The Cardassians take a major step toward self-sufficiency when they vote to replace the Reconstruction Committee with democratically-elected leaders. In the weeks leading up to the election, two groups dominate the debate: a civilian coalition with Elim Garak as a prominent member, and a hardliner group calling for the Cardassians to withdraw from the Federation-Cardassian Treaty of 2386 and reestablish the military.
Garak's coalition wins a narrow victory, and in its first act reforms the Detapa Council as a representative body. The council faces its first controversy when it votes to send six ships as a token force to assist the Federation's recovery efforts in Romulan space. Popular opinion is against the decision, and polls show that most Cardassians feel that they should reserve their resources. The Federation Council's decision to cut funding for Cardassian reconstruction by 30 percent makes aid to the Romulans even less popular, and support for the council plummets.
Speaking to reporters from the shattered remains of the University of Culat, Elim Garak defended the Detapa Council's actions. "We've seen what suspicion and backroom deals have brought us," Garak said. "We know what happens when we turn our backs on the rest of the galaxy and just worry about what happens on our own street, in our own city, on our own planet. Maybe it's time to try something different."