May 18th 2022
Quinton, Angeli, Croshaw system
Suj Kossi, the Tevarin Senator from Elysium, took center stage at this year’s Universalist Strategic Vision Conference (USVC) with a keynote speech that electrified the crowd and solidified him as a rising star within the party. Senator Kossi’s speech wove together tentpole Universalist talking points while criticizing Imperator Addison, describing her administration as “ineffectual” and her agenda as “focused anywhere but on issues that actually matter.” The success of Senator Kossi’s speech, and its primetime setting, left many political analysts wondering if the party might be preparing him for bigger things to come.
In 2946, Senator Kossi made history by becoming the first Tevarin ever elected to the UEE Senate. Already a household name, Senator Kossi’s political capital only grew during his first term in office. He was a regular guest on popular spectrum news programs, sat on prominent Senate committees (including the influential Subcommittee on the Interior), and co-authored and advocated for several important pieces of legislation. Senator Kossi’s constant public presence, increasing political savvy, and extensive list of endorsements led voters in Elysium to elect him to a second term last year. While the win was expected, it was widely celebrated and hailed as an important moment for the future of Tevarin politics; one that proved that Tevarin candidates can not only win, but build a wide coalition of supporters.
Regardless of political affiliation, many have welcomed the growing Tevarin presence on the political stage. Imperator Addison campaigned on a belief that “increasing Tevarin voices and representation within the government is essential to a stronger UEE.” Her administration has since made Ki Jotal the director of the Department of Transportation and Navigation, making her the first Tevarin cabinet member, and appointed more Tevarin to government positions than any previous administration. While these gains are significant, a bigger change may be occurring at the ballot box.
The Addison administration recently released data showing that citizenship applications among Tevarin have increased significantly in the last few years. Now, the results from the recent May 3rd elections are revealing just how impactful that Tevarin Citizen voting block has become, as even election experts were surprised by the strong Tevarin turnout in certain parts of the empire. While no other Tevarin candidates will be joining Suj Kossi in the UEE Senate, a record number ran with nominee Ruwo Nee garnering the most attention before narrowly losing in Centauri. Exit polls showed that strong Tevarin turnout in Elysium and Centauri also affected down-ballot races, as both systems elected a record number of Tevarin to local public offices. Still, for some election experts, the most interesting exit poll data was who Tevarin voters supported in races without a Tevarin candidate. Universalist Party candidates did particularly well, in part because of an extensive outreach effort overseen by Suj Kossi. Despite the Addison administration’s work on improving xeno-relations, its efforts didn’t appear to attract the loyalty of that demographic to Addison-backed candidates. As the Tevarin voting block grows in strength and significance, the Universalist Party appears better positioned than the Centralists and Transitionalists to welcome these voters into the fold.
While Senator Kossi’s ascendance has been good for the Universalist Party, and UEE politics in general, there is growing concern within the party over some of the Senator’s positions. Though he’s a fairly conventional Universalist on many issues, Senator Kossi is a strong advocate for revising Citizenship requirements and expanding enfranchisement across the empire. He has also worked with Imperator Addison on legislation that would create new government programs and initiatives meant to further increase Tevarin citizenship and involvement in the public sector – legislation some Universalists see as unnecessary, expensive, and/or a waste of his political capital. As one party insider put it, “These are bloated Addison administration initiatives. Even if they succeed, neither Senator Kossi nor the Universalist party will get any credit for their success.”
Yet, not everyone within the party thinks that Senator Kossi diverging from the Universalist platform is a bad thing. In fact, some see these deviations as a potential strength. Monique Erby, an Elysium-based political analyst who’s closely watched Senator Kossi’s rise, believes it could help him with voters that other Universalist candidates never could court. “Senator Kossi has played his position quite well. During his initial campaign, he painted himself as a run-of-the-mill and reliable Universalist when the story was about him being a Tevarin. Then he became an active and enthusiastic party cheerleader to solidify his position within it. Now that the story’s shifted to him being just another Universalist who happens to be Tevarin, he’s leaned into beliefs that differ from the party. Like any good politician, he’s molding his image in a way that lets people see in him what they want to see.”
Despite these concerns from within the party, Senator Kossi is clearly still in its good graces, as evidenced by him landing the keynote speech at USVC. Illyana Sharrad, who was recently elected as the party’s chairperson, gave him that prime speaking slot and remains one of Senator Kossi’s most ardent and vocal supporters. “Senator Kossi is proof that we’re a big tent party. We want a diversity of voices and ideas within the Universalist party,” said Sharrad during a USVC press conference. “He has a compelling vision for the future of the UEE, and the party will support him any way we can in achieving those goals.”
When asked if part of Senator Kossi’s vision includes running for Imperator in 2960, Sharrad simply smiled then pivoted toward more immediate concerns than an “election still eight years away.” As one of the final five Imperator candidates in the 2950 Imperator election, Sharrad still looms large over the Universalist Party and its future. While there are rumors that she may run for Imperator again in 2960, there’s a growing belief that Sharrad has instead chosen Senator Kossi to represent the party in the next election and is working on helping him build the political clout and infrastructure needed for a run of his own. No Tevarin candidate has ever made it past the primary vote, let alone run as a candidate for a major political party. Meanwhile, others wonder if Sharrad’s support and spotlighting of Senator Kossi is instead a self-serving tactic meant to blunt the growing influence of Titus Costigan within the party.
As for the chances of a Tevarin nominee winning the Imperator election, Monique Erby has her doubts, “You just need to look to the Stanton system and what’s happening with the XenoThreat terrorists to know that there is still a sizeable portion of the population who are unwilling to embrace non-Humans in positions of power. Representing Elysium is one thing, but it’s hard to say if the votes would ever be there for an alien head of the UEE. If the election were held today, the numbers I’ve seen would say no, but who knows what the next few years may change.”
Following his speech at USVC, Senator Kossi himself brushed off questions about a 2960 run for Imperator. “My future remains focused on improving the lives and defending the rights of my constituents in Elysium, supporting the military in its campaign to defeat the Vanduul, and bringing more opportunities to Tevarin across the Empire.” Still, a potential Kossi campaign was what many USVC attendees were talking about following his speech. On the last day of the conference, Senator Kossi placed third in a straw poll of preferred 2960 Imperator candidates, coming in just behind Illyana Sharrad and Titus Costigan. Though Senator Kossi might want to downplay talk of a potential run, it seems the question will remain a constant one throughout his second Senate term.