1. the Sídhe's Writer
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    the Sídhe's Writer Member

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    Political Systems, world building

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by the Sídhe's Writer, Aug 29, 2014.

    So as I develop my current novel, I find myself building off the Seelie and Unseelie courts of the fae world. Currently what I'm trying to do is develop a system where two standing governments would stand against each other, taking over different systems (ex. Seelie = Law and Order) however, I was thinking of attempting to mix kingdoms with a democracy.

    Ideally there is the fairy kingdoms courts, but what I want to know is political systems that would be idea to study and work off. Basically I'm looking for secret governments that'd work through standing governments. So they're not going to be President or the Prime Minister, but they might have a person in the treasury, someone writing laws, whispering into the human leader's ears etc.

    Any good source to check out or information to think on when trying to build the system?

    (also, ignore my blatant misuse of the system, apparently return doesn't mean add tag but post. My bad for the premature posting)
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2014
  2. Count Otto Black
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    Count Otto Black Member

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    This isn't really a question which can be answered without a bit more detail. The only modern example of a complete deadlock and therefore an unwilling coalition between two mutually alien and antithetical powers is the Cold War between the USA and the USSR.

    So I would tend to think of a quasi-medieval fantasy setting of this type as only being workable along these lines, unless humans and fey really like each other, in which case it's a very boring story. Presumably the fey, being ancient, long-lived beings, just wish to be left alone, and they're powerful enough not be satisfied with anything less than half the country, and to make the humans reluctantly agree to those terms.

    Yet they can't take the whole country, or indeed the whole planet, because they and the humans are sufficiently evenly matched to know that an all-out war would pretty much annihilate both species. Humans have a massive military advantage. Iron affects fey as if it was both red-hot and intensely radioactive, so their technology is obviously very limited indeed. And Christianity can very easily be used to directly harm individual members of their species.

    Yet although the fey seem to have lost, they are absolute masters of guerrilla warfare, using terrible biological weapons, and other things harder to describe. A crucifix or an iron horseshoe will kill or at least repel any fey, but you have to find them first. And by that time, your family are plague-struck, insane, or just plain gone. And you've probably got an elf-shot under your skin, and that wound will fester until either you eventually die in agony, or your species discovers antibiotics. All-out war will almost entirely kill off both races in ways that each of them regard as hideous and obscene - that's the only reason they're still talking.

    So, assuming that this story takes place in Britain (a very fey-haunted island where I happen to live), the Houses of Parliament must include an extra House of Faerie. Certain parts of the UK (and everywhere else) will have been ceded to the fey, though some areas may be contested because humans also consider them to be prime real estate, probably for entirely different reasons. It takes immense courage for a fey to attempt to fully interact with human society, since he will be constantly surrounded by everyday items and religious artifacts which could easily kill him. Humans attempting to do the same thing in fey areas don't need to be quite so brave because they're much more physically robust, but the mental effects fey almost automatically exude will get to even the best of them eventually, though in subtle ways that won't be immediately apparent, and are therefore all the more sinister. Only a very strong man and a very strong fairy can possibly shake hands and mean it. But will the weaker members of both their species let the treaty become meaningful...?

    Just a thought, but that's the only way I can see it working, unless you want to get a lot more mystical. Though it does raise the interesting possibility of Guy Ffawkes attempting to blow up the Fey House of Parliament (and maybe succeeding) because he was a Radical Humanist, and all that arises from such a scenario.
     
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  3. Bjørnar Munkerud
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    Bjørnar Munkerud Contributing Member

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    The Hanseatic League, the American civil war (and several others) and the current ISIL/ISIS/IS conflict in Syria and Iraq come to mind as displaying some of the situations you described. You could look these up in Wikipedia and quickly get some ideas. I also know that Argentina and the UK, Egypt and Sudan and China (People's Republic of China) and Taiwan (Republic of China) have overlapping territorial claims, which could be seen as a situation close to one where different governments govern the same populations. Even state vs. federal governments in the US are kind of like this, as are devolved governemental situations like those in the UK. The mafia in some places also basically collect tax by offering to not harming families if they pay them money, making it in some ways a de facto additional government. The situation in Vatican City is also interesting (just look up the "Holy See").

    PS. You said you were "thinking of attempting to mix kingdoms with a democracy"; you do realise this is one of the most common types of government in the world, right? It's called "constitutional monarchy" and some of them are Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Bhutan, Japan, the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Belize.
     
  4. J.W.Exeter
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    J.W.Exeter Member

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    Last time I checked, the Queen had no real authority here in Canada. Just like in the UK. Just a figurehead really. Since the monarch of Brittain never really practices any power in any Commonwealth country, it's not really a practible example to draw from. Maybe back in the day when things were different. Just my patriotic 2-cents :p
     
  5. Bjørnar Munkerud
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    Bjørnar Munkerud Contributing Member

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    That's true and a good point, but I was right: Canada and the UK are monarchal countries. The OP didn't say they were specifically thinking of a situation where the monarch had real power. And, besides, if they were they could just simply look into these very same monarchies and others like them as they were in previous centuries.
     
  6. Gasper
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    Gasper New Member

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    Some nice comments here - I love how many different political systems there are out there, so it's very interesting to see what can be done with them in a work of fiction!

    There are a few current/recent situations which come to mind where the de juro ruler would seem under the thumb of someone behind the scenes - not sure if that would work for you? I'm a little rusty on some of the details but:
    • when Russia's Putin basically handed PM Medvedev the presidency for a term, so that he could later get around the constitution's 'no more than two consecutive terms' rule. It's interesting that when in power Medvedev increased the length of a term from 4 to 6 years - not for his own term but for the next presidential term! The wholeRussian system has come to be known as 'sovereign democracy', which I see more as democracy underpinned by a careful balance of personality cult and corruption.
    • the recent political crisis in Thailand comes from the assumption that then PM Yingluck Shinawatra was under the influence of her exiled brother Thaksin Shinawatra, a former PM ousted in a coup d'état a few years before.
    • In Georgia the recluse billionaire Ivanishvili launched the Georgian Dream coalition to 'undo' all the work of then President Saakashvili. GD won the parliamentary election, with Ivanishvili becoming PM and managing to block or even reverse much of the President's work. One year later GD won the presidential elections with candidate Margvelashvili, who many commentators speculated was chosen because of hisweak character - ie he will be easy to control. A month a later Ivanishvili resigns and hands over the PM role to someone else, to retire back to his big ole mansion and to pull the strings when he needs to. Actually the whole rivalry between Ivanishvili and Saakashvili was really intense - there were a few links to murder here and there, as well as what may be some human rights abuses orchestrated with the specific purpose of trying to tar their rival's image.
    All of these systems/situations are very messy and somewhat short term - so if the system you're looking for needs to be a bit more 'set in stone'... I guess you could plant a similar dynamic into the history of your world, which then over the centuries came to be secretly formalised? For example, an exiled (or even self-exiled?) ruler maintained influence on key people in the standing government...and the ancestors of this ruler-in-exile continue to be accepted by each new generation of key people in the standing government, perhaps for religious reasons or money?
     
  7. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    You don't need to go too much further than look at the recent vote for and against Scottish independence. You've got a UK government of very rich people bent on stripping the poor and disabled of all they have, making it impossible for them to pay for essentials like food, shelter, warmth and health care ...being opposed by a government in Scotland that values society's wellbeing more than personal wealth. While you think that would be a no-brainer for Mr And Mrs Average Voter? Erm, no. Lies and fears are spread as thickly as possible by the rich, scaring folks into thinking they're in more danger by choosing something new (and RISKY) rather than staying with the devil they know. The ploy worked. And now the chickens are well and truly coming home to roost. You couldn't make it up, truly.... but go ahead and give it a try! Lots to work with here. Human nature never changes.
     
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  8. Lemon flavoured
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    Lemon flavoured Active Member

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    It's not quite the same as mentioned in the OP I don't think, but I came up with an idea a bit ago for a system where there was a hereditary monarch and an elected "regent" (who is allowed to be a member of the royal family, but doesn't have to be) who jointly held executive powers. Obviously if the monarch can get his heir elected as regent that makes things a lot easier for him, and allows for a lot of intrigue. I haven't used this in a story yet, although I might at some point.
     
  9. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    You could probably look at the role of the Christian church in the histories of a lot of countries to see a connection to what I think you're talking about.

    Sort of parallel responsibilities - the church in charge of spiritual matters and the government in charge of secular matters. Theoretically they shouldn't overlap, but of course they do, and of course all decisions made have to take into account the pressures and interests of the other body.
     
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