The concept of Xiomeran Meritocracy was first created by the Empress Camaxtica in 1840, during the thick of the Xiomeran Civil War. In response to an entrenched class of nobles, religious leaders and wealthy figures who declared that a woman could not rule the Empire, Camaxtica issued a royal edict which became known as the Xiuhtonal. This edict, in one fell swoop, disenfranchised the nobles and the religious leaders alike. The edict declared that the citizens of Xiomera would appoint their leaders, including their tlatoani, based on merit alone, rather than noble heritage. Camaxtica also declared that the commoners would have the same rights as the nobility and the religious hierarchy. Along with the Tlanextli, another edict issued by Camaxtica which opened the Empire to the outside world, the Xiuhtonal is considered one of the founding documents of the modern Xiomeran Empire.
The scope of the Xiuhtonal was only meant originally to apply to how Xiomera chose its political leaders. However, as Xiomera modernized and grew wealthy due to Camaxtica's reforms, the idea of a "meritorious path" open to all citizens, no matter their birth or circumstances, took hold. With this development, Xiomerans decided that the idea could (and should) be applied to everything else.
While not an officially codified policy or set of laws, many Xiomeran experts say that the tenets of Xiomeran Meritocracy are so deeply ingrained in modern-day Xiomeran society that they may as well be the law. At its core, Xiomeran Meritocracy is the belief that one's abilities and effort should be the only determinant to their place in Xiomeran society. Xiomeran society thus evolved around the belief that one's wealth, social and political power, and overall place in society are entirely determined by their talent, effort and capabilities. To believers of Xiomeran Meritocracy, the idea of distributing any form of power using any other characteristic or reason is inherently wrong, and perhaps even a little bit evil. Xiomeran society and culture developed a belief that one's success and achievements, and their demonstrated and measurable performance, were all the proof that was needed that someone deserved all the fruits that life had to offer (or, conversely, didn't deserve them).
Supporters of the concept of Xiomeran Meritocracy defend the ideology by saying that it ensures only the "best and brightest" or "most capable" take up positions of leadership and importance. They defend the ideology from those with more democratic ideals by saying that democracies are prone to elevating the unfit and the unqualified, and that such a path would be a disaster for Xiomera. They believe that Xiomera's astonishing rise from a society mired in a technological and social age equivalent to the 16th century to a fully modernized, industrial society with a highly successful economy and technological base within the 40 years of Camaxtica's reign following the issuing of her great edicts would not have been possible without the ideology of Xiomeran Meritocracy. They firmly believe that Xiomeran Meritocracy is the only thing that can fuel Xiomera's continued rise, and that any deviance from this ideology will result in the economic and social collapse of the Empire (or its subjugation to foreigners).
Critics of Xiomeran Meritocracy point out that, over the years, the system has led to its own kind of manupulation and cronyism. They point to the use of "councils of experts" to appoint political leaders, which is supposed to be a process completely isolated from corrupting influences. They note that the experts who are appointed to these councils can often be bribed, cajoled or threatened into voting for powerful individuals connected to elites. They also claim that the wholesale deployment of the Xiomeran Meritocracy ideology leaves no room for individuals who may struggle through no fault of their own, and also marginalizes the "unsuccessful" into situations of extreme poverty and isolation. "Failure" has become a stigma in Xiomera, to the point where people who fail in high-profile roles often commit suicide. Xiomeran Meritocracy has created a hyper-competitive society where people tend to look out for themselves first, and the ideas of charity, welfare or a social "safety net" are disdained. The critics of the ideology say that Camaxtica never intended for her ideas to be applied in this way, and that she intended a more democratic system. They also point out that certain minority groups, such as non-Xiomeran tribes or some foreign nationals, can suffer far more adversely than average Xiomerans under this system, which they accuse of institutional racism. They argue that Xiomeran Meritocracy is, at its base, an ideology of Xiomeran supremacy and nationalism. They argue that Xiomeran Meritocracy should be scrapped entirely and a more "humane" social structure adopted.