Which Re:Zero Girl Should Win the Election?by Lynzee Loveridge,
When Subaru Natsuki is pulled into the fantasy world of Lugunica, he hardly knows up from down, much less the political machinations that await him and his selected paramour. He's first introduced to the kingdom as a deceptively simple-looking medieval world, but Subaru becomes more acquainted with the strife that permeates the region when he sees a fruit vendor being accosted by street urchins and gets a tour of the city slums. It's survival of the fittest in Lugunica, where family lineage, race, and origin can make or break you.
The kingdom could be due for a change-up, though. A series of events has left Lugunica without an heir apparent, so any lady with a thirst for the monarchy and an appropriate sponsor throws their hat into the ring of the Royal Election, hoping to whip the country into their ideal state. There are five viable candidates; Emilia, Felt, Priscilla Barielle, Anastasia Hoshin, and Crusch Karsten. Three offer some kind of measurable growth for Lugunica, while the other two would surely see its further corruption. The most viable candidates might seem obvious to anyone caught up with the show, but the flaws of leaders like Anastasia and Crusch only come to light when looking back at history.
Crusch immediately establishes herself as one of the most appealing candidates. She's honorable, capable, and hardworking, all exemplary qualities for a future leader. Her ties to the late royal family, paired with her philosophy that citizens earn their keep through their own efforts, garners the favor of Lugunica's conservative class. She'd be a shoe-in if she hadn't doubled down on rejecting the guidance of the dragon, a figure credited with the kingdom's success.
Crusch's political approach is known as a meritocracy: citizens are rewarded based on their own talents and contributions. It's an idea that sounds good on paper and may sound appealing to many Western viewers of the show. After all, it's the same philosophical principle behind "The American Dream", that anyone can make it in the U.S.A. so long as they try hard enough. Crusch would see Lugunica operate the same way. Unfortunately, a meritocracy starts to fall apart when the many variables inherent to humanity come into play. Not every citizen is going to be able-bodied, live in a stable environment, or have access to the same resources. Felt's life and the slums Subaru walks through in the first few episodes are a testament to that inequality.
Meritocracies also make the government and citizens feel less culpable for the state of the disenfranchised. Citizens living at the poverty level can be written off as "not trying hard enough." If only they'd pull themselves up by their bootstraps, they could have the success of families like the Crusches and van Astreas, right?
A meritocracy doesn't breed much empathy, but it masks its flaws by being sold as pure equality and fairness. Crusch would likely be seen as a fair yet hard-nosed ruler, but her reign could easily mean a worse life for the poor and minority classes of Lugunica. Subaru even calls her out on this, although his comment was coming from a pretty angry place.
The ends justify the means, so long as the ends produce a profit. Anastasia is a no-nonsense, crafty head of a trading company. She prides herself on being many steps ahead of her opponents, knowing what they need and how to package it for her greatest benefit. Having a leader this clever would be a boon to any country dealing in foreign policy. Anastasia would outmaneuver anyone when it came to trade agreements or threats of war.
For the citizens themselves, though? Anastasia's political approach quickly leads to cronyism and further gaps in the upper and lower classes. The economy would likely soar upward but that money's destination would be highly dependent on who had resources to offer her. Land owners like Roswaal could turn a tidy profit, while market owners on the main strip would suffer trying to keep up with more affluent competition.
Make no mistake, Anastasia will gladly build Lugunica's first Walmart. Maybe there's nothing outright evil about that, just unpleasant and insidious. All the store's greeters would be adorable mages with cat-speak inflections, but all the merchandise would be manufactured on the backs of less developed nations. Anastasia isn't completely heartless though; at least the cat mages would get comprehensive health care.
Felt is tied with Priscilla for the least likely choice, if only because her selection would mean the absolute end of any established order. Anastasia might usher in bureaucratic kickbacks and unprecedented tax evasion, but Felt will turn the entire government hierarchy on its head. This approach makes sense from her perspective, because the state has never put food in her belly or clothes on her back. Felt grew up learning she had to scrape and steal to make ends meet. Her anger feels justified, as does throwing the rich to the wolves.
One of the central values of anarchism is the evaporation of "property" in favor of "possession." In other words, nothing is really yours completely, and once it's not actively being used, it's up for grabs. This idea eliminates wasteful hoarding of resources. Other tenets of the philosophy are that wage labor is still slave labor and things like rent and profit are unethical.
Felt stands in complete opposition to Anastasia. If she could be trusted to approach anarchy from an (ironically) organized standpoint, it could mean plenty of benefits for Lugunica's working class. On the other hand, historical attempts to implement anarchist systems in the real world have all failed. Anarchists actually took over Paris for about two months in the late 1800s, but their rule was neutered when faced with armed forces. Felt wouldn't have that problem with an army of knights at her side, but the Sages would have to be crazy to select her, knowing she'd oust them the moment she took the throne.
Inevitably, there would be violence up front. There's no such thing as a peaceful political revolution. When the dust clears, it's hard to say what would be left. A kingdom without any kind of governance would invite criminality with no promise of punishment. Felt would effectively burn the kingdom down, unless we're to believe everyone in Lugunica could function as honest and trustworthy people.
Are you ready to kiss the feet of your overlord before she kicks your groveling face across the room? Priscilla is Lugunica's most terrifying prospect. She grew up in an environment where her desires were met unequivocally thanks to her unnatural level of luck. Things that don't work out the way she wants, like her multitude of previous marriages, don't last for long. In fact, her husbands have all died under mysterious circumstances, which should be enough to give potential supporters pause.
As a ruler, Priscilla would be unbothered by her constituents' quality of life. What's most important to her is that they obey her whims without talking back. She doesn't have an altruistic bone in her body and loathes people who rely on others, which means she'd never consider implementing any kind of policy that would benefit citizens she didn't think had "earned" her help, like the sick and the poor.
Priscilla's desire for absolute control would quickly turn Lugunica into a totalitarian state. Propaganda campaigns to persuade the populace into obeying her would come in short order, easily enforced with her access to the kingdom's knights. Priscilla's reign would be one of the worst Lugunica's people had ever seen. She could only maintain power by diverting attention to some other campaign, like maybe eradicating Mabeasts. Throw in a couple of persuasive arguments about how elves and their descendants are really just Mabeasts too, feed into the people's already obvious racism against elves, and she could continue to rule over the kingdom unchallenged.
Emilia's characterization, especially when it comes to politics, has suffered the most over the last arc because she's been almost entirely absent. What we do know from her past actions and her speech to the Sages during the ceremony is that Emilia gets satisfaction from helping others. She states that this is her own selfishness, meaning she likely feels better about herself when she makes others happy. She has also experienced discrimination based on her heritage and appearance for most of her life. This experience gives her empathy for Lugunica's less fortunate members and an intimate understanding of their struggles.
Emilia's number one goal, if chosen, is to champion equality for the country's people. This would mean a major upset in the established order. After all, Lugunica is a monarchy with an established hierarchy of knights, nobility, merchants, and plebeians. This also means that Emilia is the common person's best chance at better living and working conditions, because equality in this case means a more even distribution of power. Emilia's election could very well mean an end to the monarchy altogether (or at the very least an elected parliament).
Emilia is Lugunica's small light at the end of the tunnel for a better future. Crusch and Anastasia are viable options in that they won't send the country to hell in a handbasket, but they will more or less maintain the status quo. Areas of the government and civilian life would change, but parties with all the financial and social power would likely stay the same. Trade agreements would improve and military service members would get more perks, but the middle class and disenfranchised would stay that way.
Re:Zero's anime adaptation wrapped up this week without a resolution to the royal selection, but we can all cross our fingers that Emilia comes out ahead of the competition with time. The fate of Lugunica could very well depend on it! So how do you think the election will go? Let us know what you think of these candidates in the forums!
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