by Max Barry

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Political Parties and Policies

Ever since the creation of their Constitution and the unification of their continent, Antarcticans have striven to bring forth their constitutional values of freedom and harmony throughout their nation. In the Antarctic reckoning, freedom is not a specific absence of rules, but rather the general ability of each person to be and to do what they wish in life. Thus, the Antarctic concept of freedom is complemented by the existence of rules which preserve the other thing most valued by Antarcticans: harmony. The Antarctic concept of harmony is the equality and prosperity of all people, and their ability to live in peaceful and happy co-existence with each other. Antarcticans believe that freedom and harmony go hand in hand, and reject any effort to make people choose between the two, instead working to preserve both in unison.

Antarcticans are very notable for the manner in which they approach politics. Specifically, in Antarctica, common sense is viewed as the only acceptable approach to determining policies. It is viewed as a quality that any and all politicians must possess and use to determine the nation's course of action. Convoluted theoretical logic is viewed as the last resort of delusional thinking. Antarcticans are also notable for their idealistic values concerning politics. They believe that a smart and reasonable compromise can fulfill the goals of all parties, and even if it can't, that half a victory is better than none. Thus, Antarcticans are well-known for the sense of consensus and compromise that permeates their political process, and their consistent rejection of any zero-sum notion of politics.

Antarctica is notable for its government spending, the particulars of which allow for a very unique and generous system of public services and benefits. Taxes are designed to lessen the burden on ordinary people as much as possible while generating enough money to pay for public benefits. Antarcticans pay income taxes at rates between 30 and 70 percent, but these rates are highly progressive, meaning the highest rates only apply to those who are extremely rich. Most Antarcticans pay between 30 and 40 percent in income taxes. Sales tax and corporate tax, meanwhile, are both levied at rates of 25 percent. Uniquely, no other taxes are levied, as these are more than enough to pay for public benefits.

The Antarctic government spends this tax money almost entirely on public services and benefits. There is universal health care and all levels of education, both provided free of charge. In addition, there are other free public services, such as water, heating, electricity, a police force, emergency services, transportation, building maintenance and repair services, and much more. The most unique aspect of Antarctic spending, however, is welfare benefits. The government prompts corporations to provide pensions and family leave to employees in exchange for tax breaks. This frees up a massive amount of government money, allowing Antarctica to spend twice as much on financial support for all Antarcticans, especially the homeless, jobless, and disabled.

Finance Numbers as a Percentage of GDP
Revenue: from Income Tax 29%; Sales Tax 16%; Corporate Tax 4% - Total 49%
Spending: on Welfare 22%; Health Care 8%; Education 7%; Miscellaneous Services 3%; Government Administration 2% - Total 42%
Surplus: +7%

The Antarctic private sector, meanwhile, is an equally notable part of the nation's economy. What makes it notable is the fact that incentive rules are used as the primary means of ensuring good behavior, for they incentivise good behavior rather than punish bad behavior, and their advantage is that they cause people to direct their full effort towards constructive purposes, rather than just negating inappropriate activity. Occasionally, incentives do fail to persuade people for one reason or another, so criminal penalties are used to keep behavior standards watertight. Overall, this provides the Antarctic economy with a double benefit, for both good behavior and economic efficiency are preserved.

As a result of Antarctica's incentive rules, its economy is very efficient, often growing by more than four percent each year, creating a prodigious wealth of Antarctic rupees (₹), each as valuable as an American dollar of a thousand years ago. The system of public benefits, in turn, gives each and every Antarctican a share in this great fortune, creating a common standard of living higher than any other in history. As a result, the Antarctic people view their economic system as indispensable, both to themselves and to each other.

Antarctic citizens view their arrangement of political parties as quite ideal. In Antarctica, electoral politics is a three-party system, in which policy does not swing abruptly between left and right, but is instead determined by a consistent, common-sense center that mediates between the two. In Antarctica, it is said that if the left can't find a good reason to raise spending, and if the right can't find a good reason to cut spending, then the center is doing its job well.

ANC - The Antarctic National Congress is the largest of Antarctica's three main parties; its contestants usually win around 50 to 60 percent of the total votes. It is a centrist party whose aims are to balance economic freedom and the general welfare to create the best overall result for the Antarctic people, and ensuring these aims through enacting sound, measured, and consistent policies.

SD - The Social Democrats are a center-left party with an ideology that emphasizes the general welfare, typically through trade unions and the government, and ensuring good behavior in the private sector. However, they also view economic freedom as essential. Their contestants win around 10 to 20 percent of the votes.

LD - The Liberal Democrats are a center-right party with an ideology that emphasizes economic freedom, modifying rules and regulations to allow for maximum growth while still maintaining good behavior, for they also view the general welfare as essential. Their contestants win another 10 to 20 percent of the votes.

The three parties together usually win around 80 to 90 percent of the votes. The rest go to a variety of small parties, three of which are particularly well-known and are occasionally influential.

- The Komeito Party is a big-tent party that is dedicated to the protection of societal freedom and equality in Antarctica, and takes a strong stand against government corruption. Thus, it has occasionally served as a vehicle for protest votes against the three main parties, most notably in the pivotal election of five years ago.

- The Innovation Party is a technocratic party which advocates for more funding towards the research and development of new technologies, particularly in the medical field, as well as more funding for education and health care to put the technologies into practice.

- The Penguin Party is a satirical party with a variety of humorous policy proposals, such as free baseball bats for everyone, legally changing every doctor's first name to 'Doctor,' and ensuring that all government announcements are made in the form of kalanta. If elected, they promise to give all their Council seats to king penguins.

Procedures for voting and determining the composition of the Grand Council are governed by a system that is popularly known as the Frenallat, a portmanteau of words meaning 'free equity.' For any candidate or party to gain ballot access, the only requirement is for the candidate to present proof of identity, and their signature on a freely available form stating their intent to stand, as well as their choice of party, if any. The candidate is then given an official number, and their name and number are made freely accessible to the public. A valid vote consists of a paper ballot that is marked with any candidate's number in ink that is only visible under ultraviolet light. Ballots are freely available to the public, and can be either blank or pre-marked with any candidate's number.

On December 1st, election day, polling stations are opened all throughout each city. First, voters must present proof of their identity and their residence in the polling district to the station ministers, who record 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 a list of candidates and numbers, an invisible ink typewriter with keys from 0 to 9, and a UV light source to reveal the ink. Voters can bring a pre-marked ballot or they can mark a blank ballot at the station. In either case, the ballot must then be given to the station ministers, who are not equipped with UV sources, and are thus unable to see the number on the ballot. The voter then leaves the polling station. At the end of the day, the polling stations are closed, the identities are erased, and UV sources are given to the station ministers, who can then begin the counting.

Once all the votes are counted, they are added up to national totals by candidate and by party. (Independent candidates are collectively treated as a party.) Each party's vote total is converted to a percentage of all votes cast, rounded to the nearest 0.1%, and multiplied by 10 to determine the party's tentative seat total. Then, if necessary, one seat is added or subtracted to each party's seat total, in descending order of their collective vote totals, until the grand seat total equals 1,000. Once each party's final seat total is determined, each of its seats are given to an affiliated candidate, in descending order of their individual vote totals, until all the party's seats are filled. (Ties in the popular vote, should they ever occur, are resolved through drawing lots.) Thus, through the Frenallat, voters control both the personal and political composition of the Grand Council, all through simply marking a ballot with a candidate's number.