by Max Barry

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Government and Politics

The highest legislative body of Antarctica is the Grand Council. This Council is made up of 399 Councillors, who are elected every third year on December 1st, and whose terms begin on January 1st of the next year. Once the term of the Grand Council begins, its first order of business is electing the Prime Minister and the Government. The Government is the executive body of the Free Republic, and is responsible for conducting Antarctic state policy. The Government consists of various Ministers, each of whom is charged with the upkeep of a specific aspect of policy. They are led in their efforts by the Prime Minister, who is charged with administrating the Government, directing and coordinating the efforts of the Ministers in order to produce coherent national policy. The Prime Minister is also Antarctica's effective head of state, as the Constitution assigns them the duty of representing the Antarctic people in diplomatic affairs. The Prime Minister and the Government typically introduce much of the legislation that is brought before the Council, in keeping with its Constitutional duty of conducting policy; however, legislation can be brought before the Council by any Councillor, and many Antarctic laws originate from outside the Government as well. Legislation can also be brought before the Council by the people via means of petition, and various laws exist establishing the criteria and method of adapting petitions into legislation. The designation of the Prime Minister requires more votes in favor than against, and the passage of legislation requires a majority of votes in favor.

The foremost court in Antarctica is the High Tribunal. It is composed of seven Justices, each of whom is appointed for life by a two-thirds majority of the Grand Council, and who elect a Chief Justice from their ranks for each one-year term. Should one or more of the Justices become derelict in their duties, a petition signed by at least five percent of the Antarctic public will guarantee a popular vote on their retention, in which they may be removed from office by a two-thirds majority of voters. The High Tribunal is the final destination for appeals, and the forum in which the application of the Constitution is carried out. The Justices of the High Tribunal are generally well known for their principled and common-sense rulings upholding the both the specific guarantees of the Constitution and its broader values of human rights, democracy, and world peace.

Antarctica consists of 28 subnational entities known as prefectures. Each prefecture contains one of the continent's solitary cities and a vast expanse of the surrounding undisturbed wilderness, with their borders drawn along mountain ranges and other features of nature. Antarctica's prefectures carry out many public functions in place of the national government, particularly public services. This sharing of power and responsibility is considered a way to guarantee efficiency and accountability in the government. The Antarctic Constitution mentions the prefectures only in passing, and designates the Grand Council as Antarctica's sole legislative authority. To decentralize the continent, the Council leases its own powers to the prefectures as it sees fit, and it can take back such powers if it is felt to be necessary. As a result, Antarctica is not a federation, but a simple unitary state with a decentralized character. Within each prefecture, the corresponding city is divided into roughly a dozen departments, and each department is divided in turn into roughly a dozen wards, which span a handful of towers each. Antarctic decentralization also applies to some extent at the local level, with certain public services being delegated by the prefectures to each department or ward within the corresponding cities.

Antarcticans, as a democratic people, are each eager to contribute their own opinions and proposals to the chorus of national politics. Some examples of universal Antarctic political values include the social safety net, freedom of enterprise, societal freedom and equality, promotion of peace and altruism in the world, and the maintenance of Antarctica's national institutions. In their pursuit of these ends, Antarcticans are notable for their cooperative and consensus-based ways of conducting politics. When agreement cannot be reached, Antarcticans always pursue compromise; they strongly believe that the notion of politics as a struggle for power is futile, impractical, destructive to democracy, and morally and ethically reprehensible. Antarcticans pursue compromise because they believe that, most of the time, a solution can be reached that fulfills everyone's goals. Even when this proves impossible, as it occasionally does, Antarcticans always agree to meet halfway; a common refrain on such occasions is that half a victory is better than none. Thus, in Antarctic politics, everyone is always able to reach an agreement on something after all is said and done.

The Antarctic political landscape is defined by its broader political values. Antarctic values of cooperation and consensus lend themselves to a universal, politically moderate temperament among the public. Most debates in Antarctic politics involve economic issues. Support for Antarctica's system of capitalism and market freedoms in combination with the Free Republic's comprehensive and generous social safety net are universal Antarctic values; the economic debate in Antarctica is a question of which approach to take in refining these institutions at their margins. Negative campaigning and personal attacks are highly taboo in Antarctic politics, as Antarcticans consider the measure of a politician to be their skill in making their own case. The quality Antarcticans value most deeply in their leadership is stability and moderation; they reflexively recoil against positions they consider extreme, such as curtailing free enterprise or dismantling the social safety net. As a result, politicians who run on extreme positions are never considered a serious choice by Antarctic voters, though they are treated respectfully nevertheless by the public and by other politicians.

ANC - The Antarctic National Congress is the largest of Antarctica's three main parties. Its stated goals are to balance and enact proposals from both inside and outside the party to create the best overall result for the Antarctic people, emphasizing the consistent and stable quality of the party's leadership. The ANC's moderate and non-ideological politics attract an extremely broad and diverse base of supporters. The ANC has a very large center wing, a large center-left wing, and a large center-right wing. The party's base makes up a solid 50 to 60 percent of Antarctic voters. Its strongest regions are Nanji and Vostok prefectures, and it usually wins every other prefecture as well. However, Antarctica is far from being a one-party state, and since the ANC has so many voters to lose, the party is capable of suffering spectacular electoral meltdowns from time to time (the most recent having been the 3014 election in the wake of the Kateel corruption scandal) before gradually recovering. The ANC competes for center-left and center-right voters with two more ideological parties, the Social Democrats and Liberal Democrats.

SD - The Social Democrats are a major Antarctic party that tends to represent the interests of trade unions and Antarctica's working classes. While they firmly support the Antarctic market economy, they tend to focus mostly on protecting and shoring up Antarctica's social safety net. The party has a large center-left wing and a small left wing, which combine to attract a base that makes up 10 to 20 percent of Antarctic voters; it is strongest in Western Antarctica, particularly along the Antarctic Peninsula. Additionally, when the ANC suffers electoral meltdowns, the Social Democrats are capable of doubling their own size, provided they can persuade the ANC's center-left wing to bolt.

LD - The Liberal Democrats are a major Antarctic party that tends to represent the interests of businesses and Antarctica's upper classes. While they firmly support the Antarctic social safety net, they tend to focus mostly on protecting and shoring up Antarctica's market freedoms. The party has a large center-right wing and a small right wing, which combine to attract a base that makes up 10 to 20 percent of Antarctic voters; it is strongest in Eastern Antarctica, particularly along the coast from Bandao to Saigo. Additionally, when the ANC suffers electoral meltdowns, the Liberal Democrats are capable of doubling their own size, provided they can persuade the ANC's center-right wing to bolt.

- The Komeito Party is a minor Antarctic party that is often considered to serve as a watcher of the three main parties on behalf of Antarctic citizens. Its political ideology is vague, and the party welcomes Antarcticans of all political stripes. Its main pastime is publicizing information about government policies and developments, and serving as a voice of opposition in times when the universal values of Antarctica are perceived to be at risk. One of the party's most crucial reporting traditions concerns the integrity, or lack of it, in Antarctic politicians and institutions. The party's reports on the government gained it many seats in the pivotal election of 3014 following the Kateel corruption scandal.

- The Penguin Party is a minor Antarctic satire party with a variety of humorous policy proposals, such as legally changing every doctor's first name to 'Doctor,' changing Antarctic rupee bills to come in prime numbers only, and requiring that all government announcements be made while doing a handstand. They have promised to institute paperwork as the national sport, and have pledged that Antarctic government ministers will be chosen exclusively by baseball tournament. They propose to eliminate digital piracy by replacing it with traditional piracy, including the construction of old-time pirate ships. If elected, they promise to give all their Council seats to king penguins.

The Free Republic raises the revenue necessary for itself to function through the levying of taxes. The nature of taxation in Antarctica is relatively simple, as taxes are levied discretely on three sources of revenue. Although these income sources are taxed at what would conventionally be defined as a high rate, the fact that there are only three discrete taxes, as opposed to dozens of overlapping taxes as per convention, makes for what is overall a moderate tax burden. The most important of these is the individual income tax, which is levied on all forms of personal income, including paychecks, capital gains, and other income. The income tax is levied at rates of 30 percent to 66 percent through marginal income brackets, so that taxpayers pay different parts of their income at different rates. Most Antarcticans pay around 35 to 45 percent of their income in taxes. The next largest contributor to the Antarctic budget is the value-added tax, which applies to all currency transactions that take place in the country. It is levied at a rate of 20 percent. The smallest contributor, though still significant, is the corporate income tax. It applies to all forms of corporate income, and is levied at a rate of 30 percent.

The budgetary income raised by these taxes is spent largely on Antarctica's extremely comprehensive and generous social safety net. In Antarctica, companies voluntarily provide their employees with traditional pensions and paid family leave. This became a customary arrangement because it allows the Free Republic to double its spending on the most essential aspect of the Antarctic social safety net: financial assistance for all Antarcticans, especially those who have families and those who are least fortunate, to the extent that poverty and hunger have long since been effectively eradicated in Antarctica. This enviable achievement is not only a result of the assistance programs; it also hinges on the free and universal provision of health care, education at all levels, and a variety of public services such as water, heating, electricity, peacekeepers, emergency services, transportation, and more, all of which are publicly funded and operated. The financial security of the Antarctic people is the practical basis for Antarctica's exemplary market freedoms, which ensures an incentive for companies to continue their contributions in the form of pensions and family leave.

Finance Numbers as a Percentage of GDP
- Revenue: from Income Tax 26%; Value Tax 12%; Corporate Tax 5% - Total 43%
- Spending: on Welfare 18%; Health Care 8%; Education 7%; Miscellaneous Services 3%; Foreign Aid 2%; Government Administration 2%; - Total 40%
- Surplus: +3%

The efficiency and wealth of the Antarctic economy, meanwhile, is driven largely by the Antarctic private sector, a free market economy shaped in every way by the influence of Antarctica's singular market freedoms. In Antarctica, the national social safety net is so comprehensive and generous that it is nearly impossible for working Antarcticans to be driven into poverty by market forces. As a result, while Antarctica's private sector is naturally subject to basic laws that prevent harmful business practices, the labour market and product market are otherwise lightly regulated. The process of creative destruction is allowed to take place without encumbrance, as the social safety net effectively insulates Antarcticans from the fallout. As a result, the Antarctic economy as a whole is highly dynamic, usually growing by 3 to 5 percent each year. The service industry and the financial industry are the main drivers of the Antarctic economy, and other tertiary sectors make up all but a sliver of the rest. The last few percent are taken up by agriculture and manufacturing, characterized by a very low amount of consumer demand for physical goods. As a free market economy, Antarctica experiences recessions every few decades, during which the government steps in to restore commercial demand and ensure a quick recovery.

- Name: Antarctic rupee (₹)
- Division: Antarctic penny (p)
- Division rate: ₹1 = 100p

Exchange Rates
- Nominal exchange rate: ₹1 = $3.51
- Purchasing power adjustment rate: 1.26
- Adjusted exchange rate: ₹1 = $2.79

Disposable Income

Median: ₹34,472
- Nominal equivalent: $120,998
- Adjusted equivalent: $96,030

Highest decile: ₹66,195
- Nominal equivalent: $232,343
- Adjusted equivalent: $184,400

Lowest decile: ₹15,594
- Nominal equivalent: $54,735
- Adjusted equivalent: $43,441

Overall, Antarcticans enjoy an economy that works for them materially and financially, and that satisfies their desire to keep their nation's beloved forests intact. The tertiary sectors of the economy operate with little to no strain on the environment, while manufacturing is kept very slow and products extremely durable, to contain demand for natural resources. Due to the benefits of Antarctica's strong social safety net, its people enjoy, by the standards of the 21st century, what would be considered a remarkably high standard of living among the relatively well-off and the working class alike. The only major priority is avoiding long recessions, so that Antarcticans' steady financial supplies do not dry up. The homeless and unemployed are given shelter and the resources they need to survive, as well as the assistance they need to find a steady job. As a result of the social safety net and of the ease in finding jobs in Antarctica, hunger and poverty have been virtually eradicated from the face of the continent. In the face of this profound success, Antarcticans feel a great level of satisfaction with their economic system in general. In Antarctica, the most relevant debates on the economy typically concern the matter of how best to maintain the system and shore it up.

Procedures for voting and determining the composition of the Grand Council are governed by an electoral system that, in large part, has stood since the early days of the Free Republic. Every three years, there is a kickoff period from July through October when contestants and political parties can stand for the election. A political party must have 100 members to stand for elections, and provide a form containing its name, address, and the signatures of its leaders. Any and all Antarctic voters are eligible to be contestants; they must provide a form containing their identity, signature, and choice of prefecture to stand in. Political parties are responsible for recruiting contestants, placing them in order on the party slate, and providing the relevant forms during the kickoff period. A political party must recruit at least three contestants to stand in a given prefecture. Unaffiliated contestants are collectively treated as a party by the electoral system. The deadline is the 1st of November, the beginning of the campaign period. The parties and contestants standing in each prefecture are assigned electoral numbers in random order, and their names and numbers are put on prominent display in public. Paper ballots are freely available to all voters during the campaign period, and contain two lines for the numbers of a party and a contestant.

After a month of campaigning, the voting begins on the 1st of December, a public holiday in which polling stations are opened all throughout each city. First, a voter must present their citizen identity card and proof of their residence in the polling district to the station ministers, who record it and use it to prevent them from entering again. On the opposite side of the room from the station ministers, there is a privacy curtain, behind which there is an ultraviolet light source, a list of parties and contestants and their numbers, and a marker using ink that is invisible unless exposed to ultraviolet light. A valid vote consists of a ballot marked with electoral numbers in this fashion. The political party line must be marked for the vote to be valid, while the contestant line can also be marked or be left blank. Voters can bring a pre-marked ballot to the station, or they can mark a blank ballot after they arrive. In either case, the ballot must then be given to the station ministers, who are forbidden to use ultraviolet sources during the voting, and are thus unable to see the numbers on the ballot. The voter then leaves the polling station. At the end of the day, the polling stations are closed, and the voter identities are erased, after which the station ministers are allowed to equip their ultraviolet sources and begin the counting.

After all the votes have been counted, they are totaled in each prefecture by contestant and by party affiliation. To determine the new composition of the Grand Council, each prefecture's seat total is distributed among the parties contesting the vote there, using the odd divisor method of proportional assignment, with each party's vote total as a basis. Then, the seats for each party are assigned to its contestants, with their individual vote totals as a basis, in descending order. In case of an internal tie in the seat assignment process for political parties, the situation is resolved by drawing lots; in case of a popular vote tie between contestants, they are seated in order of their placement on the party slate. There are a total of 399 seats on the Grand Council, with each one of the 28 prefectures guaranteed at least three seats. The remaining 315 seats are distributed among the prefectures every three years, according to a leveling formula, using each prefecture's total number of carded residents at the beginning of the kickoff period. In case of the midterm death, resignation, or removal of a councillor, every contestant below them moves up one place in the seat assignment process, causing the vacancy to be filled automatically, by the contestant of the same party who most narrowly failed to win a seat at the last election.