Paul Mardan was a moderately successful businessman in Saxmere and widely respected leader in St. Xavier's parish in Umbra. When the 2004 election of Thomas Caine as President of the Confederation of Sovereign States, a rift opened between devoutly Catholic and highly conservative Saxmere and the more materialistic and secular States of the Confederation. In particular, Caine's affiliation with the Order of the Invisible Hand and the Dutch Democratic Republic of Knootoss raised opposition in Saxmere. As the Church took a leading position in opposing the Order, Mardan began organising vigils and petition drives to urge the President to renounce the Order and embrace the nation's traditional values.
In 2005 tensions reached their peak and the State Legislature declared "provisional independence" from the Confederation. Support for independence was the strongest among Catholics and opponents of President Caine and the Order. Mardan, however, believed it was important for Saxmere to remain in the Confederation to lead the struggle against the materialism and secularism of the Order. His campaign against independence and against the Order, which featured the use of sock puppets and the slogan "Handies Out of the Confederation" gained widespread noteriety.
Mardan's campaign managed to turn the tide of public opinion and in late 2005 the Confederation, Saxmere and their allies concluded an agreement to resolve the so-called "Saxmere secession crisis" through a referendum in Saxmere. The referendum, held shortly after the signing of the Treaty of Courtland, determined that Saxmere would remain a part of the Confederation, but would gain greater autonomy and would reestablish the grand ducal throne.
Mardan was later elected to Saxmere' new parliament as leader of the newly formed Christian Democratic Party (CDP). When the CDP formed a pro-autonomy right-left coalition with the Democratic Labour Party and the new Renewal Party of Saxmere, Mardan was named Prime Minister by the recently crowned Grand Duke.