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For All Nails #112: And I'll Cry If I Want To

by Johnny Pez

Munich, Kingdom of Bavaria, Inner German Empire
27 July 1974

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

Heinrich Kausler 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, 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," said Kohler.

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

"How about Baumgarner?" Kausler suggested.

"A long shot," Hartmann answered. "He and Horst had that showdown over that Rochfort 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.

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

Forward to FAN #113A: The Assignment.

Forward to 31 July 1974: Careful What You Wish For.

Forward to Germany: Party On.

Return to For All Nails.