The Titanian Referendum

Part 3

Read here part 1 and 2.

Both Annalee and her boss, Niklaas, had been surprised by this sudden move of Zowlis Nirhim. Uncertain the seventeen-year-old girl asked her employer: “Sir, is Nirhim’s idea a real possibility?” “Dear Annalee, in theory, yes. But there many practical problems with his plan. I think he has been a little bit too enthusiastic, maybe his ideas can be realized in a few decades. But I think he was too eager to stop nuclear fission anyhow.

“But we should first take time to study his proposal seriously, before we can react. But I’m hungry. Do you want to take dinner at my home?” The girl smiled to her boss, “That would be very nice, sir.” The guy took Annalee’s hand and together they left the office.

Some minutes later the blond girl was sitting next to her boss in the subway. The two people had only to travel for ten minutes before they arrived at the home of the forty-year-old CEO of Titan Power Corporation. When Niklaas had opened the door, the lights went on automatically.

When Annalee had stepped into the living, her boss asked her to take seat on the sofa. While the young girl was sitting down, the man went to the kitchen, where he removed two meals from his freezer and put those in his microwave oven.

Sometime later the two people were sat at table. “Annalee,” her boss said, “parliamentarian Nirhim wants to hold the first referendum since independence. We have had only one other referendum in this country.” “On what subject?” “The question then was whether who should become an independent Republic?” “What was the alternative?” “We could have joined the Elysian federation as a state, but no one really favored that possibility.

“However, but in that time there were only ten thousand people living in this part of the Solar system. Zowlis Nirhim was an important youth leader then and one of the most pro-independence activists. I was just five years old when my parents emigrated to Titan in 2082. At the moment we arrived here, we were granted citizenship almost immediately.

“That was, and still is, policy of the Social-Liberal government. And Zowlis Nirhim, as a sociologist, was actively promoting this policy. He even wrote for the Social-Liberal Party a manifesto on the need of immigration for a sustainable independence

“In the mid-2080s, most people, including my parents, saw him as one next leaders of the Social-Liberal Party. Then very unexpectedly he broke with the party, and one day after he had spoken at a meeting of social-liberal leaders, he announced he would leave the party for joining the newly established Progressive-Green Party.

“If he hadn’t done this, I doubt whether the progressive-greens would had been able to become a major player in our political system. But looking backward I don’t find his break with social-liberals surprising, since Nirhim was and is a staunch believer in national sovereignty and he had been warning for threats for our independence ever since independence.

“In late 2085, he got a disagreement with the establishment.” The CEO of Titan Power stopped talking and took some of his meal. “What happened, sir?” “The government of then prime-minister Laugier wanted to join the Elysian-Martian military alliance. Nirhim opposed this, because he favored a policy of strict neutrality.

“In march of 2086 he introduced a motion at the social-liberal convention, in which he asked the government to abstain from joining the military alliance. But the convention rejected this motion, and according to my father (who was present at the convention) Nirhim left furiously the room when his motion was rejected.”

“And for that reason,” responded Annalee, “the Progressive-Green Party manifesto states: ‘the government should reconsider its membership of the alliance with Mars and Elysia’.” “Yes, I believe that sentence is a direct result of Nirhim’s interference with that party.” The two persons finished their meals.

When Niklaas put the dishes in the dishwasher, he asked: “Annalee, you don’t have school tomorrow?” “No, I haven’t, sir.” The guy smiled and said: “So you don’t mind if you should stay the night here?” “Sir, if you want me to stay, I would like that.”

Irma West had just watched the parliamentary debate, of course she had known that Nirhim would begin about fusion power as the solution of Titan’s energy problem, but she was surprised that he should press for a referendum. Her surprise was merely due the fact that referendums were very unusual in Titanian politics, only once in the moon’s history a referendum was held.

During that previous referendum Irma had been fourteen years, and wasn’t allowed to vote but she remembered clearly the discussions related to it. The main discussion wasn’t whether Titan should become a sovereign republic but when. Actually there were two groups, one which was in favor of a quick independence, while another group thought that 2083 was way too soon and instead favored independence around 2100.

The woman remembered that she and her classmates were watching the announcement of the results of the vote at school. The exit polls showed a rather neck-to-neck race, and only around midnight it was clear that the quick-independence side had won. The final result was fifty-two percent of the votes in favor of independence in 2083.

Now there would be another referendum, and she realized that she would have a major role in the campaign this time, Nirhim would make this inevitable. The planetary scientist had provide him with the information needed for this referendum, in the first place. But the woman had, until now, never thought on how to deal with Titan’s energy situation. That was something for the government to decide.

Of course Irma West didn’t oppose a transition from fission to fusion power, but she didn’t want to be used in some political game. The planetary scientist wished that Nirhim had informed her on his move to hold a referendum, at least.

The woman took her cell-phone from her pocket and she chose the parliamentarian’s number. “Hi Nirhim, with Irma.” “Hi Irma, …” “I want to speak with you.” “No problem, what do you think of tomorrow at 18.00?” “That will be fine, see you then. Bye.” “Bye.”

The next morning Alexei Shumov was sitting in his office, while he was thinking about yesterday’s debate. As head of Radio Saturn he had to spent time to the upcoming referendum, although a date had yet to be determined by the electoral council.

Of course he wanted a reaction of the CEO of Titan Power. Further he wanted to organize a radio debate between Nirhim and Ray Morgan on the issue. But he also knew that Morgan didn’t like to participate in radio or television debates, because of his position as member of the government. Therefore Shumov was thinking of inviting Niklaas for the radio debate instead of Morgan.

It would be interesting debate, mainly because of Niklaas appearance. The latter rarely gave interviews to the media, only when it was really important. And wasn’t he the one who was most in favor of continuing with nuclear fission reactors? Therefore a debate between Niklaas and Nirhim would be the ultimate choice.

When Alexei called to the office of the CEO of Titan Power, he got Niklaas’s assistant on the phone. “I want to ask if your boss would like to be invited for a debate between him and parliamentarian Nirhim on our radio-station?” “I’ll ask him,” Annalee said. And a few minutes later she said: “Sir, my boss is willing to cooperate. If you can send him an e-mail with further information, he’ll be able to make time.” “No problem, I will send him a mail with additional information.”

When he had finished this phone-call, Alexei Shumov made contact with Zowlis Nirhim, who was more than willing to participate in the radio debate. Now he had just to determine a date for the debate, although he had decided to have the debate the day before the referendum.

When Annalee sat in the subway back home after work, she got a text message from her mother. The girl read that she had to buy a meal herself, so when she arrived at her subway station Annalee went first to the supermarket.

At home she put her meal in a micro-wave, while she switched on the television. Her meal was ready just in time for the 20.00 news. Of course the main topic of the news program was the referendum on Titan’s future power supply.

The presenter said: “The electoral council had decided that the referendum should be held in exact thirty days from now. According to the president of the council this would enable the authorities to organize the vote in an appropriate fashion.”

But since none of the major players in this debate, Ray Morgan, Zowlis Nirhim and Niklaas, wanted to comment on the issue, the journalists had interviewed a professor in nuclear physics. The professor explained the difference between nuclear fission and fusion, and he discussed the pros and cons of both methods, while clearly avoiding any sign of his personal preference.

When the seventeen-year-old had finished her meal, she decided to visit the web site of the Progressive-Green Party. There she downloaded the reports to her e-reader. Afterwards she took a shower, then she got in her bed and she started to read the reports.

First she read the report of the progressive-green scientific institute, which she considered as rather biased and a bit too optimistic about the costs of solar power. When she finished reading the first report, she took the report written by a planetary scientist. Then she discovered to her surprise, that the second report was written by her own mother.

Annalee hesitated, put her e-reader away and started to think. Her mother was not at home at this very moment, why? Where was she? Had it to do with her involvement in Nirhim’s political battle? How much was her mother involved in this progressive-green thing? Was it possible that her mother was discussing how to beat the government in that referendum. And was Nirhim really committed to fusion? Or wanted he actually to win the referendum in order to bring the incumbent government down, and to become prime-minister himself?

The girl decided to call her boss. “Hi Annalee, how are you?” “Fine, sir. I was reading those reports, which Nirhim was citing yesterday, but I have just discovered that my mother has written one of them…” “Girl, it’s alright. I have read those reports myself, your mother’s report is nothing to worry about.” “Are you sure?” “Yes, it contains only factual information. She describes some theoretical possibilities to solve our energy problem, your mother explains also how fusion works and that Saturn’s helium three and deuterium can be used. But she doesn’t made any recommendations. She doesn’t say whether fission or fusion is better, she only describes possible alternatives.

“The problem is that the politician Zowlis Nirhim has interpreted the report in a rather selective way. Actually the report contains a lot of arguments against choosing for nuclear fusion, which our friend wants to ignore. And I can provide you some other facts, which give a more realistic picture of the use of fusion power in our near future.” “Okay, can you tell that tomorrow?” “Of course, I will.” “Good night sir.” “Good night, my girl.”

Still some confused Annalee killed the light and went to bed. Soon she was deeply asleep.

Part 4 will follow at short notice.

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