Liaville Times – Referendum Special
23rd February 2019
At 7pm today, a debate between First Minister of Aeluria Nazario Macías and leader of the anti-independence campaign Ally Wallis took place, broadcast live on television. A partial transcript of the event is reproduced below (translated from Spanish):
Moderator: hello and welcome to Liaville Town Hall, regularly called one of the most beautiful buildings on Aeluria. With just under a week to go until the independence referendum, we have brought together two big names in the campaign. Representing the Yes campaign, we have First Minister Nazario Macías, leader of the Aelurian Independence Party. And on the No side, we have Ally Wallis, former leader of the Social Democratic Party, and the current spokesperson for the No campaign.
Moderator explains debate rules. Candidates will have five minutes to speak, followed by questions and then closing remarks. From now on speakers marked as M – moderator, NM – Nazario Macías, AW – Ally Wallis
M: Earlier a coin was tossed, and it was decided that First Minister Macías would be the first to speak. First Minister?
NM: Thank you. Friends, we are standing on the cusp of a historical moment for Aeluria. After many years as part of Lauchenoiria, we finally have the opportunity to grasp our independence and move forward to build a better nation. I know many of you are conflicted about the paths that lie in front of us. To those people, I say this: our opponents say independence is a risk. But without taking risks, we can never move forward, never strive for better. I hope that by Friday you decide this is a risk worth taking.
NM continues, outlining the basic AIP case for independence that is detailed elsewhere.
M: Thank you, First Minister. Ms Wallis, you now have five minutes
AW: We on Aeluria are fortunate. We have our own culture and our devolved government, while also having the protection and friendship of the mainland as part of Lauchenoiria. It truly is the best of both worlds. I am proud to be Lauchenoirian, and I know that view is shared across the island. If we were to leave, so many people would be heartbroken, as family became foreigners, and visas were needed to visit friends. The people of Lauchenoiria do not want this outcome, and I have confidence that the people of Aeluria will see that the consequences of this separation will be devastating too.
AW goes on to quote speeches from former President Leanna Walker and various Lauchenoirian figures talking about Lauchenoirian unity.
M: Thank you, Ms Wallis. We will now move on to questions from the audience. Questions have been pre-selected beforehand, and audience members will be called upon to ask their questions one at a time. The first question is from the gentleman in the front row on the left.
Q1: If Aeluria becomes independent, how difficult will travel between the island and the mainland become?
Moderator repeats the question and then indicates that AW should answer first.
AW: Thank you for your question. The main problem with discussing travel after independence is: we just don’t know. No guarantees have been given – indeed, cannot be given due to the fact the post-war elections are still to come – from the mainland government about what the process would be. There is no reason to believe Aelurians would receive special treatment after independence. There is every chance we would have to apply for a visa, just like any other citizen of a foreign country. This would make visiting friends and family extremely difficult, and could potentially tear apart families.
And the AIP have given us no assurances that Lauchenoirians would be able to visit the island easily. In fact, they have stated they want to restrict immigration after independence! In truth, I cannot answer your question with certainty, because uncertainty is all independence gives us.
NM: My counterpart here is exaggerating the situation. Currently, foreign nationals do not even need
a visa to enter Lauchenoiria for up to three months for the purpose of tourism. Yes, those who wish to remain for longer, or who wish to work or study there have to apply for one – but this process is hardly difficult. Lauchenoirian immigration rules are notoriously lax, and almost everyone who applies is granted one. If Lauchenoiria truly considers Aeluria part of their ‘family’, then it would be absurd if they started applying stricter visa rules for Aelurians than, say, Laeralites or Sanctarians.
As for the question of Lauchenoirians coming here, nobody wants to prevent the family and friends of Aelurians coming to visit. The AIP’s desire to partially limit immigration is only to ensure that a large influx of immigrants does not lead to the erasure of Aelurian culture, as the 1952 communist regime sought to do. I myself was born in Carville, adopted by an Aelurian couple at three months old. Nobody wants to deport mainland-born residents, that is purely scaremongering.
AW: But the fact of the matter is, you cannot give us any guarantees
the Aelurians would not be subject to strict visa rules to visit the mainland after independence, because it is not in your power. That is the problem with this whole independence question – everything is uncertain.
NM: Life is uncertain. If you want certainty in everything, I have bad news for you. The fact of the matter is that the worst-case scenario you are suggesting is highly unlikely
AW: Like it was highly unlikely Lauchenoiria would be invaded?
Chuckles and murmurs throughout the audience.
NM: This is a completely different matter. Nobody could have foreseen Suleman Chaher’s actions. The facts are, if Lauchenoiria truly does care about Aeluria, as your campaign frequently says, there is no reason for them to make things difficult for us.
M: Thank you both. We will now move on to the second question.
Q2: What currency would an independent Aeluria use?
NM: If Aelurians vote for independence, we would aim to continue using the Lauchenoirian Gold Cookie for a transition period, with the aim of establishing our own currency to use at the end of said period.
) Again, we have no guarantees that Lauchenoiria would permit us to use their currency after independence. As for a new Aelurian currency? It could be an absolute disaster. Market speculation could seriously affect the value of a new currency. This kind of uncertainty could massively impact upon the lives of Aelurians.
NM: I think you’re unnecessarily scaremongering. The Haven Accords mandate five years transition period between the declaration and implementation of independence. This is plenty of time to ensure the economy is stable, and make the necessary arrangements.
The pair continue to debate, repeating the same points multiple times.
M: okay, I think we’re going to move on now.
Q3: Everyone knows that with independence, there will be more support for Lurites. But what about religious minorities like Christians and Muslims?
AW: The AIP want to end secular government. They want to allow Lurites to pray in schools, which is a small stepping stone away from requiring
prayer in schools. This would be devastating for the rights of religious minorities! In Lauchenoiria, the rights of followers of all religions are respected because no one religion is favoured. Secular government protects the rights of minorities, and the AIP want to end this protection.
NM: Quite the contrary. Lauchenoiria has never
supported religious minorities. During the Communist regime, all religion was outlawed. Lauchenoiria will never support any religious people. They favour atheists, and the religious are often discriminated against, treated as ‘primitive’ and stupid because they are willing to believe in something that cannot be proven. This is unfair! With independence, religious people of all religions will be granted more rights to worship.
AW: We all know of the rights you intend to grant Lurites. But you’re very vague on what the status of other religions would be.
NM: Of course, it’s a policy we need to develop further. And, I remind you, we are a democracy, the AIP is not the only party, and we are not guaranteed to be in government after independence, so our policy will not necessarily be what happens.
AW: So your policy on religious minorities is losing an election so you don’t have to worry about it?
NM: Not at all, we…
AW: You don’t have one.
NM: If you’ll let me finish, I…
AW: Will you protect minority religious rights?
NM: Yes, of course we will.
M: Please don’t interrupt each other. The question of religion can often cause intense debate, but we have other issues to move on to.
Q4: Will smoking be legalised in an independent Aeluria?
NM: The question of the legalisation of tobacco is one for the Aelurian Parliament after independence. If the AIP was elected, we would immediately allow for aids for quitting smoking, such as nicotine patches, to be used, which the Lauchenoirian government is currently prohibiting. The import of tobacco from Kivasek during the war has had a considerable impact on our health service. The black market has spiked since the war, with people looking for illegal cigarettes. Something must be done.
AW: As the First Minister said, the impact of the brief so-called legalisation in the war on the health service has been massive. Smoking was banned because the health impacts were huge. Legalising it once more would definitely be a step backwards, and I hope that even if the disaster of a Yes vote is to happen, that this will not. Smoking must remain illegal, and we must crack down on the illegal drug trade.
NM: Upwards of 40% of adult Aelurians now smoke, whereas before the war it was under 1%. Think about that difference. Are we going to put nearly half
of the island in prison? I don’t think so. We need to help people to quit, rather than forcing them through an incredibly painful and uncomfortable withdrawal process. This is a social problem, which should have a social solution rather than a criminal one.
AW: I agree there should be support for people to quit. But we should not be damaging the health of the island further by allowing smoking. What comes next? Cannabis? Cocaine? It’s a slippery slope, and recreational drugs simply must
Further questions asked on the issues of defence and education, the arguments for which were detailed in issue focuses last week.
Q7: During the war, while the island was blockaded, strict food rationing was implemented due to the lack of supplies. Can you assure us that after independence, we will have sufficient food?
AW: The independence campaign cannot assure anyone of that. We would be completely reliant on imports from foreign countries, who could decide to cut us off at any time. Our very lives would be in the hands of other nations, a very dangerous situation.
NM: More scaremongering from the opponents of independence. The fact is, the chance of every other country in the IDU conspiring together to starve us is virtually non-existent. We’ve already had statements of support from Shuell and Zamastan. Last year both Gnejs and Kivasek recognised us as independent. Sanctaria has pledged to recognise the result of the referendum. And, may I remind you, we were supposedly part of Lauchenoiria during the war – and it was they
who caused that situation. Being in Lauchenoiria does not protect us.
AW: You say you want independence? Well, how exactly is relying on foreign countries independence?
NM: In an increasingly globalised world, every nation is somewhat reliant on others. That is simply how things work. We do not advocate isolationism, we merely want the power to make our own decisions. And we would not be reliant on imports for food forever. There is a lot of unused land on Aeluria, confiscated by the communist regime and still in the hands of the central government, who refuse to either use it or give it back. If we become independent, this land will be available for agriculture, and we will be able to increase production to a point where we are not reliant on imports.
M: Thank you both. Now, we are running short on time so if we could move on to closing statements. First Minister, you are up first.
NM: With independence, we will always get the governments we vote for. We will be free to decide our own priorities, instead of our needs always coming second to the mainland. We would finally have our own voice in the world, and we would no longer be at risk from injustices such as last year’s blockade, and the many decades of communist rule. Independence will allow Aeluria to move on and have a bright future. It will produce hope for the people of this island. I hope you choose to vote for independence, so we can build a better nation, together.
AW: We are better together with Lauchenoiria. For many decades, our culture has complemented that of the mainland. People from the rest of Lauchenoiria have made their home here, and Aelurians throughout Lauchenoiria. Aelurians have studied in Lauchenoiria, worked in Lauchenoiria, fallen in love in Lauchenoiria. We have had so many opportunities as part of this great nation, it would be a shame to leave now. Separating ourselves would devastate so many. Aeluria is a vital part of Lauchenoiria, and Lauchenoiria is a vital part of the lives of so many Aelurians. I hope the voters decisively reject separation, and choose to remain part of the great nation that is Lauchenoiria.
M: Thank you both. Well, that’s all from us here tonight. I hope this debate has been informative and has helped some of you come to a decision. The referendum will take place on Friday 1st March. Join us here for live results from 10pm onwards that night. Thank you for watching, goodnight!