One-on-One: Primo de Aguilar

CS: Thank you for sitting down with us, Primo. It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly 4 years since we last talked! A lot has happened in that time, but perhaps nothing more significant than the end of Alexandria, your long-time micronational home where you were a fixture of political and national life. Would you tell us about how you learned of its fate and your initial reaction to the news?

PdA: My initial reaction was shock, followed by sadness. I suppose since one puts a lot of effort and emotion to a character (at least I do; I suppose I am living vicariously through my characters) I went through a sense of what it feels to be suddenly stateless.

CS: Now, just over six months later, with the shock well settled, are you disappointed with how things worked out in Alexandria? What would you change if you had the time back?

PdA: I like continuity and closure in my narratives. It was sad to see Alexandria go, what with its history and culture and semi-stable postmodern urban constitutional monarchy with a pan-European flavor. There was a point when things were starting to get a little too predictable, though. I liked how the parties and personalities developed. Losing the First Consulship was expected, but I also got the feeling that Primo would have tried another final run (or a last gasp) for the office before finally retiring from public life. He’s had an amazing run from backbencher to First Consul.

CS: When Alexandria ended, you became a refugee of sorts and landed on the shores of Constancia where you’ve taken a leading role in its government and development. What drew you to that micronation?

PdA: It looked interesting and seemed to have a lot of areas where development could occur.

CS: What areas for development particularly interested you?

PdA: Constancia didn’t have a very detailed history – that was something I wanted to try my hand with, not to mention the fact that just about everything in Constancia could have used further detailing. There were some fascinating questions that could produce far more fascinating answers: why settle in the middle of Eura, for example; what were their cultural influences that remained to the present day, how did previous nation-states influence the evolution of the Free and Associative Kingdom?

CS: I think its safe to say that despite the Alexandria stressor, you and Edgard remain as close as friends as ever. I understand that you’re participating in his latest micronation, Caputia, as the Minister of Reconstruction and Infrastructure, under the moniker of Gerhardt Seydlitz. Would you tell us more about what you hope to accomplish in Caputia?

PdA: Well, there is the part of fixing the administrative and economic structure through legislation, and with the ruined cities, there is something of a sandbox to play with. I view this as a lens of seeing how differing personalities and factions can attempt to come together after a civil war to rebuild and form cohesive policy, it’s having a front seat to seeing how interpersonal dynamics play out into sociopolitical outcomes. Remember that this is a country struggling to pull itself together after a civil war, with all the pressures that brings. Can Seydlitz get things done while in office, or will his youth and relative inexperience be his downfall amidst the fickle attention span of the Parliament and public? We’ll see how that goes.

CS: While Caputia is not the successor state to Alexandria, I can’t help but feel the Alexandrian “vibe” in its structure and operation whenever I visit the forums. Is there a sense of “this is our chance to fix what went wrong in Alexandria” amongst the participants?

PdA: It’s entirely possible; let’s not forget that there is still a substantial in-game Alexandrian diaspora which may be an in-game factor, but I don’t necessarily agree with the premise that Caputia is Alexandria 2.0. There may be similarities, but they have separate histories and influences that lead both nations to separate paths.

CS: Can you provide an example of the differing histories/influences behind Caputia v. Alexandria?

PdA: Alexandria had a very (primarily Western) European flavor – Franco-Belgian-German – with the attendant love for French-style socialism and hard-right nationalism (Alexandria’s had governments of both extremes). Alexandria better exemplifies the Septum Juncta in Uno principle: Individuals identify more as Alexandrian first, and regional or provincial second, with the monarch not just as the head of state, but the continuing personification of the Empire.

Caputia doesn’t have a specific reference, although it could be vaguely similar to Europe. Whether the existing “moderate” administration, or government of national unity will soon split into various ideological parties still remains to be seen. Both countries have had very bloody civil wars, but in Caputia, I see individuals identifying first with their regions or provinces or even cities, and as subjects of Caputia, second. I foresee that the abrupt demise of the crown (death spare the Queen!) without clear issue or a generally-accepted heir would lead to the immediate fragmentation of this latest national experiment. The existing Queen is essentially a compromise candidate, after all, the sole Caputian whom the disparate warring factions hate the least. It’ll probably take a generation to bury the blood-feud enmities, or it may only cause these deep-seated grudges to fester. Only time will tell!

CS: You’re a busy man on the intermicronational stage these days as well in your role as the Secretary-General of the Micras Treaty Organization, which has suffered from spurts of inactivity over the last year. Can you explain for our readers how you see the Organization remaining relevant in the community?

PdA: The General Treaty requires an overhaul, what with most business focused on admittance of members. It also exercises very little power over its members, which essentially makes it a global, somewhat exclusive, debate club and YAMO. An organization is only as strong and as relevant as its members want it to be.

CS: Are there any personal reflections and wisdom on your last four years in micronationalism that you’d like to share with our readers?

PdA: It’s a hobby, it helps pass the time, it enables people to come together to co-create interesting things, whether it be narratives or govsims, or to express personal frustrations with national policies. Some have fantasy sports leagues, this is fantasy statecraft. It is also a good entry-level for those interested in real-world political or governance work, although on a considerably smaller scale.

From a civics perspective, it is a great educator, because ultimately, the fate of the country rests on you, its citizen (or subject). Your participation and contributions, as well as engagement with others, determines and reflects the strength and vibrancy of the nation.

One-on-One: Primo de Aguilar

Micras loses significant micronation

GENEVA –  Since its foundation more than 15 years ago, Alexandria has played a central role in the Micras community, building its reputation from a shaky start under the name of Madland to one of community leader. Its story has now been consigned to the history books.

In an open letter to the Micras community on July 25, Alexandria’s founder and first-and-only monarch, Edgard Carrillo, announced its sudden dissolution. “I feel creatively constrained and bankrupt. The focus on creating something fun and engaging for myself was shifted towards winning petty squabbles with other Micran participants,” explained Carrillo.

Recent years arguably saw Alexandria’s core activity decline into persistent squabbling, contributing significantly to Carrillo’s stated loss of focus. Largely sustained by election campaigns and parliamentary debates in which political parties sparred, often over repetitive issues, Alexandria’s ability to focus development on other aspects of its identity became impaired. That squabbling translated to the intermicronational community where it found itself primarily involved in rival alliances, the resulting conflicts, and very much motivated by an imperialistic desire to expand its Micras world map territory.

“The time for judging Alexandria’s strength and progress by post counts and pixels is over,” said Carrillo with an implied sigh of relief.

Yet, as with other micronations that have made similar announcements in the past, there remains the possibility that Alexandria may one day rejoin the community. Such a decision, according to Carrillo, will be guided by his ability to regain the passion and creativity necessary to create the Alexandria that he always wanted, as opposed to the one it became.

As for Carrillo’s personal involvement in the Micras community, he will remain a contributor to other micronations and efforts.

Read more about Alexandria’s history by visiting our archive of 295 related news articles published since 2004.

 

Micras loses significant micronation

FMF World Cup Week 1 ends

SVORGAS – This year’s FMF World Cup, the first since 2015, is underway in Senya as the Micras community comes together once more in it’s most popular international competition. Today marked the conclusion of the first week of the five-week tournament.

If there was one take away from the past week, it is that this year’s tournament will be marked by an unusually high goal scoring. A total of 64 goals were scored across the 16 matches played, including 8 between Natopia and Elwynn in their July 10th match. The week also included two 6 – 0 shutouts, as Craitland and Mercury dominated Gotzborg and Jingdao, respectively.

The result was particularly disappointing for Gotzborg, which finished at the top of its group with 14 goals-for during the qualifying round. It will attempt to recover when it plays next on July 17th; it faces Birgeshir, which it last played to a one-all draw in 2015. Jingdao, meanwhile, fell further back today in a scoreless draw with Nova England. It will seek its first win as a World Cup competitor on July 18th against the also winless Natopian team.

As the tournament moves into the second week, Lakkvia, Alexandria, Craitland and Mercury lead their respective groups with six points apiece.

FMF World Cup Week 1 ends

Alexandrian economy lurches left

A distinct socialist hue has blanketed Alexandria’s economy as government legislation controlling rents received Royal Assent this week. The legislation imposes maximum rental rates on landlords until the end of 2020, in an attempt to reduce the cost of living for average Alexandrians.

The Rent Control Law of 2017 represents the most significant encroachment into the free market by the Alliance Liberal government of Primo de Aguilar. With the legislation having received Royal Assent on March 28, landlords in Alexandria are no longer permitted to increase rents until 2018, when a maximum increase of 5 pc of 2016 market prices will be allowed. The allowable increase in 2019, which is required to remain in-force until the end of 2020, will be 10 pc of the 2016 price.

Controlling rents is a policy largely predicated on a belief that Alexandrians are downtrodden and unable to afford home ownership. “It secures [the average Alexandrian] a decent home at an affordable rate,” said Mr Aguilar in tabling the bill.

It is however unclear whether a decent home will result from the measures. With annual inflation in Alexandria trending at 2.3% last year, any freeze requires landlords to cover the associated higher maintenance costs from their own pocket in 2017. While generally equalized with inflation in 2018 and 2019, landlords again must cover such a loss in 2020. Any unforeseen major capital or maintenance costs, or inflation above 2.5%, would place landlords at a clear net financial loss throughout the period.

This financial burden imposed by the government is likely to be offset with less investment and maintenance in existing properties and a lack of new construction. According to an Alexandrian Broadcasting Corporation report, the shuttering of rental properties is also being considered, if the tenants are unable to buy the units out. Such a reaction may trigger a housing crisis in the near term; in the long term, the need for landlords to spike rents in 2021 to recover losses and fund deferred maintenance may trigger a similar crisis.

Landlords who are tempted to violate the controls to offset any financial burden the government has imposed will face fines ranging from 200 pc to 500 pc of any charge in excess of the maximum, as well as business licence revocation and hard labour. Such punishments are, in the government’s view, required to correct an economy in which the average Alexandrian spends 35% of income on housing.

For his part, Mr Aguilar, in celebrating the law’s passage, suggested that Alexandrians use their personal savings from the controls to “earn a decent return and safeguard capital that may lead to owning [a] home.”

It is unclear whether that goal will be achieved. With extra cash in their pockets, Alexandrians may instead buy household wares, food or luxuries as opposed to investing in a downpayment for a home. If that is the case, Mr Aguilar’s celebration may be premature.

Alexandrian economy lurches left

Alexandria expected to legalize marijuana

A bill presently being voted on by the Alexandrian Imperial Parliament is soon expected to pass, resulting in the legalization of marijuana in the micronation.

The Marijuana Legalization Bill, tabled by First Consul Antonio Verini’s Liberal Alliance government to meet a June election commitment, aims to regulate the production and sale of the drug. If the Bill receives Royal Assent as expected, all individuals, aged 18 or greater, would be lawfully permitted to consume marijuana and to purchase it from licensed vendors, who would in-turn be supplied through licensed cultivators.

Alexandrians will not have carte blanche to smoke marijuana without consequence, however. The Bill criminalizes the operation of any motor vehicle, industrial equipment, aircraft or watercraft while under the influence of the drug, imposing penalties similar to drunk driving. Those who contravene the provisions of the Bill governing underage sales and unlicensed production will also be subject to a stiff range of fines – up to $20,000 – or a term of imprisonment of up to 16 months.

Consistent enforcement of the Bill’s provisions may nonetheless be difficult, as the Imperial Parliament will download licensing powers to each of the provincial governments. This may serve to create differing local enforcement regimes, leading to confusion amongst travelling Alexandrians or those involved in interprovincial trade.

That complication was seen as a trade-off for the Imperial Government as it attempts to meet another campaign commitment to empower local government and allow for greater revenue opportunities for them. “[Provincial and local governments] will be able to levy an excise tax to fund programs that they deem important for their unique needs,” said Mr Verini during parliamentary debate.

Any such local excise tax on marijuana would range up to 50% under the provisions of the Bill, and would be in on top of a 50% national excise tax to benefit Imperial coffers. Neither tax would apply to medical marijuana, suggesting that the Imperial Government is hoping to create a beneficial revenue stream through taxation of marijuana use as a vice. Of the taxes collected, at least 5% would be directed to addiction treatment programmes. With the economy slowing last month, it is unclear how much revenue will be realized from the legalization of marijuana, and no such estimate was provided by the government during debate.

Perhaps more definitively for government finances will be the retroactive decriminalization provision included with the Bill. That provision will commute the sentence of individuals previous convicted of most marijuana-related offences, potentially reducing the nationwide prison population considerably. The Bill will also expunge most convictions from individual criminal records, allowing many Alexandrians to regain access to the job market.

Voting on the Bill is continuing as of press time. The Liberal Alliance and the Socialist Party, which dominate parliament, are both in favour of the Bill, suggesting that its passage is a foregone conclusion. The vote will formally conclude on August 8, with Royal Assent expected to follow soon thereafter.

Alexandria expected to legalize marijuana

Liberal Alliance regains Alexandrian government

In an effort to re-invigorate its languishing parliament amid a political drought, the Empire of the Alexandrians held its latest election for the Imperial Assembly this week, with the role of government again changing hands.

The defeat of the Parti Socialiste government and First Consul Felicia Sánchez was unlikely as the election kicked off on May 29, as the party and Sánchez led the polls with 49% approval each. Within days, however, the approval rating for both in national polls nose-dived, to 40% for the party and 30% for Sánchez, as a result of a lack of campaigning by her and other party officials.

In the end, the Liberal Alliance, which the Parti Socialiste had previously unseated from government in its historic January election win, won 96 of 200 Imperial Assembly seats, regaining the government and cementing its reputation as Alexandria’s natural governing party.

Yet the victory was a muted celebration for the Liberal Alliance, as it achieved it without any active input from its leader, Primo de Aguilar, who was noticeably absent from the campaign trail. The extensive campaigning on which the party achieved its victory was carried out single-handedly by a previously-obscure deputy, Antonio Verini. His focus on criminal justice reform, free trade, conscription, Internet freedom, and empowering local communities allowed the Liberal Alliance to climb 25% in opinion polls leading up to the election and allowed it to nearly double its number of seats in the Imperial Assembly.

With Aguilar’s continued absence, Verini now appears to be the favourite to assume the leadership of the Liberal Alliance, and with it, become Alexandria’s next First Consul.

Liberal Alliance regains Alexandrian government

Alexandrian socialists aim for power, likely to gain official opposition

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]ith results of this month’s parliamentary elections in Alexandria expected to be published in short order, the opposition minority Parti Socialiste (PS) appears to be in a strong position the make influential gains in the next sitting.

Pre-ballot public opinion polls released on January 11 indicated that the PS was the only one of the three major political parties to gain ground, launching into second place behind the incumbent Alliance Liberale (AL) while the populist Union pour un Mouvement Démocrate (UMD), the official opposition during the last sitting of parliament, slipped to third place.

The PS, led by Felicia Sánchez, was also the only political party to publish a manifesto during the campaign period. The document, enthusiastically-titled “What we will do in government,” focused the party’s promises in four general areas: economic development, decentralization of the state, education and national defence.

Seeking to improve working conditions throughout the micronation, and to build on the recently-enacted Alexandrian Labour Code, the PS committed to granting workers the right to form unions and to creating Occupational Health and Safety legislation.

It’s pro-labour agenda would include the creation of a vocational school that would form an integral part of a wider plan to tackle perceived inequalities in the education system. “Education is a human right,” said Sánchez in announcing a promised tuition-free education system. “Finance must not and cannot hinder the advancement of the people.”

In a non-traditional move for a socialist party, the PS also committed to an extensive decentralization of state powers, from the Imperial Government down to the various provincial, regional and municipal governments. While scant on detail, the party would seek to enshrine a code for the division of powers and to grant provinces the right to raise funding in support of local initiatives. Perhaps controversially, given that it enjoys a wider tax-base to finance more costly infrastructure projects and policy programs, any nationally-raised tax would be limited to Imperial Government programmes under the PS plan, possibly limiting the ability of the provinces to undertake significant works on their more limited revenues.

While the PS conducted the most publicly-engaged and transparent campaign, many pundits, and public opinion polls, nonetheless indicate that the incumbent AL will return to government, though the PS appears likely to take over the role of official opposition from the ailing UMD.

Alexandrian socialists aim for power, likely to gain official opposition