Artists’ Guild weakened as faction leaves party

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The National Artists’ Guild’s membership numbers have steadily fallen since the 2016 election (Electoral Commission)

The National Artists’ Guild suffers yet another big hit as a major faction of the party has broken off, allegedly to merge with the Left Alliance. The faction commonly known as the ‘Jensists’, since they are understood to be led by MP and former Artist leader Snø Jens-Galieri, presented a letter before the Guild’s consultative assembly informing of their decision to leave the party. The members of the faction then promptly started talks with the leadership of the Left Alliance, headed by Apollo Cerwyn.

The members of the splintered faction, who called themselves the ‘Socialist Caucus’ (gennaribók) in the document presented before the Guild’s consultative assembly, are estimated to have formed around 40% of the party’s total membership, which leaves the Guild considerably crippled in terms of size. Prominent members of the ‘caucus’ include former Prime Minister and Artist ideologue Napoléon Bleuberrie, Gonn governor Suipom Goyo, and Jens-Galieri himself, who is at the center of an ongoing corruption investigation. Since Jens-Galieri is a sitting Member of Parliament, his change of allegiance has reduced the Guild’s parliamentary bloc from four to three MPs.

Talk of merger with the Left Alliance has plagued the Artists’ Guild since early this year, when pressure within the party forced Jens-Galieri to resign from his acting position as party leader, following former Prime Minister Shounn Virny’s resignation in March. Virny informally leads the ‘Virnyist’ faction of the Artists’ Guild, which is now the only faction remaining in the party.

The leader of the National Artists’ Guild, Orion Bennet, has threatened to resign from their position mere months after being elected by members in a heated party congress held in August. According to Bennet, Jens-Galieri and the rest of the Socialist Caucus are “meanies”, who are effectively “destroying the party”. Napoléon Bleuberrie’s departure has proven especially sour to the Artists, to whom Bleuberrie was a major ideologue and supporter. Bleuberrie had earlier expressed discontent with the Artist leadership’s direction.

The Isadoran University professor was quoted saying “the Guild’s leadership is either blind or deliberately driving the party to its effective death”, referring to former interim leader and Virnyst pillar Harmê Bertram decision to ban all talk of a merger with the Left in August’s party congress.

For his part, Apollo Cerwyn has celebrated move, lauding the caucus as a “respectable bunch”. Cerwyn had previously appealed to disenfranchised Artist members, inviting them to join the Left, which he called the “only opposition to the Liberals”.

Though talks between Cerwyn and the caucus are still ongoing, Left deputy leader Hierba Kebragi has announced an extraordinary party congress is scheduled to be held on the first monday of November. The agenda of the congress is yet to be announced, though it is widely speculated that major reforms will come to the Left in order to accomodate the Socialist Caucus’  entrance to the Alliance.

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