It was a clear, sunny morning and Hubert Smythstone, MP for Grimbleshire, was worried. He was worried because his rat had looked rather listless of late. Although it was only two years old, for the past week it had been moving increasingly slowly and sleeping for longer each day. Hubert hoped his rat
was just under the weather; at the very least, he'd prefer it to hold on for another month. That would mean the by-election would be right after the party conference - the extra media coverage for his party during the conference would give him the best chance of retaining his seat.
Hubert remembered when the Furry Logic Election-Arranging System was introduced, after the previous General Election. He'd chosen young 'Muffin' to be his Representative Rat. Muffin had appeared to be a sprightly little ratling, and Hubert had hoped for at least three years from him. Now, even three more weeks would be a welcome surprise.
Alas, it was not to be. Muffin passed away two days later, and Hubert's by-election took place the following week. The public backlash about the War in Iran was strong, and Hubert lost his seat to a Green MP. In the days that followed, Hubert reflected disconsolately that if only he'd spent more time with his rat, perhaps things might have been different.
FLEAS works as follows:
After the next General Election, each elected MP selects their personal Representive Rat, from various young ratlings. (The MP elected with the largest majority gets first choice, and so forth.)
The rats are housed in the House of Commons, the Beehive, or whatever your nation's parliamentary building is. There are plenty of interesting, stimulating playthings, tubes to run through, and the like. Independent medical attention is given to sick rats.
One week after an MP's Representative Rat dies, a by-election is held. The MP (if he or she holds the seat) or his/her successor then chooses another young ratling for the next term of office.
Monitoring systems are in place to detect and prevent rat-switching, rat-poisoning and the like. Any MP caught harming another MP's rat (or neglecting his or her own rat) is automatically sacked (or even prosecuted if appropriate).
Each MP has to personally feed and play with his or her Representative Rat when parliament is in session (temporary exemptions may be granted for official government trips, but rarely otherwise)
The benefits of this system?
1. Elections come in a fuzzy bell-curvish shape. No-one knows exactly when they will face re-election, and have to focus on doing their job rather than gearing towards a particular election date.
2. The ebb and trickle of surprise by-elections means that governments with small majorities are at greater risk of losing their majority (since there might be a dozen or so by-elections in a year rather than just one or two).
3. Less cost involved in organising elections since elections will not take place everywhere at once.
4. No rat-phobic MPs.
5. Additional public interest around the peak election times (every three years) as people bet on which MPs will come up for election first.
6. Having to care for underappreciated creatures and discover their underacknowledged abilities, talents and uniqueness might help MPs pay more attention to and better value under-privileged sections of society.
7. Feeling powerless, having had to place their fate in the hands of rats, will remind MPs how the rest of us feel.