GOVERNMENT PROPOSES SURPRISE PLAN ON MEISJEGRONDEN, OVERSEAS TERRITORIES
Grand Pensionary De Witte-Beulen submitted a draft while speaking to the States General this morning
The Landsraad may finally have a new Lord President after almost a year of vacancy, but the true core of the political crisis which sparked in the Kingdom is still on the table: the accession (or not) of Meisjegronden as a new Prefecture of New Tarajan.
Until now, the largest remnant of the Tarajani colonial empire has been governed as a Grand Duchy, under a Viceroy directly appointed by the King, and with autonomous legislative, executive, and judicial bodies. This meant that, at all effects, all Noble Houses residing there, and convening in the Landsraad in Groenestadt, Meisjegronden's capital, were considered to be Minor Houses, depending from the Royal House, despite some of their lordships being as large and prosperous as some on the Tarajani mainland. Since the last decade, a political current among these Houses has looked for allies inside the Royal Landsraad, to push forward the full accession of Meisjegronden as part of the Kingdom, transforming the Grand Duchy into a Prefecture, and thus allowing its Houses to take the rank of Major Houses, and to seat inside the powerful legislative assemby in Astana. Such a project had found its supporters among those Major Houses governing the eastern half of the Kingdom: suffering from the permanent majority enjoyed by their westernmost counterparts, and protesting against decades of policies (in their opinion) favouring too much the western half of New Tarajan, these Houses never hid their idea that the inclusion of Meisjegronden's aristocracy inside the Royal Landsraad had the potential of bringing in a more balanced relationship.
With their candidate, Grand Duke Wilhelm V Van Ceytal of Middensteden, now appointed as Lord President, seems that the road is finally paved for realizing this ambitious project. However, it is a road full of obstacles: already during the celebrations at Palace Van Geldern, the heads of the western Houses didn't hide their intention to fight hard against any proposal in this sense. Tensions are still high, as visibly demonstrated by the behavior of Prince Godfried III Van Sondenburg: the heir and successor of Maximilian V, the deceased Lord President, didn't join the celebrations, sending his cousin, Philippe Van Sondenburg-Vittil, as his representative. The defiance of such a prominent member of the western aristocracy didn't escape notice, and rumors from the Royal Palace indicates that the King himself have sent a letter to the prince reprimanding his decision.
Raadspensionaris De Witte-Beulen, speaking after the meeting of the States General.
In order to defuse a new stalemate, and to give an answer to both the Houses and the public opinion in the Kingdom and in Meisjegronden (where protests erupted since last year, almost ending in riots in Groenestadt), Grand Pensionary De Witte-Beulen announced a new proposal by the government in front of a joint Landsraad-Diet session in Palace Van Telmar-Sigmaringen-Hurris. The draft submitted to the two legislative assemblies aims at abolishing for good the status of Royal Colony, replacing it with a new administrative and political structure for both Meisjegronden and all the others Overseas Territories of New Tarajan.
Each territory (including Meisjegronden) would gain the rank of Overseas Prefecture, governed by a Stadhouder, with powers substantially similar to those enjoyed by Prefects in the mainland. The difference will be that each Overseas Prefecture (with its States officially recognized as such) will have its Stadhouder elected by the local States General, and subsequently appointed by the King. The Stadhouder will then represent his or her Prefecture inside the Royal Landsraad, though the local Houses will obtain the rank of Major Houses.
A political compromise, an attempt at accepting the substance of the requests forwarded by the eastern Houses and their Meisjegronden's allied, at same time easing some of the most critical concerns of their western rivals. As for any kind of compromise, though, the risk is to dissatisfy everyone: indeed, the new seats inside the Landsraad will barely be enough to counter-balance the traditional predominance of the western States inside the assembly; also, the ambiguous position of the overseas Houses, detaining the formal rank of a Major House but without actually enjoying one of its strongest prerogatives, has the potential to become a political bomb.
Moreover, to transform the old colonies in Prefectures means that the Royal House Van Vinkel will be effectively deprived of its high sovereignty upon them in favour of the Crown (it should be remembered that, in the Tarajani system, the two concepts are not the same), a change far from being purely nominal or symbolic, and which risks to undermine the support that the Grand Pensionary has enjoyed from the Royal Palace, until now. Also, it is yet to be seen what the potential consequences would be, for the development and the economic, social, and political position of the new Prefectures inside the Kingdom and in respect of the outside world: the ties linking them with the mainland could be strengthened, but at the same time the new chair of Stadhouder, and the greater autonomy granted to these new kind of Prefectures risks to lay the ground for independentist movements which could explode sooner or later.
These, however, are only hypotheses. If De Witte-Beulen has moved as far as this in order to find a viable compromise, it is solely because he believes the situation requires it; an opinion shared by many, both inside and outside the government, who would prefer not to see a repeat, and perhaps a more dangerous one, of the crisis which had shaked the Kingdom during the last year.
Whatever the intentions, now the ball has passed in the hands of the States General: both the Diet and the Landsraad will have to debate the proposal, eventually modifying it, before passing it into law. It is likely that it will be a long, and far from straightforward, process.