There was the ingénue, with the doctorate of philosophy in political science. The warrior decorated for bravery and gallantry, who wrote poetry and played classical guitar. The scoundrel, well when you looked at who complained most loudly about him you had to wonder about the scoundrel description. Three fine candidates and the Electoral Houses that had to agree on which of them would be their nation’s titular ruler couldn’t come to an agreement on which to choose.
“This is ridiculous.” Bathilde, the ingénue, didn’t bother stamping a foot because it seemed unlikely to achieve anything and paced instead. Pacing at least gave her the feeling of doing something. “Until they come to a decision the country doesn’t have an official government and the three of us can’t go on to anything else.”
“They’re very clear that we should stay here while they’re in session, but we can do what we like, otherwise.” Jacabo, the scoundrel, was lounged across an armchair, booted feet dangling in the air, as he read a black bound, hardcover book he’d borrowed from the room’s bookshelf.
“Except this has been going on for six and a half weeks already.” Bathilde continued pacing. “The only two elections that went on for longer lasted ten and fifteen years. One of those was resolved when one of the candidates died in an accident, the other when they put the Defenders of the Crown and the Protectors of the Throne on bread and water diets until they came to an agreement.”
“So, what do you propose?” Richart, the warrior, had been scribbling in his notebook with a pencil.
“We come up with a solution for them, present it and threaten them with the bread and water regime straight away if they don’t come to a decision.” Bathilde stopped pacing. “It doesn’t have to be a conventional decision-.”
“But it does have to be workable in case they take us up on it,” interjected Richart.
“Yes, we don’t want to get too clever,” agreed Jacabo, swinging his feet around so they were on the floor and closing his book.
“Joint kings,” offered Bathilde.
“Doesn’t lend itself to the producing of heirs,” pointed out Richart, “and aren’t joint monarchs supposed to be married to each other? Sorry, Jacabo, but I don’t swing that way.”
“Oh, that’s alright.” Jacabo waived a dismissive hand, “I don’t swing for anyone and that frees up so much time and energy for other things. Possibly someone should have asked me about that before they nominated me as one of the candidates for monarch.”
“So, joint king and queen?” Bathilde looked at Richart for his reaction.
“On the understanding that we do a lot of discussing personal relationships and some heavy pre-marital counselling first, and as long as Jacabo doesn’t get out of this without a permanent royal gig too, yes.” Richart gave a wry smile. “Fortunately I don’t have a current girlfriend to break up with.”
Later, in another building the Deputy Prime Minister asked, “Can they do that? Isn’t there something in the constitution?”
“Apparently not.” The Prime Minister was another pacer. “I was certain our men in the Defenders and the Protectors could spin this out to at least six months. That was all we needed to get those changes through and then we would have had backing for the next election.”
“Well, that’s a horse that’s bolted,” commented the Government whip, “and if you just said what I think you just said, although I’m sure that plane overhead just now made you hard to hear,” the other two men looked at him in confusion as no external noise had disturbed the room’s ambience, “never say it again. Their proposal puts Prince Jacabo in charge of the Office of the Royal Household and that puts him in charge of Section 7. Even if the two Electoral Houses don’t decide to run with their highnesses’ proposal, there’s still a 34% chance that he could be King. Think for a moment about that and remember what he’s like.”
The two men listening to Section 7’s private live feed from the Prime Minister’s office, so private that no-one outside Section 7 knew about it, looked at each other. “So, is that enough to move on for a charge of conspiracy to pervert the Election?” The younger man looked doubtful as he spoke.
“Probably not. But it will be enough to get us a warrant to start looking at phone records tonight. By this time tomorrow some Electors could find themselves disqualified and the Prime Minister could be on his way to being impeached.” The older man had a look of professional anticipation on his face as he copied the conversation into an evidence format to support the request for a warrant.
“Sure as tooting, that’s not what he intended. What do you think he meant by 'then we would have had backing for the next election'?” The younger man continued to listen to the Prime Minister’s conversation in case the man dropped any more gems of information.
“Don’t know. We might need to shake his apple tree really hard to find out everything we need to know.” The older man stood up to go. “I hope you like sorting through apples.”