Solstice Report: Electoral Participation Down, Sandus Reaches New Milestone

And, just like that, another three months have zoomed by—and thankfully not Zoomed by. Our introduction is short this season, since this report ended up being longer than usual. We wish you happy holidays and a merry Solstice, and we hope that the new year will be fortunate, wholesome, auspicious, goodly, and fruitful to you!

For now, take a look back at the big event that started this season, the Sôgmô’s and the Sanôba Coniunx’s royal wedding on 25 September in Ann Arbour, Quercus Candida.

Sôgmô Reëlected Unanimously, Participation Lowest in Years

The mandate of the Honourable Sôgmô Gaius Soergel Publicola was unanimously renewed again this election, marking þess tenth election since ascending to the throne of the State of Sandus on 13 April 2011. Participation was down this year, however, since only 58.8% of eligible voters voted in the election. By comparison, in 2020 75% of eligible voters voted and 2019’s participation was 70%, though this is the first election that many newer Sandum citizens were eligible to vote in. 2018’s participation was 88.9%, and in 2017 it was 75%. One citizen listed on their ballot, under the conventional “how was voting” question, that they were unaware this year that the election was happening since no announcements were made on Discord until the election was almost over. Others have raised the spectre of increased inactivity among certain Sandum citizens. Regardless, at 58.8%, the 2021 Winter Solstice Election has the lowest turnout of the last five elections.

This year’s participation was most felt in petitions, though, with a record four petitions made to the Sôgmô. In most years, the “easement of petitioning” section largely sits empty, though it is still included on the ballot according to Sandum convention because the right of suffrage is historically derived from the right to petition the Sôgmô. This right of petition, established by the Founding Law, was more important when Sandus was a largely absolute monarchy, much different from today’s republic. This year, though, the petitioning section included a wide range of suggestions for the Sôgmô, but these can also now be taken up by any citizen in the Council or even by the Party through the Party’s plans. Since the petitions are public information, here are the four petitions that were filed:

  1. Policies regarding promotion of media production
  2. More holiday feasts
  3. Codifying Sandum laws and decrees, helpful for ready-made citizenship materials and for our legal system (abridged)
  4. An LGBTQ+ democratic governing body (abridged)

Some of these petitions are discussed below in later sections.

Ten years old this year, Sandus’s tradition of holding elections in the ten days before the Winter Solstice is engrained in our culture and our constitution. On the one hand, the Founding Law decrees that “all power is to the Sôgmô” and Sandus has remained, only in some ways, firm in its monarchical roots. On the other, however, over the last decade of þess reign the Sôgmô has fostered democracy in the State of Sandus through laws placing democratic barriers on their power, the Enfranchisement of the Party, and the Establishment of the Council. In terms of laws, in September 2011, the Sôgmô passed a law that established the principle of having annual elections where the question is not who is to be the Sôgmô—an awesome and laborious power to wield in Sandus—but rather if the reigning Sôgmô has the necessary legitimacy to govern. The Sôgmô is still very much a monarch, not a president whose holder changes term after term, yet also a monarch beholden to the principle of popular sovereignty. If það does not maintain þess proper legitimacy to govern, there could be possible constitutional ramifications: voters are asked why they have voted “no,” and if there are additional constitutional barriers that ought to be placed on sagamorial power. These barriers can include a wide range of structural changes, but also even the forced abdication of the Sôgmô and/or the dissolution of the monarchy.

Sandus gave $12,000 USD Charitably in 2021, passing $10k milestone

Charity taxes are in and, out of six respondents, Sandum citizens have donated $2,384.17 USD to charity in the last season. Though this is down from all previous seasons in the last year, it brings the total charity tax contribution in Sandus for the past year to $12,032.54! For the first time in Sandum history, Sandus has donated more than $10,000 USD to charity! In the Winter, Sandum citizens donated about $2,750, in the Spring around $3,200, and in the Summer close to $3,700. This is a significant rise from last year’s $9,392.26, and from 2019’s $3,048.83. Where this charity went this season includes organisations like local (non-Sandum) coöperatives, religious organisations, food charities, Habitat for Humanity, Wikipedia, environmental nonprofits, and animal welfare organisations.

Money was not the only charitable contribution in Sandus this season, though. Sandum citizens volunteered more than 300 hours this season, more than this year’s previous seasons. (The charity tax form does not ask, however, what this volunteer work goes to.) Some citizens also donated various other items to charity, including household toys, clothes, homemade crafts, and food and drink.

New Cult Takes Charge, Expands Roles for Future Sodality Reform

The Cult of Athena is still a relatively new sodality, or work-group, of the Collegium Sacerdotum. It is dedicated to organising holidays and ceremonies to cultivate our matron goddess, Athena, but also to do other broadly cultural works generally. Though created in the Summer, this season saw the focus of the cult take new life as the cult celebrated two of its three major holidays: the Armilustrium (19 October) and Athena’s Day (29 November). Both holidays were celebrated with dinners and get-togethers of citizens and Sandum-adjacent people, but also included new or largely revamped and expanded rituals. For example, the Armilustrium ritual, which has been celebrated for years in its current form, this year included new elements with the pouring of libations, offering of food, and a mid-rite discussion of the “arms” guests were washing. The Athena’s Day ritual was entirely new, however, and included a short rite given in thanksgiving to the Sandum matron as the country’s and workers’ matron.

The cult’s new foray into the college’s scene has the potential to shake up much we do in Sandus, but especially in the college. For example, this is the first time that a work-group has taken over the responsibility of holding and putting on a holiday or ceremony. This devolution of cultural powers is a new one, but the Sôgmô in their Blue Lecture this month emphasised that cultural devolution will be increasingly important in the new year in Sandus. Cultural devolution, that is, when more state organs and people take a part in planning and holding Sandum cultural events, will ensure the longevity of the State of Sandus, Sandum culture, and the Sandum people. More organs can take over holidays and other cultural responsibilities, such as the Party over socialist holidays, the Sandum Church and the Sandum Sangha (both Collegium sodalities) over Christian and Buddhist holidays, and so on. Nothing is stopping coöperatives, state enterprises, branches of government, provinces, or ministries from organising their own events and programs. Now that the Cult of Athena has taken an enlarged role over certain cultural events, even including the most important Sandum cultural holiday, the Armilustrium, other state organs can assume a larger role, too.

The Cult’s basic document, however, is a single document that describes what the cult does, what its membership does, and who runs the cult. An exemplar for future sodalities’ basic documents is the cult’s basic document, that is descriptive rather than legal in nature. The document lacks, for example, articles and clauses, instead preferring to have a more descriptive document that explains what the cult does. There is even a section for the cult’s sacred objects, rites, and ceremonies, as well as religious rules that must be kept by the cult and its members. Another section even establishes what are believed to be micronationalism’s first mystery cult, the Oaken Mysteries of the Goddess. Future sodalities in their slated development planned last August’s convocation can keep this document in mind for future reference.

Party to Draft New Constitution

At its November 2021 congress, the Citizens’ Party of Sandus voted to approve a draft of the party’s new constitution that will come before Party members around the end of April or the beginning of May. The new constitution contains many of the same organs and positions of the current constitution ratified in December 2016, but with some new additions and much more clarification. The new constitution will clarify, for example, who is a Party member, how they become one, and what credentials members ought to have. But the new constitution also creates new processes that dictate, for example, how members are considered inactive or are disciplined for criminal convictions or promoting anti-socialist and anti-proletarian principles.

The new constitution will even augment the Party’s organisation. To date, under the current constitution, there are only three organs: the Party Secretary, the Central Committee, and the Party Congress. The new constitution clarifies that the Party is composed of committees (thematic work-groups) and chapters (geographical work-groups established by the Central Committee). The new constitution even begins to list, for the first time, what the powers of the Party Secretary, Central Committee, and Party Congress are. The Party’s Central Committee has a new coat of paint, so to speak, too, since what was before a committee of members appointed by the Party Secretary will now become a committee of the Party Secretary, the Sôgmô ex officio, and a new third position. Tentatively named the “commissioner,” this third official may also oversee work historically left to communist commissars or like whips in liberal, capitalist democracies.

Finally, the current constitution’s two sentences on the party platform now merits a whole section that states the purpose of the platform, how the platform is drafted and ratified, and what role individual Party organs play in drafting the platform.

While firmly rooted in the current Party, the new constitution, whose substance has already been approved by the Party Congress in November, will take a few months to draft and discuss among the members of the drafting committee that the Party Secretary will appoint. The constitution’s final form will be ratified in the Spring by a special meeting of the congress.

Sandum Discord Reform: Intentionally Simpler

The State of Sandus’s Discord server, a major hub for citizens and non-citizens alike, will be recast in the new season in order to streamline the more creative and imaginative feel of the server today.

In today’s server, each chat channel serves a particular purpose and a particular organ, but there exist two different categories for chat, primarily: in the category “la Place de la République” citizens can take part in language-specific and topic-specific informal chat in several appropriately named channels (e.g., “Café des Camarades” is for citizens-exclusive chat, “Fanum Sacerdotum” is for religious, philosophical, and cultural chat). Meanwhile, in “Labour Glory Park,” more business-oriented chat takes place in channels named for coöperatives and state enterprises. Yet there are even three more categories: the “Palace of State” category is where different governmental organs share announcements and chat; media is shared in the “State Media Enterprise” category; and, finally, there is a category for voice chats generally.

In the future, though, the Discord server will emphasise function over creativity. The five categories of various chat channels will be reduced to two or three, one primarily for chat, another for government and economic organs, and possibly a third for media or other pressing and important topical conversations. New roles and rules will be made, too, reflecting the change toward functionality and sociability.

Sôgmô to hold “Consultative Days” for Coöperatives, Enterprises

The Sôgmô will hold a number of “consultative days” for the Central People’s Government and Sandum state enterprises where members and officials will discuss governance and affairs in their respective organs. Since coöperatives fall under the jurisdiction of the Common Economy, an intermicronational organisation that includes Sandus and its Social System ally Überstadt, similar events for coöperatives will be organised and hosted by the Commission for the Common Economy.

Consultative days will work much like standard klatsches in their open format but centred around a common theme, and members from each organisation and the interested public will be invited to attend. Their membership, limited to those interested, will make these events more goal-focused, unlike klatsches which are more free-form. Though the days will feature largely brainstorming conversations, the Sôgmô will be present as a facilitator for the conversations, ensuring the group’s attention to both the needs of the organ and the interests of the Sandum state. The most important task at hand for most organs is to lay the foundation for future activity, whether through the creation of a basic law or constitution or through other administrative business.

Below are a number of such consultative days and when (roughly) they will be held. It should be noted that these consultative days will not affect the monthly Klatsch schedule.

Winter 2022 (December – March)

1. Tellus Horticultural Coöperative: Though Tellus already has a basic law in the form of a sagamorial charter from 28 July 2020, the coöperative needs to meet to put it into effect by creating gardens, accepting new members, and electing a director. Tellus is ranked first because of the immediacy and inflexibility of the growing season, but the coöperative falls under the CCE’s jurisdiction.

2. Collegium Sacerdotum: The college has a number of internal groups that correspond to different religious, philosophical, and cultural traditions, and a number of them have never met or do not have a clear basic law. Here, using the old system of liturgies may be helpful in encouraging individual citizens to meet and take part in affairs. Using the Cult of Athena’s recent basic document as an example, the following sodalities are especially under the Sôgmô’s attention for making a basic law and establishing a work schedule:

  • Ecclesia Sanda: The Sandum Church, an ecumenical and non-denominational Christian fellowship in Sandus, requires a basic law and schedule of holidays. Though currently run by a “bishop,” the bishop is inactive and others have raised suggestions for a more accurate, and encompassing, name for the position. A conversation can be expected sometime in February or March.

Spring 2022 (March – June)

2. Collegium Sacerdotum (continued): More consultative days can be expected for the following two sodalities.

  • Sangha Sandus: The Sandum Sangha, our all-Buddhist assembly, also lacks a founding law, though it has recently been doing some work with organising meditation and prayer sessions. More work could be done regarding holidays.
  • Sodalitas Sanctis Faciundis (“the Sodality for doing Sancta things”): A sodality dedicated to Sancta but also for all (neo)pagans, polytheists, Wiccans, and witches, this sodality too is in need of a founding law. The sodality must also consider where its jurisdiction and authority end, especially in terms of both Sancta and modern neopaganism.

3. Erganê Artisanal Coöperative: Like Tellus, Erganê also falls under the CCE’s jurisdiction, and so a consultative day will have to be scheduled through the CCE. In many ways, though, Erganê needs more work than Tellus, its older sibling. Unlike Tellus, Erganê has no founding charter, merely a founding announcement from 24 August 2014. Already some interested members have begun meeting to discuss steps toward setting up the coöperative, but in the new year the Sôgmô hopes that a discussion will push forward the creation of a founding document and a clearer delineation of what is included in “artisanal.”

Around the same time in the Spring, as is expected, the Party will receive its new constitution. Though not requiring a consultative day with the Sôgmô, this is also on our radar for an event that will have to happen soon.

Summer 2022 (June – September)

4. State Media Enterprise: As the organ responsible for all Sandum media, the enterprise not only needs a basic document saying how it is run and who is a member, but also detailing how individual media outlets and other projects are managed.
Relatedly, the Sôgmô hopes to encourage a consultative day for the Occidental Chronicle, a Common Economy coöperative, especially to delineate the boundaries between both the SME and the Chronicle.

5. SCF-FCS: Despite a lot of interest and support earlier this year, the sports coöperative also still needs some clarification as to how it is to be constituted and what kinds of events and teams are expected to be a part of the coöperative.

6. A Queer liberation front?: Today’s election results have shown that there is at least some public interest in establishing an LGBTQ+ democratic body, and the likeliest time to see something like one develop is right before LGBTQ+ Pride Week in Sandus (traditionally the week of 28 June). What form it will take, what its aims are, and who is included are all considerations that will have to be made.

7. Central People’s Government: While not economic organs, at the end of the Summer, the Sôgmô intends to hold consultative days for ministries and for two topics of reform. For the ministries, the most important consultative day will be for the Ministry of Human and Environmental Health, an aspect of Sandum government not yet truly developed. For reform topics, two large ones stand out: provincial reform and the creation of a judicial system.