by Max Barry

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Politics and Parties

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, and it is viewed as a quality that any and every politician must possess and use at all times. Convoluted theoretical logic is viewed as the last refuge of delusional extremists. Antarcticans are also notable for their absolute rejection of zero-sum thinking and any conclusions or attitudes derived from such thinking; it was used during Antarctica's miserable centuries by murderers and criminals to rationalize their brutal deeds. Thus, such thinking is viewed by modern Antarcticans as not only irrational, but absolutely immoral. The effects can be seen in Antarctic politics: Antarcticans refuse to choose between their values, instead putting in as much effort as necessary to formulate policies that fulfill all their values together.

Antarctica is notable for its government spending, the particulars of which allow for a system of public services and benefits unlike any other nation in history. The government is financed by income taxes at rates of 33% to 66%, and sales taxes at a rate of 28%. There are no other taxes, as these provide enough money for a decent budget on their own. Compared to the nation's gross domestic product, income taxes provide 25% and sales taxes 17%, adding up to 42% of GDP in total revenue, on par with many nations of the 21st century.

In the budget itself, this 42% is spent on a number of programs. 8% goes to health care and 7% to education, both universal and free of charge. 2% is spent administrating the government. 3% goes to maintaining free and universal public services, such as insurance, water, heat, electricity, police, emergency services, bullet trains, structural maintenance, and much more. Under a unique accord, Antarctic corporations pay full pensions to all their employees in exchange for not being taxed, freeing up a full 22% of GDP to go to financial support for all Antarcticans, especially for the homeless, jobless, and disabled.

The Antarctic private sector, meanwhile, is an equally notable part of the nation's economy. What makes it notable is the fact that motivational rules are used as the primary means of ensuring good behavior. These are rules that 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 removing 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 motivational rules, its economy is extremely powerful, often growing by more than seven percent each year, creating a prodigious wealth of Antarctic rupees (₹), each as valuable as an American dollar of a thousand years ago. The government's social policies, in turn, give 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 for themselves and for their fellow Antarcticans.

Antarctic party politics is most well-known for its unique three-party system, in which the policy of the nation is determined not by a bipolar alternation of left and right, but by a consistent, common-sense center. The center uses ideas from the much smaller left and right, and combines them into sound, measured policies. Overall, Antarcticans view this as an ideal political paradigm.

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.