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game of thrones election
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Who has your vote?
#GOTPARTY2016

Before you vote in HBO’s “Game of Thrones” election, read this very serious analysis of the four candidates

By Adam Epstein

If you’re sick and tired of hearing about the US presidential election, here’s another election with far less serious stakes to obsess over: the “GoT Party” election.

Earlier this month, HBO launched a website to promote the release of Game of Thrones season six on digital platforms, including Amazon and iTunes. As part of the promotion, HBO is holding a mock primary election for fans of the show to choose which ticket should represent the show’s make-believe political party.

On TheGoTParty.com, fans can vote every day until Sept. 1 for their preferred candidate (and his or her running mate). The candidates are Daenerys Targaryen (with Tyrion Lannister), Jon Snow (with Lyanna Mormont), Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish (with Sansa Stark), and Cersei Lannister (with Qyburn, also known as “that wildfire guy”). You can see each ticket’s full platform on the HBO site.

As of this writing, Baelish has a surprise lead with 36% of the vote. Targaryen barely edges out Snow for second, 32% to 31%. Cersei is a distant fourth at 1%. (Perhaps she shouldn’t have killed and tortured all those innocent people as the end of the latest season.)

What follows is an extremely detailed and significant analysis of each of the candidates. Because the future of Westeros depends on you.

Targaryen-Lannister

HBO

Like another popular politician, Daenerys Targaryen seemingly came out of nowhere, offering the people a new way forward—change they could believe in (video). The teenager has little political experience save for the short time she’s ruled Meereen, but she has already proven herself a capable leader, doing what she can to make the world a more just place.

Pros:

  • Offering a new vision for Westeros
  • Political outsider in an anti-establishment climate
  • Accomplished much in short time as leader (freed slaves)
  • Uncorrupted by power (so far)
  • Controls a powerful military
  • Dragons

Cons:

  • Relatively unknown in Westeros, despite her fame in Essos
  • Often naive and impetuous
  • Idealistic to a fault
  • Disappears without warning
  • Naked a lot
  • Dragons?

Tyrion Lannister‘s strengths counterbalance many of Dany’s weaknesses. His former role as King Joffrey’s Hand of the King gives him the experience needed to counsel the unseasoned Dany. Electorally, Tyrion may help Dany win some regions in Westeros, where she’s not as well known as she is in Essos.

Pros:

  • Established politician
  • Will help Dany navigate treacherous political waters
  • Excellent strategist
  • Willing to play role of attack dog if necessary (he murdered his own father on the toilet)
  • Part of a famous and influential political dynasty
  • Cool facial scar

Cons:

  • Lots of people are tired of the Lannisters in power
  • Lots of people want him dead
  • Dry humor may turn off some voters
  • Probably drinks too much

Snow-Mormont

HBO

Ah, Jon Snow. The bastard boy who lived. While he may actually be Ned Stark’s nephew instead of his illegitimate son, either way, he carries Stark blood, which holds a lot of weight in the Northern regions of Westeros. He’s a proven leader of men with an unyielding moral compass, though he’s seemed disillusioned, and at times reckless, since dying and coming back to life.

Pros:

  • Respected and admired in the North
  • Skilled warrior
  • Has reached out to marginalized populations (the Wildlings)
  • Guided by strong principles of loyalty, honor, and justice
  • Calm, composed temperament makes him fit to rule
  • Great hair
  • Has a badass direwolf named Ghost

Cons:

  • Led much of his hopelessly outmatched army to a brutal battlefield death (though was bailed out by Sansa)
  • Had trouble uniting the houses of the North
  • Might have a subconscious death wish
  • Not the hopeful leader he once was, pre-death
  • No experience in King’s Landing or the other Southern cities
  • Is a zombie?

Snow’s running mate is 10-year-old Lyanna Mormont, but don’t let her diminutive size fool you—she’s everything we should want in a leader. She’s uncannily smart, loyal, and perceptive for her age. She respects history, while also understands that the future prosperity of her people is paramount. She is willing to heed the advice of her counselors. She is perfect.

Pros:

  • She is everything

Cons:

  • May have to put aside governing duties once a day for nap time

Baelish-Stark

HBO

We have no idea why this is not Stark-Baelish. Sansa Stark, the eldest daughter of Ned Stark, should clearly be leading the ticket, with Baelish as her running mate. In any case, we must analyze the candidacy as it is. Petyr Baelish, better known as Littlefinger, is the master manipulator of Westeros, putting Machiavelli to shame. The shrewd negotiator knows how to get what he wants, but it often comes at the cost of literally everyone else.

Pros:

  • Has a vast network of spies
  • Firm understanding of Westeros’s legal and financial systems
  • Successful businessman (owned a high-class brothel)
  • Extraordinarily cunning
  • Has made alliances all over Westeros
  • Also played a seedy politician on The Wire

Cons:

  • Is a total creep
  • Doesn’t seem to care about anyone else
  • Simply cannot be trusted
  • No actual experience leading people
  • Has an unfounded victim complex
  • Not the best of mustaches

The real star of this ticket is Sansa Stark, who has transcended years of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse to become one of Westeros’s most capable leaders. She may have once been a vacuous, preening teen who craved a relationship with those in power, but today she’s a smart, measured woman, ready to carry on the legacy of her family name.

Pros:

  • Beloved in the North
  • Knows what it takes to survive
  • Tolerant, compassionate, sympathetic
  • At times, proved to be smarter and more stoic than her half-brother Jon
  • Will help with Littlefinger’s likability problem
  • Not creepy

Cons:

  • Might be developing a penchant for revenge
  • Marriage to Joffrey is an oppo researcher’s dream
  • No experience whatsoever in politics
  • Unclear if she’d take to the running mate’s traditional attack dog role
  • Doesn’t seem to particularly like Littlefinger

Lannister-Qyburn

HBO

Our final candidate is Cersei Lannister, which, just, no. While she was a brilliant, loving mother (while her kids were alive), her duplicity is (almost) peerless in this 2016 election season. Bathed in wealth and privilege her whole life, Cersei’s sole aim is to protect her children, the Lannister name, and conserve its power—no matter the cost. She’s an expert at the inner workings of Westerosi politics, but she’s also a generally horrible person.

Pros:

  • Incumbent advantage
  • No one knows King’s Landing better
  • Head of the most powerful house in Westeros
  • Clever, rhetorically skilled and persuasive
  • Immune to special interests
  • Singularly driven and goal-oriented
  • Wine lover who might foster the region’s viticulture

Cons:

  • Orchestrated a genocide
  • Drove her son to suicide
  • Has no pity or compassion for people who are not her or her children
  • Incestuous relationship with her brother
  • Little to no moral compass
  • That whole torture thing

Cersei’s running mate is Qyburn, that guy who told Cersei about the wildfire and keeps a room full of small children to do his bidding. He serves as the “Master of Whispers” (and, later, Hand of the Queen to Cersei), advising Cersei on her various plots to seek revenge on those who imprisoned and humiliated her.

Pros:

  • Keeps an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction
  • Is a mad scientist (brought The Mountain back to life)
  • Would serve as a loyal, subserviant aide to Cersei
  • Has a cool name

Cons:

  • Most of his pros are also cons
  • Not sure how he helps Cersei get votes
  • No one knows who he is

Quartz endorsement

After carefully considering the choices, Quartz believes that Snow-Mormont offers the safest way forward for Westeros. (Targaryen-Lannister is a very close second, and if Baelish-Stark were switched, we’d consider supporting that ticket too.)

Snow is an inspiring young leader, guided by a strong set of principles and the belief that all of the world’s citizens, even Wildlings, deserve a chance at prosperity. While he has grown cynical since his resurrection, we believe that his running mate, Lyanna Mormont, will keep him in check, and remind him of what’s truly at stake. If something should happen to Snow, Mormont is more than capable of assuming the mantle. Snow-Mormont will take the world into a new century of equality, truly making Westeros great for everybody, not just those already prospering.

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