by all. In many ways, this distinction between an exciting election and a fairly short and dull primary season made it typical of the elections that had come before it, but in one crucial respect it was different – for the first time, the people of the Danube would not just be electing a President, but also crowning a Prince. This symbolically contentious change came as a result of the events in the Balkan nation of Wallachia, promised as in the Danubian sphere pending a referendum by the Treaty of Berlin. When the President of the former Duchy declined to host the vote, through the simple statement that they had never signed the above treaty, and erected new border controls on their northern frontier with the Federation. When the Electoral Commissioners were predictably turned away, Vienna authorised Romania to ‘use any means necessary to ensure these Federal officials can carry out their duties.’ Needless to say, within a period of around a week, this ended up as an invasion by the Romanian militia. Fears of war with Russia were compounded as they issued statement after statement, in a seemingly more frantic fashion, denouncing ‘any and all attempts to abuse the sovereign rights of independent nations.’ No ultimatum ever came though, and, once the Wallachian President was captured and executed in a show trial in Bucharest, the Russians could find no response whatsoever and simply chose to ignore the issue. Though insufficient evidence exists to confirm anything, most historians believe that it was under French pressure that war was averted. Russian communiqués exist in Paris calling upon the French government to echo their protestations, but all records suggest that after a meeting between the Russian Ambassador and the French President two days prior to the Romanian troops crossing the border, these ceased, possibly as a result of a clear refusal by the French to intervene against the Treaty of Berlin. This may be speculation, but the Romanian control of the state that was the end result was a fact that greatly worried Valenta. Had it not been for a further intervention by the President ensuring the vote was carried out by Federal officials, the state’s annexation may well have been but days away. On the day, numerous reports of intimidation by Romanian militiamen keeping order filtered back to Vienna, and though it seems unlikely that these isolated incidents actually affected the outcome of the referendum, which handed the Federation a new client state, they suggest that dirty forces were at work attempting to unify the ‘Romanian fatherland’.
WalesFyrstEdwardavWaleskrone

The Ducal Coronet of Wallachia was rediscovered after the fall of the Presidential Dictatorship, though its associated coronation items were not found and had to be reforged, with the eventual choice of a Viennese workshop making a symbolic union between the two nations.

With this in mind, it was decided by a small convention that the old monarchist constitution from the days before the Presidential Dictatorship would be revived, with a few small changes to accommodate proper elections and the like. It only remained for the monarch to be picked but, with the old Duke dead at the hands of the dictator, no remaining blood relative to be found and a not altogether unpredictable aversion to Presidents, the convention adopted a clause that made the President of the Federation their monarchy. Though Valenta would not be able to travel to Wallachia prior to the election being appointed merely ‘Lord Protector and Prince Regent of the Principality of Wallachia’, the title of ‘Grand Prince of Wallachia and Sovereign of Her People’ was to be borne by all his successors.

The Candidates

Independent, endorsed by the National Reform Union and the Federal Democratic Party
Presidential Candidate: Wolfram Liberalen
Vice-Presidential Candidate: Imre Than

Economic Policy: Laissez-Faire
Military Policy: Pro-Military
Religious Policy: Secularised
Trade Policy: Free Trade
Citizenship Policy: Full Citizenship

Gentlemen, two decades have passed since the Revolutions of '48. We have seen much since then – little respite has been afforded our nation as we have weathered crises in all fronts: wars and coups. Recession and scandal. And yet, through these troubles, we have stood strong. Against the reactionaries to the north and the Turks to the south, we have maintained and prospered, defying all those who would doubt and remaining a shining beacon for liberty. Though our radical revolutionary fervour may have long since dispersed, we have entered into a liberal maturity. Never have those values and ideas for which we fought disappeared. Our longest serving President thus far has just stepped down; himself a radical, proof that we have not lost our desire for freedom and liberality. The radicals have now had their turn. Herr Soukup-Valenta bowed out gracefully, and the party have been magnanimous along with him, agreeing to let another form an administration – a liberal administration.

  • In terms of our economy, we stand free of debt and at a point ready to prosper once more. There are always those amongst us who know how to make money, and I shall not be one to hinder them, a firm believer in Smith's principles. Let our people lead the way in developing our economy and help our Federation flourish!
  • But to allow this to occur, we must also have peace. Though war can certainly produce profit in some sectors, fighting is never conducive to general prosperity. My administration shall be one of peace, favouring diplomacy to solve international crises and tensions.
  • With that, though, we must not leave ourselves open to attack from external forces – or, indeed, forces within our own borders. Our military will be maintained and kept strong, though only as a defensive force. We must be able to stand up to those who would rob our liberty; let us sing sweetly, but not to the tunes of others.
  • My administration would not favour any particular religious denomination, and would see our religious institutions free of the government. Religious freedom is a key principle of my manifesto, yet I do not feel it is someting in which the government must interfere.
  • Our wider freedoms shall also be maintained; namely the freedom of trade and the freedom of citizenship. Let the Federation continue to be a bastion of freedom and enlightenment! Let us move forward with pragmatism, liberalism and prosperity!

Danubian Patriotic Union
Presidential Candidate: Enrico di Sanctis
Vice-Presidential Candidate: Peter von der Pahlen

Economic Policy: Interventionism
Military Policy: Jingoism
Religious Policy: Pluralism
Trade Policy: Protectionism
Citizenship Policy: Full Citizenship

  • A Capitalist Economy: As time has gone on, our government has gotten more and more involved in the economy, from hampering industrial production, such as regulating the workday and wage of our factories, to choosing how a man’s money should be spent by taxing it, then spending it for him. The supporters of these programs say that with more money, more power, and a larger program, they could do even more good. This becomes a problem as any time we question these very programs, they denounce us as being opposed to the common man, and the common good. They make it impossible for us to discuss the programs with the assumption that all of us share the desire to help the less fortunate. This is a fundamental issue of the current notion that socialism and social spending are the only way forward, the only way to help the common man. I stand here to tell you that this is not the only way, nor the best way. An elite board of politicians in Vienna will never be able to tell a father how to best spend the money he works every day for, and will never be able to run a business better than the businessman himself. I stand here to tell you that a progressive tax discriminates against success, hurts our economy, and that we must push for a return to our traditional proportionate taxes. I stand here to that we must resist the temptation of government handouts. I shall support a review of all social spending and social reform laws, and pledge that those that are important for our society and economy, such as education, will be preserved and those that are not, such as unemployment subsidies, must be repealed. I pledge I will not intervene in our economy except to avert a systematic collapse or to assist our industries in war-time. I pledge to preserve the capitalist system this Federation was founded on. I pledge to not let the bright flame of freedom that our Federation stands for be drowned under the massive flow of government expansion.
  • A Stable Society: Diversity is at the heart of our Federation, with numerous ethnicities and religions. As such, I believe that the government, while maintaining society's basic moral fabric, should not specifically favor a particular religion or culture over another. This does not mean, however, I support forgetting the Hand of Providence guides this Federation. It is indeed important that the Federation does what is necessary to support its various churches. In the spirit of this, I support a status quo stance on the centralization of Danubia, in the interest of the stability of the Federation. I will oppose any measures taken to increase or decrease centralization to this effect.
  • A Strong Federation: Our Federation recently ratified the Treaty of Berlin and a series of affiliated treaties, which humiliated us upon the international stage, selling out Bavaria, Wuttemberg, and Baden to Prussian expansionist ambitions, and barring us from uniting Romania and bringing the Balkans under the protective blanket of our Federation. Part of this was due to a failure in diplomatic direction, and part of this was a lack of attention to our military. Our Federation stands alone in Central and Eastern Europe as the sole democratic power. We have alienated ourselves on the European stage, as well as to our natural allies such as the United Kingdom, which shares our support of democracy and capitalism or France, which shares our opposition to Prussian’s pan-German ambitions. It has been made abundantly clear, we must have a strong military. Not just an army that could defend our cities in the event of invasion, nor just a navy that could prevent a blockade of our colonies. We need an army that can defend our Federation abroad, from the Balkans to the South German states. We need a navy that can project power throughout the Mediterranean, and into the Black and Red Seas. Our military needs modernization, but it also needs expansion. We should seek stable alliances with those whose interests do not conflict with ours, but we must also be prepared to stand alone. I will seek to unite Romania, as well as bring allow the people of the Balkans into our Federation if they choose to join. I will also set out to protect the South German states, and prevent Prussia from annexing them. I will make the allies necessary to do this, and amend the treaties that I must. Defense of the Federation is the executive’s most sacred duty, and I pledge I shall take this most seriously. I will not charge off to impulsive wars, nor take colonies we do not need, but I do support expanding where sensible, founding colonies that are economically and strategically viable, and I do support protecting Danubia's interests abroad. I would rather defend Danubia in the fields of Bavaria than the streets of Vienna, and my foreign policy will reflect that.
  • A Personal Note: I will make a final note. I pledge to pragmatic conservatism, and will not oppose any progress for the sake of opposing it. I will cross the aisle when I think it is necessary, and do not believe compromise is wrong. What I do believe is that we must protect the institutions that make us great. I do believe that we cannot simply charge from one 'newest, best thing' to the next. I will take an active and strong position in the executive, and seek to create order, stability, and prosperity for all. For those whose votes are undecided, all I ask is you consider my platform. Consider my candidacy not on the basis of my last name, but on my ideals.

The Results

The Presidential Election of 1868, coming as it did as the nation’s twentieth anniversary, would always have been more prominent than in times past, but with Valenta’s resignation and the Radical Hegemony seemingly drawing to a close, (These two events were often linked by contemporary authors in what could only be described as a watered-down Cult of Personality. Though it may seem fantastical now, Valenta, who would go on to become the Foreign Minister under the new administration in an elegant role-reversal, should not be underestimated as the force behind the Radical electoral machine that had solidly controlled the nation for nigh on a decade, or half its existence. While many reject this notion of a one-man radical movement out-of-hand, some historians maintain that the Radical Union only survived 1868 because Valenta remained behind the scenes to pull the strings, and to train the next generation of puppet masters.) A tightly fought race brought with it a series of firsts; the first election to poll over a million votes, the first election since 1848 to have less than one in five men not vote, the first election where both main candidates failed to win in their home state, the first election to see an independent candidate win the Presidency or even gain over 10,000 votes and the first election for the nation’s largest party not to field a candidate at all, the first election to be won by a margin below 5% and the first Presidential election to hold a state-wide recount. Though it might not be reflected in Liberalen’s Electoral College landslide, the 400,000 votes Di Sanctis lost by was the smallest margin in the Federation’s history. Indeed, it was in just three battle-ground states - all of which were supposedly strongholds for the Danubian Political Union - Hungary, Romania and Illyria, that the election was won by as few as 10,000 votes. Hungary was won by the conservatives only after a recount precipitated by a border dispute with Austria – another hundred German voters being enough to tip the state’s balance. By then though, shock victories for Liberalen, first in Illyria, by some 7000 votes, and then in ever-fickle Romania, by even fewer. We may have but circumstantial evidence that Liberalen’s visit to Romania in the days before the election saw him promise the Romanian state a free hand in the East, though the accounts we do have tend to agree that he was a great orator and statesman who consistently wanted what was best for the Romanian people, later events tend to suggest that this was more or less the case. In any case, this trip is credited with flipping a ‘safe’ state and winning the election for the charismatic Liberal.

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