At first glance, there should be no question as to who will win the contest between Cersei Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen. The Targaryen heir has all the cards: she has an unsullied army composed of the bravest soldiers in all the world. She has three – now only two – dragons. She also has a Dothraki horde. Any of these three could normally guarantee her victory – not to mention the Stark, Martell, Arryn and Tyrell support she has.
One of the reasons Cersei manages to hang on to power is her message: she is claiming to be a “true” Westerosi, while portraying her enemy as a “foreign invader”. If we look at the facts, Cersei’s argument does have some merit.
The entire Targaryen succession rests on a conquest 300 years ago. The Targaryens originally came from old Valyria on Essos – they have no real origins on Westeros. What is more, they did everything they could to keep up their distinctiveness: they never intermarried with the Westerosi noble houses and maintained a largely foreign court with foreign customs. Daenerys is very proud of having the “blood of the Dragon” showing that she would adhere to her family tradition.
Daenerys herself has demonstrated her willingness to impose her rules on the subjects she conquers. Her abolition of slavery in Slavers Bay might have been morally right but it did go against the traditions of that region and caused considerable social upheaval. A Westerosi nobleman might not like the idea of the new monarch siding with his peasant against him.
Lastly, Daenerys did bring a savage horde to Westeros. While dragons and unsullied have been on the continent before and are compatible with Westerosi culture, the nomadic Dothraki are more difficult. Westerosi noblemen are right to fear this horde which essentially maintains itself by robbing and pillaging.
Daenerys might be a better ruler than Cersei but she is a foreign invader. No wonder some rather burn than support her claim.
Author: Dr. Csaba Tóth, Director of Strategy at Republikon Institute, a liberal Think Tank based in Budapest. He is also author of two books on Science Fiction and Politics.