Ruffles, phone home. CBBHSU have not seen you in a long time.
Towelie and Nicholas seek contact.
As a nation, Ællas is a sprawling multi-ethnic empire that straddles three different continents: wrapping around most of the large inland sea between the continents of Sarpedon and Tyronia. In fact, this body of water is rather hubristically named the "Ællenic Sea" in the Ællenic language. Only the sea's eastern most coasts, nearest the strait where it empties into the ocean, are controlled by other nations. Given this state of affairs, the Ællenes have a long history of seamanship and maritime trade. Even when they were but a tiny island nation, their ships brought great wealth from many foreign ports. Today, the economy of the Empire revolves around heavy industry, manufacturing and a vast wealth of exportable resources - particularly fuels, metals, timber and agricultural products (in roughly that order). It is largely self-sufficient, with a very high positive balance of trade - consumer goods, advanced electronics and skilled labor being the primary imports.
The Ællenic capital, Istavanoúpôlis (meaning "City of Laurels" or "City of Honor"), is arguably the single-most important city on the planet: the largest by metropolitan area and one of the most populous, as well as the world's busiest port and wealthiest financial center. There are more museums, more millionaires and more police officers per capita than anywhere else. The Empire had its humble beginnings here as a theocratic city state, evolving into an elective monarchy upon the codification of its first laws (the promulgation of which marks the beginning of its national calendar). Of particular note is the city's central Agora [plaza / square], which has an area of roughly 1500 x 800 meters (or 1 by 1/2 miles). Here are the grandest and most important buildings, including the Emperor's Palace, the Hall of Heroes Museum and the Palace of Concord (where the nation's legislature convenes).
The government of Ællas is theoretically a Constitutional Monarchy. It is ruled by the "Emperor of the Ællenes", currently Anaximander II - the sixth Emperor of the Theodorakis dynasty. Although the Monarch is not, as would be the case in many Parliamentary Constitutional Monarchies, merely a figurehead, the Ællene government functions largely independent of him (or her) in day-to-day affairs.
Instead, the government has two prominent non-monarchical leadership figures: the President of the Presidium of the Imperial Senate, who is the highest authority figure within the country's legislature, and the Chairman of the Secretariat of State (or Premier), leader of the executive government [much like a Prime Minister or Chancellor]. Because the Senate is regarded as the supreme organ of government within Ællas's Constitution, the President is the highest elected government official and in many respects functions as the country's day-to-day Head-of-State [much like the President of the United States], though he or she still remains answerable to the Monarch.
The country's Legislature is a bicameral assembly --- comprising the Chamber of Peers (upper house) and Chamber of Deputies (lower House). With nearly 3000 members between them (currently 2,871), a joint session of the Imperial Senate is the world's largest legislative assembly. The term "Senator" technically refers to any member, but is almost exclusively used for representatives in the lower assembly, and thus is essentially interchangeable with the official title of "Deputy".
Chamber of PeersEdit
The Chamber of Peers is upper body of the Ællene Senate and, in fact, traces its history back much further than the legislative body of which it is now a part, to the very beginnings of the country itself. The right to a seat in the Chamber of Peers is intrinsic to members of the nobility - the Peerage. Membership in the Chamber of Peers can also be conferred by the Emperor to non-nobles through appointment, granting the title "Lord/Lady of the Assembly". This honorific is equivalent to the lowest rank of the Peerage (comparable to a Baronate in the Peerage of our world's United Kingdom), but is non-hereditary and does not carry any geographic context or land grant.
Because the Chamber of Peers is not an elected institution, its powers are in many respects different from the Chamber of Deputies. Apart from leadership over a select number of Committees, it has little power outside of formal assemblies, because the majority of Committee members will generally be Deputies rather than Peers. However, a number of various government appointments require the consent of a majority of the Peers. Disciplinary and Impeachment hearings against senior government officials are also conducted by the Peers. In addition, because its membership is comprised primarily of the country's wealthy elite - businessmen, religious leaders, technocrats, landholders, etc - and leading public figures (every sitting appointee in the Peers at the present time has a Ph.D.), the Chamber wields considerable informal influence. And, because of this concentration of persons of significance, it serves as an advisory body to the Emperor and the government in general. Thus, although the formal powers are somewhat less, the Peers wield immense seniority, respect and difference within the government, both as a collective body and among the individual members. There are a few Peers who are entitled to sit in the Chamber that have been elected to the Chamber of Deputies or some other such position, in which case they do not currently "claim" their seat. This position still confers them all of the informal benefits of the Peerage's prestige. Formal affiliation with political parties is not recognized in the Chamber of Peers, although party ties still run strong between the individual members.
Chamber of DeputiesEdit
The Chamber of Deputies is the elected, much larger Lower Assembly of the Imperial Senate. Members are elected for six-year terms based on a single-candidate legislative districts using a "first-past-the-post" system, wherein the candidate receiving the most votes (i.e. "first place") is the one elected. Unlike in similar systems in most other countries, however, more than one candidate from the same Party is permitted to run. This is due to the nature of the Ællene election system, where campaign financing is handled by a government ministry and is allotted equally to every candidate, rather than by their sponsoring parties. Each of the country's Themes (provinces / states) is divided into a number of Prefectures, which also serve as the electoral districts.
The majority party is - and has been, since the Senate's inception - the Monarchist Party. It is the main part of the "National Solidarity Front", a coalition of Conservative parties that effectively run the country in a manner akin to a Single Party State. The National Solidarity Front, or NSF, nominally has its own leadership and General Secretary, but in practical terms answers directly to the Emperor himself. The entire NSF has never failed to hold a majority of seats in the Chamber for the country's entire history, and its control of government means it can effectively manipulate the course of events to remain in power.
Because the Chamber of Deputies forms the majority of the membership in Senate Committees, it has most of the innitiative and power in drafting new legislation. There are no term limits for Deputies, although the turnover rate among them is often fairly high (at least among NSF parties), subject to the whims of the country's leadership.
The Presidium of the Imperial Senate is a small body of 150 individuals, a mixture of members from both Chambers. This body serves to exercise the powers of the Senate between Sessions of the Senate (which happen anually). The President of the Presidium of the Imperial Senate - who is directly elected from among existing members of the Senate by popular vote - serves as the country's highest leading official apart from the Monarch. During Joint Sessions of the Senate, the Presidium also sits apart from either Chamber, in the center of the chamber, and serves in a leadership capacity. In many ways, the Presidium is the "real power" behind the Senate, comprising its most influential members... most of whom then are, by default, from the Chamber of Peers. The members of the Presidium are elected by Joint Session of the Senate at the end of each meeting term, every year, but this is largely a formality - only a small number of seats (sometimes a single digit number) change hands each year.
Secretariat of StateEdit
The Secretariat of State is the executive government of the Ællas and, as such, is responsible for coordinating and controlling the country's impressive and vast bureaucracy. The leading, permanent organ within this body is the Council of Ministers, which operates much like an executive Cabinet - comprising the senior-most government officials in charge of each of its Ministries. The rest of the Secretariat comprises the heads of the many sub-agencies (Bureaus and Departments, etc) within the various Ministries and the heads of various other government organizations, many of which exist purely to assist the Secretariat directly. The head of each Ministry is referred to, officially, as "Minister-Secretary of State for ____" ... so, for example, the head of the Ministry of Heavy Industry is the Minister-Secretary of State for Heavy Industry. In short, however, they are generally just called "Ministers", to distinguish them from the subordinate State Secretaries who run their Ministry's Departments, Bureaus and Committees.
The head of the Secretariat is a Chairman who is appointed directly by the Emperor. Because of the vast nature of the government bureaucracy and the importance of its smooth operation, the man or woman chosen to be Chairman is always a career professional official. Selection is done by a special Standing Committee of the Imperial Senate, the sole purpose of which is to select the Chairman and then assist him/her in appointing Ministers and other senior government officials.
While the Emperor's Household serves the center of cultural and high administrative life within the country, it also serves as the equivalent of a "Supreme Court" within the Ællene judicial system - the Emperor's Court. Located in the Great Palace in Istavanoúpôlis, one of the city's most ancient and impressive building complexes, the Imperial Court is the retinue of close advisors and top officials which aids the Sovereign in making decisions and helps him to hear appeals from the citizenry, much like an executive's cabinet. Every citizen has the right to appeal to the Emperor - but, in reality, this generally translates to simply appearing before a lesser court within the nation's massive bureaucratic legal system. Only those cases have passed through the various courts at the Theme level and then through High Court of Appeals, or those cases being brought directly by persons of high importance within the country, are actually brought before the Monarch. In some cases, the Emperor chooses to hear cases at lower levels directly, subverting the normal legal process.
The modern Ællene legal system is fully codified and based around strict adherence to written, referable law, similar to Continental European Civil Law, rather than the jurisprudence-based decision law of Common Law legal systems like those found in the United States or Great Britain. As such, in the manner of most real world Civil Law countries, the Ællene judicial system is quite complex and slow in its processes, with many special types of courts - such as Administrative Courts, Civil Courts, etc - and rulings based around decisions by panels of judges, rather than by attorneys and juries. All of these courts, eventually, lead to the Emperor's Court, which the Emperor attends in person.
The Emperor's Court is an integral component of the Imperial Household and, as such, when he is unable to sit personally, the Grand Master of the Palace - the head of the Household - takes his place.
Politics, the Nobility & the EmperorEdit
The Emperor Edit
The ruling Sovereign of the Empire is currently Anaximander II of House Theodorakis. Although he is only the sixth monarch of his direct line, he is related to every other Ællenic emperor and king of the past millenium (apart from the original rulers of the city-state, who were deposed and their bloodline wiped out far in the nation's past - before "Year 0"). Despite being a Constitutional Monarch, the Emperor wields real de jure and [much more] de facto power beyond being a simple figurehead... and though his title is "Emperor of the Ællenes", implying that he rules at the sufferage of his subjects, the nation's Constitution is based on the principle that sovereignty rests directly in the person (and office) of the Monarch alone, by virtue of his lineaage from the rulers of the state at its inception. He combines in his person all three branches of government - Executive, Legislative & Judicial. Officials derive their authority directly or indirectly from his consent through his appointment of high-level ministers, while laws are issued and justice administered in his name. In theory, he wields the power of life and death over his every subject, and is seen as their beneficent benefactor. The Ællenic court system is structured directly around his person through the Constitutional Right of every subject to an audience with His Majesty. In this way, the entire system of different types and levels of courts exists as a "filtering system" for the Emperor and his Court, though His Majesty regularly circumvents this and hears appeals or requests directly. In many cases, a citizen will create a petition around some request only to find himself summoned directly to the Palace once he garners enough signatures, where a single Administrative court will hear him out to determine whether or not to send him directly to the Emperor (who can, of course, override their decision). Executively, the Monarch - and not the Imperial Senate - has absolute command of the Military, which will answer only to him if his will conflicts with that of the Legislature. He has the power to issue Imperial Ordinances, Edicts, Rescripts, etc., which require only the consent by signature of the Minister-Secretary(s) of State responsible for the area(s) affected to become law. On the other hand, said Ministers & Minister-Secretaries are appointed and dismissed at His Majesty's pleasure. There are Constitutional limits on this, of course, and laws promulgated in this manner (through Imperial Ordinances) can potentially be struck down by a joint session of the Senate. All other such proclamations, which do not overlap with the Legislative authority of the Chambers, become law (judicial proclamations, in particular, require no consent whatsoever since the Emperor himself is the Supreme Court of the Empire). Article IV of the Constitution declares the Monarch to be "sacred & inviolable", meaning that he alone has the power to withdraw the Constitution (within the parameters of Article XII) and that through his Sovereignty any powers not enumerated, discussed or limited by the Constitution reside with his office, and may be wielded at his discretion. He has the theoretical power to appoint and dismiss ANY government official or judge, though in practice of course this is normally delegated through subordinates. He has the sole right to declare war, conclude treaties, sign legislation into law (subject to limitations), make peace and dissolve the Chamber of Deputies (the lower house of the Senate). It is his power alone to confer (or revoke) hereditary & non-heredity titles, grant extraordinary "Imperial" pensions or donations to persons as he sees fit, create Military or Civic Orders & Decorations, commence sessions of the Senate (which he is required to do by the Constitution), create and dismiss judges & courts and acquire or dissolve Government property (these last two powers being largely exercised by subordinates). He is advised and assisted by the Crown Council of the Empire, which exists at his discretion and wields considerable informal influence: many Minister-Secretaries are also Crown Councilors. Membership in the Council usually overlaps with a seat in the Imperial Court by tradition, but this is not necessarily the case. There also exists an informal, extraconstitutional body of (mostly retired) Statesmen & -women, the so-called "Notables", which advises His Majesty - although some of them are also members of the Legislature. The identities of some of them are unknown by all but a few, especially in cases where close contact with the Imperial Household would endanger the legitimacy of their office.
Demographics & Administrative Divisions Edit
Society & Culture Edit
The economy of Ællas centers is a mixed State Capitalist system in which the Means of Production are shared between Private business and government firms (primarily the former except for certain key industries), centered around Industrial Manufacturing, resources (especially metals and fossil fuels), rare materials and other such Heavy Industries.