Princes of Middelburg

Last Wednesday we looked at the Prince who commanded the entire military might of Alfresia. This week, we look at the youngest of the Princes, but perhaps the most powerful.

This week’s Prince is the President!

There are some who argue (the Presidents’ supporters chief among them) that the office of the President is technically older than the Merchant League of Fresia, but this is mere political grandstanding. The Merchant League was created during the Alfresian War of Independence a century ago while the rebel President was only properly sworn in after the nation became free. This technicality is not just a piece of trivia to be used in a weekend’s pub quiz night. Among the six Princes of Middelburg, the rulers of Alfresia, influence matters more than all the money or might in the world; and as so often the case, the youngest sibling always has a lot more to do to gain that influence.

While the President is nominally the head of state for Alfresia, he has not nearly as much power as he would like. Some believe this is intentional, that the other five Princes ensured the President was hamstrung at every turn, so that they can do as they will. The first of these impediments is the Senate who runs the day to day affairs of the nation, passing the laws that keep the island running. While the President has veto power, it is not infinite and many a time a President’s wishes has been overturned by the Senate’s actions. The idealistic calls this the checks and balances of a democratic society. The cynical call it the effectiveness of bribes and backroom deals.

The second impediment to the President’s power are the Princes themselves. Only the Merchant League does not answer to the President, being its own sovereign nation; the other four Princes must, in theory at least, bow to the Senate and thus the President. After all, the Field Marshall and the Supreme Judge are public offices while the leaders of the Progenitorist and Prodigalist faiths are only citizens in the eyes of the law. The truth is a different matter and this is where the influence mentioned above comes into play. The Field Marshall controls the military, the Supreme Judge the courts and the priests the hearts and minds of tens of thousands of faithful Alfresians. The President can’t simply through his weight around, because he know if push comes to shove, the Princes could easily overpower him

This week’s Prince is thus a much more cunning and diplomatic Prince than the others, because only the most cunning, conniving and flattering survive as President. He may not have as much innate power as the other Princes, but hard work creates a power of its own. A lesson, perhaps, in democracy.

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