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TUNDRIA

TUNDRIA - POLITICS






HISTORY


Overview

Tundria is a constitutional monarchy. It has, however, no formal constitution - instead, it has a number of basic Charters (Charte) and Laws (Leys), together with established practice (Prâctique estavliyte), which form the body of rules under which both day-to-day government and the enforcement of laws are carried out.

From the point of view of levels of government, Tundria is closest to the British system: it is a unitary state, with various functions devolved to lower levels of government, not necessarily in a uniform way. Because of the multilingual makeup of the country, most of the areas where "regional languages" (lingüe rêgïonali) are spoken belong to one of five provinces (province): Altoun-Altia, Aussia, Boenia, Çûncia and Peztonia. The rest of the country (sometimes, and incorrectly, referred to as Tundria proper (Tundria proipa)) is divided into 36 counties (contati).

The two micro-states (Ximpia and Olaer) situated in the southern part of the island of Tundria are not legally part of Tundria, although of course economically they are fully integrated with it. Two offshore islands (Nouven and Trayen) have a relationship to Tundria similar to that of the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man in relation to the United Kingdom: they have their own governments, but in international relationships they are considered as dependent states of Tundria, and their defence is assured by Tundria as well. Finally, two ex-colonies, Pallouda in the South Atlantic, and Corgeilia in the Pacific, are now fully independent countries, although the King of Tundria retains the formal title of King of Corgeilia.

At the national level, it is customary to follow American nomenclature and refer to three branches of the government, with the Crown (la Corouna) providing the unifying factor. The Crown, whose functions are carried out by the King (el Rey) or Queen (la Rêina) (as the case may be), is in theory the head of all three branches of government.

The three branches are:

  • The Executive branch, with the Royal Council (el Consilh Royal) at its apex. The Cabinet (formally: el Consilh de Ministros) is, in fact, a permanent committee of the Royal Council.
  • The Legislative branch, consisting of Parliament (el Parlament) with two Houses: the House of Representatives (la Camra de Dêputats), or lower house, and the Senate (el Sênat), or upper house.
  • The Judicial branch, consisting of several layers of courts, headed by the Supreme Court (la Court Sûpreima).

On the international scene, Tundria has jealously guarded its sovereignty. It has not joined any organization (European Union, NATO) that could in reality override its own government's decisions or laws. Tundria has, however, joined the United Nations and most of its specialized agencies, judging that it would not be in its interests to stay out of them.


The Crown (La Corouna)

"The Crown" is the legal term for the set of governmental functions directly carried out by the head of state, or Monarch (el/la Monarcha). The Monarch may be the King (el Rey), if a man, or the Queen (la Rêina), if  a woman.

The title of Monarch is hereditary, and has been in the same dynasty, the House of Taigo (La Casa de Taigo) since the 9th century. Until 1968 the eldest son of the Monarch inherited the title; in default of a male heir, the eldest daughter became Queen. The 1968 Act on Royal Succession (Ley sure lâ Sûccêixoun Royal) changed the succession rules by eliminating the preference given to males: since then the eldest child succeeds the Monarch on the latter's death, abdication or deposition. In the absence of a direct heir, the usual rules of royal succession apply, going through first-degree relations (brothers/sisters and their descendants) in order of birth.

Parliament, however, retains the right to disqualify any heir if he/she is judged unsuitable. Parliament can also depose a Monarch, although this has not happened since the 16th century.

The Present King is Gabriel III, who ascended to the throne in 1972 at the age of 22 on the abdication of his father John (Joân) IV. The heir to the throne is Princess Sylvia, born in 1975.

The Monarch is formally the head of state, but has few discretionally powers left. Among these are the appointment of the Prime Minister (if there is any doubt as to who that should be), the dismissal of the Prime Minister (in extreme political situations, which have not actually occurred since the 18th century), and the return to Parliament of a bill without signing it ("for further consideration"), an extremely rare event.

The Monarch has an important symbolic and ceremonial role - opening Parliament, receiving ambassadors, signing laws, appointing the Prime Minister, cabinet ministers, senior civil servants and military officers. Under normal circumstances, all but the appointment of the Prime Minister is done on the advice of the government. However, as the Monarch is normally well trained for his/her role, and is above political parties or self interest, he/she can - and normally does - provide private advice to the Prime Minister and other senior members of the Government, advice that they would be we foolish to disregard. This role of the constitutional monarch was described by the nineteenth century British constitutional writer, Walter Bagehot, as consisting of the right to be consulted, the right to advise and the right to warn. (For those interested in the usefulness of constitutional monarchs, you can read up on it in the Wikipedia).


The Executive (El Exêcutiyv)

The Executive consists of the Monarch, the Royal Council, the various government departments, the Armed Forces, the Police at all levels, and the county, provincial and local governments - in short, practically the whole governmental apparatus of the country.

At the top of the decision-making tree is the Royal Council, which consists of the President of the Royal Council (also styled as Prime Minister), heads of the major government Ministries, and a few other members with no responsibilities for formal departments.

After every general election, and on the resignation, death or dismissal of the Prime Minister, the members of the Royal Council formally submit their resignation to the Monarch, who then normally asks them to stay on in a caretaker capacity until a new Royal Council can be formed. For this to happen, the Monarch first has to name a new Prime Minister.

The choice of the Monarch for Prime Minister goes to the person most likely to have majority support in the House of Representatives (to be referred to from here on as the "House"). In general, this is not a problem, since the composition of the House is known, as is the leader of the majority party (if one party has an absolute majority) or that of the majority coalition (if more than one parties are needed for an absolute majority). If there is no clear majority, however, the Monarch or his/her representatives undertake a series of consultations with senior politicians, which go on until a consensus emerges leading to a hopefully stable governing coalition.

The Monarch then summons the Prime Minister Designate to an audience, and formally names him/her to the post. Over the next few days, the new Prime Minister puts together a government, with senior ministers and a few non-ministers taking their place in the Royal Council. Unlike in other parliamentary democracies, the Royal Council normally includes leaders of major political parties not in the governing coalition, as well as one or two widely respected figures not associated with any political party.

The cabinet consists of those members of the Royal Council who are members of the ruling political party or coalition. Normally, the cabinet meets at least once a week, chaired if possible by the Prime Minister.

The entire Royal Council meets generally once a month, and its meetings are normally attended by the Monarch. Major issues, and any constitutional matters, are discussed by the full Royal Council. As some opposition members are present, this lets them get involved in the intricacies of all major issues, without the publicity inherent in debates in Parliament. Historically, the involvement of opposition leaders in meetings of the Royal Council has made them more responsible, as well as prepared them for eventual participation in government should their electoral fortunes improve.

Although all major issues are debated, or at least mentioned, in the full meetings of the Royal Council, decisions are almost always taken by the Cabinet at its own meetings. These decisions include the naming of senior civil servants, heads of the Armed Services and nationally owned enterprises; preparation of the budget; establishing and carrying out policy; dealing with emergencies; dealing with foreign states; etc.


Parliament (el Parlament)

The Tundrian Parliament is the body responsible for the issuing of laws and regulations governing the country, for approving the national budget and supervising its implementation, and for the election of the Royal Council.

Parliament is divided into two chambers: the House of Representatives and the Senate.

The House of Representatives (la Camra de Dêputats)

The House of Representatives is a democratically elected body. It has 425 members elected from single-member constituencies (Electoral Districts or EDs) through the preferential voting system also practiced in Australia (see here for a description).  This system ensures that within each electoral district the winning candidate is preferred to any one of the other candidates.

Elections for the House take place normally every three years, on the second Tuesday of May. Early dissolutions are theoretically possible, but have not occurred since 1900. Election years since 1990 have been: 1990, 1993, 1996, 1999, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2011 and 2014.

EDs are redistributed by an independent commission after each decennial census. They must all have roughly the same population (about 66,000 at present). The boundaries of EDs must not cross county or provincial boundaries, and all counties and provinces are entitled to at least one ED. For historical reasons there are also some smaller administrative units (e.g. the district of Nâmper within the County of Roján-Nâmper) that are constitutionally entitled to at least one ED.

All adult Tundrian citizens residing in the country are entitled to vote, unless they serve a jail sentence, have been declared legally incompetent or have been deprived of the vote through due legal process. A citizen residing outside the country can also vote if he or she (or his/her spouse) works for the Tundrian government, for an international organization Tundria is a member of, or for a commercial enterprise registered in Tundria.

There are provisions for voting by mail and proxy, so that everybody has the opportunity to exercise their vote. In consequence, voter turnouts tend to be high (80% is not unusual).

People vote in the ED their principal residence is in. There exist administrative procedures to establish which is a person's principal residence in cases where there may be a doubt. People living outside the country vote in the ED they have the closest relationship with - normally the ED they last lived in before leaving the country.

All citizens entitled to vote can run for election. There is no obligation to run in the ED that one votes in, although parachuting candidates into distant EDs is not as common as in some other countries.

Should a deputy die, resign or be deprived of his/her seat (by an electoral recall or through a vote of the House, both rare events), a by-election will be called in his/her ED. Generally, no by-elections are called within the last year of the House's expected mandate.

The House is called into session by the Monarch on a regular basis. After a general election, it must be called into session within 30 days, at which time the Deputy with the longest continuous service (if there are several such Deputies, the oldest of these) assumes temporarily the status of Speaker (Prêsident de lâ Camra). The first business of the House is to elect a permanent Speaker, who will from then on preside over all sessions of the House either in person, or through Deputy Speakers nominated in agreement with the House.

The House is absolute master of its proceedings. It cannot be dissolved by the Monarch unless a new election is called within six weeks from its dissolution.

There is a deposit for candidates, aimed at reducing the number of frivolous candidates. The deposit is refunded to candidates who receive at least 5% of first-preference votes.

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