To Think We Used to Fly

December 30, 2023

Some time in early December, the Office of the Prime Minister made a short statement to the press about a speech from the Prime Minister that would be made on the evening of the 30th. That day was now here, and so the airwaves were fixed on the Witenapalent as they prepared to relay this live address.

Eoforwine Æthelstanesunu, the Prime Minister, was undoubtedly a familiar face by now. After all, as the head of government of Tretrid, he had dominated the political conversation for more than seven years now. Such it was that the image of him at his desk was being broadcast for much of the people of Tretrid to see.

“Good evening, everyone. I hope you have all had a joyful Yule. For the past seven years now, I have had the unique distinction and duty of being tasked with leading the government of Tretrid. I have tried my utmost to carry out the responsibilities given to me, and I hope that the results should speak for themselves.”

“We have defended our democracy against the corrupting influence of corporate money, where they had previously bent the government to their interests. We have made the government more transparent and accountable to its citizens than it has ever been before. We have sought to extend a helping hand to our most vulnerable, to give them a fighting chance to succeed. We have done the same abroad, too, to make at least some progress to alleviate global poverty.”

“The people graciously responded to me by granting me an unprecedented majority in the Witenagemot, all the more which we have been able to do to continue the work we started early on. I must thank you once again for the overwhelming mandate you have granted in the last election. It truly means a lot to me.”

“The time is drawing near that you, the Tretridian people, must decide where next to go from here. Elections will be held next year, and it is there at the ballot box that our course forward as a country into the near future will be decided.”

“As in 2020, I have been urged by advisors, Councilors, and most importantly, by voting Tretridians to continue to carry out the great work that we began in 2016. However, after careful consideration, I have decided it is time to step aside and let a new generation of people decide where to go forward from here. I will not be seeking reelection to the Witenagemot and intend to retire from politics after the election.”

“I will be the first to admit that my actions have not been perfect. I have misstepped and I have erred. Yet every action I have done I have done in the service of the Tretridian state and people, and in the name of a better world.”

“In 2017, I was invited to speak at the commencement ceremony for a year’s worth of bright students at the University of Cynebury. I said that the statesman has an eternal duty to carefully consider every option and every action and ensure that in the end history will see such actions justified. Looking back, nearing the end of it all, I can see everything that I’ve done and say that they were indeed so. I have tried my utmost to carry out my duty as a humble servant of the people to its furthest extent.”

“Yet that is ultimately not my judgement to make. That is a decision that you will make at the ballot box next year. Thank you for putting faith in me to guide our way forward, and I wish you all a good night and a bright future.”

And with that send-off, the cameras stopped rolling, leaving an entire nation to ponder what might lie ahead.


December 31, 2023

The ÞUD leadership was holding a private party to ring in Eotensdæg, the first day of the calendar year. The mood was optimistic, as it usually was right before a new, fresh year started.

The ÞUD had its own special reasons to be optimistic. A good amount of the ÞSD’s recent political success owed itself to Eoforwine personally as a unifying character behind all of the popular reforms the ÞSD had pushed through in its time in government. Without his uniquely quiet yet forceful style, the ÞSD would have a harder time going into the elections.

There was also the common sentiment that it was simply time for new leadership for the country. Eoforwine had led Tretrid for 8 years now, and Tretrid had gone through its fair share of historical events in that time, from the Space Debris Crisis to the Auroran-Cerenerian War to the Vanoi fever pandemic to the Correvan Crisis to the Balistrian Coalition War. While public sentiment viewed the Æthelstanesunu government’s responses to most of them were positive, there was still controversy around Correva after Æthelwine Heardesunu’s 2021 speech before the Novaran Council and around Balistria due to persistent allegations of war crimes. And even while the public still viewed the government’s responses to most of these very positively and Eoforwine’s approval ratings were very high in comparison to other Prime Ministers, people seemed to start getting fatigued with the Æthelstanesunu government.

No matter the incredible successes under Eoforwine, and even some of the much more hotly contested policies, there just needed to be new blood in government.

The ÞUD sought to campaign off of this and was banking on a general reaction to some of the more left-wing domestic policies under the current government. With the LDP in shambles and the ÞSD sliding leftwards, that left people in the center to start drifting into the ÞUD’s own center-right camp. The ÞUD leader, Eahlstan Colasunu, had also pushed for changes in the ÞUD’s platform for the election to have a wider appeal to the center in a bid to draw in former LDP and disaffected ÞSD voters.

But this was the year-end party, so while all these things were being discussed, the general mood was more to look forward to what 2024 had to bring, though conveniently a ÞUD government was one of those possibilities.

All the chatter in the party suddenly hushed up as party leader Eahlstan Colasunu stepped forward, glass of fine wine in hand. It seemed like he was about to make a speech.

“Thank you everyone for making it here today,” he said. “We’re all here because we answer to the same calling. To be a member of the ÞUD is to stand for that which makes us Tretridian: our shared duty to family, community, and country. We’ve gotten a taste of what we can do merely as a junior coalition party six years ago now, and, gods willing, we will make a compelling case to remember those things in the coming year.

“We have done great work with the ÞSD before the 2020 elections, but the current government has taken these policies and their mandate and stretched them to perilous excess. We must commit to reining these excesses in, while maintaining the integrity that we have helped build in our time in government. We must maintain the normalcy that has been so lacking in these recent years, between all the global crises over the last eight years and the scandals before then. But above all, we must carry out whatever duty that the people see fit to assign to us, whether it is in government or in the opposition. It is the people’s lot to choose in this democracy we hold so dear.”

He raised his glass. “To the new year, and may it bring us success!”

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February 2, 2024

Ceolswið Æthelwinesdohter boredly opened her phone. It was lunch break, after all, and her spreadsheets could wait until after then.

Naturally, the media being what it is, the first thing she got to see was a breaking news alert. She went and opened it.

It was about the ÞSD leadership election. At the end of January, Prime Minister Æthelstanesunu officially stepped down as party leader, though he stated his intent to stay as Prime Minister until the election. So, of course, the ÞSD needed to have an election to choose their new leader.

There had been two who were really in the running to become party leader. They were Eadmund Waldhergesunu, the current Minister of Defense, and Sæwine Wealdmundesunu, the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Waldhergesunu had apparently won the election. According to the Cynebury Herald article Ceolswið was reading, Waldhergesunu had promised to continue many of the policies of the Æthelstanesunu government while making revisions to some of the more controversial ones. He seemed to want to move the ÞSD somewhat back to the center after Eoforwine worked to push it leftwards.

Ceolswið supposed the pendulum was swinging that way again. Eoforwine Æthelstanesunu’s rise to the top of the party had been in part a repudiation of some of the third-way politics that the ÞSD had embraced under Ecgswið Eohbeornesdohter. But there were some policies under Eoforwine that were maybe too left-wing for a ÞSD that was still in many ways the party Eohbeornesdohter helped to rebuild after its electoral defeats in the 1980s.

She closed her phone browser and opened her brother’s texts. Eadwine Æthelwinesunu was always more involved with politics due to his activist work than Ceolswið ever was, and he happened to be a fairly reliable supporter of the Social Democrats. If there was anyone with opinions on this, it would be him.

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March 21, 2024

In the various forms of its existence, the Liberal Democratic Party was probably the oldest party that still existed in Tretridian politics. It found its roots in the early 19th century, among some of the new Councilors who didn’t attach themselves to either side in the power struggle between the monarchy that sought to centralize power and the nobility who sought to diffuse it. They found their identity and voice in the rapid political change of 1804 and 1805, with the creation of the Charter of Privileges and the onset of the Charter War and would be defined by their near-fanatical support for the Charter and soon afterwards the Declaration of Rights and Obligations.

This new faction was soon formalized as the Liberal Party. as which it served as one of the main political parties throughout the 19th century. The Liberal Party was a big-tent party that opened their ranks to all those who would answer the calling of liberty and universal rights, and largely comprised the left wing of Tretridian politics until socialism began to take hold in the form of the Social Democratic Party later on.

The Liberal Party was reorganized as the Liberal Democratic Party around the 1890s in response to the challenge the Social Democrats represented. Since the more radical members of the party had defected to what would become the centrist bloc of the Social Democrats, the Liberal Democratic Party was more of a solid, coherent ideological bloc compared to the big-tent organization of its predecessor. It pushed for both social and market liberalism in that form.

The LDP had always been one of the major forces and movers behind Tretridian politics. They were one of the key blocs involved in the Great Royal Crisis of the 1920s and the resulting disempowerment of the monarchy. It had been one of the ‘Big Three’ parties that emerged in the political order after the crisis, along with the Social Democrats and the Ulvriktru Democrats. And of course, in the 1980s and afterwards, they had been the largest party in the Witan and their ideals of free markets pervaded Tretridian politics even outside it. And then 2016 happened.

There were definitely warning signs of what was going to happen. Too many deals were being made by leadership behind closed doors, invisible even to most Councilors in the party. Prime Minister Sæflæd Ealdhergesdohter resigned in 2014, publicly citing wanting to spend more time with her family, but a few months later it was leaked that she had effectively been ousted by her own party’s leadership for pushing back on shady dealings.

It all came spilling out two years later. It came to light that the LDP was rife with systematic corruption that had been slowly taking root since the early 2000s or so. Several members of the Cabinet, including Prime Minister Æthelred Wulfricesunu, were convicted of felonies. The ÞSD leader, Eoforwine Æthelstanesunu, became the next Prime Minister, saw the opportunity for a snap election, and took it, leading to a wipeout for the LDP.

It was on top of all this background that a group of eight LDP Councilors announced that they would be holding an important press conference. This was about a third of what was left of the LDP’s presence in the Witan, so it probably meant something, but the LDP was such a ghost of its former self that much of the media paid them no heed.

To the leader of this group, one Ceolbeorn Wulfhunesunu, that wasn’t much of an issue. The rest of the country would realize the significance of this moment very soon.

He stepped up to the podium. “Good afternoon. Thank you to everyone who made time to come here. I know that in these times, it may be easy to pay us no heed, especially with what has happened to our once-great party.”

He paused.

“The Liberal Democratic Party inherits a 220-year-old legacy of defending the Charter and the rights that it upholds. It did so faithfully when times called for it. And yet its leadership has betrayed that legacy in the name of personal gain. Even now, after we were all made to pay for their failings, they still refuse to make way to the next generation. They have sought to hold on to whatever power and fiefdoms they have on our sinking ship rather than to help bail it out.

“We are here because we, along with many of our counterparts in the landmot, have decided that enough is enough. If the leadership of the LDP will not respect the duty they were handed with the legacy they bear, then we must.

“As such, I am announcing that we are parting ways with the LDP to form a new party that will heed the mission that the LDP once did. The appropriate paperwork has been filed with the appropriate authorities, and as such we will now constitute the leadership of the New Liberal Party. We hope that we will be able to uphold the ideals that the LDP has failed for the last two decades.

“If you used to support the Liberal Democrats before the revelations of corruption came out, I would like to ask all of you to give us a second chance. We are here because we, too, believe that the systemic corruption within the LDP represents a deep failing and a great betrayal. And to our former compatriots in the LDP, I would like to say that our ranks are open to you too, if you believe that something needs to change. You are now at a crossroads between further stagnation under the current LDP leadership, or something new. Please choose your path forward with care.”