|Category: Civil Rights Lovefest|
Regional Influence: Superpower
Location: Western Atlantic
Lousewies van der Zaan
Galadriël nos Círdan
Jan Willem Daatman
Knootian Green Party
The 1990s were a time of institutional and constitutional reform in Knootoss. Individualisation, democratisation and the emancipation of women and minorities had all conspired to make the old institutional structures of the Knootian Republic seem outdated. The answer was reform, starting with a new name for the country: the Dutch Democratic Republic. The new prefix was chosen to emphasise the quintessentially "Dutch" nature of the country, as well as its new commitment to more direct democracy. The federal idea was revived as well, and the Statute of the Knootian Federation was drawn up to embed involvement in Colombia into a constitutional framework.
The new era came to be defined by Roel Vogels, an atheist, liberal, gay Prime Minister who claimed credit for establishing or securing many socially libertarian policies. Soft drugs, prostitution and pornography were legalised and same-sex marriages were introduced. At the same time, a coalition dominated by the liberals and supported by the conservatives promoted an agenda of economic growth in the private sector, lower taxes and a balanced budget.
A new foreign policy was designed to promote Knootoss as a nation that is active in international affairs, while promoting liberal Knootian values. The country joined the World Business Organization and the South Atlantic Treaty Organization, getting caught up in their struggles against the Reich, which by now included Iesus christi, and the Coalition of Anti-Capitalist Economies. As a deterrent against these perceived threats, Knootoss tested a nuclear weapon on March 4 1990, becoming a nuclear power . The nation also joined the fledgling United Nations, attempting a few unsuccessful reforms, such as a world-wide ban on capital punishment.
Conservative gains during the 1993 elections saw the coalition government take a more right-wing bent. Neoliberal, pro-business policies became the main focus of the administration. CACE came to be seen as the main enemy of Knootoss and its new allies. In the end, though, it was fascism that turned out to be the bigger threat. The 1997 elections were defrauded by the GDODAD, which abused lax campaign laws to propel a fringe candidate, Dick Tator, to the forefront of Knootian politics. An election campaign that was fraught by ethnic tensions between Elves and Humans saw the use of brutal intimidation tactics, including the assassination of an Elvish deputy minister.
- Main article: Shadow War
GDODAD intervention on behalf of Dick Tator marked the beginning of the Shadow War. Prime Minister Vogels was killed in parliament by Special Forces, having offered to be a hostage if the GDODAD would permit Members of Parliament to leave. Lousewies van der Zaan led a government in exile in Lavenrunz.
Van der Zaan Administration
Lousewies van der Zaan was
the first female Prime Minister
of Knootoss. She opted for a
coalition with the progressive
Knootian Green Party.
As foreign forces withdrew from the Knootian mainland, the psyche of the nation had been damaged in several, contradictory ways that would reverberate in the decade to come. The nation had been left to feel critically undefended, translating into a wild search for foreign military allies and, later on, a political sentiment that demanded an ever-stronger Knootian Defence Force. A nation which had, until then, been largely pacific turned more militant. At the same time right-wing ideologies, and particularly the Conservative Party, had become highly suspect. A landslide for the left was inevitable.
Lousewies van der Zaan, returning from exile, grasped this new zeitgeist, and used it to mould her new administration. As a parliamentary leader of the SLP, she had been a largely uninspiring agent for various special interests: the education bureaucracy, the growing Information Technology industry and the anticlerical, anti-Catholic wing of her party. As Prime Minister, she did indeed promote these causes. But she will always be remembered for her attempts to make the Knootian shift to the political left a permanent affair.
A liberal/green coalition government set about the task of rebuilding the damaged areas in The Hague at a frantic base, using the material destruction to build new, larger "super ministries". Welfare reforms proved to be both popular and successful, rapidly expanding Knootoss' social net in a relatively short period of time. The new education, social and environmental programmes were paid for by undoing many of the Vogels tax cuts, as well introducing a marginal top rate of 69% in income tax for the rich. Defence spending was cut. The money, van der Zaan proclaimed, was needed to make Knootoss a sustainable society.
Some of the reforms attempted by the left-wing government failed. Attempts to get serious about environmental legislation met with opposition from the business community, and the opportunity to reverse a trend of ever-increasing air and water pollution in Knootoss was missed. Efforts to ban corporate donations to political parties failed as well, leading to bitter accusations from the greens that the SLP was not serious about reform. Much political capital had to be spent in order to see down an SLP backbencher revolt, which attempted to see the Bible banned for inciting hatred against minorities.
Foreign policy proved to the bane of the van der Zaan administration. Would-be progressive allies of the Knootoss proved to be unreliable, while old allies such Menelmacar were being alienated. Attempts to introduce environmental concerns into the World Business Organization failed. Though they went into the 2001 election on a note of unity, the left-wing coalition was already beginning to fracture.
Foreign policy disasters continued to accrue: attempts to court the CACE ended with flat-out rejection, and a resumption of the earlier cold war posture. A diplomatic and intelligence fall-out surrounding wargames in Skargarden, a nation near the headquarters of the anti-capitalist coalition, with the CACE, was a low point. Knootian withdrawal from SATO over disagreements with Syskeyia and the subsequent joining of UnAPS, which was later abandoned as well, managed to destroy old alliances.
The SLP, wishing to distance itself from these failures, decided to heap the blame on the green deputy minister for Foreign Affairs. Seizing on a relatively small diplomatic incident, they voted against the government, forcing van der Zaan to replace the deputy minister with an ambitious conservative hawk, the elvish Galadriël Táralóm nos Círdan. SLP parliamentary cooperation with the opposition conservatives continued from then on, frustrating the agenda of the government. The marginal income tax rate was cut, as were corporate taxes, leading to rapid increases in the budget deficit. When Lousewies tried to stand for Prime Minister again, she was soundly defeated by the more charismatic Galadriël nos Círdan.
Nos Círdan Administration
Galadriël Táralóm nos Círdan was initially
hailed as one of the most outspoken and
visionary leaders in contemporary Knootian
politics, but ended up being seen as highly
ideological and divisive. The 2005 anti-war
demonstrations turned violent, provoking a
strong police response.
The election of 2003 formalised a new era of conservative confidence in Knootoss. Fielding an Elvish deputy minister as their candidate purged the conservatives of all past suspicions, clearing the way for a brand of politics associated with a new sect, the Order of the Invisible Hand. Small government rhetoric, privatisations, militarism and a tough-talking, no-nonsense foreign policy found were popular with many ordinary Knootians.
Taxes actually increased during the first years of the Nos Círdan Administration, in order to pay for huge defence outlays. Reversing a decade of spending cuts, Knootoss was launched into the top 10% of defence spending per capita in the world. The AIVD was made to report directly to the Prime Minister and saw its budget increased. The Ministry of Economic Affairs also got more sway over foreign policy, at the expense of the diplomats, by permitting the ministy to turn certain consulates into 'Economic Affairs embassies', and by giving the Ministry its own intelligence agency, the EIVD.
The new Prime Minister gained popularity by pulling out of the United Nations when that body passed The Law of the Sea, a resolution that imposed limits on how much Knootians would be allowed to fish. The UN became a favourite punching bag for the coalition, even leading to a ban on foreign aid to Member States during her second term.
Galadriël also launched the Knootian International Stabilisation Treaty, which proved to be popular at home as well as abroad. Freer trade and generous encouragement of big business investment stimulated short-term economic growth, reinforcing popularity of Free Market thinkers like those in the Order of the Invisible Hand. Her staunch defence of Elvish and more capitalist nations such as Menelmacar made her popular in elvish communities. The decision to support UnAPS militarily when it was attacked by Allanea, as well as the decision to leave UnAPS over charges that the alliance had grown to be imperialistic, were acclaimed as having been moral decisions. During the One Day War, elements of the Knootian Defence Force were sent to Mars in order to prevent Allanea from launching an offensive against Knootoss' Martian allies, triggering a Knootian-Allanean correspondence.
The rise of the Order of the Invisible Hand in Knootian society, precipitated a crisis with Excalbia and Pantocratoria over the influence of the Order in the the Soveriegn States, which prompted calls for secession by the State of Saxmere. Galadriël was thought to be sympathising with the Order. The defining, many say damning, event of the nos Círdan administration was the decision to use military action against Tanah Burung, in search of terrorists from the Rumbiak Brigades. One week before the elections in Knootoss, Galadriël was forced to sign a peace agreement and withdraw. Deeply unpopular because of the war, Galadriël only came in third during the the elections for the Prime Ministership, conceding the election to Jan Willem Daatman of the SLP.
Till the very last months of 2005
But the star has gone, the glamour's worn thin
That's a pretty bad state for a state to be in
Instead of government we had a stage
Instead of ideas a prima donna's rage
Instead of help we were given a crowd
She didn't say much but she said it loud
— Galadriël! The Musical
After the tumultuous years of Galadriël, the new Knootian Prime Minister made a point of being as ordinary as possible. Moderate and married (to Irene Daatman), Jan Willem wanted to give Knootoss at least four years of stability. Like Galadriël before him, Daatman regarded himself as the personal representative of the people. "No one but the Prime Minister," he said once, "seems to be expected to look out for the general interests of the country." This translated into an above-average concern for the small problems of the common man. Rather than launching any big new ideas, the Daatman Administration worked to reduce unemployment and improve the quality of healthcare and public transport. Daatman's Grand Coalition of liberals, conservatives and greens continued to plod on after being re-elected, easily preventing the growing number of small parties from competing to get government. They were critics argued, five years of mind-numbing stability.
In response to the crisis in the Excalbian Isles, Daatman had resolved to play a constructive role in the development of the Western Atlantic region. The Treaty of Courtland provided for a conflict-resolution council, designed to prevent a crisis from reoccurring. Later on, Daatman pushed the Staten-Generaal to ratify the Treaty of Lyeithen as well, despite the Staten-Generaal's serious misgivings over some of its provisions. Aside from helping Pantocratoria fend off a minor Allanean incursion into the region, there were no foreign adventurers. In the absence of Knootian leadership, KIST slowly grew to be defunct.
In the end, it was religion that did Daatman in. A child abuse scandal in Pantocratoria made anti-Catholic sentiments in northern Knootoss much more salient. Renewed mistrust of the Roman Catholic church was reflected in a referendum where Knootians voted to make it a crime to operate ecclesiastical tribunals, as well as banning 36 Inquisitorial organisations. When an outplacement agency managed to get an ex-manager from the Global Hell Group crowned as King of the Polska rzczpolspolita, Knootians made jokes. Things got more serious when Daatman was seen to pray on television, raising suspicions that he had, himself, converted to the Roman Catholic faith. After coming under fire from his own party, Daatman was forced to call snap elections, and endorse his Foreign Affairs and Defence Minister Femke Vologdov for the Prime Ministership.
Femke Vologdov oversaw the negotiation of the coalition accord reached by the Knootian Green Party, the Social-Liberal Party and the Catholic People's Party. She also escalated the countries' involvement in the Iesus Christi Civil War. Knootoss became an actively contributing member of the World Assembly, passing four resolutions and co-authoring two more.