Ashton Steps Down!
As war looms and increasing pressure from allies, Ashton Mercer has resigned from office in an agreement with his Vice President, in exchange for amnesty and immunity. Sources say that he will live as a private citizen, as Aleksander will become the new President. He will be sworn into office the next day.
This Barnabas considered carefully. The Confederacy has already made a mistake in supporting, even advocating, for Ashton's administration, and even then, ODIN had provided that political assassinations and purges were a norm in Valesord and surrounding areas. They had suspected as much, and not that it was subtle either. Ashton wanted everyone to see it. There was truly no doubt the man had gone insane. "And while I contemplate on this, Mr. Polensk, how will we know that you will do as you say? Will you uphold and champion the democratic process as you promise? We have made the error of assuming that Ashton would eventually step down, but his recent policies contradict it." He paused. "The Confederacy is willing to support an upheaval, for the sake of its relations with the Anercian people, and in good will. An upheaval, mind you, in the interest of liberating your nation from tyranny. Forever."
"The President has suggested that a temporary, provisional government be set up, followed by a series of amendments on your Constitution that will, first and foremost, assure the rights and liberties of all Anercians, and defend the due process of law and the democratic system." Collins suggested. "He will not move on this, lest the Confederacy officially cut ties with a government that has no right to call itself a democracy."
Now that he's President, Aleksander will have the non-enviable job of cleaning up after his predecessors mess. First he will have to patch relations with Southron Columbia, he called President Dewitt to recall his sanctions against Anercia. Second, to secure power for future presidents and MP's, he will have to strip the IBNS of its extralegal powers, and reshuffle the old guard from high ranking positions with newer agents. Third, restore Democracy, by calling a special election and dissolving the Purple Lions, the Assembly was comfortably reshuffled to match the opinions of the People. Resulting in a massive defeat of the UAP, losing over 80 seats to the other Parties. Lastly he called for a day in mourning, for the loss of life and brutal terror that shadowed over Anercia for those few months. He promised, "Never again shall Anercia fall into the hands of Despots and Tryants."
His first international gesture was to attend the Internationale Security Meeting on the Predorian Kingdom.
"I cannot gurantee anything Mr Collins, but i have fought tyrants before, trust in my fight and i will restore democracy in Anercia." He said.
"At this moment, mediation will be much appreciated," the State Secretary replied, "It is in our interest that extremism, much like in Kromkarie, remain constrained as much as possible. I believe President Ashton's actions to be as such. We cannot allow for such degradation of ideals. Democracy or monarchy, we hold our values close. Our nations shall not let such rampant perversions of our systems penetrate what we hold dear further."
He looked seriously at the Duke. "Which is why we have come to the Kingdom. In good conscience, the Confederacy believes mediation and negotiation to be a force for peace. War is a terrible business. The Internationale has largely demonized the rest of the region, apart from nations in adherence with the democratic process. President DeWitt has seen that other means of diplomacy are possible apart from raising hostilities without reason or sound logic."
"Then, Mr. Vice President, we shall see." Collins answered sternly. "But we will give you the benefit of the doubt. I will communicate with President DeWitt on these matters, perhaps on lightening the sanctions on Anercia. After all, the border cannot be closed forever."
"It was a pleasure, Mr. Vice President. Best of luck to you."
As a result of this restoration of rightful government, Middle Predor tariffs are lifted on all Internationale members except Anercia (as Middle Predor still demands to be recompensed for their labour costs), and their are rumours that the kingdom might be considering a non-aggression pact.
To avoid a war his predecessor had sought to wage, he had talked with his diplomatic staff to open up talks with the Predorian government. To try to end hostilities before the world goes up in flames. Senior Minister of Foreign Affairs, Talon Wiski, will be sent on an airship to Esterden to meet with a representative.
the Duke raised an eyebrow. "I wasn't aware Kromkarie had fallen to extremism other than attempting to join the ranks of democracy."
But he nodded at the State Secretary's words. "We too do not wish for war, but have found ourselves driven closer to it by the Internationale's actions. If a path to peace can be found, that does not involve destroying our way of life, we will take it."
The carriage clattered to the gates to the Palace, which were opened by a pair of Royal Guards, and stopped in front of the entrance to the palace proper. The duke unlatched the door and stepped out.
"If you please, sirs, the King awaits you in the main hall."
The airship is met at the border by a flying boat, and escorted to Esterden. They are given a berth at one of the reserve cradles outside the city's walls, and are met by an ambassador, Baron Eastdon, and a couple of Royal Guards as they land.
Wiski was an old man, in his 70's in fact, and the country of Middle Predor reminds of simpler times. When he was a boy his family would take him to the big cities the nobles would live in and see the sights. How grim that his nostalgia would be the backdrop of tense neogitation to avoid a bloody war. The buildings his airship passed by were ancient, still standing relics of centuries past. Still they were majestic, just like in Valesord, palaces sprawled the city with elaborate and ornate designs etched on its walls. Domes, Columns, and Fanciful butresses and arches takes him back to the cathedrals he used to pray at. Truly it was like entering Anercia all over again, if the king never abdicated, the people still shackled to a supreme tyrant.
As his airship docks, his aides helped him up, his bones ache now but his mind still sharp enough to talk sense into any representative. Of course he wouldnt be here alone, Aleksander sent him with a small squad of Bodyguards to escort him. He walked out of the gangway and met the Baron, "Hello Baron Eastdon, how do you do on this fine day?" He asked.
It’s A Small World
With the passing of more turbulent times and the calming of tensions between the Confederacy and the Republic, the DeWitt Administration has sought to return to conditions prior to the massacre committed by Ashton’s Presidency. Still, there was a distinct estrangement between the two democracies. A scar that will not heal, but only fade. While the Anercian Experiment proceeds, and its promises in question, in was only a matter of time if the Confederacy was proven right, or proven wrong, in its expectations.
In the meantime, DeWitt has already proceeded to reaffirm his commitments to diplomacy, and firstly, assuring that the borders with Anercia were opened. Ambassador Collins, granted by the President with the authority to reach a resolution on the topic of CAFTA and the Columbian-Anercian International Railway. CAFTA would proceed, with certain amendments and restrictions to appease centrist and right-wing hardliners, and the Railway to open to full functionality. There was now a quota on the flow of Anercian expatriates and immigrants, and checks in place for suspicious persons. The Man Embassy in Valesord and the General Consulate in Ronte would also re-open to public access.
In the meantime, the Confederacy would lift major economic sanctions, with added limitations on Anercian exports to Columbia, as another demand by the FCP and NPP to accommodate a peaceful transition. However, some sanctions would remain as a result of the rather lenient handling of Aleksander’s administration in enacting justice, with the criminal Ashton not behind bars and Ashton’s allies seemingly remaining in power.
In the broad sense, Ambassador Collins would call off any further dealings as it pertains to reduced tariffs and taxes, higher costs on imports and exports, or ingoing and outgoing investments until the Confederacy could see a proper return to democratic rule.
The Confederacy remained impartial to the dealings of the Internationale, as a non-voting member with an observer status. However, the recent actions of Anercia has certainly rocked the boat and was a blow to the Internationale’s legitimacy as a democratic organization. Some are saying that Congress will move on another motion to reconsider the Confederacy’s permanent membership in the alliance, but that was for the future. In the horizon, there was certainly the approach of war, but whether be it between Middle Predor and the Internationale, or the Grey Empire against the Free Nations, he did not know.
Nodding to the Duke, the State Secretary and his entourage disembarked the carriage and entered the Palace, accompanied by the Predorian nobleman. He was certainly looking forward to establishing good relations with one of the Predorian kingdoms—a fact, in honesty, he had not known for a long time. Ignorance on his part, but he would certainly learn for the better.
The constitution, the bedrock of all law in Anercia, has been tampered with by the machinations of tyrants. It has stripped the restrictions on strong executive articles, allowing for the easy and legal transition to total despotic terror. For Democracy to be restored and the faith of the free world mended, he must not allow this travesty to pass. Using his executive powers, President Aleksander has made article XII, XI, X, and VIII defunct effective immediately. While passing an amendment with a supermajority of 234 ayes to 66 nays to increase the number of judges from twelve to thirteen in order to break the frequent stalemates during cases.
-Unbalanced and Unfair Assembly
Arresting the Old Guard
As these reforms are passed, he noticed from his own spies that certain elements of the previous administration haven’t been quite quick to yield. Instead they intend to plot against Aleksander’s Interim Presidency. Particularly the Internal Bureau of National Security, which since its infancy had been mired in secrecy and their recent rebellion shows the cracks within that system. Anercia just had no need for secret police kidnapping political opponents, not anymore. But trying to dislodge them is like pulling a splinter out of a finger, he had to coordinate his loyal forces to conduct a nation-wide raid on their bases and headquarters.
He signed off on the operation, soldiers will march into cities in the dead of night. By the truck-loads they will surround and arrest IBNS Agents and Officers. With access to a list of names and a black book of their deeds provided by Ashton himself, he called it a contingency plan, Aleksander was able to put them on trial and dissolve the agency. The trials were concluded in only a few weeks and sought the jailing of 2,000 personnel and the execution of 700 for their crimes against humanity.
Instead of outright destroying the IBNS, he transformed it into an espionage and counter-intelligence agency focusing on spying and protecting the nation from spies. They will be controlled by the executive branch indirectly with the appointment of their Chief of Operations. Any operations abroad are immediately resumed and funding somewhat cut as the scale has been drastically reduced.
Shortly after the Columbian delegates had left to their new quarters, King Albin was ruminating over a glass of whiskey on recent events in one of the Palace's many smoking-rooms.
First had been the Kromkarie rebellion that had sparked all this- the catalyst for the split between Monarchy and Democracy.
Then had come the Internationale, and the widening rift that even now looked set to swallow the region whole.
His thoughts were suddenly interrupted by a polite cough, and he looked up to see Duke Tritten leaning delicately on the doorframe to the smoking-room.
"Care for a little company?" he inquired.
Albin gestured to the armchair nearby, and the Duke drew it up and collapsed gracefully into its embrace.
"A little early in the evening to start on the heavier drinks, isn't it?" He nodded to the bottle of whiskey and glasses resting on the little table between him and the King. Albin shrugged.
"It's a little late to start questioning my drinking choices."
"Fair enough." He was already pouring himself a glass. There was a short silence as he leaned back. and took a short sip, in which Albin studied him more closely. Duke Tritten was considered something of an oddity among the ranks of nobility; The Trittens were a West Predorian noble family, and Duke Merrick Slavki Tritten was the only member of that family to defect to the Middle Predorians. Almost overnight, he'd become an excellent intermediary between the "New Blood" of the newer noble houses and the "Old Guard" of older houses, demonstrating an ability to deftly manipulate almost anyone across the breadth of the nobility. It spoke volumes of his skill and usefulness to the Crown that he'd attained the vaunted title of a full landholding Duke, and by all accounts his estate in the southern foothills was doing very nicely indeed. He'd amassed a following of younger nobles who carried out his little missions and excursions, and the "Tritteners" were already a familiar sight running about Esterden.
As he finished his sip and leaned back into his chair, he flicked an eyebrow at Albin.
"The Prince is going home in the next few weeks, isn't he?"
"Prince Magnus? Yes. Shortly after winter." The young Norvic prince had been residing in the Palace for the past year or so now, as his father had decided it would be good for relations- and for his personality- if he were to foster in Middle Predor for a time.
"And I've heard Sophie has struck up quite the friendship with said prince. Unexpected, that one."
The king cocked an eyebrow at him. "What are you hinting at..."
Albin gave him a suspicious glance, then let the silence continue as he drew a sip from his glass.
"So, when were you planning on sending her to Norvath to foster?"
The king almost choked on his whiskey, reducing him to spluttering. Coughing, he glared at the Duke. "Where did you get that from? I haven't spoken a word to anyone."
His Intelligence Minister smiled as he reached for his glass.
"Really? You told the Queen you were thinking about it. Or was she mistaken?"
Albin shot a sharp look at him, but the Duke's eyes merely grinned at him over his glass.
"What have you been doing with my wife?"
"Why, merely chatting, of course! You know we are lifelong friends. By the way, her cooking is excellent. Stop getting food prepared for you and try it sometime."
"She cooked you dinner?!"
"Not like you've been eating any of it recently. But enough about her cooking. I feel sending the young Princess to Norvath is an excellent idea. You're always trying to get her out of the palace and out of her bubble- she'll be outside the Palace and in the company of a friend she trusts. And I suspect she might take to it better than you think."
"Hmmph. And I don't suppose you had an idea for when we might send her over?"
"Well, you were thinking of inviting the Norvic airfleet to take part in the upcoming Fleet Review, no?"
"I haven't- damn you, Tritten, where do you keep getting this from!? Certainly not my wife!"
"Oh, you know," He waved a hand airily. "I have my sources.
Anyway, why not stage the Review a little earlier this year, and then the Prince and Princess can travel together with the Norvic airfleet? It will be an excellent opportunity to strengthen the ties with Norvath, which I know you're eager to do, and it'll get the young princess out of your hair and hopefully give her a little spark."
Albin nodded. "I could do that."
"Excellent! Once again I steer your rule from the shadows, as my rivals constantly grumble. Now, I have a meeting to attend, so I'm afraid I must be going."
"Would you like me to get the door," The king remarked sarcastically, "Or will you get your sources to do it for you?"
"No need to bother, your majesty;" He smiled. "I'll just take the window."
And in front of Albin's doubtful eyes he got up, drained his glass, sauntered over to the single window looking out over the palace gardens, opened it, and stepped daintily out.
A faint yell from a royal guard as the Duke landed gracefully in front of him came drifting up through the window.
He makes a good point, though, Albin considered. It might give Sophie some life...
...Wait a minute, that's a third-story window!
Later that week, a formal invitation was sent to Norvath for its airfleet to take part in the annual Predorian Fleet Review as honoured guests.
As he waited for a response, King Albin continued his fruitless attempts to figure out just where the Chief Intelligence Minister, Duke Tritten, kept getting these little snippets of information.
Aleksander's Speech to the Nation
It was his first speech as President, he was overly groomed by a procession of makeup specialists and aides, getting him ready for his State of the Republic address to the nation. The day was windy and chilled, tens of thousands below him anxiously await for his voice to calm their fears. He stepped out onto the platform, where the microphone awaits for him. “Brothers and Sisters of Anercia! We have for the past few months endured one of the darkest hours of our history. The time in which a few threatened the principles and stability we have shed blood for, all for political gain. I stand with you today and I say no more!” He said. “With my Interim Administration we will stay the course of freedom and democracy, and as our actions cement that path to glory I ask the people of Anercia to stand with me!” A loud roar of applause was let out, and waited for it to die down before speaking. “Our nation stands the precipice and our future shall be forged by the will of the people. So let freedom ring throughout the country, the valleys, the factories. Let it ring in Middle Predor! Let it ring in the Empire, and let us pick up the phone.” He ended his speech as the people cheer so loudly that the ground seemed to shake. He raised a fist in the air and looked around at his adorning crowd. And after this, it was his call to one of many things, it was the cross roads of Anercia after all.
On more regal occasions- like weddings, or the huge balls sometimes thrown- the Great Hall could fit a huge selection of the nobility of all three kingdoms of Predor- no small feat, as Middle Predor alone held thousands of nobles of varying ranks- and would be laid out with a huge feast.
But this was just a small gathering, and so a large portion of the hall was empty, with just a smaller table laid out and the King himself seated at the far end on a -rather modest considering the wealth of the palace around him- high-backed chair. He stood as the delegates entered, and Duke Wyman bowed. "Your Highness, the State Secretary for the Connfederacy, the Ambassador to the Kingdom, and their entourage. Gentlemen, the King."
King Albin nodded slightly. "A pleasure to meet you again, gentlemen. We've had a lunch prepared for your arrival, if you'd care to join me?"
Increasing the Debt Ceiling
Aleksander has grand ambitions to provide a common welfare for the people, it was the sight of poverty in the cities and rural areas. The previous administration had done enough to prevent mass starvation and avoid the collapse of the economy. But the people needed something more, and as the state of economy booms the windfall should go to the citizenry. However, the National Treasury has accumulated quite alot of debt from Ashton’s reforms, leaving no room for this fiscal year for any major reforms to the welfare system. George Wester, the founder of Westerian Economics, and financial minister, has suggested increasing the debt ceiling. Doing this will increase the amount of money the government can borrow and how much debt the Treasury can accrue.
It was a bold plan since the party line wishes to cut back funding and pay off current debts. To gain support for his bill, he collaborated with the ADP and NWP for their votes, promising to use it for expanding welfare programs and business investments. It passed the Assembly 213 ayes to 87 nay’s, passing the resolution to increase the debt ceiling. The Financial Minister estimated with this new capital, the government is able to expand or create three major pieces of reforms and programs.
Following etiquette, the Columbians made their way to give their respects to the monarch, much as any would give their respect to a person of higher authority. Though there was a difference in its execution, it was courtesy, and they would not slight a foreign power for senseless reasons. And thus, they resorted to follow as Predorian tradition demanded. Once they have been introduced, Tunt and Laszlow reiterated their full names and responsibilities.
“Of course, Your Highness,” came simultaneous responses once the King had invited them, the State Secretary and the Ambassador taking their designated seats for the lunch. Tunt silently considered the placement of their seating—a political strategy as important as gerrymandering or the scrupulous dealings of congressional lobbyists—but resolved to ignore it for now.
Once they’ve settled, the State Secretary broke the silence. “We thank you, Your Highness, for your hospitality and inviting us for a generous lunch. Our treatment, so far, has been exquisite. We truly grateful for this opportunity to visit the Middle Kingdom.”
Financial and Medical Aid Act
President Aleksander's Message to the Assembly:
It is, within the great interest of the state whom the people entrust their faith and welfare to, that it must provide for nearly every facility of daily use. The hazard of life and labor threaten our citizenry but it is our commitment to support them in their times of need where the balance of life or death is based on. In turn we of the Republic, created by the people for the people, must empower ourselves to wholeheartedly uphold our duties. To pay for the hospital beds, the soup kitchens, and work houses. In this act where that empowerment lie, protect the security of wellbeing, lest you lose sight of our goals.
To uphold his promise to create welfare programs, he created the National Review of Welfare Committee, to draft a new piece of legislation. Their job is to explore the current state of the ad-hoc system of providing for the people. Firstly, they found that though the Medical System has been nationalized, medical services and hospitals are disconnected and unorganized. Meaning people couldn’t get access to doctors when they’re too full or busy, especially in rural areas. And the quality of rural hospitals and clinics are woefully unprepared and underfunded. Second, Unemployment benefits are virtually non-existent and pensions for the elderly don’t exist either, causing elderly poverty to spike even though general unemployment is going down. Third, there are no benefits or aid given to the disabled and veterans. Fourth, child care for poorer families is not supported by any system or state, increasing child mortality rate and parental abandonment. Lastly, to even get the rudimentary aid provided locally, one must venture through a labyrinth of red tape and bureaucracy, something devised by earlier conservative statesmen. Having compiled all the problems into one committee to be tackled into one bill.
To combat these deficiencies a new system was devised by the NRWC. Called the Financial and Medical Aid Act, or FMAA, it stipulates 6 articles that will go into effect.
Article I: Healthcare
A new agency responsible for the medical welfare of citizens will be created. This agency called the Federal Health Service, will regulate healthcare services and work to coordinate and maintain medical facilities. They will have the power to bargain with pharmaceutical companies, paying for the cost of drugs, and even control the price of drugs when necessary.
Under this article, the current coverage of insurance will expand into a comprehensive package to cover nearly everything. Anything not provided, or if extra coverage is needed, private insurance can still be bought.
To pay for the construction of new facilities, doctors salaries, and treatment costs, a new levy and tax on the employee and employer will be placed. For the salary of the employee, 15% will be taxed, and the employer an excise tax every year proportional to the total wages of their employees.
Article II: Unemployment
The National Unemployment Service, under the Ministry of Labor, will oversee the distribution of funds to those deemed approved for unemployment benefits.
Employers will, after firing an employee, pay them their salary for a month.
Article III: Pensions
For the purpose of enabling each State, as far as practicable under the conditions in such State, to furnish financial assistance to aged needy individuals, there is hereby authorized to be appropriated for each fiscal year a sum sufficient to carry out the purposes of this article.
For Veterans and Current members of the Armed forces a comprehensive benefit package that will be eligible after service or 15 years of service will be available to them. Benefits include disability compensation, pension, education and training, health care, home loans, insurance, vocational rehabilitation and employment, and burial.
Article IV: Disability
Funded by the National Treasury and under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Health, the Disability Security Income Program will provide cash payments to disabled children, disabled adults, and individuals aged 65 or older who are citizens or nationals of the Anercian Republic.
Article V: Childcare
For needy parents/guardians of dependent claimants, a stipend will be provided to take care of educational costs and supplies. Employers will have to provide paid leave of 13 weeks to parents of newly born children.
Article VI: Fraud
Whoever, with the intent to defraud the system of welfare, and make any false representation concerning the requirements of this Act. Shall receive a penalty of imprisonment for up to 2 years.
-Budget Surplus: Large->Budget Surplus: Medium
-Good Public Healthcare->Comprehensive Welfare System
The G.I. Bill/The Servicemens’ Readjustment Act of 1891
In addition to the Dependent and Disability Pension Act, DeWitt has sought to expand its provisions to extend to active Servicemen as well. His first major bill since the Midterms, the President has championed the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act as one of the first steps towards the establishment of a proper welfare and healthcare system in the Confederate States, years after a stagnant Medicare and Medicaid system and the federal government largely unmoved with regards to to further pensions and subsidies for the impoverished.
Bringing dependents and disabled under its wing, the colloquially known G.I. Bill, or the G.I. Bill of Rights, will be a comprehensive pensions and assistance program for active and reserve servicemen and veterans in the Confederate States. Since the Civil War, the Columbian Legion, a non-profit organization, had been in the forefront of lobbying Congress for generous benefits for war veterans. The final bill provided immediate financial rewards for practically all Civil War veterans, though a majority have already passed of old age, thereby avoiding the highly disputed postponed insurance policy payout since the beginning of Reconstruction, whereby 3.2 million soldiers of both sides have served in the conflict, and 2.2 million of those having served in Union. The Bill also provided for more recent veterans, and with the reduced size of the armed forces since six decades ago, is a more manageable number of former servicemen to cover.
Benefits included low-cost mortgages, low-interest loans to start a business or farm, one year of unemployment compensation, and dedicated payments of tuition and living expenses to attend high school, college, or vocational school. These were available to all veterans who had been on active duty during the Civil War years for at least 90 days and had not been dishonorably discharged, and for those in service during postbellum years and into the present having served for a total eight years.
With this regard, the G.I. Bill has several clauses to focus on narrow aspects of welfare, enforced by a newly established Department of Veterans’ Affairs, and to be inaugurated as a cabinet-level executive department:
— Healthcare and Childcare
— Educational Aid and Assistance
— Pensions and Loans
— Disability Benefits
— Unemployment Benefits