Bastian Politics

From ThornsWiki

Bastia is governed by a hereditary monarch. Bastia’s custom is that the monarch retires from the crown at a time of their choosing and moves from the Palace di Anthos in Florne to the Palace di Livadi in Caroult.

Hereditary Monarchy

For many centuries, the monarchy was passed on only through the male line. In 908, however, King Theophilus passed the crown to his first-born child, his daughter Baste, rather than his (only) son Agamemnon, which started the tradition of passing the crown to the oldest child regardless of gender. There are various dramaticized accounts of Theophilus’s decision; some claim that Baste cast a perceptive spell on him, some claim that Baste gave a speech to the King and court so beautiful that everyone in attendance wept, and some claim that she seduced the Ultas Archev Strategos so that he would prevail upon her father. In all likelihood, the decision was probably due to a combination of factors: Theophilus was a conscientious king; Baste was intelligent, beautiful, and a capable sorcerer; and Agamemnon was an opium-eater who had never shown even a minute of interest in governing in his life, and who was in fact said to be relieved by his father’s decision and lived his days out happily in Tiv.

Whatever the King or Queen’s sexuality, there is considerable pressure on the monarch to make a heterosexual marriage in order to secure the line of succession. There have been several Kings and Queens who have had a spouse for procreation but have had some other partner of the same sex who has, unofficially, been their spouse (and, one notable case, the monarch divorced their partner after enough children were produced, then married their preferred partner). There have also been several instances where the King or Queen let the crown pass to a sibling or a sibling’s oldest child rather than take a heterosexual spouse.

Council of Anastou

The Council of Anastou is based at the University of Anastou, governed by the Headmaster or Headmistress. They have almost no direct authority over the King and Queen, but considerable influence over Bastia’s unicameral legislature, called the Giardino di Bastia (the Garden of Bastia), which has 200 members at any given time. The division of powers in Bastia is such that the Monarch has considerable power to set temporary policy, but the laws of the country are written by the Giardino, and new permanent legislation can only be introduced in parliament, where it must pass with 50% plus one of the vote. The Monarch then has the ability to accept or reject the legislation, although a rejection can be overturned with a 70% vote in the Giardino. Therefore, as a check on the King or Queen, it generally behooves the Council of Anastou to ensure that Parliament is functioning at any given time.

The political parties of Bastia are governed by the Council of Anastou; permission from the university is required for any party to stand in an election, and the parties can be disbanded by the university at any time, which involves the forfeiture of all party assets to the university. At various times, Bastia has had as few as one political party or as many as sixteen. Currently, Bastia has two parties: the Rose and the Spruce. Each party must always have a governing body of ten members, although in practice several members are often nominal, and delegate their powers to others. Voting is done on the basis of party name only, and the governing body then selects from the party members standing for election to assign them to seats and committees in the Parliament. Legislators are formally called Gardeners, although people often disparagingly refer to them as Weeds.

Contracts and Legal Systems

Bastia has an elaborate legal system, with extensive civil courts focused on contracts and contract enforcement. Laws regarding the legality of contracts are extensive. Notably, there is an office in the legal system called a testimone, or witness, whose must be there to witness the signing of any contract. All contracts entail two signings, with a period of ten minutes between them, during which time the signatories must remain in the presence of the testimone. The goal of this is to avoid any undue magical influence of any party over another; the testimone, if they feel that a silent spell has been cast or other undue pressure has been exerted, can either refuse to witness the signatures or require the signatories to proceed separately (generally involving at least another waiting period and potentially another meeting).

Bastians are not considered to be legally allowed to sign contracts under the age of 20, although informal agreements (which are difficult to legally enforce, but often kept by mutual consent) are still made with underaged Bastians, particularly if they have already inherited their parents’ property.

There are separate contract processes and courts to deal with contracts between galdori and humans or wicks, rather than other galdori. Since the default assumption is that humans and wicks cannot read, these contracts must be read aloud in full before a testimone and then signed by the galdor and thumb-printed by the human or wick (in a single sitting). No care is taken to ensure humans or wicks are not unduly influenced in signing. In theory, a galdor who violates the terms of their contract (with, say, an unfair rent increase) can be taken to court by a human or wick. In practice, these courts will essentially always side with the galdori’s interpretation of the contract or argument about why whatever they did was correct, and may actually order that the contract be amended to reflect the galdor’s view.

Humans have also adopted the testimone system for contracts among humans, although in practice contracts are usually verbal and sealed with a handshake; however, the presence of the witness (a well-regarded member of the community agreed upon by both parties) is still considered essential to an agreement having been struck. Note that only galdori can legally be testimone, so the name is an informal one among humans.

Bastia also has elaborate and fairly strict laws regarding inheritance. Upon the death of both parents, all their material wealth is passed to their children, although parents have some scope to determine how much goes to each child. Only individuals with no children can choose to leave their property elsewhere, and in this case they have complete determination over their fortunes. In practice, it is theoretically possible to disinherit one’s child, but it is excessively difficult and expensive (other than passives, who cannot own or inherit property, and wicks, who do not count as children under these laws).

Divorce and potential remarriages complicate this in theory, although rarely arise in practice. When they do, standard procedure is for Bastians to make their lawyers extremely wealthy working out the details of all the various marriage contracts and wills. Note that there are no laws governing what individuals can do with their wealth during life, and there have been cases of Bastians who endeavored to give away all their material possessions immediately prior to death, although this entails certain risks.

Other complications can arise if an individual under the age of 20 inherits their parents’ wealth, as these individuals are not legally considered to be able to sign contracts. In practice, this has been gotten around by the creation of future-enforceable contracts or informal agreements, and only means that things take longer and are more annoying for young custodians of their family’s wealth.