Government of the Isles

The Sovereign Duchy of the Grand Navigators is a constitutional dictatorship, with the Dukedom (consisting of the Duke and Duchess and their cabinet) supported by a Parliament of elected district representatives.

The Dukedom commands the armed forces, enforces civil and criminal law, decrees social programs and public works, levies taxes, regulates business and trade, hears special petitions from the citizenry, and conducts the nation’s foreign affairs.  All of the aspects of government controlled by the Dukedom are carried out by fiat, in the discretion of the Dukedom but within the restrictions of the Constitution.  For example, the Dukedom can dissolve Parliament, but only under extreme circumstances and with the prior approval of the Supreme Law Court.  The Dukedom can also bring extraordinary charges against the Parliament or specific members on behalf of citizens, but the Parliament cannot do the same to the Dukedom.  Only the Supreme Law Court can initiate an action against the Dukedom by direct application of citizens.  This has never happened, however.

The Parliament’s powers are entirely legislative.  It is the body that writes laws to accord with the Constitution.  Members are elected representatives of the about 150 districts of the Grand Navigators.  Elections are held every two years to stagger the four-year terms of representatives.

New laws or amendments to existing laws are debated and composed by the Parliament, then submitted for approval by both the Dukedom and the Lord/Lady Justices of the Supreme Law Court.  The Supreme Law Court judges whether the proposed law conforms to the national constitution and to the will of the god Pwyll, aka the Spirit of the Law.  The Dukedom’s approval is the final seal that brings the proposed law into effect.  Both the Dukedom and the Supreme Law Court hold veto power over any proposed law.

Any citizen of the Grand Navigators may submit a bill to the Parliament, i.e. propose a new law or amendment.  This includes any individual or interested group, any parliamentary representative, and the Dukedom itself.  No citizen is barred, save for those whose rights have been suspended as part of a legal penalty or who are under some other restriction that bars them from legislative participation.  For example, the Lord Justices of the Supreme Law Court are not permitted, even as private individuals, to participate in the legislative process for as long as they sit on that bench, according to the ethical rules of the Guild of Law, in order to maintain the independent disinterest required for their office.

In the Grand Navigators, the Parliament hears bills once a month.  “Hearing bills” involves the sponsor of a bill, whoever it may be, formally presenting said bill in the well of the House of Parliament.  The sponsor of a bill must appear in person, read the bill aloud, present arguments and supporting facts in its favor, and answer questions about it from the legislators.

A legislator will then stand to declare support and urge the Parliament to accept the bill.  Usually another will declare the opposite.  Normally the supporting declaration is arranged in advance “in lobby.”  The negative declaration is usually not a surprise, either.  An immediate up/down vote is then taken as to whether the bill will be accepted for deliberation during the next twelve-month period.  If accepted, the bill will be scheduled by the Clerk of the Calendar.  A rejected bill may be resubmitted at any future Hearing session.  All members of Parliament must be present to vote in person or by proxy at Hearing sessions (members must log a minimum number of Hearing session in-person votes per year, and may not use the same proxy twice in one year).

The Parliament then has twelve months maximum to compose the legislation that will be submitted to the Dukedom and the SLC, or publish their reason why they failed to meet the deadline and whether deliberation will continue.

After approval of the proposed law by both the SLC and the Dukedom, the bill becomes law.  If either of those approving bodies rejects the law, the Parliament has one month to declare if it will be returned to the calendar.