Politics of The Unification

Posted by EarthDragon on 21st December 2016.

Politics in The Unification is a murky affair, governed by a complex legal system, an overarching Constitution, cultural differences between regions and, above all, political wheeling and dealing by those in power. Unpopular sentiment is often met with hostile, or even fatal, force, sometimes within the chamber itself. A number of politicians in The Unification have been "impeached" in the past, and the trend of murder during session is hardly likely to change any time soon.

Below is an outline of each of the main political and legislative bodies within The Unification which come to bear on everyday life. The reality is somewhat more complex than the simplifications presented here. Politics is a dangerous game, and not one for the faint of heart.

The Unification is ruled largely by the Citizens' Council, a group comprising of the most important, powerful and influential Citizens in The Unification, though other bodies and positions, with varying powers, also exist.

The number of people on the Council varies greatly, and should a Citizen on the Council fall from favour; they are usually either assassinated, murdered during session of the Council, or quickly stripped of their position and influence and hustled to a remote part of The Unification to seek penance.

There is no single ruler within The Unification, all power is divided and diluted through the various ranks, positions and bodies set up throughout The Unification. The highest power in the land is, technically, the Citizens' Council. However, there are times in which even they can be overruled.

There are rumours of a higher power that rules the Council, though the rumours and legends are extremely vague, highly contradictory, and can only agree on a supposed titled for this mysterious being. The supposed higher authority is reportedly known as The Numinatrix.

Nothing beyond that can be agreed upon, and even this supposed title refers to someone out of legend from over a thousand years ago. Even then, the rumours were not concise or consistent and there is little proof that such a being ever existed, let alone exists now.

The Citizens' Council is the body which serves as the main arm of government within The Unification. It serves as a House of government, in which legislation is raised, debated and passed, subject to review by the Voices of the District. Legislation enacted by the Citizens' Council governs all of The Unification, provided the legislation falls within an appropriate head of power under the extremely long and complex Constitution.

The process of enacting laws within The Unification is a complex affair which is severely hampered by jurisdictional boundaries, cultural differences between Districts, and by political chicanery and greed. The Citizens' Council may only initiate legislation at The Unification level, not at the Protectorate or District level (save for some important exceptions not dealt with here). Further, any laws initiated by the Council must fall within the appropriate head of power under the Constitution. If there is no head of power within the Constitution, laws may only be passed at lower levels if the power in question is shared between The Unification and one or both of the lower jurisdictions, or if the power in question has been deferred by a lower jurisdiction to the Council in order to promote uniformity of law through all levels of jurisdiction (such as military dispositions, all of which have been referred to the Council for resolution by each level of government).

The Council is made up solely of Citizens (as its name implies), and approximately 50% of the House is “democratically elected” by Citizens within the “electorate” they “represent”. The election process uses a preferential voting system, which is party-based, and only Citizens may vote.

The remaining 50% of positions are either held by right of birth (approximately 30%), or by appointment (approximately 20%).

Right of birth entitles a Citizen with the right pedigree to sit on the Council as a full member, and to remain in that position until they die, or until the Archons' Court dismiss the Council (a rare, but not unheard of circumstance). If the Council is dismissed by the Archons' Court, then any positions previously held by right of birth devolve to the next eligible relative of the previous holder of the position. If there is no relative available from the family of the ejected Citizen who is over their majority (the age of 25) and who has not held a position on the Council before, then a new Citizen is appointed to the position (thus becoming the new hereditary holder) by vote of The Voices of the District. If a hereditary position (whether existing or newly assigned) is vacated by the death of the holder of that position, then their heir (or next eligible relative over their majority if there is no clear heir) takes on the position.

Positions made by appointment (save for those where a hereditary position is being reassigned after dismissal of the Council) are made in one of three ways. The most common is appointment by The Voices of the District. However, in some instances, the executive of the Council veto the choice of the Voices and appoint their own candidate (though this is not terribly common). The rarest way to obtain a position on the Council is by appointment through vote of the Senior Judiciary (the Archons' Court). In practice, this only happens where the Senior Judiciary is satisfied that the Council has breached their Constitutional duties and any candidate proposed by either the Voices or the executive of the new Council is deemed tainted by incompetance or corruption, or is in some way not eligible to serve on the Council by way of operation of the Constitution.

Positions awarded by appointment are usually done in response to the death of a Citizen whose position is not hereditary. However, non-hereditary Citizens are also advised to be wary of too vociferously pursuing unpopular political positions (which is usually tantamount to dying in office anyway, since such "rogue" Citizens are usually either assassinated quietly or simply murdered while the Council is in session). Violent removal of a Citizen with an unpopular position is usually referred to as "impeachment", and is not a process they usually survive.

The Voices of the District are, apart from mounting Constitutional Challenges, the only way in which the Civilians of The Unification have any say in government, and even this is limited.

The Voices are, by Constitutional law, all voted into their positions, and only Civilians may vote for the appointee to the House. All Voices are Citizens, however, so the vote among Civilians is essentially a popular vote between Citizen candidates who promise to represent the Civilians within a particular voting district (sometimes called a Division, sometimes called a Seat). Again, the vote is conducted using a preference voting system, and is party-based, though independent candidates may run, and do win seats.

This is the House of Review for all legislation within The Unification, and all legislation passed at The Unification level, the Protectorate level and the District level must also be ratified by The Voices. The process of ratification and the extent of the Citizen’s Council’s power of veto are dealt with later in the section on the Laws of The Unification.

Because of their role in ratifying legislation raised at all levels within The Unification, the Voices have a broader power base than the Citizens' Council, but their power is not as absolute, since they are barred from initiating any legislation other than some Financial (i.e. Budget and Taxation) legislation.

Government in a Protectorate is conducted by the Protectors. These Protectors form a House of Protectors within each Protectorate, with all legislation being raised by this House being subject to review by the Voices of the District.

The House consists of 75% Citizens and a token 25% Civilians. The Citizens are voted upon by all the Citizens who "reside" in a given Protectorate (that is, Citizens that own property in the Protectorate, whether or not they really live there; Citizens may, and often do, vote in several Protectorates).

The Civilians are chosen from a pool of talent selected by the Magistrates in a given Protectorate, and are subject to majority vote of the Citizens in the Protectorate government (using an absolute majority determined in a series of run-offs, compared to the preference voting system employed for the Citizen positions).

The nominations presented in the panel of talent can be rejected by the Citizens in power, forcing the magistrates to either choose a new pool of talent, or to replace specific rejected individuals from the panel. The panel of talent must be at least double the number of seats available at the time of the election.

All positions on Protectorate government are for life, however, "troublesome" Protectors are often "removed" from office, usually by secret assassination, but sometimes by outright murder in the House (this has happened enough in history to be regarded as a valid response to a Civilian Protector who has been impeached by a majority of Citizens in the House and is regarded a due and proper part of the impeachment process).

Needless to say, the Civilian Protectors spend most of their time "sucking up" to the Citizens to ensure their longevity and relevance to the government. Magistrates, however, have sometimes proven intractable in their selections of talent and have refused to select toadies who would simply bow to the Citizen majority, requiring several panels to be selected and some degree of compromise by the Citizens. Magistrates are fortunate that they enjoy a somewhat protected position in the governance of the world in that they are not elected or subject to dismissal or "impeachment" in the same way the Protectors, Voices or Councillors are (see the Magisters' Council below).

Legislation of any character may be introduced in the House of the Protectors, but must only be limited to the Protectorate level in scope. Some Protectorates, however, join forces with neighbouring Protectorates to unify their laws on certain topics in order to extend their effective rule beyond this level and somewhat into The Unification level.

The Voices of the District, however, seek to limit such practices where they can. The majority of legislation requires a bare majority, save where the matter is one of substance (see the section on Laws of The Unification for more details on "matters of substance").

Abstention is permitted in the House of the Protectors unless the matter is one of substance. Similarly, members may be absent when voting occurs, so long as there is a quorum of 50% of all Protectors plus one additional Protector present. Again, this does not apply to matters of substance, where a quorum of 75% plus one additional Protector is required before voting may commence. Such matters are often subject to stays in proceedings until the required number of Protectors are present, but they cannot be delayed more than two sittings. Beyond that, the Protectors are not permitted to convene without a sufficient quorum to address a matter of substance.

The Citizen’s Council and the Voices of the District may, in a joint decision, dismiss a House of Protectors, voiding each sitting Protector and barring them from standing again for a period of twenty years. Such dismissals are rare, but not unheard of.

In the interim period, while a new House is chosen, the Voices and the Council rule jointly via a committee made up of sufficient members to fill all available seats in the House of Protectors (some Protectorates have smaller Houses than others based upon their populations and the distribution of people within the Protectorate).

A Protectorate is somewhat similar in character to a nation in most other worlds. The Unification is a union of many, varied Protectorates, and each Protectorate is, in turn, made up of many districts. Districts are more like states or provinces within a nation which answer first to the Protectorate and then to The Unification.

In theory, life is meant to be relatively uniform within The Unification, however, there are many inconsistencies and variations which would take yet more centuries to iron out and clear up. Life now, however, is much more unified than it was before the rise of The Fallen. This is deemed to have been largely a matter of survival rather than the result of any unified social policy, however.

Life in each District is governed by the Magisters' Council of the District in question. The Magisters' Council for a given District is populated by the highest ranked Magistrates of each of the Districts. The exact number of Magistrates in any given Magisters' Council is highly variable, ranging from three through to twenty-one. The Magisters' Councils are always composed of an odd number of individuals, and a quorum requires that there be at least 50% of all eligible Magisters present during a vote, and always an odd number, to prevent a tie.

The structure of the Council varies in each District, but usually consists of one Chief Magistrate who is deemed the titular "head of government" (sometimes called a Mayor, sometimes a Premier, sometimes simply the Chief Magistrate).

All laws dealt with by the Magisters' Council affect only the District level, and may not be inconsistent with a validly enacted law of a higher jurisdiction that has effect within that District. In practice, this usually means that very little legislation is passed at the District level, save for local budgets and financial laws and laws governing building and property within a District.

In some instances, certain criminal laws are passed within a District which do not apply to other parts of The Unification. Such crimes are usually tied into local cultural values and often represent "moral crimes" of a relatively minor nature (though some Districts regard such "moral crimes" as more severe than the less culture-centric generic crimes of The Unification). Such "moral crimes" usually involve such things as adultery, treatment of slaves or Civilians, handling of money and other property dispositions. Citizens and Civilians are warned to be aware of such local laws, as what may seem a minor infraction (or no infraction) in one District, may be a serious "moral crime" with a heavy penalty in another.

Laws passed at the District level require only a bare majority to pass, and never involve "matters of substance". Such laws are subject to review by The Voices of the District (which is where the Voices originally got their name), but this now consists of little more than "rubber-stamping" laws that have been appropriately enacted and passed, and that do not violate laws of higher jurisdictions. The Voices now focus their efforts on the Protectorate and The Unification level, and care little for the Districts.

Each member of the Magisters' Council holds a "seat" within the District. The number of seats depends on the population and distribution of the District, with smaller Districts having as few as three seats. The member who holds each seat is the highest ranking Magistrate within that seat. As such, the Council represents positions of legal experience and understanding of the law, and are not governed directly by any voting system.

The process of chosing the highest ranking, or most experienced Magistrate within each seat is a matter for the Council, and is informed by advice from the Chief Magistrate (or whatever the position is called locally).

It is not unheard of for Chief Magistrates to surround themselves with Magistrates who support and serve their interests, but it is also very common for such appointments to be made purely on talent and experience.

Because the Magisters are the highest ranked or most experienced Magistrate within their seat, the Magisters' Council also serves as the highest court of the District (subject only to the Archons' Court - the highest court in the land). As such, it is not impossible for a case to be heard more than once by any given Magister. The initial hearing is always with a Magistrate who does not sit on the Council, but the first level of appeal is to the Magister for that particular seat. Further appeals go before a panel of some or all of the Magisters' Council (always at least three, and always an odd number), meaning that at least one of the Magisters may have heard the case previously.

It is not uncommon for a Magister to rule differently when hearing a case on the Magisters' Council to the ruling they made as Magister for that particular seat, if the legal arguments made on appeal are sufficiently persuasive. For the most part, the Magisters' Council and the Magisters that sit on the Council seem to be genuinely swayed by reasoned legal arguments and fact, something rare for those in power within The Unification. Oddly, given the endemic corruption within the Archons' Court and within the various higher levels of government, Magisters, for the most part, seem largely above such venal corruptibility. For the most part.

Magisters serve in office until retirement age, which varies from District to District and from race to race. In most cases, a human Magister would retire at approvimately age 75-80, well into their old age. Terms for Magisters of other races fall within a similar proportion of the races' maximum average age.

A Magister may only be removed from office in one of three ways. The first is to die, the second is to retire or resign (it's called "resignation" if they are younger than the average age of retirement, or "retirement" otherwise), and the third is to be removed from office by the rest of the Council. Such removal must be carried out during a session when all of the Magisters (with the only allowable exception being the Magister to be removed) are present, and requires a unanimous vote of no-confidence. In practice, this almost never happens. When it does happen, it always results in the death or imprisonment of the Magister being removed as such a vote may only be called in response to certain criminal offences or charges (and proof) of corruption (or, at least, intractible corruption in conflict with the corruption of the rest of the Council, if any).

The various Magisters' Councils are constituted under one of the heads of power within the Constitution, however, the framers of the Constitution, whether by error or by design, neglected to make the composition of the Magisters' Councils subject to Constitutional review. This means that, whilst any laws they may pass are subject to review by the Voices of the District and may be voided by the Archons' Court (interestingly more by virtue of The Voices having ratified them than by virtue of the Magisters having passed them), the Councils themselves may not be dismissed by the Archons' Court, and may not be directly interfered with by any higher level of government. This is seen by many experts as an oversight by the framers, but it has never been corrected in all the time that The Unification has existed.

As the name implies, the Archons' Court is a court of law. It is the highest court in all of The Unification, and it hears cases referred from all three levels within The Unification. As such, appeals from District courts or from Protectorate courts are heard by the Archons.

Court cases which are initiated at The Unification level are usually heard in the first instance by one of the Archons for the Protectorate in which the offence occurred. Appeals from such cases are heard by all of the Archons for that particular Protectorate (there is usually one Archon per District, sometimes two if it is a large or populous District), and further appeals are heard by a full session of the Archons' Court (yes, technically that means every Archon in The Unification).

What makes the Archons' Court particularly notable within The Unification is the fact that the Court can hear issues raised which deal with the Constitution, and can rule on the validity of laws passed at all levels of The Unification. The Archons' Court may also dissolve and dismiss any level of government, except for the various Magisters' Councils.

In practice, court cases initiated at the District and Protectorate level rarely get to the full Archons' Court. Cases initiated at the District level rarely go past being heard by a single Archon, and Protectorate-level cases rarely get past the panel of Archons for a given Protectorate. Sessions of the full Archons' Court for matters below The Unification level are exceedingly rare, with only a bare dozen instances recorded in the last five hundred years.

Constitutional matters, however, must be initiated at The Unification level, and always start with a hearing by one Archon (from the District where the challenge is mounted and filed). These matters then typically proceed to a panel of Archons for the Protectorate in question, and sometimes proceed to the full Court. Such matters may be initiated by any Citizen or Civilian, or by any legally instituted body (such as a guild, trading company, or similar) or level of government, from any District or Protectorate.

Given that there is at least one (and often more) Archon assigned to each District of The Unification, and there are many Districts, panels of the full Court are large, rowdy and difficult gatherings. Because of this, the full Court may, on a motion by an Archon supported by at least 75% of the full Court, appoint a panel of one Archon per Protectorate to hear the case and the evidence. Each Archon on such a panel then submits a brief to the other Archons for that Protectorate which summarises the legal arguments and evidence. The Archons within each Protectorate then vote on the outcome, and the panel members reconvene to vote in accordance with the vote cast within their Protectorate. This vote then determines the outcome of the proceedings. It is a cumbersome affair, but much easier than having the full Court sit through a series of long hearings, with each Archon being able to ask questions and challenge Counsel for either side at any stage and on any point, and then arguing and voting as a group.

In spite of this somewhat streamlined procedure for constitutional cases, there is one circumstance in which the full Court always sits in session together and votes on an issue together. Where a challenge may result in the dissolution of any level of government, it is a requirement of the Constitution that the full Court (defined as 75% of all surviving Archons at that time) sit to hear the matter and vote together on the outcome. This is considered a matter of substance and, in addition to the quorum requirement of 75% of all living Archons being present, the outcome must be determined by 75% majority vote of those attending.

In the last five hundred years, the Archons' Court have dismissed the Citizens' Council six times, and the Voices of the District twice (in one of these instances, both bodies were dismissed). There are somewhat more common instances of Houses of Protectors being dismissed within the last half a millenia. Interestingly, the Archons' Court has no power to dismiss a District government.

Dismissing of either the Citizens' Council or the Voices of the District is always the result of some form of Constitutional Crisis. This usually means that either a law of great import which is illegal Constitutionally has been passed, or the body being dismissed has overstepped its Consitutional bounds and refuses to back down and follow the letter of the law. The Citizens' Council and the Voices of the District usually try to avoid a confrontation with the Archons' Court unless they know how a particular vote will go, and there is often a lot of corruption and graft involved in such Constitutional crises.

Dismissals of the various Houses of Protectors are somewhat broader in scope and do not have such strict Constitutional boundaries as dismissals at a higher level. The reasons for dismissing a House of Protectors are broader and more open to the whim of the full Court. Interestingly, the Constitution still requires the full Court of The Unification to hear a case that might result in the dismissal of a House of Protectors. This means that Archons with no conection to the Protectorate involved have an equal say in what happens to that particular House of Protectors as that held by Archons who actually serve that Protectorate. This has lead to some political dealing on the part of either the Citizens' Council, the Voices of the District, or, sometimes, other Houses of Protectors in order to ensure the dismissal or survival of a particular House.

The Archons' Court is designed to provide the ultimate legal recourse to the people of The Unification, and to provide a guarantee that the government of The Unification is within lawful bounds and, arguably, impartial. In practice, the Court is corrupt, and decisions at the level of a single Archon or the Archons for a Protectorate are able to be bought by those with enough money and influence. In spite of this corruption, at the highest level it is quite simply impossible to corrupt the Court as there are just too many people involved and their ties to each other are often convoluted and hazy, making it impossible to predict how the full Court might rule. In spite of this endemic corruption, the system seems to work, and all of the worst examples of the Citizens' Council and Voices of the District have been removed from power by the Archons' Court acting in concert in the last half a millenia.

Political Parties

Posted by EarthDragon on 21st December 2016.

As well as the bodies outlined above, politics in The Unification is muddied by party politics. Each of the main parties outlined below (there are dozens upon dozens of smaller, minor parties, as well as a number of unaligned politicians within The Unification) has an overall guiding philosophy which is intended to guide its members and represent the stance they take on particular issues. To complicate matters, it is possible to be a member of more than one political party at a time, and party alleigances change swiftly, sometimes before the ink on the membership form has had the chance to dry.

The Blue Wheel party is one of the oldest political parties within The Unification, it's origins dating back to the original formation of The Unification. The only other party with a similarly ancient history is The Red Falcon. It is one of the largest of the political parties, and holds considerable political power within the Citizens' Council, and within the House of Protectors in many Protectorates. Within two of the Houses of Protectorates (Illurian and Shonshoni), they represent the largest party and rule in coalitian with another party. They hold a large number of seats in The Voices of the District, and a good number of Archons and Magistratess across The Unification are members of the party.

Politically, The Blue Wheel is a centre-left party, holding to ideals of equal opportunity, social justice, mixed economy and a balanced welfare system. They generally believe in separation of church and state, and are in favour of government regulation of private enterprise to ensure fairness and equality of opportunity. However, they also expect individuals to take personal responsibility for what they can control, and argue that complete equality is neither desirable nor acheivable. Unlike some of the other left-aligned parties, they have no particular position on magic, psionics or the environment, and will use any of these resources indiscriminately to further their goals and ends.

The Blue Wheel often allies itself with The Jade Serpent party, though it often considers Jade Serpent members too radical and extreme on a number of issues, such as the environment and magic. In spite of this, the two parties are often allies, and The Jade Serpent is part of the ruling coalition in Shonshoni with The Blue Wheel and The Yellow Eye. In spite of this alliance, The Blue Wheel is concerned by the gradual rise in power of The Jade Serpent, as it has come in part through an erosion of the primary vote of The Blue Wheel, though other parties have also lost votes to The Jade Serpent. It would be preferable to The Blue Wheel if the erosion of primary vote was in right-wing parties, but a significant portion of the increased vote won by The Jade Serpent has come from Blue Wheel voters who have become disenchanted with The Blue Wheel's moderate stance on many issues. Many voters, it seems, have come to regard The Blue Wheel as stale, lacking in vision, little different from The Red Falcon, or The Yellow Eye, and part of "the establishment" that they regard as having failed in the long struggle against The Fallen and as being responsible for the widening gap between Citizen and Civilian, declining standards of living and increasing signs of difficulty throughout The Unification. The Blue Wheel has struggled to find candidates to adequately respond to this challenge, and has taken to strtegically withdrawing from elections in some Districts where it is clear that polls favour a Jade Serpent candidate, choosing instead to focus resources on other Districts where they can be more sure of retaining or increasing their primary vote. Unfortunately, this has simply reinforced the impression among disenchanted voters that The Blue Wheel has failed them, and they are turning to other parties such as The Jade Serpent, The Diamond Heart, or even Surak's Teeth (a far-right, populist party).

The Red Hand is a relatively young political party, having formed in the last one hundred and fifty years. It was formed by a young Citizen and ultra-nationalist of the Ningara Protectorate (also called the Ningara Province) named Kollak Rell. The party is a militant, far-right ultra-nationalist party which advocates for strict militaristic rule and a hawkish, first-strike stance toward The Fallen and toward any outside The Unification that resist efforts to be absorbed into the union. They are a relatively small party outside their native Ningara Protectorate, holding no more than one or two seats in any House of Protectors outside of Ningara (where they hold four). They hold no seats on the Citizens' Council, however, they do hold a substantial minority in The Voices of the District, and there are several Archons who are members of the party.

Many members of The Red Hand are xenophobic and regard anyone other than the human, elven and dwarven races (or those who very closely resemble them) with great suspicion and fear. This, unfortunately, includes a great many of the population of The Unification and, if members of The Red Hand had their way, all members of these other races would either be made slaves or, preferably, be branded Fallen and either cast out or killed. They strongly believe that all members of The Unification should be under martial law, should be part of the military or an organised militia (even more so than is currently the case), and in a hard border between The Unification and The Fallen. They strongly advocate for the use of magic or psionics or any other mystical power to wipe out The Fallen, at any cost, and believe that The Unification should be reorganised into a single nation under a single ruler. They also believe that ruler should be their current leader, a hot-headed Citizen named Tollan Rell, who is the great grandson of the party's founder.

They greatly favour private enterprise being able to operate largely unrestricted by government regulations, provided that such enterprise contribute to the war effort and the military through either supply of weapons or technology, or through funding of military budgets. They do not believe in social welfare programs, and are the loudest voices in opposition of the current provisions whereby Civilians enjoy a right to food, housing and healthcare, advocating cuts whenever there are shortfalls in the budget, and pushing for Civilians to pay their own way by allowing them to work for private enterprise and allowing private enterprise to set wages and prices according to demand. Members of The Red Hand tend to be devoutly religious, usually followers of either Itorran or Nol-reth.

The Jade Serpent are another relatively minor party, who sometimes work in coalition with The Blue Wheel. They are, however, considerably more left-wing that The Blue Wheel, and are particularly focused on issues of environmental concern. They are also opposed to indiscriminate use of magic, sorcery, psionics and other forms of mystical power, citing the damaging effects that such powers have on the natural environment, and the tendency of overuse of such powers to create wild-magic zones, hard-magic zones and dead-magic zones, all of which they say pose a security risk to The Unification. In spite of their usually relatively close association with The Blue Wheel, they are often opposed to their sometime allies on issues relating to mystical power and environmental issues, and they often propose a more extreme stance on many social justice and social welfare issues than their more moderate allies, much to the frustration of The Blue Wheel.

They are vehemently opposed to almost all of the policies of The Red Hand, Surak's Teeth, The Red Falcon and The Still Mind parties, especially economic policies that focus on small government, lack of regulation and taxation, allowing private enterprise to set prices and wages according to "demand" and cutting of social welfare programs. They also oppose any policies that would increase the unregulated use of mystical or psionic power, strongly advocate for maintaining separation of church and state (something many of the right-wing parties oppose), and frequently campaign for policies, regulations and panels or tribunals to combat corruption in all levels of government and the judiciary. This last area of lobbying usually falls on deaf ears and gets amended out of any legislation they propose, or their amendments to other proposed legislation gets voted down, even by their allies.

While The Jade Serpent is relatively small, it has been growing in political influence over the two and a half centuries of its existence. It has grown from a tiny party with only 1% of the vote in Citizens' Council and Voices of the District elections to now enjoying an aggregate 10% of the vote across The Unification, a position it has held for the last ten years. It has enjoyed a similar growth in primary vote at the Protectorate level over the last one hundred and fifty years since the various Protectorate-level parties of similar ideology merged to join the Unification-level Jade Serpent party and formed a single party across all levels of politics. More importantly, it has enjoyed increasing popularity among Civilians, something that has caused many more conservative Citizens, and even some of the more centrist left-wing Citizens some concern in recent years as they have watched votes in their Districts slowly eaten away by Jade Serpent candidates. While the preferential vote system for Citizen elections means that, in many cases, votes for The Jade Serpent end up flowing on to a Blue Wheel candicate, or a candidate of another left-wing party, Jade Serpent candidates have won enough of the primary vote in a number of Districts for preferences to flow to them, meaning that The Jade Serpent has a significant minority in all Houses of Protectors, the Citizens' Council and the Voices of the District, and even holds the balance of power in the Protectorates of Gokh-tura and Mirosa, and is part of the ruling coalition in Shonshoni.

The Diamond Heart is a far-left political party formed less than a century ago by a young hrruban Citizen from Illurian named Hrrula, in response to what she called "the endemic failure of the leftist establishment to differentiate itself from the right-wing facists that are driving The Unification into ruin", by which she meant The Blue Wheel party and its allies. Hrruban Citizens are rarities in themselves, and Hrrula's family was greatly embarrassed by her split from The Blue Wheel party and her vociferous denouncement of the left and subsequent formation of a new political party. It was only the electoral success of her new party in that first election that saved her family from great shame and, more than likely, sudden demise and financial ignominy. The new party managed to cause a virtual rout in the primary vote of both The Blue Wheel party and The Yellow Eye, resulting in The Diamond Heart forming a coalition with The Jade Serpent, three independent Citizens with left-leaning tendencies and the single elected members of each of The Yellow Eye and The Blue Wheel in order to achieve majority in the House of Protectors.

Unfortunately, the relative inexperience of the elected candidates for The Diamond Heart meant that they were not an effective government, and they were soundly defeated in the next election cycle, with much of their vote returning to the two major left-wing parties, who promptly returned to power and excluded the lone Diamond Heart Protector from the ruling coalition, choosing instead to include the two elected controversial candidates of The Still Mind party in the ruling coalition of the next government. Whilst The Diamond Heart party has members in all Protectorates, it does not run candidates in all Districts, nor in all elections, as it simply does not have the numbers, or the experience to be able to field that many candidates at one time, nor does it have the influence or experience to govern. However, it is gradually growing in influence, having increased its overall primary vote across The Unification in the last fifty years from 1% to almost 3%

In terms of political views, The Diamond Heart is a far-left party, much like The Jade Serpent, though with a less environmental bent. Its main focus is on economic and social welfare policies and issues of social justice and equality. It is violently opposed (sometimes quite literally) to the racist and xenophobic attitudes of some of the far-right parties, and its members are just as likely to take to the streets in protest on an issue as they are to stand up in the chamber and speak out against a policy the oppose. As a result, many of its members have spent time in an LEO lock-up for "disturbing the peace", and a few of its elected members have been "impeached". However, in spite of their often very vocal and frequent objections to issues that go against their policies within the chambers of the Citizens' Council, the Voices of the District, or the various Houses of Protectors, they have had far less impeachments than one would expect, and certainly less than the more traditional parties. They are reluctant to work with The Blue Wheel or The Yellow Eye unless they can extract concessions, preferably in writing and in triplicate, that go against the usual centre-left goals of the traditionalist parties and are more in line with the radical leftist ideals of The Diamond Mind. They are far more willing to work with The Jade Serpent party, and frequently do so, and it is usually members of Jade Serpent who broker deals between Diamond Mind members and members of the centre-left parties.

Surak's Teeth are almost as old a political party as The Blue Wheel, but they are a relatively minor party. They also enjoy the dubious distinction of having been banned three times in the history of their existence, but have reformed each time after the ban has lapsed. They are militant and economic extremists, and are to the right of the far-right. Only humans are allowed to join the party, and they believe that only humans should be Citizens and that all humans should be Citizens, even those who are currently Civilians, Slaves or Criminals. They also believe that all humans should be in the military, and that the military should enslave and conscript all other races and unite them into a fighting force to wipe out The Fallen, without regard to numbers of non-human casualties required to achieve this goal. They are also of the view that all assets belonging to non-humans are the property of the government and the military (i.e. humans), and should be confiscated to fuel the war effort.

Rather than the government or the military providing for the non-humans under their service as slaves, they advocate for each human having the right for a certain amount of their year being able to be spent in private enterprise running a business of their choice for profit, subject to no regulation or taxes by the government. The non-human slaves would be indentured to the humans on an equal basis across The Unification (i.e. they would all be divided equally among the humans, and each human would have the same number of slaves). When a particular human was "off-duty" and working in their business for profit, their slaves would have the same time away from the military and would be their indentured employees, which the human would have to feed and clothe (but not pay). When the human was required to go to war, the human would be required to equip themselves and their non-human slaves at their own expense from the profits of their business, and they and their slaves would then proceed to war against The Fallen. Any captured non-humans during the war effort would be split among the humans who captured them, potentially giving the lucky humans who captured them more largely free labour. Surak's Teeth members argue that, by requiring the humans to equip themselves and their slaves, there is no need for taxes, as any human who does not equip themselves and thier slaves well for the war wil pay the price by dying. Further, they argue there is no need for welfare, as the humans are responsible for their slaves, who are also their workers for the business and any human who neglects their workers, fails in business, but one who manages them well, will be able to profit well and afford good gear for the war.

Most serious economists point out several fatal flaws in the logic employed by the members of Surak's Teeth, however, these largely fall on deaf ears and blind, xenophobic eyes, as many of these serious economists are not human. Unfortunately, in spite of many logical reasons to the contrary, the party has survived for a long time, almost as long as The Blue Wheel and, while not an overly significant party, it still manages to attract votes in almost every Protectorate, if not in every District. They also manage to win a seat in almost every House of Protectors in virtually every election where they are not banned, and usually have around three seats on the Citizens' Council and one or two in the Voices of the District. There are also several Magisters and at least one Archon who are known to be members of the party. Whether these prominent members are part of the party out of sincere belief, or because the party happens to have access to fabulous wealth is unclear, however, the cynical among the left point to the vast amounts of money held by the party and lavishly paid to its elected members, Magisters and Archons as the main justification for public adherence to the party among these individuals. Interestingly, none of these public figures have expressly denied such suggestions.

The Red Falcon is officially a moderate right-wing party, which has existed for approximately four-hundred years, making it one of the older extant political parties. It formed as the result of a split in The Blood Dragon, an ancient right-wing political party almost as old as The Blue Wheel. Of the parties that split off from the original party, only The Red Falcon, the largest and most moderate of the factions, remains today. The party has been waning in influence ever since the original party fractured due to its internal factional fighting four-hundred years ago, but still remains a strong force in politics and is the main right-wing party in Unification politics. It holds influence somewhat greater than that of The Blue Wheel, being a slightly larger and wealthier party, though equally bound in tradition and old ways. It differs from The Blue Wheel on a great many policies, being more focused on small government, reduced taxation for the wealthy, decreased regulation of business, reduction of social welfare. However, it finds itself holding some similar, centrist views to The Blue Wheel when facing off against the extremist parties on both the left and right wings of politics, including The Red Hand, The Jade Serpent, The Still Mind, The Diamond Heart and, of course, Surak's Teeth. However, The Red Falcon and The Blue Wheel, while both traditionalist parties, are not comfortable working together unless the need is great, so they usually find themselves opposed to each other and sometimes working uncomfortably with extremist parties in opposition with one another on issues that they might otherwise agree on, at least to some degree.

Unfortunately, like The Blood Dragon, The Red Falcon has become a party of factional in-fighting, and is in danger of another split similar to the that which gave rise to it in the first place. Currently, there are four main factions within the party. A moderate, economically-focused faction, which makes up the major faction of the party, a religious conservative faction that is in the minority, but which commands considerable wealth and influence, an ultra-nationalist faction which, whilst small and of relatively little influence is nonetheless noisy and prone to provoking divisive debate, and a progressive faction that is also wealthy, influential, noisy and almost left-wing in some of its policies and is just embarrassing enough to undermine other sectors of the party. The different factions vary in their influence in different parts of The Unification, and this makes it hard for the party leaders to balance the different factions and hold the party together. This has resulted in embarrassing policy revarsals in order to appease different factions at different times in order to hold the party together and prevent the major right-wing party from splitting into smaller, divergent elements that would be unable to provide an effective opposition to the more organised and closely allied left-winbg parties. This has lead to many within The Unification losing faith in The Red Falcon as being "another mainstream party" that has failed them.

The Still Mind is a relatively minor political party, though it is quite an old one, dating back some five hundred years or more, with its exact beginnings lost somewhat in the poorly kept histories of the Oxani Protectorate. They began as a moderate party, with no particular left or right leanings, but have become steadily more left-wing over time, now being considered left of a typical centre-left party, but not quite a far-left party. As a political party, they claim to be stand-alone, and maintain no official links with the T'al Shiar, however, they are typically considered to be little more than the socially acceptable, political front for the T'al Shiar.

The T'al Shiar themselves, are officially a banned terrorist group, responsible for a number of violent attacks over the centuries, centred on overthrowing the power of the Citizenship and shifting power from the ever-more wealthy and distributing it, and their wealth, more fairly among the general population of The Unification. Whilst opposed to the growing imbalance in power and wealth in The Unification, the T'al Shiar are also pragmatists. They understand that the current model of power relies upon the wealthy, and upon influential Citizens, and so The Still Mind exists to represent their interests in the Citizens' Council, Voices of The District and the various Houses of Protectors. How, precisely, they manage to persuade wealthy and powerful Citizens to take on their cause is unclear, and perhaps best left to the imagination. However, The Still Mind has never swerved in its dedication to the general goals of the T'al Shiar since being co-opted some three centuries ago, and has managed to advance their general prinicples and aims within the various political mechanisms within The Unification, albeit slowly and largely with the help of parties such as The Blue Wheel.

The other leftist parties are largely sympathetic to most of the views of The Still Mind, however, they are opposed to their ties to the T'al Shiar. The greatest opposition comes from The Jade Eye party, largely due to the fact that the T'al Shiar are completely unrestrained in their use of mystical power in their attacks, and The Still Mind are also largely opposed to measures designed to reign in the use of such powers. Similarly, The Still Mind (and the T'al Shiar) have no particular position on environmental matters, being almost totally focused on social equality, social welfare, and defeating The Fallen. These kinds of rifts between the left-wing parties have lead to the members of The Still Mind being tolerated more than accepted, and to the other parties regarding them as a useful resource to be tapped when required, and abandoned when expedient. The right-wing parties, by comparison, are violently opposed to The Still Mind, and there are periodic attempts to impeach members of the party. Such attempts are usually most obvious in the days and weeks after a T'al Shiar attack, particularly if Citizens sympathetic to a cause dear to one of the right-wing parties.

The Still Mind remain a minor influence in politics, but they are significant enough to be a thorn in the side of all of the major parties. The T'al Shiar, on the other hand, are universally hated by most Citizens outside the party. Their reception among Civilians is more mixed, with some regarding them as barbaric ciminals, and others regarding them as heroes of the people. The Still Mind and the T'al Shiar are currently experiencing a period of great unpopularity, as a result of a recent T'al Shiar attack on a Unification outpost in Oxani Protectorate. The outpost was targetted due to the presence of two members of the Citizens' Council and a Voice of the Protectors, who between them controlled a significant portion of the wealth in the Protectorate. Unfortunately, shortly after the outpost was destroyed by the T'al Shiar, the District was overrun by Fallen, and several thousand Civilians were killed, severely damaging the reputation of the T'al Shiar in the region, and greatly affecting the credibility of The Still Mind in the Protectorate and in neighbouring Ningara, Tets-koran and Mirosa. In the resultant riot in Oxana City, the Still Mind Protector was killed by a rioutous mob of Civilians that attacked the House of Protectors whilst it was in session.

The Yellow Eye is a centre-left, moderate party which started as a far-left environmental and anti-magic movement some five-hundred years ago. Since then, it has drifted more toward the centre of politics and has lost much of what many considered to be its radical fringe. This has resulted in policies that have been less focused on the environment and mystical power, and more focused on the economy, social welfare, social equality and social justice. Originally, this shift began as an effort to grow the influence of the party by increasing its share of the vote and its credibility in The Unification. Whilst this was successful, it came at the expense of losing many of the people that made it a successful party in the first place, turning the party into a centrist, traditional and "mainstream" political party. Whilst this increased the vote of the party, it decreased the vote among younger voters, and caused many of the original party loyalists to abandon the party in favour of independents. As a result, there is little to tell today between The Yellow Eye and The Blue Wheel in terms of policy, other than a slightly increased focus on environmental issues by The Yellow Eye, and a greater tendency to oppose unregulated use of magical or mystical power, though this to nowhere near the same extent as The Jade Serpent.

Perhaps because there is so little to tell between the two parties, The Yellow Eye and The Blue Wheel often work together as allies, and are often in coalition with one another in various politial arenas. They often do not stand candidates against each other, unless the members in a particular area have a particular opposition to a policy held by one party or the other, or unless a potential candidate is particularly popular in a given area. The two parties always preference each other in elevtions, so even when they do run opposing candidates, a vote for either party is effectively the same as voting for the more popular of the two parties in any given election. The Yellow Eye has much less influence and power than The Blue Wheel, having about one quarter of the membership and representation, but because the two parties are considered to be little different, they could be considered to be effectively adding to the influence of The Blue Wheel in many ways. Yellow Eye representatives rarely vote differently in Citizens' Council, Voices of the District or Houses of Protectors to their Blue Wheel counterparts, unless in protest or to make a particular point, and even then they usually only do so on an initial round of votes to force either a close vote or a draw, and then change their vote on a second vote. All of these factors mean that many voters who are disenchanted with the current political system and the mainstream parties are just as disatisfied with The Yellow Eye as they are with The Blue Wheel. This has resulted in a slow erosion of the vote for The Yellow Eye, as for The Blue Wheel, though they have suffered slightly less erosion than The Blue Wheel.