By Mikael, Political Reporter for The Arendelle Guardian
ARENDELLE – The Great Assembly, Arendelle’s parliament, is located at the foothills of the kingdom, in a square that can be reached via footpaths from the ministers’ quarters and several avenues of stately homes and holiday cottages. Composed of the House of Ministers and the House of Jarls, the Great Assembly was the site of combative and fractious arguments today as members of both the lower and upper houses traded increasingly angry exchanges about Her Majesty’s proposed military reforms.
The monarchy is pushing for:
- An increase of manpower in the standing army to 1,000 trained fulltime soldiers (a significant increase for a small kingdom),
- The incorporation of Commander Hilde Von Altheim’s elite “death squad” into the Arendellian army, and:
- Recommissioning the Mundilfari ironclad warship Muspelheim, which Countess Vi once used to attack Arenfjord, and expand the navy’s budget to purchase a new fleet of ships on par with Pride of Elsa.
All three were points of contention as financial, political, diplomatic, and ethical arguments began the moment parliament’s session opened in the morning until well after dusk.
Queen Anna’s ministers were split on whether a standing army of 1,000 would set “a precedent for future monarchical and national pride.” There was also considerable apprehension about setting aside over five hundred thousand Arendellian kroner for bringing back Muspelheim into action. Several ministers were given to reminding others that Muspelheim was given to the monarchy only because the Countess relinquished it after her first defeat at sea. Indeed, operating such a mighty warship alone surpassed half of the current military budget.
Jarl Grieveson told The Arendelle Guardian: “We must be careful that we don’t end up with a self-fulfilling prophecy where we actively seek enemies, expand our military footprint, and in doing so attract more suspicion and animosity overseas. We’re courting the attention of the Ottoman Empire, the Austrians, and the Prussians, not to mention our obligations to our allies in the Entente of Small Kingdoms. We must be careful that we don’t stretch ourselves too thin and fall into the same trap that many states with imperial designs have fallen into.”
Minister Hal Bors, a fiscal conservative and a descendant of one of King Runeard’s loyal ministers, flaunted his isolationist credentials by disputing the fiscal wisdom of expanding the naval budget. “Recommissioning Muspelheim will eat a titanic chunk out of our coffers for the next two years. Even Pride of Elsa, Anna’s flagship, was a gift from the Countess. The truth is that our economy is healthy because we never needed a large military. Should this equation change, we’ll be bled dry quickly.”
Visibly frustrated, Anna raised her voice at several points during her chair of the day’s debate sessions, according to gallery reporters. She made the case that Muspelheim would bolster their chances against Russia’s Baltic Fleet tenfold, and that the standing army would still be a fraction of what other states in Europe had. Gallery reporters also said that she defended Hilde’s work with Mattias: “I know Commander Hilde is feared by all. Believe me, I know firsthand just how strong she is, and she’s like a bottomless well of power, from her weapons to her strategy to her monstrous transformation. But you haven’t seen the awesome strength of Katina Romanov’s generals, the Grand Dukes, like I have. You haven’t seen the damage they can do, the havoc they’ll unleash if we don’t muster all our resources to match them.”
Jarl Gerald, who supported all of Anna’s points, told the Fjord Times: “We can maintain our strong economy and reform the military. But Her Majesty needs to do two things. Kristoff, managing director of the Princely House, needs to mobilize the entire Commerce Chamber of our kingdom to develop a wartime trade plan that leverages our exports during a period of protracted conflict with another state. Secondly, we should actually build more trading links with tsarist Russia and reach out to merchant groups there, forming a lobby that could hopefully moderate or delay a war detrimental to trade interests.”
Debates are expected to continue into the coming weeks if there are no breakthroughs. At this point, the queen has been advised by her inner court like General Mattias and Elsa to build “coalitions of compromise” that can help Anna push through, optimistically, two thirds or three quarters of her original proposal. Anna will continue to build her case for a bold, unprecedented strengthening of the kingdom’s armed forces, while seeking to maintain the kingdom’s reputation as a trade-friendly, financially stable free port.