Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Davis v. Davies

Honestly, you just can't make this stuff up:

DAVID Davis, the shadow home secretary widely tipped to succeed Michael Howard as the Conservatives’ leader, could be deposed at the general election because a candidate with a confusingly similar name is set to challenge him.

The intervention of David Davies, the candidate for Veritas, Robert Kilroy-Silk’s new party, could deal a blow to Mr Davis’s ambitions and deprive the party of a high-profile personality - without Veritas even winning the seat.

Who says the upcoming British election needs to be boring, with stories like this one in the works? Read the whole article - since Davies ranks higher alphabetically than Davis, the insurgent challenger will get the coveted spot just above the high-ranking leadership aspirant. And the plot thickens - apparently this will be sweet revenge for the Liberal Democrats, who ran a close second to Davis last time around and stand to gain the most from this new "David" on the ballot. You see, the Lib Dems lost a recent European Parliament election thanks to 10,000 or so votes recorded by the "Literal Democrats". Ah, the will of the people.

The story calls to mind an anecdote I seem to remember from Rene Levesque's excellent Memoirs. Apparently in one of his early elections, he was challenged by another candidate in the riding named "Rene Levesque" who entered the race just before nominations closed. At that time in Quebec, your profession was listed on the ballot alongside the name as another identifier. This forced his campaign staff out into the streets in the closing days of the election, with signs and microphones, touting the slogan: "Vote for the REAL Levesque: Levesque, Journalist". But as with the butterfly ballot fiasco, even the sharpest can be fooled in the oh-so-simple voting process. Levesque recounts how one of his workers almost broke down in tears moments after walking out of the polling station: "Oh NO, I think I voted for the Artist!"


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