Parliament and the Alliance Government

After the last game (Dante Reconnaisance), my players had some questions about the Alliance Parliament and how the 'Verse is governed. If it seems like a bastard creation mixed from the US Congress, British Parliament, Japanese Diet, communist Chinese bureacracy and the Imperial Senate from Star Wars, well, it is.


At the top of the Alliance is the Parliament, a single house legislature of elected officials called senators. Each world in the Alliance with sufficient population elects Senators from their own people to represent them in parliament. Since it is population based, Core worlds like Londinium or Sihnon have multiple senators, while smaller Rim worlds like Boros or Beaumonde may only have one. On the core worlds, being elected to parliament is a very expensive process, because of that it is very difficult for outsiders to gain entrance into what is effectively a closed body. On Sihnon, the posts are practically hereditary. There is a great deal of corporate sponsorship/contribution to the elections; many senators are effectively bought and paid for representatives of various commercial interests. There are multiple political parties with various agendas and alliances.

There is a prime minister as supreme executive. However, he is effectively an elected figurehead, at the top of the parliament is an Executive Committee who serves that purpose. It is primarily composed of the heads of lesser committees (Defense, Education, etc). Positions on these committees are voted on by the parliament and are the subject of the most intense back room interest brokering, favor trading and sometimes outright blackmail and bribery in the 'Verse. There is a Parliamentary Speaker who serves as a mediator for full sessions, but they are elected from the membership and have no functions outside of parliament.

The Alliance Government

Below the Parliament are the bureacracies; Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Trade, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Defense, etc. These are civil service bureacracies, but corruption is present here as well in the forms of bribery or blackmail for promotions. The heads of these bureacracies are appointed by the parliamentary committee with oversight for that ministry.

Worlds with a population too low for parliament representation are governed by either an Alliance Governor or Magistrate, who is appointed by parliament and it almost always an outsider. These positions are often rewards for service or results of bribery and other graft.

Individual towns and cities have elected mayors, the mayor of a major city in the Core may have more population than a planetary governor on the Rim. Again, there's a great deal of political chicanery involved in these elections. One analogy would be to imagine if America had no state divisions or governments.

Before Unification

One of the things I had to explain for my campaign was how had the various worlds interacted before Unification. In my version of the 'Verse we had more or less decided that the Alliance had previously not been a single government, but more like N.A.T.O., in other words a group of sovereign, independent nations working together. The Core worlds of Londinium, Sihnon, Osiris, Ariel and Bernadette may have been members of the Alliance since colonization began, but they were still individual worlds. The Unification movement merged the member worlds into a single government. Maybe similar to how the Continental Congress made the thirteen American colonies into the United States of America. The difference here is that some states didn't want to join, but were forced to by conquest.

Prior to Unification, individual worlds had their own governments, most were some form of representative democracy. A few worlds like Persephone had a hereditary nobility, but those positions and titles were only in regard to land ownership, not political power. I realized after running the Dante Reconnaisance adventure that I needed to add more detail about the government before Unification. According to the Serenity movie, the experiments on Miranda and the creation of the Reavers took place just after the beginning of the war. Transporting and setting up a colony of 30 million people was a huge effort, so it had to be done by a group of worlds. Emily's backstory for Lennon sort of suggests that the worlds of the 'Verse were completely independent before the war. This is not quite the case. There had to be some multiplanetary government organization, just for the terraforming efforts if nothing else.

So, before Unification, the major worlds of the 'Verse did have a combined organization, but it was more like the United Nations. Individual worlds, who had their own governments, sent representatives and funds. This body handled interplanetary relations and terraforming efforts. The modern parliament grew out of this council. What does all this mean for Londinium and Lennon and the crew of the Glory?

Before Unification, Londinium's military had a strong independent streak. Even though the interplanetary council was based on Londinium, it was not wholly supported by all of the planet's people. Think about the current relationship between America and the United Nations. Even though the UN is based in New York and America is one of the founding members, we don't always agree with the UN. And America would probably disagree with a world government where we have to subordinate ourselves to the will of the UN. And so it was with Londinium. As one of the oldest, largest, most advanced and most powerful worlds, there was a strong minority on Londinium that saw no reason for Unification. But the politicians liked the idea and signed on with Unification. The Londinium military realized before most that it was going to come down to force and wrote their release papers for Londinium soldiers to make it voluntary to join the new Alliance military and that was the loophole that allowed Lennon and other "Londy" soldiers to resign their commissions and defect to the Independents without being listed as deserters.

The Glory and Admiral Sharpe are a different matter. They could have just turned in their papers and left Londinium as Lennon did, but they wanted to do more. They knew the Independent worlds had no major naval vessels and so they stole the Glory. A strong part of that was their love for the Glory herself; this way they could take their own piece of Londinium with them.

Campaign specific questions:

What about Mal's comment about "And I'd like to be the king of all Londinium and wear a shiny hat"?
I'm taking that merely as a smart remark, not a direct historical reference. Since, despite the name, Londinium was primarily settled by colonists from North America, I'm going to say there was no monarchy on Londinium. Maybe its a mixed up historical reference, perhaps Mal was thinking "King of London" from old England.

Who is Senator Baron von Alksburg?
The senator is a member of an extremely wealthy family on Persephone, hence the title "Baron". He was a member of the pre-Unification government and voted against joining the Alliance before the war. Since senators are elected from their homeworlds, and he is wealthy and well connected enough on Persephone, he was the first post-Unification senator from Persephone and has served since the war. He is the leader of what is generally referred to as the "opposition" party, the political party supporting greater rights and resources for the Rim worlds. Almost all the senators from former Independent worlds belong to his party, as well as a few of the more liberal and honest Core world senators. His major goals are the restoration of political rights to former independents and more rationalized military spending.

Where did some of these ideas come from?
My ideas of the Alliance parliament and government is heavily influenced by Robert Frezza's excellent military science fiction novel, A Small Colonial War. In this book, Japan rules the human worlds and a corrupt bureacracy and Diet (the Japanese Congress) controlled by corporations rule Japan. A battalion of Russian and Finnish soldiers is sent to a small world to put down a rebellion that is interfering with the profits of a major japanese company. My description above of the Alliance Parliament and bureacracies is taken almost directly from the book.

(Update, after finding a couple of references, I have added a prime minister to the Alliance government.)