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Tommy4ever

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1896-1897 – Into the Fire

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After all the instability of the past three years, 1896 produced a surge election of historic significance. The Trudoviks, building momentum for years and reinvigorated by the confident leadership of Daniil Chernov, secured millions of new votes from across the empire. With Brusilov issue, that had animated the masses in 1893, assuming a more low-key role in this election – the Trudoviks were able to win over a sizeable number of poorer anti-Brusilovian voters from the Right on economic and class issues. Furthermore, having overtaken the Constitutionalists in the previous election, they squeezed the two liberal parties – winning half the former’s seats even as their vote only fell modestly. The reds also gained ground in Tatar and Christian areas – becoming the first national party to elect more than a handful of Hindu deputies. The only other party to put in a strong performance was the separatist Grand Turanian Congress – that more than doubled its vote and trebled its seat tally at the expense of the Hindu-Mulsim Block, taking advantage at Tatar rage after three years of conservative rule.

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The success of the Trudoviks stunned both the Polish public and the world. Chernov was the first labour leader to be able to claim electoral victory in a major nation, and he now claimed his right to the premiership. Tsar Nikolai, fearful of allowing a rabble rousing labourist assume power, scrambled behind the scenes to cobble together an anti-socialist coalition between the Constitutionalists, the National Alliance and the minority parties. Yet political divides proved too deep, and the parliamentary arithmetic too stretched to find a workable arrangement. Despite their strong result, the Trudoviks themselves were far short of a majority – and this may have indirectly aided their cause, as it was clear that any labourite government would be forced to restrain the radical impulses of its base. Chernov invited both the Hindu-Muslim Block and Constitutionalists to provide ministers for his new government, while maintaining strong relations with the Democrats and Christian Block – providing a strong parliamentary majority. The new government’s focus was threefold – ending the economic crisis, abolishing the Brusilov Line, calming industrial tensions and establishing a new system of social protection.

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The unexpectedly large Red tide, and the instability of the years leading up to 1896, had made liberal opinion far more amendable to political and social reform than ever before. This allowed the Chernov government to push forward with an ambitious reform agenda within months of its election as the Trudovik’s more moderate allies agreed upon the need for change. Just weeks after coming to power the government put forward legislation that sought to abolish the Brusilov Line – creating new constituencies covering all Polish territories in Eurasia. The Bill passed with a massive majority. Only recently humbled at the polls, the Right could do little but protest from the sidelines.

With victory in the great cause celebre of the Polish Left achieved, the government proceeded to provide its working class base with a slew of social reforms benefitting the poor. A system of national pensions for those over 70 without family support was introduced and payments for the unemployed to save them from abject poverty – a particularly pertinent policy at a time when many cities were swamped with the jobless poor, while education spending was increased.

At the heart of the Trudoviks’ pitch to the electorate in 1896 had been their promise that they would be able to bring the industrial unrest that had ravaged the country to an end. The hoped to achieve this by firstly legislating in favour of a number of key trade unionist causes – setting a legally enforceable 10-hour limit on the working day as well as a minimum wage. More importantly, the government offered itself as a mediator in labour disputes – seeking to find compromises suitable to both capital and labour. The ability of the Polish state to carry out this role in practise was far more limited than the government’s ambitions – with the state only realistically able to involve itself in the most high-profile strikes. Nonetheless, the tone emanating from Kiev acted to embolden the unions and worry capital.

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The government’s response to the ongoing economic crisis was less certain. In the immediate aftermath of the Trudoviks’ 1896 victory, investors in the Polish economy were clearly spooked – fearing an assault on the monied classes and disorder under this first red administration. This flight of capital put strain on the nation’s financial institutions and strangled lending – suppressing the first signs of a wider economic recovery that had already been starting to show in the last year of the National Alliance government. In response, the government attempted to calm the markets by emphasising its moderation and economic competence – shunning the tax rises and heavy state intervention demanded by the left, and instead giving Constitutionalist ministers prominence in the financial ministry. In one exception from this largely liberal economic approach, a programme of state-backed loans and subsidies were offered to struggling industries in an effort to prevent another significant increase in unemployment. The effects of these policies were mixed. Another sizeable industrial contraction was averted, yet the Chernov government clearly failed to definitively end the economic crisis and return Poland to a period of growth during its first year in office.

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By 1896 geopolitical tensions in Europe had been boiling for years. The incredible territorial expansion of the Holy Roman Empire in both Europe and Africa, its arms race with Poland, and Kiev’s efforts to amass an anti-German coalition across Europe had created two heavily armed camps poised for conflict. Into this heady mix, ethnic nationalism was fast developing into one of the most powerful political forces in Europe – creating no end of trouble for the continent’s two foremost multi-ethnic empires in Poland and the Holy Roman Empire.

The nation at the heart of the troubles that began in the Autumn of 1896, were the French. For centuries the people of France had endured foreign rule – by Italians, Andalucians, Skots and Germans. Through their long history they had never been united under a single polity and had more often identified themselves with their local areas rather than a shared Frankish nation. Pan-French nationalism had only truly taken hold during the 19th century, solidified by the hardships endured by the Gallic people in the face of rampaging foreign armies.

During the past half century, much of their homeland had been conquered by the Holy Roman Empire – leaving behind a number of territorial anomalies, most notably a Skottish exclave in and around the great city of Paris that was totally surrounded by Imperial territory. The Germans were particularly disliked rulers amongst the French, offering less autonomy than their predecessors had and pushing a strong Germanic cultural agenda throughout the Empire. As a result, anti-Imperial French nationalist groups were endemic through Imperial France. Many of these groups used Paris, where the Skots offered a comparatively liberal regime, as their base – the city acting as a beacon from which French nationalist ideas could spread, where dissidents could find shelter and smugglers a safe haven.

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After a known terrorist, who had murdered the Holy Roman governor of Brittany, found refuge in Paris and began to openly engage in political activity, the Germans had had enough. Vienna delivered an ultimatum to the Skots, demanding that they give Imperial police jurisdiction to enter the city and arrest those who had committed crimes in the Empire. With the Skots holding firm against this transgression, supported by Poland’s staunch support of its ally, a tense standoff ensued through the Autumn and Winter months of 1896 as diplomats criss-crossed the continent and the military machines of Poland and the Empire readied themselves for action. In late November the Germans escalated the situation by cutting Paris off from the outside world – leaving millions at risk of food shortages and even starvation. After the hard Christmas of 1896, rather than back down to Imperial demands, the Skots attempted to force the issue by sending a number of supply vessels accompanied by gunboats up the Seine River towards the Parisian territory in January 1897. Unwilling to countenance a violation of the blockade, Germans forces in the area attacked these vessels and prevented them from reaching Paris – killing several hundred.

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This ‘Massacre of the Seine’ proved to be the final trigger for war. After the Tsar’s envoys provided quiet assurance that they would support the Skots in any action they took, Skotland declared war upon the Holy Roman Empire on January 23rd 1897. Although many Trudoviks in Poland were askance at the prospect of leading their nation into a great European cataclysm just as they embarked on their programme of internal reforms, the majority backed Prime Minister Chernov in asserting that Poland had an obligation to its allies and the wider European community to face down German imperialism. As such, Poland joined the Skots in declaring war on January 25th, by the end of the month they had been joined by Denmark, Pannonia, Crusader Anatolia and Israel. The First World War had begun.
 
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stnylan

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The great European conflagration we have been waiting for has begun.

One again has to remark on the remarkable unity in Polish foreign policy across parties - even now with the socialists in power the strategic logic remains unshattered.

All that said - I am a very happy commentator. Brusilov is down! Let the streets ring out, Brusilov is down!
 

Tommy4ever

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Another longer gap between updates, things have been fairly hectic on my end - I'm getting married this weekend :D. But we're still making forward progress!

The line shall fall. This denial shall like the line itself be erased by the tides of history.

Right - Greenland is a curious place for a crisis, but more curious still is indeed Poland's sudden diplomatic overtures. A war is, I feel, inevitable.
The Line was finally voted down by the Duma - only for the Great War to break out and force everyone to look away from domestic politics again.

And it really was a bit of an oddity that Greenland was left uncolonised through EU4 and V2 - but the idea of Poland muscling into the North Atlantic was inevitably going to rile up the Germans.

Trying to imagine being a young Tatar who sees the Tsar intervene to prevent a successful vote to end the Brusilov line; and then, in the following election, sees an anti-Brusilov majority frustrated by a more efficiently distributed minority. I would find it very hard to imagine that the established order would ever give my community their natural rights.

I believe you mean "Ma'am, this is treason." :p And what I meant to say was, the tsar will be lucky if all we do is abolish him.
Indeed, and we've already seen a surge towards the Turanists in response to all of this. You have to hope that the War does not inflame things further!

And apologies - this forum leads you to assumptions! :D :p

I'd like to reiterate that none of this was a problem under the Tsar's enlightened absolutism. All were equal under his wise gaze. Democracy has caused an artificial inequality between Jew and Muslim, Russian and Tatar, that would not have existed had we stayed with absolutism.
A good point, if we can remember back to the 18th and early 19th century, Polish liberals tended to be anti-democratic and pro-absolutist for this very reason. That tradition of Polish liberalism ended up dying a death during the democratic era - but ethnic tensions were in many ways better contained.

Now this is a scary situation we've found ourselves in.
And its only grown scarier! Millions of men across Europe are just about to go marching to war. In the years to come millions more will join them.

why oh why while the right forms an election front the left does not do that? in this election method that's too great of an advantage to leave on the table (I know it's RP and not a game mechanic to form an election front, but still :D. in fact, this has been one of the very few AARs that I'm following the story more than the game mechanics. normally for me, the RP part would just be a nice coloration on the game itself. well done, very well done!)

a new star is born!
well, the tsar's behaviour asks for it :D
Hey I just saw this photo from Samarkand/Uzbekistan circa 1910 of a group of Jewish children with their teacher
YOu can blame the Left's traditional problem of political sectarianism for them failing to band together :p. The divides between the Trudoviks and Constitutionalists were probably always too great for a formal alliance, but the Democrats could have concievably joined up with either group had they been willing to give up their political independence. And I'm glad you've been enjoying the story side of things. :)

A great image - I love seeing these sorts of pictures. It really looks like another world in a way images from more developed areas and into the 20th century don't.

Why not establish a bicameral legislature as a compromise? One branch is elected by everyone, and one by only those within the Brusilov Line? That seems like an amiable compromise to satisfy the Christians that they won't lose their say in government, the Jews that they won't lose their overall control, and the Tatars that they'll get representation.

Or, you know, just give the Tatars independence (or at least autonomy). That gets them out, keeps the Christians and Jews in control, and satisfies the Tatars. I wouldn't be surprised if a sizeable faction on the right advocated for this solution.
Such ideas of compromise and consensus-based politics just won't do for our polarised Polish politics of the 1890s. Let us see how this War shakes things up!

And Tatar autonomy would seem like a viable reform to address the empire's tensions - but it doesn't have any clear standard bearers. The Turanists are pushing for outright independence, and the Belegunuists are held up with the crusade to end the Brusilov Line and in doing so further integrate the Tatar lands rather than give them self rule.

Why does it feel like every last thing in Poland is a time bomb of one sort of another? 19th century politics are breaking down, Europe is dancing around the flames of conflict and the Tsar is getting more and more involved in the workings of his governments. The fact that this of all times is the moment for interfaith dialogue between the Jews and the Christians feels idyll astonishing, but then this is a world where the Reich feels it’s strategic interests threatened by a Polish Greenland so who’s to say what’s normal. :p

Good stuff Tommy, and glad to see another update. Onwards to a better Poland!
It keeps the drama at a suitably high level. :p Then again, if you read most country's real histories then they are often just lurching from one disaster to another most of the time.

We can see the whole 19th century order being shaken to its core. Political polarisation, and now a Great War. Who knows what sort of 20th century will emerge out of this.

War is coming.

Rapprochement with the Papal States was unexpected...

Again, the Brusilov Line will be problematic. With the Socialists, I wouldn't be surprised if WW1 led to the fall of both Poland and the HRE...
And now it is come!

Yeah, the big conflict between the Papacy and Poland over Central Asia and ME has come to a bit of a conclusion. The HRE's rapid expansion has also alienated them from that partnership, putting them in something of a neutral position.

We shall see just what consequences war has in the updates to come.

I have high hopes for comrade Chernov! It seems he couldn't have rose to prominence at a time with more opportunities for a socialist leader to advance his cause.
And he has already dashed into power. He had a short time to make an impact domestically before war broke out, but did have a flurry of reforms. Time will tell if he is still in power by wars end and what Poland and the world look like.

So I recently finished reading this entire megacampaign, and I am completely drawn in. I love all the worldbuilding you've done outside the game, and I can't wait to see where this goes next.
Glad you have enjoyed it! And I hope you'll keep following as we go forward :).
 
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DensleyBlair

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Red tide = good.
World War = very, very bad.

Poland just can't catch a break, can it? Excellent to see the Brusilov line felled and some hints towards other various domestic reforms (that pension scheme seems a little parsimonious if you ask me. How many indigents are going to make it to 70?) but bloody hell, for war to break out now… I know Vicky loves to get its Great wars in before the fin de siècle, but it is cruel handing this to Poland just as it seems to be making some progress. Ah well, let's hope it will all be over by Passover.

I'm getting married this weekend :D
Congratulations Tommy! :D
 
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stnylan

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Brisingr

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Here we go! The Brusilov line is down, and everyone's beating the crap out of the HRE in order to help the French!
This is what's going on, no? All of Europe declaring war on the HRE? Or does Vienna have allies?

I'm getting married this weekend :D
Many congratulations!
 
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HIMDogson

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The unexpectedly large Red tide, and the instability of the years leading up to 1896, had made liberal opinion far more amendable to political and social reform than ever before. This allowed the Chernov government to push forward with an ambitious reform agenda within months of its election as the Trudovik’s more moderate allies agreed upon the need for change. Just weeks after coming to power the government put forward legislation that sought to abolish the Brusilov Line – creating new constituencies covering all Polish territories in Eurasia. The Bill passed with a massive majority. Only recently humbled at the polls, the Right could do little but protest from the sidelines.
I feel like narratively speaking this is a hell of a thing to gloss over. I mean, the Brusilov Line has sort of been set up as the equivalent of Jim Crow laws for Poland, and now it's just gone, with a huge influx of Tatars (not to mention Russians) having the right to vote. I don't know, there's some satisfaction from seeing the bigots go out with such an impotent whisper, but i do hope we get more info about what the abolition of the Brusilov Line looks like beyond the right reeing a bit.

Another longer gap between updates, things have been fairly hectic on my end - I'm getting married this weekend :D. But we're still making forward progress!
Congratulations, king- or, should I say Tsar?

The Hun has shown his hand at last. Poland and her allies shall not rest until the winged hussars ride through Vienna! Long live the Tsar!
 
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Specialist290

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I'm getting married this weekend :D.
Congrats! Hoping for the best -- may the both of you have many joy-filled years together.

An idle thought that struck me is that France has essentially become the "Poland" of this timeline -- a once-great power torn apart by strife and jealous neighbors until only the merest fraction of its legacy remains, but that legacy inspires generations to strive to attain the long-gone "Golden Age" once more. A shame that in this case, those aspirations have led directly to a world war...
 
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Theaxofwar

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Found this a few days ago and just caught up! I really love the depth you go into with the culture and religion, and the crazy flip flopping of Political Parties in the Vicky section.

Weirdly enough, this is the second AAR with the player nation originating around the Baltic region that has WWI starting in large part due to resurgent French nationalism, though this time France isn’t split between Germany and Spain but instead almost completely controlled by the HRE. I’ve always thought that Muslims get the worst luck in CK2, but France seems to have some pretty bad luck too.
 

HistoryDude

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The French are the catalyst.

The Brusilov Line is dead!!!

Who's the Papal States going to side with, I wonder?
 

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I remember wanting to do a mega campaign in high school with the paradox games when I got into them in like 2008-9. Well over a decade later with my fiance out of town and stuck working from home this campaign pushed me over the edge.
 

diskoerekto

ferocious native
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It's been good to have another chapter, I missed it!

Finally the reds are in action, and Brusilov line is no more. How many times it went one way and then the other before events took this course.

And finally the first world war! Will the allies be able to dismantle the HRE? Can't wait to see! :)
 
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Cromwell

Major
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Congratulations on your wedding! I'm glad to see socialism free those east of the Brusliov line and dismayed to see them marching the workers into a world conflict.
 

Nikolai

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Oh boy. Somehow the start and long running life of this continuation of my favorite Polish Jewish AAR slipped me by. I’ve read all 11 pages now, and what a read! And just in time for some world warring. :D
 

HIMDogson

Lt. General
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Having looked over the beginning of the CKII portion I'd like to appreciate the fact that this is only an AAR because the Polish AI decided to convert to Judaism- a very lucky occurance
 
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TheButterflyComposer

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Excellent read so far. The fastest mega campaign I've ever seen.
 

Tommy4ever

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1897– Blood and Roses

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While its leftwing government was slightly circumspect about the prospect of falling into a great European war in January 1897, the people of Poland were not burdened with the same concerns. As the imperial war machine ground into gear and incredible 2,000,000 men were called upon to be mobilised in both the standing army and the reserves. War enthusiasm washed over the nation, as the public giddily embraced their role as saviours of Europe from Teutonic domination.

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This popular energy was amplified by the successes of Poland and her allies on the field in the opening gambits of the conflict. In the west, although the Skots were unable to defend Paris from the German assault, they successfully crossed the Channel – occupying much of the Pas De Calais and establishing a firm beachhead on the continent. In the east, the Poles overwhelmed Imperial defences on the border and moved out to occupy Silesia and Moravia while in the north they achieved similar successes alongside their Danish allies in Brandenburg. The Germans were in crisis. As the Polish army began to surround Vienna in March, there were expectations in many quarters that the war would be over by Easter.

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With the Holy Roman Empire in such dire straits, the Italians eyed the opportunity for territorial gains in France and the Veneto. As they conducted poorly disguised negotiations with the Poles over an entry into the war in the early months of 1897, the Germans made counter manoeuvres. The Abaddids had endured a testing 19th century, losing most of their territory in France and seeing the Italians seize most of their Mediterranean shoreline. The Empire offered them a chance to reverse this pattern of decline – supporting them with the latest military technologies and financial backing in exchange for launching at attack on the Italians that would keep them out of the war. This assault arrived in April 1897 as Iberian forces crossed the border, taking advantage of the redeployment of Italian forces to the Holy Roman frontier to seize Barcelona and Valencia by the summer.

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As some 200,000 Poles progressed into Austria in March, threatening to take Vienna and force an Imperial surrender, the war had been an unexpectedly bloodless affair. Despite the fielding of larger armies and the advance in military technology, casualties were far short of the levels seen in the Beijing War of the 1880s with few major engagements. All this was about to change. In the Battle of Austria between March and August 1897 the Polish and Holy Roman armies would clash in the grandest and grisliest battle ever seen in human history – the Imperial army finally bringing its true strength to bare. Over the course of the next six months, the Austrian campaign consumed the lives of around 200,000 Polish and 100,000 Holy Roman soldiers.

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In the first engagements of the campaign the Poles were able to fend of Imperial attempts to relieve their capital city, but at a high cost. The losses sustained precluded any attempt to storm Vienna, or push deeper into Imperial territory – while giving the Germans space to regroup from their defeats in the winter months, fully mobilise their army and rouse their public in patriotic fervour to defend the homeland. When Imperial offensives in the summer of 1897 were truly devastating. Overconfidence in the Polish military leadership had meant that the army on the Austrian front had remained on an offensive footing, neglecting to build up strong defensive positions despite halting its advances, believing that the Germans lacked the capacity to attack following their performance in the war to date. They were proved woefully wrong. The ferocity of the Imperial artillery tore through the Polish lines, with their lack of defensive positions they had little cover for a barrage on this scale and horrific losses soon began to mount. The Polish command’s response to this, by launching a full hardy counterattack over difficult Austrian terrain, turned defeat into catastrophe – with the Polish army falling into a rout from the region.

Austria was not the only theatre where the war was turning in the Holy Roman Empire’s favour. In France, the Skots had been sent into retreat in the spring, were limited to Calais by the summer and had abandoned their continental campaign entirely by the autumn. To the south of Austria, the Pannonian army faced heavy defeats in Slovenia and subsequently lost Zagreb to the Germans as they began a retreat back towards the Danube. To the north, the Poles had halted their armies throughout Bohemia, Silesia and Brandenburg in the face of the ensuing battles in Austria in the spring – but by the late summer were already being beset by persistent Imperial attacks. It was during this period that the Poles and their allies began to dig in – establishing networks of earthen trenches designed to provide cover from artillery fire and build stronger defensive lines that could withstand the Germans’ resurgence.

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Defeat in Austria, and the appalling loss of life, had definitely ended any hope of a short war. With such a conflict looming, the Polish governing classes understood the need for national unity. After meeting with the Tsar, the Trudovik Prime Minister Daniil Chernov approach the old enemy on the opposition benches and invited the conservatives to join him in a government of national unity – featuring all Duma factions with the exception of the Tatar separatists. In an ironic twist of fate, Yildilz Kazimzade – the two-time former Prime Minister and bogey man of secularists and leftwingers for three decades – was appointed as the Deputy of Poland’s first socialist leader. Together, the two leading figures in the new coalition committed themselves to fight on until victory.
 
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