by Max Barry

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by The United Kingdom of Plus Nova Imperii. . 97 reads.

Rome Judges the Candidates

This is my analysis and response to all three campaign dispatches from the three candidates for the January 2024, Callistan General Election. I will be looking at three campaign dispatches, "★ Callista - Independants for Rhenzern ★" by Rhenzern, "January Election Campaign" by The Great Hiatus, and "January Arisyan-MG Election Campaign Platform" by Arisyan-. I will also look at non-candidate Political Party dispatches, namely "Baloominati of Callista 2024 Initiative: First Half Objectives" by Baloo Kingdom. The format is as follows. I will post a paragraph from the campaign dispatch, colored in black, and then respond to it in red. For the sake of time, I'm not responding to a dispatch's introductory or conclusion statements, especially since Arisyan- didn't write either.

"The current administration has made bills constitutional, which has created a massive increase in the creation of legislation in Callista. The bill amendment also allowed citizens to create legislation and propose it to the cabinet. This is why if elected, I will officially create a Citizen's Commission of Callista, that will formally allow citizens to create and propose legislation to the region. The MODA will be charged with overseeing the CCC, who will then propose the piece of legislation to the cabinet where it will be deliberated and then put up to discussion like normal. This will make it easier for all Callistans to get involved in the democratic process, and truly make our region one of the most democratic in NS."

I don't understand why we need to create a commission for citizens to propose bills. The only problem I believe we have concerning bills is that only citizens who have permission from presumably the cabinet can draft bills. I think any citizen should be allowed to propose a bill or amendment. Establishing an official commission could lead to proposing legislation becoming a bureaucratic mess. If you want to " it easier for all Callistans to get involved in the democratic process" then allow any citizen to propose legislation or amendments.

"Independent RPs are RPs that are run separately from the main RP that is organized by the MORP. RP is one of Callista's greatest strengths, however if we become reliant on one role-play it will eventually become stale and it may not be interesting everyone in the region. This is why we need to diversify our RP scene and allow citizens to organize their own RP separate from the main one so that they can have options and there is no risk of people getting bored. It will still be moderated by RP moderators and the MORP will have final say on disputes, but maps, rules (besides godmodding and flaming), technology, themes etc. may all deviate from the main RP."

I don't have a problem with creating Independent / Side RPs, but I do have some worries. My main concern is that we have to guarantee Independent RPs have enough players to even be worthwhile. I also think we would have to pass a law that requires a roleplayer to specify which roleplay this post relates to. Finally, multiple roleplays mean we may have to increase the number of roleplay moderators, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, just something to consider.

"Callistan politics has become ruthless, toxic, and divided with people voting not based off of policy but identity. We need to go back to the basics and ensure that every single side, every opinion, every policy is considered before legislation is passed and decisions are made. That is why in government, just like in the past 3 months, the PPC will commit to consulting every opinion in the region to prevent a tyranny of the majority from occurring, and to keep politics engaging and constructive. We did this during the Bill Amendment and the Tsar Political Neutrality Amendment, along with countless other government decisions."

I'm going to ignore the allegations of hypocrisy in this section. However, this section of the campaign dispatch seems to be fluff, since it does not recommend any policy ideas to reduce toxicity in Callistan politics. I think there is some legislation that could be passed to limit toxicity, such as campaigning can only begin a month or fifteen days before an election. In Arisyan's defense, however, he has done a great job of consulting with everyone on the RMB when he proposes legislation, so keep doing that.

"Callista needs to reach out to the world, and that is why we will implement an Ambassador program by the third month of our term if elected. We realize that if we can reach out to larger regions, activity will flourish with new RPers, discussions and friends on our RMB. We will also continue to reach out to regions that are consistent with Callistan values, such as strong RP, regional politics, democratic constitution and mid-large population size."

I like the idea of an Ambassador program, but I think there needs to be some stricter requirements for creating Ambassadors with specific regions. The dispatch mentions strong RP, mid-to-large population size, and a democratic constitution, but I think it's important that the regions we create Ambassadorships with are decently active even without Roleplay. I get that this is part of the solution to the RP decline, but regions who chat in friendly regions would be a boost to RMB activity.

"Callista has been plagued by an activity crisis ever since its birth as a region. We need to have recruitment reform, so that every member of the regional cabinet has access to the API to send out recruitment messages and a way to authorize citizens to recruit as well. We will task all Cabinet members, but especially the MODA, with walking new nations through integrating into Callista so that they do not feel overwhelmed. We will continue to support opportunities to get involved in regional politics through the CCC, a diverse RP scheme and a calm RMB that is welcoming and accepting."

I think forcing every member of the cabinet to have access to the API is a bit of a stretch, especially if it doesn't work right on someone's computer, or if someone doesn't have a computer. But considering the H Corporation's situation, I understand where this policy is coming from. I do agree that we should have a task force to manage recruitment, but involving the entire cabinet is unnecessary. I also believe there needs to be a balance between recruitment and integrating new nations. In this platform, Arisyan argues that every member of the cabinet has access to the API to boost recruitment, yet every member of the cabinet also has to help integrate recruits. If the API is so successful we can recruit a lot of new members, we're also going to have a hard time integrating them. The rest of this section is essentially restating their previous points.

The People's Party overall has a solid campaign, and despite the current polling, I believe they have a good chance to win the election, especially if they make it to a hypothetical second round. However, I think this dispatch has issues with advocating for general statements, such as " will continue to support opportunities to get involved in regional politics through the CCC, a diverse RP scheme and a calm RMB that is welcoming and accepting" and "That is why in government, just like in the past 3 months, the PPC will commit to consulting every opinion in the region to prevent a tyranny of the majority from occurring, and to keep politics engaging and constructive." Stop giving me fluff and give me specific policy proposals.

"The use of an API has been successful in bringing more people into Callista, however, due to unfortunate events the person in charge of recruiting was no longer available. Saying the API was unsuccessful is unfair, but in order to prevent a similar event from occurring again we will have another resident of Callista to be in charge of recruiting temporarily as a back-up, the idea is to have a select team of recruiters ready in case the worst thing happens."

I like this proposal better than the Populist proposal. It's inefficient to have every member of the cabinet have access to the API, but having a select team of recruiters who have access to the API is way more effective. I would propose former Prime Minister Baloo Kingdom be a member of this task force, as well as the Prime Minister and Minister of Domestic Affairs.

"To take Callista to the next level, it is important that the population increases, moreover once Callista has enough people to a new system of ambassadors shall be put into place. The system works as follows, the Minister of Foreign Affairs will choose a citizen/resident of Callista to be the ambassador of 3 regions max, this will help Callista establish relations with bigger regions. Understanding that thanks to the API Callista has been able to reach 100 nations in one month we don’t doubt this could be implemented pretty soon once we reach 110 nations, which we are confident we will reach."

The Minister of Foreign Affairs shouldn't be the only person who can appoint ambassadors. I think the Foreign Minister can propose candidates to be ambassadors, but it should be accepted by the entire cabinet. This doesn't have to be an official requirement, but I believe ambassadors should be citizens who have a pre-existing relationship with the region they will be ambassadors with. Using the population as a metric for implementing the program seems flawed, as Callista can have 110 nations but only 40 active citizens.

"The number of nations that have joined the World Assembly is little, encouraging WA membership is one of the most important things to do in order to defend the region from raiders. Months ago, raiders were threatening to raid Callista if they continue to approve of a proposal of the Security Council, and this is unacceptable behavior. This army will only be used to defend Callista and historical regions such as The Tavern from evil raiders who want to ruin our fun. The objective is to have 30 to 35 nations that are members of the World Assembly so Callista and its domains remain protected."

I think organizing an army to defend Callista and historical regions from raiders is unnecessary. First of all, Callista itself doesn't need an army, since we have an executive founder and a successor. Secondly, requiring 30 to 35 nations to join the World Assembly so we can defend historical regions is too large. In most cases, Callista only needed two to three World Assembly members to liberate a region. Finally, most historical regions are in our possession anyway, so the Army will eventually be obsolete. If the people do want a way to officially organize an "army," I would propose the Minister of Foreign Affairs lead a task force of two to four World Assembly members to defend historical regions.

"Creating a forum for all ambassadors and people from our region to write in as an alternative to Discord, the creating of one will be more demanding, however we believe we have enough people to make it possible, this will take Callista to even greater heights in the future."

I don't think this is necessary at this point. The only regions with forums are large feeder regions with hundreds to thousands of nations. We are a small community of less than a hundred nations if that. If you want a way to communicate with people outside of NationStates, reworking our Discord is way easier.

"Activity is one of the things that are important to a region to be more attractive to new people, one way of doing so is to make fun polls once a week, keep encouraging the discussion of new laws/amendments/bills, and the return of interregional events, these will be held once a month and instead of being regional we will invite people from other regions to participate in them these will give Callista more diversity of activities, which in consequence will make it more attractive. One of these events are the return of the Flag Contest and the Short story contest, with the prizes being banners for your nations and other prizes and surprises we would like to work on."

I can't comment on interregional RMB events, mainly because we've never tried, at least to my knowledge. I think we should try it once, and if it works, let's continue to do it. I believe an interregional event once a month is a stretch, maybe once every two months, although I could be proven wrong. The Great Hiatus has a history of contests such as these though, so I'm confident in their ability to reach out to other regions. However, I don't think polls are an effective way to increase RMB activity, at least in comparison to normal chatting and roleplay.

In conclusion, I think this is a solid campaign dispatch. All of their sections have specific policy proposals, even if some are more popular than others, and it's a breath of fresh air for the Baloominati after their 2024 Initiative. I would consider them the frontrunner for the nomination as of now since I know that Baloo can recruit relatively inactive citizens during campaign seasons. If they make it to a hypothetical second round, they have a chance of defeating the People's Party of Rhenzern's Independent campaign. Whether or not they overcome their recent decline, Baloo's gaffes, and the shock of The Great Hiatus collaborating with the Baloominati remains to be seen.

"The adopted regionalism of the Callistan establishment has brought upon a dubious cloud of isolationism, irrefutable harmful to the wellbeing of the people of this region. Additionally, regardless of the true sentiment of recent and ongoing discourse on extra-regional visitors, it is nonetheless harmful to the interregional alliances so heartily built upon by previous Callistan establishes. As such, the newly proposed Baloominati establishment would actively attempt to reverse these measures and sentiments in an earnest effort to protect the interregional interests of Callista. These efforts would include the active maintenance of foreign relations in all embassy regions, as well as the added focus of participation on the global stage."

This is all fluff and no policy. This paragraph talks about the maintenance of foreign relations in all embassy regions and the added focus of participating on the global stage, but it doesn't explain how Callista is going to focus more on the interregional stage. I also fail to understand how the simple maintenance of foreign relations in all embassy regions would reverse "these measures and sentiments". Speaking of the measure, the "dubious cloud of isolationism" is a total farce. Jokes about the Institute of Cellulose and any other regions are simply that, jokes, and do not, in any way, harm our real relationship with our embassies.

On the hypocrisy of a defined status quo as merely a concept, there is not much else to be said in this document. The concept of a status quo is meaningless in every possible way and is just as pointless of an argument to prevent a perceived superior and well-intended establishment from receiving the support of the people. Naturally, there should then be no discourse on the subject, nor should it be used as valid criticism either legitimately or in jest. Doing so only decreases the credibility of any argument put forward else than that of the status quo from the perspective of the Baloominati of Callista.

I don't understand why Baloo now hates the "status quo" term all of a sudden. In past campaign dispatches, Baloo has defended his administration by using that very same term. For example, in the "Baloominati July 1st 2023 Campaign" one of the taglines Baloo writes is "The Status Quo Need Not Go! Vote For the Bear You Know! (Please)." Perhaps, Baloo has only come out against this term when he is not the status quo. Furthermore, it's strange for Baloo to denounce a simple term that simply means "the existing state of affairs." The Status Quo can be used positively or negatively.

"Most important to be spoken of is the recent centralization of authority into the hands of an elected tyranny by a majority. This is most well exhibited in the removal and merging of multiple government offices into deliberately designed new offices that exploit the current political climate to maximum effect. To solve this dire issue, the new Baloominati establishment would propose the reintroduction of additional offices in Callistan government in an effort to increase the effectiveness of regional management and prevent the consolidation of power into the hands of a few."

Small Government is not a centralization of authority, full stop. All members of the Cabinet are accountable to the people and the Tsar and can be impeached if accused of any infraction or questionable action. These offices were also not merged so the incumbent administration could exploit the current political climate. The Ministerial Reform Bill Draft was passed with wide public support, and all three major candidates, Allertania, Arisyan, and Rhenzern, have pledged to maintain the bill. Finally, reducing the size of the government has increased effectiveness. The current administration has introduced a record number of amendments and bills in a single term, and almost all of these bills were passed with wide public support. The population also spiked on November 4th to 94 nations, the highest it has been since May of 2023.

"In viewing the formation of coalitions for the purposes of political purposes, it has been concluded that the primary reason for their existence is simply political dominance. Through similar means as the status quo argument, political coalitions serve no purpose except to undermine perceived the status quo and provide no form of political unity once a season of elevated political tensions concludes. Those who have participated in these coalitions in the past have admitted to their uselessness outside of the simple purpose of damaging the sanctity of the democratic process. Similarly, the concept of a single-party-state has even more dangerous connotations. Under this doctrine, the Baloominati of Callista would like to, once administrations have been effectively changed, be the first to implement constitutional change to specifically prevent the future existence of one-party states."

This policy proposal is very undemocratic. Preventing the formation of intra-party coalitions would restrict Callista's democracy the most since the One-Party Act. I believe the Callistan citizen has the right to participate in the political process, and a part of that process is to form agreements and collaborate with opposition parties. Indeed, the Baloominati have done this before, working with the Callistan Prosperity Party and the Tsarist Party. The Baloominati continues this even today, by nominating the leader of the Heisenberg Restorationist Party as their LPM Candidate. The only reason this paragraph exists is because Baloo is salty that the Baloominati lost to the People's Coalition in October.

"There have also been abuses seen in the realm of the personal privileges of the individual, more specifically, the private Callistan. Circumstances have arisen in which a private entity has been forced or coerced by the Callistan establishment to operate on terms outside of the authority vested in the government by the constitution and presiding laws. Through an effective Baloominati administrative team, additional amendments can be made to the Callistan Constitution to disallow certain violations upon the private matters of a Callistan individual such as the status of a nation’s World Assembly status, both in the executive and judicial sectors."

This is another paragraph written for personal reasons, and not for the well-being of the Baloominati. It is true, that we did request Baloo to resign from the World Assembly so the new Prime Minister, The Great Hiatus, could become the new WA Delegate. However, this was a one-time occurrence, and I believe it won't happen again. Nevertheless, this section also lacks any specific proposals to "disallow certain violations upon the private matters of a Callistan individual." Baloo speaks of "additional amendments" but only provides a single example, the World Assembly status, and does not explain what the "additional amendments" would specifically do to protect the rights of a Callistan citizen.

"In regards to the state of activity on the regional message board of Callista, the Baloominati have noticed a gradual decline in the percentage of the Callistan population participating in activity is something that the present Baloominati administration believes something can be done about. Through the reimplementation of various regional events and potentially changing the way recruitment is handled, the new Baloominati administration hopes to increase the percentage of the Callistan public participating in casual discussions, debates, and roleplay."

Despite this being the most important subject matter discussed in this campaign dispatch, this is one of the shortest sections in the entire initiative. I agree, there has been a decline in regional activity, but the clear lack of focus on it in this initiative is a concern. Furthermore, the Baloominati argues to increase activity using regional events and recruitment reform, but it fails again to provide exactly how the Baloominati are prepared to do so. I want specific policy proposals that clearly state how Callista is going to solve its problems, not these mindless statements that provide the reader with nothing.

In closing, I am severely disappointed in the Baloominati and in a man I hold in high regard. This campaign dispatch is stuck in the past and held down by Baloo's objectives. There is a clear path to if not victory, a strong performance from the Baloominati, and this initiative is not the way to do it. I was pleasantly surprised when I read the campaign dispatch for the Allertania Campaign, I saw it as the modernized, new Baloominati. This dispatch is stuck in the past, when it needs to embrace the future of reform if it want's to be a viable option for voters.

"As seen in the past, a bloated, overstretched, and large government for any nation can lead to unfortunate consequences down the line. Callista has had a unique history with its government, with many former offices being abolished due to their inefficiency. That is why “IFR” opts to keep the government of Callista small. Less bureaucratic offices that can simply create more challenges and corruption. Offices such as the MoFA and MoRP are to be expected more out of in order to compensate."

This section of the dispatch is just fluff and general statements. Rhenzern is arguing for less bureaucratic offices but they're not giving the reader specific policy proposals or examples. I agree in principle that a small government is better for Callista's small population, but I would like some policy proposals to how the government is going to stay small.

A governments job is to represent the people of Callista. However, as much as we applaud ourselves of being democratic and speaking for the all the people of the Tsardom, a staggering 45% of people who live in it are not actual citizens who participate in our regional affairs such as voting or discussionI. What’s worse is even some of our actual citizens don’t bother to participate either. I believe that the solution for this would have way more government events and regional happenings in Callista in order to gain citizens and new migrants’ attentions. Card Fairs, Trivia, Polling, RP, and many more ideas can be implemented.

This is a unique argument from the Rhenzern campaign that I haven't seen before. Callista has had the problem of a small citizens-to-nations ratio. However, his solution to this serious issue is to increase activity, through interregional events similar to the Baloominati's and roleplay. While I agree that activity needs to be increased, we need to pressure Callista's population to apply for citizenship. This could be done through the welcome telegram, recruitment telegrams, and when welcoming new nations in the RMB.

"Embassy and migrants have been a topic in Callista for a long time now. While some think Callista is “for Callistans only”, I beg to differ. IFR believes that Callista was built on the backs of migrants, from the IOC, BCK, and TVE. Discriminating from the idea that we should stray away from migrants from our fellow sister regions can only lead to more Player count deficit.
I do believe there is a simple solution to the Player deficit: Doubling down governmental efforts to gain new embassies. While yes, many of NationStates regions can be classified as Dead or Puppet storages, there are a few diamonds in the rough. Strong and Active regions similar to our own Tsardom do exist, and we have simply been putting off the time to go out and search. By having the PM, LPM, and the MoFA have the duty of searching for active embassies more often as a priority, Callista can once again grow in numbers with actual staying residence. No longer the occasional noob who drops by only to CTE after a month"

Full disclosure to all of the candidates. No one thinks Callista is for Callistans only. Those are just jokes to clown on the IOC. It doesn't harm our relationship with them, and it hasn't impacted us at all. I support this idea of continuing to look for active regions that are similar to Callista, but we have to ensure they have enough members, are active enough, and share similar values to Callista, as argued by the People's Party.

In conclusion, I think Rhenzern's campaign has declined since October. The Rhenzern Campaign back then had a lot of unique policy ideas, including political forums, term limits, and even a catchy jingle. A lot of this campaign dispatch are vague, general statements that lack the specific policy proposals that I believe are the meat and potatoes of a campaign dispatch. It would be better for the Rhenzern campaign to focus on its roots of nonpartisanship, political openness, and small government. That isn't to say the current campaign is terrible. Rhenzern has found an appeal to his supporters, mainly the Roleplay community, that has led him to lead the current polls. If Rhenzern can unite these two wings of his campaign, non-partisanship with roleplay, then he will be a strong contender in this race.

As a final statement, I'm not endorsing any candidate yet for the general election. It's too early and I still need to consider my options. This is Head Justice Plus Nova Imperii, signing out. God Save the Tsar!