Getting to Know Europeians - Pichtonia - Piching His Battles
Pichtonia admits extramarital affair (Despite not being married)
Written by Forilian
Editor's Note: Pichtonia suggested the subtitle as a joke, but it is a good one, so it stays.
In an effort to let everyday Europeians know more about their fellow citizens, Getting to Know Europeians is an interview project that asks Europeians casual questions about themselves. This is the eighth and last issue of this project. Thank you for reading these the past three months, but all good things must come to an end. You can read our previous interviews with Hezekon, Kuramia, Lloenflys, Maowi, Prim, Istillian, and Astrellan by clicking on the links if you've missed them.
Pichtonia, former first minister and chief of state, and the only person to have held both positions, has been in the region for four years. He listed some reasons on why he joined the region. "Europeia is one of the biggest regions on NationStates, with a constantly high rank in the world page of regions with the highest nation count, and it looked pretty inclusive and political. It hasn't changed much in that regard. So that was all pretty nice, and then I became a citizen and started doing work, basically.
After joining the region, he didn't get started by joining a ministry or the Citizen's Assembly, but rather joined United Vietussia's private media, the Europeian Conservative Messenger (ECM), as an employee, "which was a very good decision. It introduced me to the region by making me do research, I moderated our last IRC Presidential Debate - it was great." Eventually, he started joining ministries, such as the Ministry of Communications, where he became deputy minister for dispatches under Kuramia. He also unsuccessfully ran for Senate in a general election, and although he lost in the first round, "[he] got a lot of encouraging words, including by Malashaan." He would eventually win a seat in a by-election. To him, his "newcomer" period ended after his re-nomination to the Cabinet and his re-election to the Senate; "that's probably the point where you're not exactly a newcomer anymore."
His first appointment to the Cabinet was under the term of President Trinnien, as minister of culture. He ascended into this position after the original minister had resigned, and his application to the post. "President Trinnien sent me like a fifty-question-questionnaire to answer, -- probably a little less, to be honest --, and already from what he asked, it was clear to me that EurOlympics would be a major focus of the term." Indeed, EurOlympics was the focus of the term, and Pichtonia would soon be organising this event "with aid of the Cabinet and some Cabinet advisors, such as Mouse[bumples]." Eventually, Trinnien resigned and HEM became president; Pichtonia says that "to work with such an esteemed team was an experience in itself." In particular, Pichtonia has "kept a very high esteem" for HEM. Ultimately, Pichtonia agrees that "organizing this event was a very interesting experience," and adds that he "learned a lot about managing [his] team, and how staff in Europeia works for its Ministers."
After a few years in multiple positions both in the Cabinet and the Senate, including some time as speaker of the Senate, Pichtonia ran for deputy first minister with Rand, the incumbent at the time. Although he had run in several tickets before, notably recombis/Pichtonia in the first first minister election, and Punchwood/Pichtonia in the December 2018 presidential election, this was the first ticket in which he ran with the incumbent. "Rand's initial election as First Minister was already pretty surprising. He was elected as first First Minister, but that wasn't natural at all. You had three other strong tickets: Lime (/Punchwood) and Grizzli, Izzy/Prim and Recombis/Pichto. It looked like Izzy/Prim would win, but Rand/GraVandius entered the race and turned it around with their progressive campaign and lots of significant endorsements, such as the one of Sopo. They won, but their term itself was.. less noticeable, and relations between Senate and the Executive were at a low. So when it was time to choose whether to run or not, the incumbent (Rand) didn't naturally have the best chances."
"I received a lot of messages about running against Rand at the time, and I did consider it. I wanted to run with Lloenflys, but he turned me down. Prim was my second choice, and we actually did organize a lot of the campaign, but ultimately I informed him that I would not run for First Minister. I was still Radio Minister for Rand, though, and when he needed a new Deputy First Minister about ten days later, I was honoured to run with him. So I ran with him, but Rand was (at the time) still not very popular, and that would turn against us. Lloen did decide to run after some external influence, and he beat us, but he also wanted me to stay on board as Radio Minister. We wanted to work together closely, and I think that turned out pretty well."
In the next election, Pichtonia would run for first minister with Whitmark. "I didn't originally intend to run. I was wondering if someone else would run for a while, I asked around, but several days went by and nobody ran or told me they wanted to. So in the end, I just decided to do it myself. Whitmark and I had been friends and allies at the time, and he was an active and "on-the-rise" Cabinet member. And the run itself wasn't even that different -- I had run on a Presidential ticket and two first First Minister tickets before, and I've always played a role in those. Sometimes less, sometimes to the extent where I literally ran most of the campaign, including sending my partner the answers to debate questions. I had also learned a lot of what I later used for my own campaigns by just watching the Writinglegend/Aexnidaral campaigns in 2016/2017. Sadly, since it was an uncontested election, a lot of what I had seen before wasn't really necessary anyways."
Pichtonia would end up being the only person to serve two terms as first minister. Pichtonia says that "everything or most of what went right went right because [he] had already learned it [from his previous experience in the region]," which means that his learning experiences came from the things that went wrong, "particularly the communication of the Whitmark and Bri matters, where my communication had initially escalated the situation, which was the opposite of what I actually wanted." Pichtonia also says that "the first term overall was just a huge high for me, emotionally speaking." In terms of low points, Pichtonia named the “staffing difficulties” of his second term, where he cycled through two ministers of radio and four ministers of recruitment. “But, lucky as I am, even those bad moments ultimately didn't end too badly. Recruitment saw a major increase in interest, Maowi got to show her amazing work in another Ministry, Istillian finally ascended to a Ministry himself.”
In addition to the workload of being first minister, Pichtonia also had to deal with another issue: his former deputy, Whitmark.
“Whitmark and I were friends and allies before our run, so it was difficult to see it turn out the way it did. Throughout the first weeks, it became clear to me that he wasn't working very effectively, and I had also heard from several others that he seemed a bit removed. So I asked him to do better, and internally I think I decided that I should release him from his duties when he didn't take that seriously and laughed at it. He still had some time after that, but didn't do any better, and ultimately I decided to ask him to resign. I was willing for him to take any route with that to save his own face and any embarrassment, but he just wrote a vague statement on how I asked him to resign, and that really started a lot of debate. But I think it could have ended there, if not for his mental issues. I think knowing that he had those issues and might, consequently, not always have acted rationally helped me personally deal with it.
But I mean, it was still difficult. The DMs were hurtful, but also a bit funny. Then trying to doxx me [was noticeably] less so, and after his ban, when he logged in with various different accounts, some of the messages he conveyed with them were really impacting me personally.
I won't rehash them, but one of them particularly struck me deeply and made me need a bit time off. Those who were around and the admins who (I can not thank them enough for this) fortunately reacted very quickly and deleted all of it might remember and be able to imagine what I refer to.”
Pichtonia then ran for vice chief of state with HEM, and won. When asked why he decided to run with HEM, Pichtonia said, “because he asked, and because he’s HEM. It honestly didn’t take much more.” Pichtonia added that this was due to his high level of respect for HEM, dating back to his first term in the Cabinet, where he had a chance to work with HEM. Pichtonia also noted that at the time he was already intending to engage more in the foreign affairs branch of government, and he was “incredibly honoured” to even be considered by HEM as a candidate.
After his election as vice chief of state, Pichtonia was nominated to be councillor of foreign affairs, which “took up most of [his] time.” It was here where he also learned a lot. “A lot of those behind-the-scenes conversations and deliberations were really surprising to me. I mean, you know and hear that's happening, but I didn't think it was done to such an extent. There was also a lot of coordination, both with the Council of External Engagement and the Council of World Assembly Affairs, and of course with Chief of State HEM.” Pichtonia also added that this was “a lot of fun.” “I feel like HEM was really great to work with. He had everything under control and I could always turn to him, but at the same time I had a lot of authority and responsibility myself as his Vice Chief of State and he allowed me to really do a lot. I easily could have seen myself have another term like that, but of course it came differently when he decided not to seek re-election.”
Pichtonia then became chief of state. When asked about the differences between the office and the office of first minister, Pichtonia said that the office of chief of state required him to be more personally involved. “I'm not sure if this is just my memory playing tricks on me or not, but I do feel as though [chief of state] required me to be a lot more involved personally in the decisions of your Ministers. As First Minister, I often felt as though my aid and guidance was totally unnecessary. But then the terms were also in very different environments, so it's really hard to compare.”
Looking towards the future, Pichtonia has no plans to retire. He says that he wants to run for all the offices, but “probably won't run for all of these offices immediately,” rather, he will be running for these offices as time goes on.
In terms of advice for newcomers, Pichtonia offers the following words:
“Don't be afraid to engage and to ask for help. If you're serious about what you do, we will cheer for your success.”
Thank you, Pichtonia, for your work literally everywhere. You are a shining example of who to be as a Europeian. Give it up for Pichtonia!