Vice President Celine Karina Oswald is a character well-known throughout Panem’s political scene. First, she was known as the well-versed leader of District 13, where she served as the district’s first governor. She was then known as a presidential contender, only to be bested by the future President Katniss Everdeen herself. After her defeat, Oswald became the third Secretary of State, giving her a launching pad as a vice-presidential contender. But who exactly is Madame Vice President?
Celine Karina Oswald was born in the district hospital of District 13. She lived in an era of seclusion and of efficiency due to the Great War’s effect on the former Panem district. She stuck with the methods that were prescribed to her, and those who knew her knew that she could easily govern the district in the future. However, that changed when Oswald was 20. The Panem Revolution began, and knowing that the effects of the war that was coming could devastate her home district, she managed to bring her worries to the District Board, who considered and then turned down her request for peace. She stated on the record:
A war with Panem is not feasible. Their resources are vastly greater than ours, and it would not be in our best interest at this time. I agree that we must house the new refugees temporarily, but I do not agree that this is our war. A mass military action would be a possible devastation to this District.
After she was turned down, Celine Oswald did what any District 13 citizen would do: she accepted the Board’s decision. Soon enough, Oswald came to realize the importance of the war and began to support the District 13 efforts.
Upon the war’s end, the District Board was dissolved in hopes of a more democratic form of government. Hearing about upcoming District elections, Oswald chose to run for the governor’s office against several District 13 officials. A dark horse in the governor’s race, she campaigned on a new start for the District, starting with herself since she was not previously an officeholder. She managed to win by a four-point margin after drudging her way uphill in an election she didn’t expect to win.
In her first four-year term as governor, Oswald rid the district of corrupt officials at many levels while also creating a district government that still stands strong today. Oswald chose a bicameral legislature, stating that it would be the way to guarantee the most freedom to voters, and chose to retain the District Board, only with new members and for the purpose of serving as an advisory committee to the Governor. District 13 also reached financial solvency under the guidance of the Governor, achieving a balanced budget.
Governor Oswald sought reelection in the next election cycle. She faced few opponents and was elected again in a landslide victory of over seventy-nine percent of the votes. The Governor ran on a platform of what she had done, and it worked. Back in office, she continued with her efforts to better District 13.
Everything changed, however, once the presidential cycle rolled around. With this election marking the first true democratic election of a president in Panem, many names came to mind as challengers to the incumbent President, Cecelia Paylor. President Paylor’s administration was a tough one, with political fallout left and right and a failing economy to boot. In fact, Governor Oswald continually criticized the Paylor administration for her lack of organization and the amount of clear corruption in her administration. It all culminated when Governor Celine Oswald of District 13 announced that she would run for President, becoming the first as well as an unexpected challenger.
The presidential campaign of Celine Oswald was very successful for the first two months. With only herself and President Paylor in the running, Oswald led the incumbent President heavily. Things started crashing down, however, when the war hero Katniss Everdeen entered the race. While Governor Oswald was popular, Ms. Everdeen was revered as a great hero in Panem’s history. And like so, Ms. Everdeen was elected the new President of Panem with Governor Oswald placing second right behind her.
After her defeat, Governor Oswald returned to District 13. She expressed contentment with the results:
While I was not elected, that isn’t to say there wasn’t a victory that night. Our nation won a clear victory when they acknowledged that President Paylor wasn’t the right person for the job. I’m very much looking forward to Ms. Everdeen’s presidency, as we have much in common.
Unfortunately, not all were as content as Governor Oswald. Her comments were widely accepted throughout the nation, but not all agreed. John Landon, a pro-Snow anarchist from District 13, interrupted the presidential inauguration of Katniss Everdeen by attempting to assassinate Governor Oswald, repeatedly stabbing her with a concealed hunting knife. While the would-be assassin was apprehended, Governor Oswald was taken to a nearby hospital in the Capitol, having been branded as in critical condition.
The Governor spent the next year in a wheelchair due to her wounds. The year was a year of action: Oswald became Panem’s third Secretary of State, succeeding Julian Hartesfield of the Paylor Administration. She was confirmed by a unanimous vote of the Panem Senate, and upon entering the chamber in her wheelchair for her inauguration, she received a standing ovation. In her term as head of the State Department, Oswald attempted to negotiate peacefully with the IANO while maintaining successful diplomatic relations with other countries. Unfortunately, her negotiations fell through and war began between the IANO and Panem whenever the IANO invaded Panem’s shores. However, Oswald was instrumental in the creation of the treaty that ended the war, which secured the right to have nuclear weapons on Panem’s soil.
The political field changed with the resignation of Vice President Plutarch Heavensbee, and subsequently, when Vice President Tyler Thompson announced that he wouldn’t run for reelection. Of course, sensing the chance, Secretary Oswald jumped into the Liberty Party’s primary for vice president. This time there was intense competition from three governors (Gale Hawthorne, Amy Oaksmith, and Dale Wilson) and Secretary of Defense Jonathan Madison. Not to be squashed again, she campaigned heavily where it counted, leading at several points. However, she was unable to avoid a convention where her nomination was not guaranteed. Placing second behind Secretary Madison in polls before the convention, Oswald secured the nomination after several ballots. She then began her general election campaign against three other candidates from rival parties.
The general election was relatively uneventful as the VP candidates, including Oswald, simply echoed their presidential candidates’ statements at other locations throughout Panem. However, it was shocking to see Secretary Oswald win the Vice Presidency by five electoral votes more than President Everdeen, who received sixty-two votes: the exact amount needed for election.
Over her term as Vice President, Oswald was given more power than that of Heavensbee or Thompson. She was the confidant of President Everdeen, helping her make key military decisions during the Fourth World War. She assisted Effie Trinket in the creation of the Council of Nations. Ultimately, when it came down to election planning, President Everdeen ceded her ensured nomination to her Vice President, opting out of an assured third term in favor of the Secretary-Generalship of the Council of Nations, a more prestigious and less time-consuming position.
The Vice President announced her third national campaign, this time for president, with the intent of clearing the Liberty presidential primary field. This, unfortunately, did not occur. She faced off against Governor Amy Oaksmith, Governor Gale Hawthorne, and Secretary of International Trade Tyler Thompson, who is a former Vice President himself. The battle for the nomination was nothing less than bruising, culminating in a national runoff primary between the Vice President and Governor Oaksmith, in which Oswald won by a hair. This ultimately proved to be Oswald’s downfall, as it made her out to be damaged goods in the general election.
In the general election, Oswald was paired with Governor Dale Wilson, a popular District 4 governor who was easily elected Vice President on election night. However, Oswald struggled at many points to keep her head above water, proving that she was not as popular as many theorized. Many times she nearly lost her lead and actually did lose it at least twice in Panem Free Press polling.
Entering election night, it was clear that there were two contenders- Vice President Oswald and Secretary Rick Canth, the Conservative nominee. It was also certain that Governor Felicia Ren, the Labor nominee, and Secretary (and former President) Cecelia Paylor, the Civic nominee, would prove to be electoral vote spoilers. However, it wasn’t expected that the night would go as it did. It all came to a peak in District 7. Oswald had 62 electoral votes, five short of the presidency. If she won District 7, she would be elected president. Later that night, the district was called for Secretary Canth, throwing the presidential election to the Panem House of Representatives for the first time in history. Oswald immediately challenged the results, stating that “there is an automatic recount in effect” to the press. The next morning, the results of the previous night were overturned- Vice President Celine Oswald was now President-elect Celine Oswald.
However, Secretary Canth was not ready to concede. The Secretary filed for a manual recount of votes in the seventh district. The Vice President immediately filed for an injunction, stating “there is no reason for a recount beyond the automatic recount.” The case headed to the District 7 Supreme Court, where Canth’s manual recount was upheld. Oswald pressed onwards, appealing to the Supreme Court of Panem. The highest court ultimately ruled that the Vice President could not halt the recount. The recount finished the next week, determining that the district was carried by Secretary Canth.
The election went to the House of Representatives. Though initially appearing to be in Vice President Oswald’s favor, the tide changed once Speaker Constantin Richelieu told the representatives to vote on the best leader, not on party lines. Ultimately, 45 Liberty representatives crossed over to vote for Secretary Canth, electing him president of the Republic of Panem over Oswald.
However, Oswald’s career is far from finished. The Vice President is once again assuming her role as Secretary of State in the Canth administration. There is also talk of another Oswald campaign in four years, though this is far from confirmed. It’s yet to be seen what will come from the new Secretary of State, but it’s clearly not over yet for this Liberty firebrand.