August 18, 2019 // Inquista to Change Official Name and Dissolve Political Parties
RB: A series of wide-ranging amendments have been made to the Fundamental Laws of Inquista, most namely of which include the elimination of political parties and the establishment of ‘theological blocs’. Furthermore, the official name of the Microstate of Inquista has been changed to ‘the Most Blessed State of Inquista’. Good evening. I'm Rosemary Barker and this is Inquista Today.
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RB: Since founding the Black Swan Movement in 2013, Archbishop Craticus has vowed to undo the party system within the College of Bishops, which he has previously described as the “catalyst for political polarization and corruption” within the Inquistan Orthodox Church. After winning a supermajority of seats in the in the 2018 ecclesiastical elections, the ability to amend the Fundamental Laws of Inquista became a guaranteed certainty for the Archbishop and his party. Now, the Archbishop and his supermajority of bishops have done just that, eliminating political parties and replacing them with theological blocs. Using the same supermajority, the Archbishop also changed the official name of Inquista to the Most Blessed State of Inquista, which has come to a surprise to many, including political insiders within Inquista.
RB: In order to make sense of these events, I have two very special guests joining me tonight in the studio. With me tonight is Emmett Viscomi, a political analyst with the Inquistan Tribune, as well as Bradley Costa, the Chief Assistant to the Archbishop. Thank you both for joining me this evening.
EV: Hi. It’s great to be with you.
BC: Happy to see you again, Rosie. Thanks for having us.
RB: Let’s begin with the renaming of Inquista. Where did this come from and why is this being done? Bradley, you’re an assistant to the Archbishop, so let’s begin with you.
BC: Sure. Well, this may seem like a surprise to many, and yes, it has happened suddenly. However, it’s no secret that the Archbishop has never been a fan of Inquista’s formal name since Inquistan reunification. Inquista is 3,082 km2 big. Yes, we’re city-state and by far the smallest nation in the EU in terms of territory, but we’re not a microstate. The Black Swan Movement has felt that this name has undermined everything that Inquista is – we’re the largest economy in Europe, one of the most populated countries in the World, and very culturally and spiritually significant – so it doesn’t seem apt to refer ourselves as something small. It hasn’t made sense since Inquistan reunification, really.
RB: I see that point. Inquista’s name has historically evolved quite often. I mean, the formal microstate name was only adopted when Inquista dissolved into three states: North, South and East Inquista. Before then, we were simply the State of Inquista. When Inquista was a secular state, we were known as the Most Serene Republic of Inquista. So, yeah, I get it. Emmett?
EV: I actually get it, too. I wasn’t so much surprised to hear that this was being introduced to the College of Bishops, as much as I was actually just caught off-guard in terms of timing. At the same time, it’s also very predictably Craticist. I mean, this is the same Archbishop of ours who renamed our national currency after another country in the European Union started using the franc. Archbishop Craticus has sought to shape Inquista through a narrative of religious nationalism, and of course, the Inquistan Orthodox Church is anything but small to this Archbishop, so why would the country be small? Especially, as Bradley has pointed out, there is a lot that the Archbishop feels that the nation can be proud of. Blessed, even.
BC: (laughs) I’m not sure if you’re saying that tongue-in-cheek Emmett, but we are blessed. Inquista is a truly blessed state. We’re a nation founded by Saint Dominico and others following the Great Persecution, and they continue to protect us and look over us from heaven to this day.
EV: The Most Blessed, even.
RB: You bring up a point there, Emmett. Archbishop Craticus did rename the currency of Inquista from the Inquistan Franc to the Inquisto, so there is a lot of precedent to this decision. As you say, putting the identity of Inquista, and emphasising the greatness and uniqueness of our country, is something that the Archbishop has long championed. However, this is a big change. I mean, a supermajority of votes in the College of Bishops was necessary to make this change to the Fundamental Laws of Inquista. Why didn’t Inquistans get a choice in this? Shouldn’t we have held a referendum?
BC: (laughs) No, I don’t think any Inquistan would want a referendum on the matter. The Inquistan people chose to give their overwhelming support to the Archbishop and the Movement when they elected to give them a supermajority of seats in the College of Bishops. Inquistans trust our Archbishop to put the Inquistan Orthodox Church before anything else. When the Inquistan Franc was renamed to the Inquisto, most Inquistans were quite pleased. From what I am aware of, most Inquistans are supportive of the new name as well. We’re moving the country forward.
EV: I actually take exception to this. This really is something that should have been put forward to a referendum. Archbishop Craticus and his party – theological bloc, or whatever – have governed our Church by bashing political elites for being supposedly undemocratic, by promising to democratize bureaucracies, and by fighting what they call political corruption, yet they don’t leave major changes to our Fundamental Laws up to the people. Instead, they’re using their new supermajority to propel anything they can.
BC: Then why even elect our bishops in the first place then? Don’t get this confused: the Inquistan people chose to elect a supermajority. I really think most Inqusitans stand behind our Archbishop on this. It’s a more meaningful name and it’s a more beautiful one too. It would have been an unnecessary expense and waste of time to hold a referendum on a matter that most Inquistans, I’m pretty sure, support.
RB: If we’re going to discuss parties – I mean, theological blocs – and supermajorities, then let’s talk about the new political reforms rolled out the College of Bishops. Emmett, can you explain what theological blocs are, and how these differ from political parties?
EV: Sure. If I had to compare what theological blocs are to anything, I’d actually compare them to political groups that currently exist in the European Union-
BC: (scoffs) Uh, yeah, no.
EV: You can roll your eyes at that, but it’s true. They’re basically nearly identical. Theological blocs are formal groupings of bishops in the College of Bishops, similar to political parties, but less institutionalized and with less structural power. Bishops can move freely between blocs and also form their own. However, to be part of a bloc, or to make new one, you must be an incumbent bishop part of the College. So basically, no outsider theological blocs can exist without being part of the College, and no College outsider, like Councillor Firoux, can lead a theological bloc.
RB: Councillor Firoux is the leader of the Christian League. What does this mean for him?
EV: He certainly isn’t the leader anymore. He can’t lead a theological bloc unless he’s a bishop. If I am to be frank, this is a convenient fact for the Movement, who have now effectively silenced the leader of their opposition.
BC: But see, this is the problem. This isn’t about silencing the opposition. This is about ending political corruption and about depoliticizing the Inquistan Orthodox Church. Our Church shouldn’t be a politically divided institution. It simply doesn’t make sense for people, like Councillor Firoux, sitting in Europolis, deciding what the College of Bishops should do or not do. If he wants to shape the policy of the Church, then he should work to elect himself as a bishop. Our Church should be governed by bishops, not political elites sitting overseas. This is partly why the Archbishop has moved to create these theological blocs. These theological blocs are barred from collecting funds, whether they be from corporations, unions or individuals. Instead, the administrative costs of these blocs will be covered by stipends provided the Church. These blocs are supposed to be a means for like-minded groups of bishops to work together, not to become intuitions in of themselves. We can all wear different stripes, but we’re all playing for the same team, which is our Church.
RB: Okay, so the theological blocs are basically loose grouping of College Bishops? You mentioned that they can’t collect funds, and have their administrative costs covered by the Church, but then how do elections work?
BC: Candidates for election can be endorsed by a theological blocs. If they don’t receive an endorsement, then candidates can run as independents. Independently-elected bishops can then form or join a bloc once they’re in the College. You will see theological bloc endorsements on the ballots, beside the name of candidates. But all the campaign funding, including political fundraising, will have to come from the candidate themselves. Big party apparatuses, like fundraising, have been gutted. The Movement has already banned donations from corporations, unions and foreign entities. However, this means candidates, not parties, must now fundraise for themselves, and they’re only allowed to accept a donation that amounts to 1,000 Inquistos or less, per month, from an individual Inquistan.
EV: The problem is, while we all support any decision to limit corporate greed and political corruption, this is also a blatant attack against the political freedoms of Inquistans. Our unions and businesses have been already been shut out of political decision-making. Fine, I will accept that. But the Archbishop has basically shut out all smaller political players, such as those who are not sitting in the College, of ever making political breakthroughs. All the while, the Archbishop is also silencing their strongest of his opponents, including Councillor Firoux, who happens to have more fundraising money than him. The fact that Councillor Firoux will be barred from leading a theological bloc, despite being democratically elected by his supporters, seems undemocratic and politically oppressive to me. This a political stunt.
RB: What does this mean for the current parties? As of now, they’ve officially been dissolved. There is no Black Swan Movement, there is no Christian League and there is no Green Inquista.
BC: The Archbishop fully intends for his current Secretariat and for his like-minded bishops to remain working together, and they will form a theological bloc in the coming days.
EV: Yeah, I see a very powerful Craticus-led theological bloc emerging out of this. I’m very concerned for the Christian League, who will now not only lose their leader, but they might actually combust entirely. I have no idea how they will cope with this. The Christian League almost split into two separate parties this past summer, when Councillor Firoux narrowly beat Silas Kligenberg for leadership of the party. Silas Kligenberg threatened to start his own party, but it never actually materialised. This could be a chance for the supporters of Councillor Firoux, who mostly comprise of ardent pro-European, liberal Orthodox democrats to form one theological bloc, while the more business-oriented and moderate Orthodox supporters of Silas Kligenberg form their own bloc.
RB: And Green Inquista?
BC: (laughs) Oh no.
EV: They’ll easily be able to transform themselves into their own theological bloc. Bishop Lallana has already promised this. She will surely have a home for her own bishops and for those who subscribe to liberation theology, progressive orthodoxy and ecotheology. It will be interesting to see if anyone else joins her bloc. I don’t see former Green Inquista bishops moving anywhere else. It will be especially interesting to see how her bloc benefits from the former Christian League, who I suspect will not be able to organize themselves into a theological bloc uniformly. There’s a possibility, if the Christian League splits, that Bishop Lallana’s theological bloc is the second largest theological bloc in Inquista, which means yes, libertarian theology will be second biggest force within the Inquistan Orthodx Church.
BC: A force and theology that most Inquistans reject, I might add.
RB: It will be very interesting to see how political machinations develop following these reforms. I will be sure to keep a close eye on them, and we, here at Inqusita Today, will keep you up with the latest.
EV: You will have your work cut out for you.
RB: (laughs) That’s what I look forward to, Emmett. I would like to thank you both for joining me tonight and helping me make sense of these reforms. Emmett, Bradley, thank you.
BC: You’re welcome, Rosie. Anytime.
EV: It’s been a pleasure, thank you.
RB: And thank you all for joining us this evening as we discuss the latest news from Inquista. This has been Inquista Today. Thank you. Good night.