The Standard One-on-One: Juan Ciervo

CS: First Consul Ciervo, thank you for taking the time to speak with the Coprieta Standard about the Alexandrian economy and your plans for it. To start, can you provide our readers with a brief introduction to the state of the economy as it stands today?

JC: The Alexandrian Economy has suffered from a recession and our continued practice of deficit spending has only prolonged our troubles. Our current tax rate stands at 17% for Income and Corporate Taxes. We’ve prided ourselves on low taxes and hoped for business to come to Alexandria. A three percent hike for businesses isn’t the death knell and is still relatively low when compared to other nations. We want to ensure that Alexandria is still a place for entrepreneurs and innovation.

CS: What are some of the major challenges you see to successful economic development in Alexandria?

JC: Activity is always a problem to economic development. Over the years, we have tried again and again to implement some sort of economic plan and while they’ve always failed for a number of complicated reasons, the lack of activity and involvement with these new systems has been the recurring theme. We have to find some way to get and keep people involved.

CS: You’re on record in the Imperial Assembly as alluding to new legislation concerning the economy being under development. Can you share with us the main points of your economic development plan over the near term?

JC: We are working to establish an economic and political simulation system where the two are interconnected, making them stronger and more likely to last. A key part of this new system would be providing frequent updates on the state of the economy in Alexandria and see how the actions of our elected officials affect the economy. Most of our updates come from the National Bureau of Statistics but the Bureau hasn’t provided many updates recently. My plan would allow the Bureau to make more announcements on the state of our Empire to give our citizens the best information possible to participate in the economy and politics.

CS: Your proposed Alexandrian Tax Code, currently before the Imperial Assembly, will raise average tax rates from 17% to a minimum of 20%, with some exceptions for low-income Alexandrians. Why the tax raise?

JC: Alexandrians want some form of social protection from the government and the current tax system does not allow the government to provide those services. My predecessor, Mr. Reynaud, ran on a platform of raising taxes for this very reason and the people supported his plan. Their desire for these programs promised didn’t disappear when the Reynaud Government was dissolved. We need to be able to pay for these government programs and raising taxes is one of the most viable options.

CS: In closing, as a politician, where do you place yourself on the spectrum, i.e. are you in favour of allowing the market to self-govern or are you in support of a strong government regulatory role?

JC: I believe in moderation. The regulatory role of the government must strike the right balance between a free market and a strongly regulated market. A laissez-faire approach to economics too often leads to corruption and greed and any kind of government overreach inhibits the economic freedom necessary for innovation and success. In finding the right balance, we can ensure that companies don’t take shortcuts to save money at the expense of the health and safety of Alexandrians.

Tax debate returns to Imperial Assembly

GENEVA (CS) – Four months after debate on a previous income tax bill, proposed by the then-Socialist government of Jacques Reynaud, expired with the adjournment of the Imperial Assembly, the topic has returned to the floor with the Ciervo government tabling new legislation. The proposed Alexandrian Tax Code includes a lesser tax burden on the citizenry than its predecessor while providing for the taxation of corporate Alexandria.

First Consul Ciervo’s income tax proposal includes three distinct taxes to be levied within Alexandria: a laddered income tax ranging from 5% to 50% of a citizen’s earnings; a flat corporate tax of 20%, levied as well on Alexandrian’s foreign earnings; and a 20% capital gains tax on personal non-inventory asset investments. These taxes would be assessed at the end of each calendar year and citizens and corporations with balances owing remitting payment within ninety-days.

Katarina Kaan, in her address to the Assembly, voiced opposition to the legislation on the basis of what she viewed as an inadequate corporate tax rate. Said Kaan, “I find it exceedingly worrying that if I was a company I would be better off than if I was human … A tax system, in order to be fair, must apply to all incomes the same way.” Kaan further called for the Assembly to define what constitutes income, noting that volunteers should not be required to pay taxes on gratuities received.

Ciervo was quick to dismiss the criticism on corporate taxes, noting that the rates he has proposed “raise the taxes on a vast majority of Alexandrians and every company in our Empire.” Ciervo, in defence of the rates alluded to the real value of the resulting tax payable, stating, “[Corporation] owners make far more than their [employees] and under this system, the tax rates of [Alexandrians] is far lower than that of their employers.”

Alexandria presently has a flat income tax rate of 17% for both individuals and corporations. Ciervo’s proposal, if enacted, would effectively reduce the tax burden on low-income individuals earning less than 45,000 Ecus annually.

Ciervo Government confirmed by Emperor

GENEVA (CS) – The National Unity Government led by First Consul Juan Ciervo, tasked by the Emperor with rejuvenating the Alexandrian Empire on the heels of the collapse of the previous Reynaud Government from inactivity, has received Imperial confirmation. The confirmation, a week after passage by the Imperial Assembly, provides formal approval of Ciervo’s appointment, allowing him to officially take the reigns of the Imperial Government.

In his inaugural address to the Imperial Parliament, Ciervo did not reserve criticism of his predecessor. Said Ciervo, “We have suffered from the deafening silence and absent leadership of many high-ranking Alexandrians … I believe each of us had high hopes for the Reynaud Government …. Unfortunately, we were only met with disappointment as our leaders disappeared and neglected the duties and responsibilities of the offices they held.”

Ciervo has set his main priority as reinvigorating Alexandria, encouraging all citizens to participate in upcoming debates on how to move the micronation forward. “We cannot solely rely on the efforts of a few members,” he reflected. A number of legislative initiatives will be brought forward, including the ratification of the Micras Treaty Organization Convention on the Laws of the Sea, a tax code and an operational budget for the Imperial Government.

In addition to Ciervo, his cabinet has also been confirmed to include Sonia Heriault as Second Consul (Home Minister) while Lucien Albertine retains the portfolio of Third Consul (Foreign Minister).

Reynaud out, Ciervo in as Alexandria rebuilds

GENEVA (CS) – After a turbulent period of government inactivity that has seen the replacement of both the First Consul and the Speaker of the Imperial Assembly, Alexandria has begun its struggle to rebuild as Juan Ciervo has replaced former First Consul Jacques Reynaud who became inexplicably absent early last month.

The change in government and speakership was sparked by Emperor Edgard II in a lengthy public address in which he labelled the inactivity of the Reynaud government and the inability of the Imperial Assembly to quickly find a solution as a “serious constitutional crisis.”

The Emperor was blunt in responding to those citizens who advocated earlier in the crisis that he avoid declaring a state of emergency and work to solve the crisis within the existing constitutional framework. “I believe that the people of Alexandria know what’s best for them … but if we are to make this [constitution] work, then the citizens must march to their Imperial Assembly and elect a new Speaker immediately [to allow the Assembly to confirm a new government],” said the Emperor before appointing Ciervo as the new First Consul.

As a result of the Emperor’s speech, veteran Imperial Assembly Speaker Primo de Aguilar was quickly replaced by Reinaldo da Silva on a motion by Ciervo after having been inactive in the role since January 6. Ciervo’s motion invoked a little-used standing order ruling that a Speaker inactive for five consecutive days is considered to have resigned the position. Said de Aguilar in response to his surprise ouster, “Mea culpa, Mr. Speaker. Mea maxima culpa.”

Meanwhile, Ciervo in the first days of his tenure has not appointed a new Second Consul yet, but in keeping with the Emperor’s wishes, he has retained Third Consul (foreign minister) Lucien Albertine in the Cabinet.

Imperial Assembly moves to choose First Consul

Geneva, Alexandria; ABCC News – The newly opened 3rd session of the Imperial Assembly has begun the process to select the nation’s First Consul after formally reconfirming Primo de Aguilar (I-SA) to a second term as Speaker earlier this week. The incoming Reynaud Government is facing a clear vote of confidence in an Assembly that is currently sharply divided, with the chamber’s Independents holding the balance of power. The composition of the Assembly (at time of press)holds a slight edge for Reynaud’s Social Democratic Rally (5), against Ciervo’s Mouvement Democrate (4). The decision weighs heavily over the Assembly’s two independents – Speaker Primo de Aguilar (I-SA) and Reinaldo da Silva (I-SM).

“The work da Silva took to block one of his own Government’s key legislative pieces in the Income Tax Bill might bring him to support Ciervo,” says Professor George Clouseau of the Institute of Political Studies in Valenciennes. The November 2012 election brought forth a very divided and scared electorate, says the Professor. “We have to understand that the deep political transformation that the Empire has endured after the traumatic events of the Bouvet assasinations has made voters nervous, and people are still making their minds up.”

The majority of the Alexandrian electorate gave a slight majority to the Social Democratic Rally in this election, but the election edge will be short lived. In three constituencies across the Empire, the votes are still being counted – Eisenstadt in Galatia, Guthrie in Luthoria and Fontainebleau in Baudrix. In Eisenstadt, Katrina Kaan is projected to win a strong victory on behalf of a regional socialist Galatian party, the Workers’ Party. In Guthrie, newcomer Eimhear Schneider is projected to deliver that seat to the Mouvement Democrate, and in Fontainebleau, Jean-Marie Toussaint is on track to do the same. These will tip the composition of the Assembly firmly towards the Movement Democrate for the forseeable future.

Imperial Assembly opens as political conventions come to close

The Emperor en route to the Palace of the Tuileries for the opening of the Imperial Assembly.

Geneva, Baudrix; ABCC News – After a brief delay brought upon by added security measures and sweeps after the Bouvet assassinations, the opening of the Imperial Assembly pushed forward today, with a speech from His Imperial Majesty calling on the Imperial Assembly to “work to find common ground, especially in policy questions that affect the Empire greatly”. The Emperor made special mention of the economy and threats from abroad as two issues that the Assembly had to deal with. The Speech from the Throne ended with a brief but direct appeal to the Alexandrian people: “Rise up to the occasion and face our challenges.”

With the Mouvement Democrate and the Social Democratic Rally bringing their conventions to a close, the battle for the Palace of Vranscia begins – the Mouvement Democrate has elected Juan Ciervo as its new Party Leader and nominee for First Consul. The Social Democratic Rally confirmed its choice of Jacques Reynaud as leader, as well as confirming its political platform.

Mouvement Democrate showing signs of life post-Dev

Members of the Mouvement Democrate meet in Chambery for a rally in rememberance of Sebastian Dev.

Geneva, Alexandria; ABCC News – Following the crippling blow that was the Dev assasination in Bouvet to the Mouvement Democrate, interim MoDem leader Pierre Guigou has assumed control of the party and initiated its process to call for a convention to elect a new leader for the party to lead them in the next Imperial Assembly. “We must call for a party convention as soon as we can, because we need the Movement Democrate to continue, and I will seek to continue it for the time being,” stated Guigou. Pierre Guigou is the Deputy representing the constituency of Las Cruces, San Martin, and he previously served as Second Consul during the first Dev Government, where he pushed for reforms for the national census and the citizenship naturalization process.

The Mouvement Democrate has shown some sign of revival with the addition of Juan Ciervo, a seasoned Alexandrian politician, to its ranks. Alejandro Castillo, currently serving as a member of the Reynaud Government for the culture portfolio, is also counted as a member of the party as well. No details as to what this “political convention” would be like are known yet, this is unprecedented in Alexandrian history. At the time of publication, the MoDems look on track to call the convention, with Ciervo seconding the motion to call it. It remains unclear to most who will succeed Dev to the post of Party Leader. “The bet is on Guigou or on Ciervo to step up and lead,” says Professor George Clouseau of the Institute of Political Studies in Valenciennes. “They both have a lot of experience on their corner and could lead the party.”

The Mouvement Democrate, however, faces an even greater challenge – declining numbers and support following the death of Sebastian Dev have put the party in a weakened position against the strong and rising support that the new Social Democratic Rally of incumbent Jacques Reynaud. “If the leader of the MoDems, whomever it is, challenges Reynaud for the Consularship, it may be an uphill climb. The Social Democratic Rally is poised to get a working majority in the next Imperial Assembly, and the MoDems could find themselves in the awkward position of being in the opposition for the first time,” stated Professor Clouseau. What gives the Mouvement Democrate a measure of both hope and concern are the amount of independents in the Assembly, a staple in Alexandrian politics. “Their only chance is to get the independents on board in the vote.” A colleague of Closeau’s Vanessa Gonzalez disagrees, stating that “Reynaud has a good team and has the support of a majority in the Assembly, and the Mo Dems are counting only on three votes, best case scenario. Castillo could possibly defect to the Social Democratic Rally in the next Assembly to stay on the Government, and we will see Alexandria’s first social democrat Government be elected in its own right.”