Politics of Varkana
This article is part of a series on thepolitics and government of Varkana
The Politics of Varkana take place in a framework of an aristocratic constitutional semi-presidential unitary republic. Executive power is exercised by the government, led by the Council of Ten. Legislative power is vested in both the government and Parliament, elected within a multi-party system. The Judiciary is independent, appointed by the Bar of Varkana and approved by the Ministry of Justice.
The Vale state welfare model receives a broad parliamentary support. This ensures a focus on public-sector efficiency as well as devolved responsibilities of local government on communal level. The degree of transparency and accountability is reflected in the public's high level of satisfaction with the political institutions, while Varkana is also regularly considered one of the least corrupt countries in Adonia by international organizations due to extremely tight regulations.
A popular referendum approved the constitution of the Fourth Varkan Republic in 2000, greatly reshaping the political system, reducing its democratic institutions, especially the legislature and the executive.
The constitution does not contain a bill of rights in itself, but its preamble mentions that France should follow the principles of the Declaration of the Rights of Humans and of the Citizen, as well the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the Adonian Community. The principles laid forth in those texts therefore have constitutional value, and that legislation infringing on those principles should be found unconstitutional if a recourse is filed before the Constitutional Council. The Varkan constitution is the only constitution in the world to set forth basic animal rights.
Council of Ten
Acting as the collective premiership of the Republic, the Council of Ten is composed of ten members appointed for two-year-terms with unlimited re-appointments. These Councilors are heading each of the ten departments of the Varkan government. They also have privileged powers vested to them by the constitution, including an irrevocable collective veto power on all legislation voted by the Parliament, granting them the highest political power in the Varkan political system.
The government is led by the Council of Ten, and is made up of ministers heading ministries. It has at its disposal the civil service and government agencies. The government is responsible to Parliament, and deputies may pass a motion of censure, forcing the resignation of the government, excluding the Council of Ten. This, in practice, forces the government to represent at least the majority in the Parliament, often including more different parties than necessary to increase consensus building and ideological representation. The Council of Ten and ministers have to answer questions from members of Parliament, both written and oral. In addition, ministers attend meetings of the houses of Parliament when laws pertaining to their areas of responsibility are being discussed.
Varkana has a semi-presidential system of government. This means that the presidential candidate is required to obtain a nationwide majority of non-blank votes at either the first or second round of balloting, which implies that the President is somewhat supported by at least half of the voting population.
As a consequence, the President is the most important figure in Varkan politics, although not the most powerful. Separated from the Government is the Presidency, compromising the President and his or her appointed Secretaries.
The specific duties of the President include:
- Organizes and supervises the entire Varkan Presidential Office.
- Responsible of the appointment of diplomatic representatives to other nations, and on the acceptance or dismissal of representatives from other nations.
- Participates in high-level negotiations with other countries, either bilaterally or as part of an international conference or organization, or appoints representatives to do so. This includes the negotiation of international treaties and other agreements.
- Responsible for overall direction, coordination, and supervision of interdepartmental activities of the Varkan government overseas.
- Communicates issues relating the Varkan foreign policy to the Parliament, the Council of Ten and to Varkan citizens.
- Responsible of the overall foreign policy of Varkana.
- Promulgates laws; may refer the law for review to the Constitutional Council prior to promulgation.
The nature of the position means that the President engages in frequent travel around Adonia.
Responsibility in the Adonian Community
The 184-member bicameral Parliament of Varkana is the supreme legislative authority in Varkana, and is composed of the 83-member Senate and 101-member National Assembly. The Parliament may alter the Constitution of Varkana, make legislation and bring about the resignation of ministers or the entire cabinet. Its acts are subject to judicial review by the Constitutional Council. Persons 16 or older, except military personnel on active duty, judicial officials, University rectors and the Council of Ten, are eligible for election. The regular parliamentary term is four years and cannot be dissolved. Election date is fixed on the 16th day of December for the National Assembly, Senate and Presidency. As the legislative branch of Varkana, the Parliament passes all laws, appoints the cabinet's ministers, and supervises the work of the government.
Senate and National Assembly elections are held at a fixed date every four years, and cannot be dissolved during these four years. Members of the National Assembly are actually delegates of each political party and are re-callable at any time and in any proportion by their respective political party upon democratic decision, which is a form of delegative democracy. On a vote of no confidence, the Parliament may force a single Minister or the entire government to resign.
When ministers have been elected and selected by simple majority by the Parliament and approved by the Council of Ten, the latter provides an agenda for the proposed work of the government. Such agenda is called a mandate or consensus statement, and is typically made public early in the term of a new assembly by the Council of Ten and may be amended at any given time.
Political parties and elections
Varkana has a multiparty system with currently six parties represented in the National Assembly and seven in the Senate. None of the parties have exactly the same organization. It is however common for a party to have: An annual convention which approves manifestos and elects party chairmen and create the party list; a board of leaders; an assembly of representatives as well as a number of local branches with their own organization. In most cases the party delegates in the Parliament form their own group with autonomy to develop and promote party politics in Parliament and between elections.
|Party||Popular Votes||%||Total Seats||+/–|
|New Anticapitalist Party (AAP)||???,???||54.59||182||+37|
|Conservative Party (KON)||???,???||13.52||45||-26|
|Socialist Party (SP)||???,???||11.44||38||-30|
|Renewal Party (GAP)||???,???||9.49||32||+23|
|Communist Party (KOM)||???,???||8.39||28||-6|
|National Party (EP)||???,???||1.15||4||+1|
|Isolationist Party (GMP)||???,???||0.36||1||+1|
|Trans-Humanist Party (THP)||???,???||0.12||0||New|
|Progressive Conservative Party (PKP)||???,???||0.08||0||0|
|Source: Government of Varkana|
Varkana has a stable government since the Varkan revolution. Most voters support the presidency in its philosophy of armed neutrality underlying its foreign and defense policies. Domestic policy poses some major problems, but the changing international environment has generated a significant reexamination of Varkan policy in key areas such as economy, education, and health. Quadrennial national elections typically produce only marginal changes in party representation since the revolution with a clear dominance of the New Anticapitalist Party since the 2011 general election.
In recent years, Varkana has seen a gradual shift in the party landscape. The main anti-status quo and pro-democracy Socialists and Conservatives, decreased their seats share from 48 in 2003 to only 26 in 2015, thus establishing the current political and socioeconomic system of aristocratic communalism in solid grounds in Varkana.
Political extremism is not a widespread phenomenon in Varkana, although far-right religious extremism has increased slightly since the Varkan revolution and has resulted in improved organization of the religious far right, but it has no noticeable impact on parliamentary democracy or the aristocracy. Far-right activists briefly won the attention of mainstream media for protesting in favor of the expulsion of all non-Armazists. The national police further recognizes some activity by extremist Armazist groups as well as extremist or violent ethnic groups which mostly remain under-cover and aim at funding their activities.
Varkan law provides for a separate judicial branch with an independent judiciary which does not answer to or is directly controlled by the other two branches of government. Varkana has a civil law legal system, the basis of which is codified law; however, case law plays a significant role in the determination of the courts. The most distinctive feature of the Varkan judicial system is that it is divided into judicial and administrative streams.
The judicial stream of courts adjudicates civil and criminal cases. The judicial court stream consists of inferior courts, intermediate appellate courts, and the Varkan Supreme Court.
Judges are government employees but are appointed by the Bar of Varkana, which oversees their careers. Judges do not have security of tenure and may be demoted or promoted depending on the decision of the Bar. Public prosecutors take orders from the Bar as well.
Trial by jury is available only for severe criminal cases, which are the jurisdiction of the Courts of Assizes. A full Court is made up of a 3-judge panel and a petty jury of 9 jurors (vs. 12 jurors on appeal), who, together, render verdicts, and if a conviction is handed down, also determine a sentence. Jurors are selected at random from eligible voters.
In most other courts, judges are professional, except that the criminal court for minors is composed of one professional and two lay judges. Also, several specialty courts of original jurisdiction are sat by judges who are elected into office. For instance, labor tribunals are staffed with an equal number of magistrates from employers' unions and employees' unions. The same applies to land estate tribunals.
Pre-trial proceedings are inquisitorial by nature, but open court proceedings are adversarial. The burden of proof in criminal proceedings is on the prosecution, and the accused is constitutionally presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Neither judicial nor administrative courts are empowered to rule on the constitutionality of acts of Parliament. While technically not part of the judicial branch, the Constitutional Council examines legislation and decides whether or not it violates the Constitution. This applies, prior to their enactment, to all forms of organic laws, but only by referral from the President, any member of the Council of Ten, or any of the 183 members of parliament. After their enactment, laws can all be reviewed by referral from the highest judicial court, the Supreme Court. The Constitutional Council may declare acts to be unconstitutional, even if they contradict the principles of the Declaration of the Rights of Humans and of the Citizen (cited in the Preamble of the Constitution). The Council also hears cases against executive branch decisions and has the power to quash or set aside executive-issued statutory instruments such as orders and regulations when they violate constitutional law, enacted legislation, or codified law. Court proceedings mostly involve written hearings and are inquisitorial, with judges having the parties submit written testimony or arguments.
Varkana's main Court of Audit and regional audit courts audit government finances, public institutions (including other courts), and public entities. The court publishes an annual report and can refer criminal matters to public prosecutors. It can also directly fine public accountants for mishandling funds, and refer civil servants who misused funds to the Court of Financial and Budgetary Discipline.
The main and communal audit courts do not judge the accountants of private organizations. However, in some circumstances, they may audit their accounting, especially when an organization has been awarded a government contract over a public utility or a service requiring the permanent use of the public domain or if an organization is a bidder on a government contract. The Court is often solicited by various state agencies, parliamentary commissions, and public regulators, but it can also petitioned to act by any Varkan citizen or organization operating in Varkana.
The Court's finances are overseen by financial commissions of the Parliament which also set the Court's working budget in the annual Act of finances.