© Andy Turnbull, 2006

The tiny Republic of Bobblopia was changed forever in the Year of the Hermaphrodite Billygoat by a new election law that allowed write-in votes. Once desperately poor and dominated by its wealthy and powerful neighbour Squidgefalia, Bobblopia is now the economic powerhouse of the Raucusus region.

Until the election few people had heard of Noneof Theabove but somehow he won a full 98% percent of the popular vote.

Born in a cave in the Transmogrified Alps, President Theabove was raised by mountain goats and for most of his life he worked as a simple herdsman, tending a flock of the genetically modified giant tarantula spiders that produce our famous Bobblopian fishing nets.

The election in the Year of the Hermaphrodite Billygoat began as a contest between the Plutocrats, who believe that the world was created by a dyslexic dog, and the Anti-Creationists who argue that the world was not created and therefore does not exist.

Specific details of the campaign that led to President Theabove's surprise win are still uncertain but we know that, when the write-in law was passed, a group of divinity students at the Bobblopia College of Water Witching began a campaign for Noneof Theabove as a write-in candidate. We don't know exactly why they chose to support him but it is possible that the campaign began with field trials of the radical new parabolic reflector, invented by Professor Hyperbola of the school's Department of Reflexology.

The parabolic reflector reflects parables back at the person who tells them. In field trials students aimed reflectors at politicians and, faced with the prospect of hearing their own words reflected back at them, many professional politicians were struck speechless.

Details of the campaign are not known because when the results of the election were announced and Noneof Theabove was presented as the new president, the students who had campaigned for him took a vow of silence and retired to a malasary in Bitet.

Theabove himself was reluctant to accept his election because he did not want to leave his beloved spiders, but an advisory commission formed by the Tarantula Breeders Association reminded him that as president he could overturn the restrictive laws that banned giant spiders from Bobblopian cities. Theabove finally accepted the post, overturned the law and moved his own herd of spiders into the presidential palace and the attached Irrational Assembly Building.

The spiders should have been welcome in the city because they are much cleaner than other animals but, unable to find the elephants and rhinoceri on which they normally feed, they ate most of the members of the Assembly and about half of the Bobblopian civil service. Surprised, Theabove moved most of his herd back to the mountains but several spiders that had developed a taste for city life hid out in the national capital.

Because the surviving asemblymen refused to enter the building President Theabove had to govern by presidential fiat. This was resented by citizens of French extraction, who argued that he should govern by presidential renault.

After the surviving assemblymen resigned and refused to stand for re-election, Theabove was forced to decree that new members be chosen by lottery. Many citizens and all professional politicians were shocked by the idea but, as we discovered, the lottery offeres two advantages over elections.

One is that politicians selected by lottery are more representative of the people as a whole. The other is that the average citizen is more honest than the average professional politician, and less likely to represent special interests.

If a representative chosen by lottery does an outstanding job, President Theabove decreed, his constituents could ask him to serve a second and even a third term. The representative himself was not allowed to apply for a second term, or to campaign for it. If his constituents made the request a referendum was held, and it required a three-quarters majority for the assemblyman to hold his seat.

As the new Assembly took office, the country changed. One difference was that the ordinary citizens who now controlled the Assembly demanded that laws be written in language they could understand, and many of them even tried to understand the laws they approved. Senior civil servants protested the change but, their numbers reduced because so many of them had been eaten, they were unable to obstruct it.

The Bobblopian Law Society sent a delegation to the Presidential Palace to protest the change but, unfortunately, the lawyers forgot that when Theabove feels threatened, his spiders jump to his defence. The delegation was never seen again, but the next crop of fishing nets was particularly intricate.

The new nets were so good, in fact, that spider-herders began grazing their flocks near law offices and the population of lawyers dropped dramatically. Within weeks, most of the survivors emigrated to Squidgefalia.

After a member of the assembly was caught taking a pencil home from his office Theabove decreed that all politicians and civil servants must undergo a forensic audit and a trial when they leave office. If the auditor finds no irregularities the politician or civil servant may be granted a pension but malfeasance can be punished by a fine or a term in jail. The day before the edict took effect, dozens of mid-level civil servants retired to palatial mansions in Squidgefalia.

It was shortly after this that, despite the shortage of lawyers and civil servants, the Bobblopian economy gathered momentum. This has never been explained but the citizens of Bobblopia rejected Theabove's request that he be allowed to retire and a citizens group has commissioned statues of him to be placed in the central square of every city in Bobblopia.


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