Farewell Statement from the Seneschál to the 55th Cosă

Started by Miestră Schivă, UrN, April 28, 2021, 03:47:01 PM

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Miestră Schivă, UrN

Esteemed Mençéi and Túischac'h and all the Senators and Members of the Cosâ:

Votes on the last Clark have now been tallied, and soon the 55th Cosâ will be dissolved – assuming that Baron von Privy Council reminds the King he has to do so. I stand before you today to give what I hope to be as balanced an account of the outgoing Government – a coalition between the Free Democrats and the New Peculiar Way - which I have led in this term.

The outgoing Government stands very proud of the following achievements:
  • The successful Ranked Choice Referendum on the Constitution, which led to the Historic Compromise recently passed by this Ziu.
  • The Second National Activity Survey in which an increased number of citizens gave their honest, anonymous opinions as to the way forward for our nation.
  • The complete revamping of the National Webspace and the creation of talossa.net, our very own social network – all the work of the indefatigable Senator Eovart Grischün.
  • A successful campaign for "voluntary taxation" / stamp and coin sales which netted $US65, doubling the income from such sources over last year. Although not as successful as we hoped, this is a successful "trial run", and in future it may be possible to make this our main source of revenue, removing the need for registration fees for Ziu elections.
  • A Talossan digital art show.
  • A successful legal reform programme, in which almost all the laws pertaining to the various Government Ministries were updated, streamlined, stripped of obsolescence and made fit for purpose.
  • A successful National Honours Investiture, capped by the King returning from his *cough*vacation*cough* to issue the recipients of honours with very classy looking Letters Patent, at no cost to the Government – for which he, or the former Regent, deserves credit.
Just like last term, though, the Government failed to carry through a lot of our programme – particularly in the Cultural area. The Burgermeister of Internal Revenue is probably glad of that, as our full Cultural programme would have cost a significant amount of money, wiping out our gains in income. But the principle of voluntary taxation is that the Government may spend, as long as the people are willing to fund it. The power of the purse remains in the hands of the Talossan people.

But the area I'm most disappointed in is our failures in the area of citizen activity. It's not that we haven't gotten new citizens, but when we have gotten new citizens, they don't stick around and do anything. And existing citizens are hard to motivate as well.

The Free Democrats have made this the central plank of our programme for the election, if you want to give that a look. Of course – as my opponents have been saying for so long – maybe the crisis of activity is our fault, and we can't do anything about it unless we "resign and become inactive", in which case presumably dozens of conservative Talossans will suddenly leap out of the woodwork and become active again. Interesting theory. How about you guys try to beat us in the election and we'll see if that happens?

But I must admit that I, personally, am burned out with the work of administration, tired of chasing up semi-active members of the Government and officers of State to carry things out, and fresh out (personally) of different things that I could try to promote activity. Accordingly, this will be the last time (for at least a while) that I stand before the Ziu as Seneschál. Other people in Talossa don't seem to have any shame or compunction about just dropping their responsibilities and "going bush", as we say in the Antipodes, when things get too boring or hard. If we're very lucky, they at least nominate a replacement when they vanish. Perhaps I should learn from that.

The motto of the Free Democrats has always been Get things done, have more fun. But there's a limit to how much you can get done, and how much fun you have, unless all the members of the Government team not only carry out what they promise, but promise only what they can carry out. That should be a lesson that my successor as Seneschál should look at closely, when the time comes for him or her to create their programme for government. When I am free of the duties of the Seneschlalsqåb, hopefully I will have much more time to return to my first love – the Talossan language – in terms of both translation and creating learning materials.

The recent leadership renewal of the Free Democrats is an experiment to see whether our party is a real social movement with its own vision for the future, and not a Miestra Schiva fan club. I look forward to serving under our new Party President, Txoteu Davinescu, in the next Cosa – and if the voters give us the opportunity, and if he thinks I can still do a job, in the next Government.

At this point, it is proper to say a few words on The Return of the King, to quote from the classics.

It is said that, when the House of Bourbon was restored to the throne of France after the Revolution and the Napoleonic era, they had "forgotten nothing, and learnt nothing". Which is why the French people overthrew them again within a matter of decades. It would be a real shame if having the better part of a year away from Talossa has not led his Majesty to reconsider the way he does Talossa.

Something that the King, and many other Talossan conservative-monarchists, have never understood, is that Talossan Republicanism and reform-monarchism are often not primarily based on political principle. Very often, they are based purely on the behaviour of the incumbent. Simply put: if the behaviour of the Monarchy is repugnant to majority opinion (not just contradicting the majority, but choosing to troll and annoy that majority), majority opinion (including convinced royalists) will support putting curbs on the monarchy, in order to prevent that behaviour happening again. It is that simple. This is only a problem if you believe in the divine right of kings, or you somehow believe that Talossa owes its existence to the Lupúl monarchy, rather than the other way around.

Let's be very clear. Ián I Lupul quit his responsibilities without warning – naming a replacement whom he knew would be guaranteed to outrage the Government and Cosa majority – and has just resumed his responsibilities, equally without warning, or apology, or explanation. His first job in resuming these responsibilities was to give that replacement the unprecedented title of "Baron von Tollbooth" or whatever it is, which he also knew was a middle finger to the rest of us.

This is precisely the attitude of "come at me, bro" towards the Government and Cosa majority which has firmed up the determination of that majority to make the monarchy accountable. Conservative opinion in Talossa seems to be that it is the right of the King – on the basis of a vote taken 16 years ago, and on the basis that they, personally, agree with him - to blockade and troll the democratically-elected authorities, and we should like it or lump it. To quote Samuel L. Jackson from Pulp Fiction, "It's miéida like this that's gonna bring this situation to a head, man."

I agree with my monarchist compatriots that the Head of State of Talossa should be a long-term, non-partisan role, and should be invested with not only constitutional "reserve powers" but with defending the very existence of our ImagiNation. Our Head of State should also have a major role in representing Talossa in the outside world – including acting on behalf of our nation under the laws of the Big Neighbour and other, large nations.

But this is not the path that Ián I Lupúl has chosen in office. Instead, it has been a course of constitutional brinkmanship with the elected Government; as if his main care in Talossa is not preserving the Nation and representing it to the world, but maintaining his own prestige and his own unilateral powers. This is the King who sparked off the "Proclamation Crisis", vetoing an inoffensive Organic Law amendment admittedly as a "warning shot" – just to show he could. It took two Uppermost Cort cases to show him he couldn't just get away with exploiting a loophole which would allow him to keep the Organic Law from being amended, ever.

Even when we took that loophole away from him, he continued to use his veto power of legislation – not for any purpose of defending Talossa or its institutions – but to just to annoy a Ziu majority not to his liking. His insistence on leaving his vetoes until the very last minute meant that every Clark – including the one just gone! - turned into a show of power causing needless anxiety in the elected Government and legislature just to make us aware that he could do so. Yes, it was legal to do so. But if the benchline for acceptable behaviour from the Head of State is "there's no law against it", then good will and basic decency are no longer features of the Monarchy.

I'll never forget the time he vetoed the repeal of a long-obsolete law on the grounds that (I'm paraphrasing here) "these laws do no harm, and a lot of people had fun writing them". This had nothing to do with defending Talossa. This had everything to do with defending the legacy of the RUMP party governments of 2006–2014, of a Trump-style refusal to acknowledge the political defeat of the King's favourite tendency. It was saying: "Your democratically and legally-established government and legislative majority bears no legitimacy as far as I am concerned." (Let's bear in mind once again that this is someone who has been involved in Talossa eight years fewer than I have; five years fewer than Senator Sir G. Valcádac'h.)

I would have had no qualms with leaving the life monarchy undisturbed had it been politically depowered, on the model of any decent European constitutional monarchy. Or, if the King were to show respect and courtesy towards the legitimate political aspirations of my section of the Talossan political spectrum. But that was the least popular option in the Ranked Choice referendum, so the parties in the Ziu had to come up with something else. The LCC opposition preferred the Monarchy having political powers to having a guaranteed life term, and I honour that choice.

The fact that he granted the title of Baron – a hereditary title! – to one of the most divisive figures on Talossa, and moreover named that person to his Privy Council, certainly doesn't make it look like he's learned how offensive this kind of "hútsch-tu, I'm the King" attitude is to the current majority of Talossan political opinion. The King seems to be back to his old tricks of taking sides, with a few cronies, against the majority of the Talossan people itself – a fight which, given our Organic Law, must sadly be re-fought in this election, then in the Ziu, then in a referendum afterwards. By, I must reiterate, the King's very decision.

I make a prediction. The Talossan monarchy cannot survive, in its current form, with Ián I Lupúl on the throne, unless it endorses the Historic Compromise or something very like it. If a National Convocation as contained in 55RZ21 decides that the incumbent should get another seven years in the job, as he sees fit, that's fine and I personally can live with that. I'm honestly tired of the constitutional struggle. But the struggle will continue, under different leadership, as long as the Head of State of Talossa, the way they are chosen and the way in which they behave is not accepted by a wide supermajority of the whole nation. If the King does not like it, then maybe he should have thought different before he did... well, virtually everything he's done in the last five years.

A Talossan friend of mine, who is currently a political opponent, told me he rejects compromises in principle. But for me, there are only two solutions to political conflict: either compromise, or a war to the political death, with unconditional surrender on one side or the other. In such situations, especially after a long, dragged-out battle like this, I much prefer a fudgy, slightly disreputable compromise.

The King had a choice. He could have surveyed the electoral field, noted that 4 parties out of 6 support the Historic Compromise (and a further one is divided), and realized that he didn't have great odds of holding back the tide. He could have let 55RZ21 go to referendum, submitted himself to the National Convocation, and most probably got another 7 years on the slightly battered throne. Instead, he chose (with his Privy Councillor the Baron von Wormtongue whispering in his ear, no doubt) to fight to the bitter end.

Choosing a battle to annihilation over compromise might be considered noble, or at least quixotic. My opinion is that it ruins everyone's fun by needlessly stretching out a hopeless conflict. But schi Allà volt, it will all be over quite soon in the upcoming Cosa term.

Anyway, see you at the polls.

Sa vivadra Talossa! 40 års pü!

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