by Max Barry

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6

Government and Politics

The highest legislative body of Antarctica is the National Council. This Council is made up of 399 Councilors, 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 Chancellor, who then goes on to form the National Secretariat. The Secretariat is the main executive organ of the Antarctic state, and consists of various Offices that are each concerned with a specific area of state policy. Each Office is headed by a Secretary, who is charged with directing and coordinating its efforts in this charge. They are led in their efforts by the Chancellor, who is charged with administrating the Secretariat and directing and coordinating the efforts of the various Offices in order to produce coherent national policy. The Chancellor is also Antarctica's effective head of state, as the Constitution assigns them the duty of representing the Antarctic people in diplomatic affairs. The Chancellor and the Secretariat typically introduce much of the legislation that is brought before the Council, in keeping with the latter's Constitutional duty of conducting policy; however, legislation can be brought before the Council by any Councilor, and many Antarctic laws originate from the opposition 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 Chancellor 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 National Tribunal. It is composed of seven Tribunes, each of whom is appointed for life by a two-thirds majority of the National Council, and who elect a Prime Tribune from their ranks for each one-year term. Should one or more of the Tribunes 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 National Tribunal is the final destination for appeals, and the forum in which the application of the Constitution is carried out. The institution is generally known in Antarctica for the principled and common-sense quality of its rulings, balancing the text of the law as written with that of the Constitution and its broader principles 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 conurbations 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 government is not federal in nature, but rather a decentralized unitary state, the nature of which is laid out in its Constitution. The National Council, designated by the founding document as the continent's highest legislative authority, leases its own powers to the prefectures as it sees fit, and can take back such powers if it is felt to be necessary. Within each prefecture, the corresponding conurbation 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 civic values widely shared by all Antarcticans since the founding of the republic include support for a social safety net and freedom of enterprise, universal progress toward social freedom and equality, active efforts to achieve peace and diplomacy in the world, and deep respect for 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, they always pursue compromise, without exception. In Antarctica, it is strongly believed 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. Antarctic politicians are consequently well known for their optimistic and enthusiastic attitudes regarding the nature of government and the political happenings of the day.

The Antarctic political landscape is defined by its broader political values. Antarctic values of cooperation and consensus lend themselves to a generally open-minded, politically moderate temperament among the public. The majority of issues in Antarctic politics from day to day usually revolve around economic issues, with the rest concerning foreign policy. The Antarctic system of market economics in combination with the Free Republic's comprehensive and generous social safety net is considered almost a national institution; the economic debate in Antarctica is more a question of which approach to take in refining the economic system at its margins. Negative campaigning and personal attacks are highly taboo in Antarctic politics, as Antarcticans consider the measure of a politician to be their level of 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 slashing social benefits or nationalizing businesses. As a result, politicians who run on such 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 oldest and largest of Antarctica's three main political 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, with great emphasis on the consistent and stable quality of the party's leadership. Established in 27XX by what would eventually become the founding trio of the Free Republic, it has spent most, though not all, of the two and a half centuries since that time in government. The ANC's moderate and non-ideological politics attract an extremely broad and diverse base of supporters from all walks of life; the party has a very large center wing, a large center-left wing, and a large center-right wing. Although highly skilled Chancellors are able enforce decent party discipline in most situations, the sheer size of the ANC's Council caucus makes it vulnerable to splitting apart in key votes under weaker executives, thus making Antarctic politics significantly more interesting than one might expect from what would appear to be, on the surface, its utter dominance of Antarctic politics. The party's base makes up 50 to 60 percent of the voting public in most elections, and it is consequently rare for it to even lose its majority on the Council, let alone fail to assemble the Secretariat. The ANC is generally strongest in Vostok and Nanji prefectures, but its size means it usually wins pluralities across the whole continent without much trouble. However, the ANC's dominance of Antarctic politics is not absolute. The enormous size of the party's base makes it capable of losing that many more voters, and when it suffers a political cataclysm (such as the Kateel corruption scandal in 30XX), the various opposition parties can take advantage of its divisions to peel away great portions of its base, often sweeping much of the party leadership off the Council in the process. Such leadership vacuums often allow newer and younger politicians (such as current Chancellor Michiko Mayweather) to rise to the helm of party leadership.

‏‏‎ ‎PA‏‏‎ ‎ - The Progressive Alliance is a major Antarctic party that takes its name from progressivism, a common term for the Antarctic political left. Its voter base consists largely of working-class Antarcticans and union leaders, as well as a smattering of academics and activists, all of whom make up about 10 to 20 percent of the voting public in most elections. The party has a large center-left wing and a small left wing, which generally agree on the party's main priorities, those being to create new social programs for disadvantaged Antarcticans, and increase benefits for those who are not getting enough. While usually successful to a certain extent, the PA's programs occasionally result in unnecessary spending and budget deficits; the ANC, however, tends to step in and trim back most of this eventually. The party is strongest along the Antarctic Peninsula and to a lesser extent the rest of Western Antarctica, which tends to be somewhat less wealthy as it was largely settled during the Hakai. While usually rather small in size, the PA is capable of expanding enough to become a viable governing party if it can peel off the center-left wing of the ANC, which it has done a number of times when the latter went through political disasters at various moments in Antarctic history.

‏‏‎ ‎LU‏‏‎ ‎ - The Liberal Union is a major Antarctic party that takes its name from liberalism, a common term for the Antarctic political right. Its voter base consists largely of entrepreneurs, small business owners, and corporate executives, as well as a smattering of academics and socialites, all of whom make up about 10 to 20 percent of the voting public in most elections. The party has a large center-right wing and a small right wing, which generally agree on the party's main priorities, those being to ensure the fiscal health of the Antarctic state by balancing the budget and cutting down on unnecessary social spending. While usually successful to a certain extent, the LU's initiatives occasionally end up cutting holes in the social safety net; the ANC, however, tends to step in and patch up most of this eventually. The party is strongest along the Weddell Coast and to a lesser extent the rest of East Antarctica, which tends to be somewhat more wealthy as it was settled after the founding of the Free Republic. While usually rather small in size, the LU is capable of expanding enough to become a viable governing party if it can peel off the center-right wing of the ANC, which it has done a number of times when the latter went through political disasters at various moments in Antarctic history.

- The Komeito is a minor Antarctic party that is often considered to serve as a watchdog on behalf of Antarctic citizens against the ANC and to a lesser extent the two main opposition parties. Its political ideology is vague, and the party welcomes Antarcticans of all political stripes; much of its base consists of journalists and the very politically engaged, and it also swells up with protest votes when the three major parties are felt to be unappealing, such as in the 30XX election after the Kateel corruption scandal. Its main pastime is publicizing information about government policies and developments, especially those they perceive not to be getting enough attention from other politicians and those they believe to be capable of damaging Antarctica's civic society in some way. One of the party's most crucial reporting traditions concerns the risk, and occasionally the occurrence, of corruption and conflict of interest in Antarctic state institutions.

- The Penguin Party is a minor Antarctic satire party with a variety of humorous policy proposals, foremost of which is their promise to give any and all seats they win on the Council to king penguins. Much of its base consists of Antarctic high school and university students as well as the very politically disengaged, and it also swells up with protest votes when the three major parties are felt to be unappealing, such as in the 30XX election after the Kateel corruption scandal. Some of its other proposals include legally changing every doctor's first name to 'Doctor,' ordering Antarctic rupee bills to be issued in prime numbers only, and instituting paperwork as the national sport. The party has promised that all government secretaries will be chosen exclusively by baseball tournament, pledges to mandate the wearing of scarves in the Antarctic public decency laws, and proposes to eliminate digital piracy by replacing it with traditional piracy, including the construction of old-time pirate ships.


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 highly comprehensive and generous social safety net. In Antarctica, corporations are required to provide their employees with 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 Stats 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, an efficient and dynamic engine of wealth creation shaped throughout by the distinctive influence of Antarctic market economics. 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.

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

Disposable Income
- Median: TBD
- Richest 10%: TBD
- Lowest 10%: TBD

Gross Domestic Product
- Total: TBD
- Per capita: ₹204,233
- Growth: 4.1% annually

Other Economic Stats
- Gini Coefficient: 0.242
- Unemployment rate: 3.3%
- Inflation: 1.2% annually

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, and political debates around 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.

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