“Not another one!” I hear my exasperated readers cry. The Ministry has called an election for the Minister for Magic, the most senior position in our government as our Chief Executive and political leader within the Wizarding World. Elections are an exciting time for we lovers of gossip and political drama but we should recognise that they can be an unstable and anxious-inducing time for many in our world. Hundreds of Ministry employees feel without their ‘big boss’ whilst the wizarding community as a whole feels a general unease. With threat upon threat seeming to come upon us, does this really seem like a good time to play politics? I ask you all to remember why we are holding this election. Our elected Minister Hannah Fisher has been tragically declared dead after having been missing for two months. The incumbent Minister Bloom holds his office only as an internal replacement. It is only right that we put this to the polls and select a new permanent Minister on an official basis. Perhaps we should also try to remember the contributions of Fischer in our voting and look forward to a new era of stability and prosperity under our new elected leader?
The election of a new Minister for Magic is a serious business. We at Witch Weekly know, dear readers, that you need to put the candidate through their political quidditch tryouts. Two candidates have reached the final ballot in this election. The first candidate is our current interim Minister Wilfred Bloom. Opposing him is the newcomer Alyssa Merriweather. I sat down with our two candidates to ask them some tough questions about their program for government and what makes them most suitable to lead our community.
As I arrived at the Ministry of Magic, I was struck straight away by the contrast between the two candidates. Taking the elevators up the 1st floor, I was destined to meet firstly with Minister Bloom who kindly invited me to join him in his official office. I must say that I gained a taste for a Ministry position after catching a glimpse of the fabulous view from the room. Looking down through the office window to the atrium below, I gained a sense that the Minister is always watching over their community. It is almost a constant reminder that the office holder is responsible for a whole world just below them. The decorative scheme of the room has not yet been changed from Fisher’s own preference, except of course for the man now sitting behind her desk. Wilfred was firm and authoritative in his manner. He might come across as a somewhat aloof but then he is already a busy man. His rough, unpretentious accent gave him a natural vibe despite his firm exterior. I asked him straight away “What has driven you to stand in this election?” He answered frankly:
Bloom: “I was appointed interim Minister because it was believed I would be a good fit for the position. I have chosen to stand in this election because of that belief and trust which was placed in me. Hannah Fischer was a magnificent witch but I am sure that we can all agree that a heavier hand is needed. I can be that heavier hand, bringing structure, order, and discipline to our community in order to better protect and serve the wizards and witches we govern over.”
Later that afternoon, I would ask precisely the same question to the unfamiliar yet charming face of Ms Merriweather. We met not a far distance from the High Office itself at the charming little coffee stand within the atrium of the Ministry of Magic. I was struck by the alert, articulate, well-spoken manner of this passionate witch. Her manner seemed perfectly at home in the bustle of paper-merchants, lawyers, and Ministry officials rushing through the lively space. This was her domain it seems, the centre of action and activity. Her answer to the question certainly gave off a feeling of newness:
Merriweather: “I think there needs to be a fresh perspective within the Ministry of Magic and that the people deserve someone who understands what hardships they endure on a daily basis. Long have we been under Ministries of Magic that allow our children to be harmed, our villages burned, and our lives put at risk while they sit in their dusty court rooms and decide the fates of poor wizard folk who steal because they can’t afford the ingredients to a potion that may save their life.”
Well, at this stage I was impressed with both of our candidates for different reasons. They each appear to have an honest reason for standing and a confident personality to correspond. First impressions aren’t enough to run a government though are they? I asked our candidates “Can you please tell our readers about your background and how your experience best qualifies you to hold the office of Minister for Magic?”
Bloom: “I would rather not go into details regarding my personal history, however I know these things do come up in an election such as this. I have worked with foreign Ministries in the past before being appointed interim Minister, and as such, I have a fair bit of experience in working in such an environment.”
Merriweather: I think Witch Weekly will do a fine job at digging up every aspect of my personal life so I won’t bore you with the day to day stuff. However, I should speak abit out my experience. Prior to running as potential Minister for Magic I worked as a healer within St Mungos. I know, you’re probably thinking ‘but what does a nurse know about politics?’ It seems quite a lot actually, Merriweather went on to explain with a chuckle: “There is a fine line between politics and us, the people. I may have simply been a nurse but I also know how hard our people have it at times. I have seen the bottom line and our societies downtrodden. I am willing to be their voice.”
Our next few questions were quite straight forward. I wish to understand where out both of our candidates stood on the issues facing the wizarding world and how they would attempt to respond to them:
Question: “What do you think is the most pressing issue facing the wizarding world and how would you attempt to solve it?
Bloom: “There are a great deal of pressing issues which we face. One of the most prominent ones remains how the Ministry of Magic has been neutered, prevented from completing its job by a number of laws put in place by the late Hannah Fischer. One such being the inability for the Ministry of Magic to be involved or even gain entrance to Hogwarts without the Headmistress’ express permission. This was instated after Dorchester’s hostile takeover, however, it was an extreme reaction, I believe. In what world should a school, raising the Wizarding World’s future, be beyond their government’s reach? How many incidents have occurred in the last few years which have left the Ministry out of touch and out of reach when trouble came knocking at the school’s door? Hogwarts should not be beyond our jurisdiction, it is a school and we are its government. The first thing would be to revoke this law Hannah has put in place and then reinstate the position of Hogwarts High Inquisitor.”
Merriweather: “I think this question oversimplifies what issues exist in our world. There isn’t just one, there are many. Of course you could have me for hours talking about my hopes, wishes and what I’m going to do if elected but I would rather you saw me in action.
The biggest threat however, is Umbra. A collective we know nothing about and a group that has done nothing but terrorize us for over two years. How will we combat them? Well, I could promise you lies but I won’t. What I will promise you is that if I am elected I will make it my top priority to make sure that we, the people, are prepared and ready for what comes next.”
Question: “If you could enact one major reform to improve or transform the Ministry, what would this be?”
Bloom: “My first major reform would be to rework the entirety of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. It was this department which failed to put not one, but two criminals in Azkaban. Not only that, but they allowed both of said criminals to escape their custody, one of which who proceeded to murder Hannah Fischer, inside the Ministry, right beneath their noses. From Wizengamot to Aurors, the department needs a restructure with employees who will not only do their job but succeed at their job put in place of the current ones. We need aurors who will investigate a crime, such as an attack at an underground party, rather than allow culprits to escape. We need a Department Head who will not withhold information from the press in order to save his own skin, who will enforce the law properly.”
Merriweather: “I would ask the people this question. How do they want to improve our Ministry? The Ministry of Magic is there at the will of the people. I will be asking them openly to answer this question when I meet with them.”
Question: “What would our young wixens, particularly those attending Hogwarts School, benefit from your term as Minister?”
Bloom: “The young wixen of Hogwarts would benefit from knowing they are protected. That the Ministry is watching over them, watching the school’s every move in order to ensure their safety. In fact, if I were to win the election, I believe I may even see to it that the Ministry have say in the hiring process, to ensure that there were no criminals to move into position and infiltrate the school, in addition to regular check-ins by the High Inquisitor. These are our children, after all. My own daughter attends Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, so believe me when I say, I know the danger that Hogwarts students face on the regular, personally. Already this year there has been catastrophe. Are we to allow this to continue so that the school does not feel as though they are being watched? Shouldn’t they feel that way? Shouldn’t the school operate as though if they make the wrong decision their government will step in and correct it by any means necessary?”
Merriweather: “I support the late Hannah Fischer’s law to separate ministry bureaucracy from the education of our children. I don’t believe that having our hands in the cauldron so to speak would make them any safer but only make them feel more monitored and oppressed.
I think many misunderstand that law so to speak. It does not mean we cannot intervene with Hogwarts it simply means that we must allow them the freedom to act accordingly in situations without the Ministry micromanaging their every move. Hogwarts still has to abide by our laws and they do so correctly. I believe separating school and government is the correct procedure and if elected will uphold this promise in the name of Hannah Fischer.”
There is definitely an intriguing difference of perspective here. One definitely wonders how this focus on Hogwarts School will affect the voting intentions of parents, teachers, and Hogsmede locals. Of course, the issue of law enforcement is a major concern at any election, not least with the recent incidents taking place around us. However, I wanted to get beyond these general concerns and talk about some of the more specific policies in the candidate’s manifestos. I started with Minister Bloom:
Question: “Your policy to restrict the land of centaurs seems to have driven a lot of discussion? What underlies this policy and why have you prioritised this action?”
Bloom: “As you know, the Centaurs currently hold the stretch of land nestled between Hogwarts and Hogsmeade, putting them in close proximity to both young students and children who claim the village as their home. These are territorial creatures who are quick to anger and attack and who have no love for wizardkind, to have them placed so close among our people, where they might happen upon a witch or wizard who found themselves oblivious to their territories is simply asking for trouble. As Minister it will be my job to protect those under my care. Of course, I am not heartless, the centaurs would be given land to relocate to, it simply will not be in the midst of Wixen communities.”
Question: “You also seem to have a strong emphasis upon order and discipline, for instance reinstating the role of High Inquisitor and transferring St. Mungos patients to Azkaban detention. What would you say to those who would accuse these policies of being too heavy handed?”
Bloom: “A heavy hand is needed. We’ve been passive for too long. Hannah Fischer may have been a singularly talented witch, but she also was too soft for the position of Minister of Magic. Too afraid to make waves. Because of this, we have seen Azkaban escapees, we have seen werewolf attacks on the rise, we have seen attacks on Hogwarts itself. We cannot sit idly by and continue to allow these things to continue. We cannot go on as we have, we must toughen up, even if it means being heavy handed.”
The interim Minister certain seems to be pushing his credentials as the candidate of law and order. However, there is definitely not just one method to law and order as we have discovered from many Ministers over past years. Could these policies cause too much tension with the Hogwarts administration and our non-human being communities? Ms. Merriweather offers quite a different approach as I learned from her answers:
Question: “Your policy of replacing the Werewolf Registration Act appears to be one of your boldest policies. What do you consider to be wrong with the current act and what could we do better by replacing it?”
Merriweather: “The Werewolf legislation was passed in emergency and truly did not see the effect it had on our wolf population. It has done nothing to quell the issue of hunting wolves and only punished those with the affliction more so than they already are. There are some good things within that law but it needs cleaning, refurbishing, whatever word you wish to use for it. It should be focusing on the punishment of Werewolf hunting and rehabilitation for Werewolves who cannot or do not have the means to care for themselves. It should not monitor and oppress those who are able to make sure they are under control.”
Question: “Your manifesto also seems to focus a great deal upon new spending, for instance establishing new Healthcare facilities and employment support. What would you say to those who say that these policies are uncosted and unaffordable?”
Merriweather: “We have to be willing to put funding into places that can support and make our society thrive. Without these two necessities then there is no growth. These two infrastructures are the baseline of every society from Muggle to Wizard. You have to be willing to spend a galleon to make two galleons.
If we are not generating enough employment opportunities for our magical folk then our economic stability falls. If we are not making sure our healthcare is the best it can be, then we will be losing our people.
It is a gamble I’m willing to take as I have faith in our people.”
Revitalization and reform seems to be on her agenda and who can argue that this is definitely needed? But is she the right candidate to achieve it? Does faith fall in the face or hard galleons not to mention the everyday tussles of Ministry administration? It comes down to a difference of philosophy. Which approach will the witches and wizards of Great Britain & Ireland choose to adopt? This is after all their election and the priorities they have developed through these challenging times will be the driving force behind any approach to Ministry policy. Lastly, I asked our candidates to sum up with one statement to capture the spirit of their election campaign, “Could you please sum up for our readers why they should vote for you in ten words or less?”
Bloom: Because if you sit idly, nothing will change.
Merriweather: A vote for me is a vote for the future.
I think these answers distill down the firewhisky quite nicely, really. Roll on November 14th and steer clear of your sleeping potions folks. This is one election you’ll want to stay up for!
Jasper Aitken-Mayborne, your very own political commentator!