2019–20 New Eiffelic constitution crisis
|Part of the crisis in New Eiffel
|14 December 2019–1 April 2020
|Principality of New Eiffel
|Prince Zabëlle I, head of state
James Frisch, author of the constitution
Janus Smith, Prime Minister since 25 December 2019
Leon Montan, leader of the Communist Party
The constitution crisis in the erstwhile Principality of New Eiffel between 14 December 2019 and 1 April 2020 was the first of several unrelated but consequential political crises that eventually led to the dissolution of the micronation. The crisis began when Prince Zabëlle I, attempting to copy and paste the constitution of New Eiffel from a digital note-taking app onto an online document where anyone could view it, inadvertently lost the only known copy. This brought New Eiffel's political and legal stability into question. The crisis was prolonged by the lack of action from politicians, an inadequate political infrastructure and confusion over who the members of parliament were.
On 11 February, non-New Eiffelic citizen James Frisch offered to write a new constitution, with the final draft approved by Zabëlle I and Prime Minister Janus Smith of the Yellow Party on 5 March before being proposed via a public referendum held between 18 March and 1 April. The new constitution was officially adopted that same day, thus concluding the crisis. However, a political crisis began on 29 April, thus commencing a series of political unrest that would eventually result in the dissolution of New Eiffel. The constitution crisis is now retroactively regarded as the beginning of the "crisis in New Eiffel".
The Principality of New Eiffel was a micronation located within the United Kingdom that was founded by Zabëlle Skye (who became Prince) on 11 August 2018. It succeeded the earlier Republic (31 December 2017–4 June 2018) and Kingdom of New Finland (4 June–11 August 2018). On 1 March 2019, the first constitution of New Eiffel was adopted. Written by Skye, it was the foundational document for the legal and political structure of the micronation, although elections for the prime minister were previously held independently from it on 25 December 2018. The constitution was stored on Apple's note-taking app, Notes.
According to the Royal Archives—the former national archives of New Eiffel which now preserve the erstwhile micronation's history—the political structure of the micronation was "abysmal". Skye, the microgenitor of New Eiffel, was more interested in the infrastructure (particularly transport), media and culture of the micronation to the point of neglecting the development of a functional political structure. As New Eiffel consisted of only five active citizens[a]—all residents of the micronation—the existence of an advanced political system was deemed as unnecessary by Skye.
As New Eiffel's reputation in the MicroWiki sector began to grow from early April onwards, coinciding with a decreasing interest in the micronation from the residents, Skye began pondering the acceptance of online citizens from the MicroWiki community. Accordingly, on 18 May, the first two foreign citizens were accepted, and every subsequent month would see at least one new online citizen admitted into the principality. With this new intake of online citizens (who met via New Eiffel's national Discord server), many expressed interest in participating in New Eiffelic politics. While Skye supported having online citizens be able to vote, Janus Smith, leader of the Yellow Party, opposed this on the grounds that online citizens did not physically live within New Eiffelic territory.
In mid-December, following the Elijahgate scandal between 27 November and 1 December—consisting of a covert plan by Elijah M and Smith of the New Eiffelic Party of Individualism to convert New Eiffel into a voluntary, government-less anarcho-capitalist micronation (a micrononstate)—and the upcoming general election on 25 December, many citizens wanted to be able to view the laws of New Eiffel. Indeed, during Elijahgate, several claims were made that Elijah and Smith's plan was unconstitutional, although the constitution was not available to the public.
On 14 December 2019, while attempting to copy and paste the constitution from Notes onto an online document so that anyone could view it, Skye inadvertently lost the only known copy of New Eiffel's constitution. He announced this on the national Discord server to a critical response from politicians, who called him unprofessional and inadequate. The only existing law documentation within New Eiffel were now acts passed through parliament, although the legality of these acts as well as the proposing of further bills was brought into question as there was no longer any legal document declaring the parliament as authoritative. However, the Political Party Amendment (Act №16)—which set a minimum membership threshold for parties—was passed successfully on 18 December. After much deliberation from parliament members, on 20 December, parliament was suspended until 6 January 2020.
Without a constitution, the general election still commenced on 25 December 2019, electing Smith of the Yellow Party as prime minister. An early attempt to write a new constitution occurred on 30 December, headed by Leon Montan of the Communist Party who invited Skye, leader of the opposition Christina Nowell of the New Eiffel Anti-Individualist Alliance and citizen Cristian Dobrev. However, the initiative never materialised. When the suspension of parliament concluded on 6 January 2020, no further parliamentary sessions would ever be held due to the lack of a response from Janus. Additionally, the confusing electoral process resulted in the seats of parliament being left undefined with further dispute of who its members actually were. Combined with the lack of action from political parties and Skye commencing a brief hiatus from micronationalism, no new constitution was yet to commence development.
On 11 February, non-New Eiffelic citizen James Frisch approached Skye and offered to write a new constitution for the micronation. Skye eagerly accepted, and Frisch began working on the constitution with input from Skye. On 12 February, the first draft was finished, and by 5 March, Skye and Janus had approved the constitution after making some final revisions. The new constitution was to revoke the former constitution along with all of New Eiffel's other laws, acts and constitutional amendments. Björk and Skye decided to propose the constitution through a public referendum, which began on 18 March and concluded on 1 April. The new constitution was officially adopted that same day, thus concluding the crisis.
Smith's lack of action during the crisis prompted harsh criticism, resulting in him failing a motion of no confidence on 20 April. As leader of the opposition, Nowell replaced Smith as the interim prime minister of New Eiffel. On 28 April, Björk proposed several motions in parliament and declared that they passes without receiving royal assent. Nowell noted that this was unconstitutional, which was followed by heated debates between the two, culminating in the suspension of parliament. However, as the constitution provided no provisions for this, it triggered a constitutional crisis. Subsequently, parliament voted to temporarily declare Zabëlle I an absolute monarch. This crisis would commence a series of political events and unrest that would eventually result in the dissolution of New Eiffel. The constitution crisis is thus retroactively regarded as the beginning of the "crisis in New Eiffel".
- New Eiffel had other legal citizens at the time, recruited online by Skye between August and December 2018, but they were uncontactable.