Library:Devink - Political life of a Mutulese Commoner
By and large, commoners are openly excluded from the political life in the Mutul. Mutuleses medias and politicians are not shy about it, explaining it as a necessary measure against populism and "the risks of crowd mentality" as well as a fight against the "fracturation of the Divine Kingdom' Body". Commoners are kept mostly unaware of political matters, and are even taught early on that they are better off entrusting national and regional matters to their natural leaders : the aristocracy and the clergy who have millenias of experience running the country and its administration (or so they claim). So, when he reach 25 years of age, a Mutulese has received no political education beyond the core message of the Divine Lord Cult of Personality : trust your supreme leader in all matter for he knows best, for he is perfectly fit to guide His Nations unlike any other mortal. It is often suprising for foreigners to witness how genuine the admiration, if not the love, of the Mutuleses for their K'uhul Ajaw can be despite the very same Mutuleses being also extremely "class concious". Distrust and/or hatred of the leading Aristocracy conjugate itself very well with a complete confidence in the Divine Lord.
Nonetheless, it is impossible to keep the "masses" entirely out of the political life. And so, a number of failsafes are in place to ensure the "political energies" of the Commoners are correctly channeled, exhausted, and made harmless (at least at the national level).
The lowest administrative level and the one a Mutulese is confronted to daily is the "Nalil", or Ward. The Nalil is supposed to represent at least a ward-Temple, a school (expected to be tied to the temple), a source of employment and the living spaces and households of the people tied to said source of jobs. Nowadays, it is very rare that a Nalil hold up to this theoretical model. Beyond the presence of at least one ward-Temple, which is only still universally respected requirement, Nalilob might share their schools with neighboring wards, have no industry to center itself on, and serve purely as a "dorm-ward" for people to return to... if they are employed in the first place.
Nonetheless, the Nalil represent the most basic unit of the Divine Throne. It keep tabs of new birth, marriages, and deaths and organize the quinquennial census. It deliver construction permits, organize public festivities during holidays and religious celebrations, regulate land use, regularly report on the correct delivery of water, electricity, etc... (although it does not handle it directly), collect certain taxes and contributions, and even serve as the first layer of justice Mutuleses are confronted with when it comes to local issues. Most of these services are performed by the Temple (K'uhna) and his Aj K'in (Diviner) or by the House-of-justice (Popilna) and its president : the Aj K'uchkab (Warden).
Once upon a time, the Wards were expected to perform Social Control through Work, as in its through their syndical-like control over the rights and quality-of-life of the workers and their families employed in their industries that the Nalilob were supposed to juggle the Mutul' common people. Nowadays, as industries are increasingly concentrated in certain areas, most Wards role as de-facto "Worker Unions" has become obsolete, or at least a footnote in their list of attributions. Instead the official line of the Divine Throne since 2008 is that Wars must perform Social Control through the Residence, offering as many social services to their registered inhabitants as possible.
This restructuring did not alterate the nature of the Ward, but did keep it relevant in your average Mutulese' daily life. It is supposed to represent the "natural community" of the people, the administrative version of the original Clan. And thus, one understood as such, it become natural that residents of a Nalil are expected to chose, or at least approve of, their leaders... to a degree.
Despite its importance in the handling of the Ward, the Temple remain strictly outside of the control of the residents. Its Diviner is appointed by his over-arching hierarchy and then recruit his helpers (the Bakabob) among the locals. The legitimacy of the priest is based on his erudition and magical powers and is thus divorced from any sort of Social contract. Diviners can be changed only when they die, when they are nominated elsewhere or promoted, or through a special process where the majority of the residents have petitioned their Popilna for a proper investigation into the Aj K'in' malpractices, investigation which is then taken over by the judiciary branch most suited for the specific matter at hand.
The Popilna is thus the "second leg" on which a Ward stand up and represent its civil, secular, aspect. It is led by a Council of Elders who elect one of their own as Warden. To run for a position in the Council, the only criteria is that one must be at least 50 years old and to be a resident of the Nalil. To vote, one has to be over 25 years old and reside in the Nalil as well. The election is controlled by the Temple, and is otherwise the most straightforward and simple case of commoners participation in the Mutul' public life. It is important to note that within the Popilna nobles and aristocrats who reside in the Nalil have reserved seats. As many at 33% of the total number of "Elder seats" can be added for nobles. If there are more noble residents in the Nalil than there are available seats, they must then do their own elections, separated from those of the Commons.
Since the 19th century, it has been written into the Mutul' Divine Law that Nalilob elections follow a very precise religious and administrative pattern. The same Divine Law also precise Nalilob elections are to be done using the Borda count. By default, elections are to be held every three years, but the death, relocation, or resignation of more than a third of the Elder Council will trigger anticipated elections. Noble Seats are not concerned by these dispositions and are generally held for life... or at least until its holder move away from the Nalil.
At the level above the Nalil is the Batabil or City. The exact definition of a Batabil is very loose and is generally a grouping of Nalilob over historical lines and has thus no real basis beyond tradition. One of the loose criterias is that a Batabil is supposed to be able to maintain thirteen Calendrical Temples for season-based cults, plus any number of other religious site, but it is quite common for Batabilob to form Urban Congregations to share the expenses generated by these temples and monthly cults. It is also generally expected that Commoners can complete their mandatory education without moving outside of their Batabil but this is also becoming increasingly less obvious. Historically, cities built themselves around at least one marketplace, the gestion of which was the Mayor, the Batab, main function. Most of these marketplaces are nowadays inactive, beside for purposes such as public gatherings and tourism.
The main roles of a city nowadays are the handling of water and energy distribution, waste and taxes collection, road maintenance, local law enforcement, and social or cultural events. They perform these tasks with the cooperation and under the control of their Nalilob. Once again, Commoners are kept away from religious questions at the City level which are more complex matters than at the level of the Ward. A City can have more than one major religious institution represented which will then battle over the right to nominate their Diviners at the local temples. Major ones include the White Mountain Society, the Cult of Transcendent Ch'ak, and the Grand Temple of Kuzamil.
The Tek'nah (townhouse) is barely more open to Commoners. Each Nalil elect their Municipal Advisors (the number of which is calculated depending on the relative size of the Ward) just as they did for their Elders. But this time, the candidates have to be vetted by the Elder Council and cannot go to the elections without their approval. A "black vote" also exist, which force the Elder Councils to find new candidates. Once the Municipal Advisors are chosen, its the entirety of the public servants (Advisors, Elders, town judges, employees of the Tek'nah...) plus the local Aristocracy and Clergy who elect the Batab. This indirect election system lead to a mandate of 9 years for the Batab, with options to remove them if at least the two-third of the Municipal Advisors, including the Noble and Clerical Seats.
Above the level of the City, any semblance of popular participation abruptly stop. The Kuchkabal is an administrative juristidction often translated to "County" or "Prefecture". Its leader is the Halak Winik, often referred to in foreign languages as "Count" or "Prefect". The Halak Winik is never elected but nominated by his hierarchic superior : the Yajaw, and then approved by the K'uhul Ajaw. Halak Winikob are chosen either amongst the Yajaw' friends, allies, and relatives or from the local nobility if it manage to impose itself to (or against) the Yajaw.
To help the Halak Winik in his administrative role is the Holpop, divided into three Estates : the Batabob (and, with them, the Elders), the Nobility, and the Clergy. Clerical and Noble representatives are elected by their respective Estates while the Aj Holpopob (lit. Courtisans but more often translated as Deputies) are nominated by their Batab with the approval of the Tek'nah. To help them in their various tasks, the Halak Winik is free to recruit a number of officers such as the Chief Judge, the Police Commander, and the Ajaw Chan (Lord Snake). The later is a priest chosen by the Halak Winik who direct prefecture-level religious ceremonies, festivities, sacrifices, but also Nawi-level education and the entrance exams for them. They are either the leader of the prefecture' clergy, or the coordinator of the various religious organisations operating into the region.
Above the Halak Winik is the Yajaw, a title often translated as Viceroy to make its Mutli meaning of Vassal Lord (Lit. His Lord) more obvious. Modern translations might prefer 'Governor' while old texts, often in latins, have favored 'Duke'. Nonetheless, a Yajaw is the ruler of an entire Province and with extensive power over the police, the economy, the infrastructures, the justice, and so on and so forth. A Yajaw is appointed and replaced solely on the K'uhul Ajaw' whim, but political considerations and court intrigues are what dictate how long a Yajaw and his dynasty can stay in power. It is tradition under the modern Ilok'tab that a Yajaw is chosen among the most powerful family in their Province and passed down to his children. But as said, court intrigues and problem of internal and regional politics take precedence over this base pattern.
Yajaw who know how to play the Mutulese political game can enjoy great autonomy with little to no oversight from the Divine Throne. But they're still dependent on a network of local, smaller administrators for their effective rule. Some Viceroys, especially confident in their powerbase, rule with only their closest cabinet of advisors and lieutenants. Other have to give greater powers to their court, the Ch'ob. Just like the Holpop, the Ch'ob is divided into three Estates : the Elders, Nobility, and Clergy. Elders are the ones supposed to be representing the Commoners, but once again they are not elected through a universal suffrage. instead, they represent a Constituency defined by the Yajaw, and are elected by the Constituency' college of "grand electors" : the Batabob, the Halak Winikob, their respective courts, and their lieutenants.
Finally, the last layer to the Mutulese electoral process is the Bitzpop (Blessed Court). Once again built around the Three Estates, it gather the representatives of lineages recognized as Noble Houses, of the state-supported most important religious organizations in the Kingdom, and the nation(s) Elders. It's for this, purely advisory, institution that universal sufferage make a sudden comeback. Elections to the B'itzpop for the Elders obey the same principles as for the Wards, a given number of Elders representing a Throne' drawn Constituency. Noble and Elder seats in the B'itzpop are for life, whereas Clerical seats are tied to specific positions within a religious society or institution. While a seat in the Blessed Court offer little to no power, it immense source of opportunities as the K'uhul Ajaw regularly entrust "Aj B'itzpop" with Missions, generally tasks concerning administrative inspections, overseeing certain processes, and producing reports or counter-reports over various matters, especially if the Aj B'itzpop is known to have a specific area of expertise. A patient Aj B'itzpop that prove themselves and successfuly naviguate the intrigues of the royal court might very well be in the running for a government position down the line.