Wretched decade

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The wretched decade (French reformed: Décennie misérable) was a period of protracted crisis in Gylias, lasting from 1976 to 1986. Coinciding with and largely caused by the Aén Ďanez government, it was the most difficult period in Gylian history since the Liberation War, with the country confronting many crises on many fronts.

Background

The wretched decade is conventionally seen as the end of the Golden Revolution. It began with the chaotic 1976 federal election, which produced a hung parliament, no alignment having a clear majority in Parliament. Following a month-long impasse, the Aén Ďanez government was constituted, a coalition of the Revolutionary Rally and Progressive Alliance.

Domestic situation

The new governing coalition was fractious from the start. The statist communist RR and anarchist PA were bitter enemies, going back to their rivalry in the Liberation War and the Lucian Purge. The RR held a grudge against the PA, while the PA aimed to "restrain" the RR in office until the next election; both blocs began a struggle to undermine each other in government.

Aén Ďanez's attempts to push Gylias towards a more statist leftist model caused a backlash, exacerbated by her confrontational approach to politics. While the coalition's minority in Parliament forced the RR to water down much of their program to seek support from Non-inscrits, they nevertheless proved a disruptive presence in politics, particularly for Aén's fights with civil society, communal assemblies, municipal and regional governments. While this course was dangerous to follow, Aén used it to mobilise and harden her base of support, seeing off attempts to recall her from office.

The struggles in government and outside of it caused a deterioration in public services due to ministerial incompetence and worsening morale among public servants. The Hermes Programme's deterioration was one of the most visible symbols of the crisis, and had terrible effects on the broader economy. Science and technology were notably affected, despite the success of the Infotel, as the stagnation caused Gylias to fall behind fellow Common Sphere member states in terms of automation.

The economy was destabilised: average prices crept up, unemployment increased to a peak of 12%, and Gylias' balance of payments deteriorated. Growth rates, having declined since 1976, bottomed out in a recession in 1982–1986. The þaler was destabilised and fell against other currencies, creating a dual exchange rate and putting pressure on its participation in the Common Monetary System. While the country's strong social security cushioned the impact — GDP per capita only fell from Ŧ3.822 (1982) to Ŧ3.581 (1987) —, its psychological effect was considerable.

Historian Nina Raukan writes that in Gylias, the wretched decade was mainly felt as a spiritual crisis, despite the undeniable political and economic impact. The 1980 federal election returned the RR–PA coalition, until the PA was expelled from it in 1983. The accumulation of crises led to political dissatisfaction; the National Bloc and other formations benefited from their opposition, but the decade also saw an alarming rise in support for the Front for Renewal of Order and Society, and the emergence of various right-wing populist parties.

Foreign situation

Aén's confrontational posture similarly caused a crisis in foreign policy. Gylias' foreign relations suffered, even with its closest allies, and trade declined. Its previously prominent role in the Common Sphere lapsed into stagnation.

In contrast to the successful "quiet diplomacy" of Erika Ďileş, Aén sought to increase Gylias' influence abroad, and position it as an explicitly leftist state. This added to international woes, causing suspicions about the government's intentions, and adding to the relative diplomatic isolation of the period.

Esua Nadel would later comment that while the wretched decade was "initially a prime opportunity for Gylias' opponents to laugh at its misfortunes … even the schadenfreude had faded away by the end".

End of the wretched decade

The 1985 federal election produced another inconclusive result. While the RR now finished third, Aén remained in office as a caretaker while the fractious opposition struggled to form a new government.

The Ossorian war crisis erupted in May 1986, marking the nadir of the decade. Ossoria revealed Aén's government had covertly supported the terrorist Republican Faction, and in response the House of Commons voted to declare war on Gylias. The declaration of war was vetoed by the High King. The war crisis galvanised the opposition, which formed the Filomena Pinheiro government.

While 1986 is conventionally seen as the end of the wretched decade, the remainder of the 1980s were largely spent remedying its damage. Filomena launched a crackdown on the RR and FROS, which resulted in their destruction as political forces. Her tenure saw the atmosphere of crisis gradually dissipating: public services and foreign relations were rebuilt, the economy began to recover, and reforms were implemented to strengthen direct democracy after Aén's attacks.

Political realignments marked a coda to the wretched decade: the dérive au droite and exposure of the neoliberal conspiracy caused the destruction of right-wing populist parties, the Union for Freedom and Prosperity broke off from the NB in 1989, and established blocs suffered a backlash. The 1990 federal election marked a breakthrough for non-inscrits, and produced the Mathilde Vieira government, which implemented additional reforms using their mandate. The 1990s saw the revival of national optimism and economic growth, signalling recovery from the wretched decade.

Legacy

The wretched decade was Gylias' most difficult period since the Liberation War, and the effective end of the Golden Revolution. However, many historians argue that the wretched decade exposed previously unnoticed weaknesses and gaps in the Gylian political system, and these were remedied by the reforms of Filomena and Mathilde's governments.

Public anger at the crises and fear that the Gylian consensus and gains of the Golden Revolution would be destroyed played a role in the crackdown on the RR and FROS in the late 1980s. Aén received a notably harsh sentence for abuse of office, crimes against society, and crimes against the public peace: permanent expulsion from the community in a social quarantine area, where she died in 1989. Similar sentences were handed down later in response to the neoliberal conspiracy.

In pop culture, the wretched decade marked the temporary interruption of the exuberance and optimism of the Golden Revolution. Some works from this time are notable for their defiant, demoralised, or "paranoid" tone.