Powers of the Imperial Senate
If I rule for a thousand years I would never question the existence of your loyalty, Senator Holberg. I merely wonder to whom you have given it.Varkula, The Throne
- 1 Overview
- 2 Legal
- 3 Diplomatic
- 4 Economic
- 5 Territorial
- 6 Abrogation
- 7 Further Reading
The Imperial Senate is the most powerful of all the great bodies of the Empire and their powers are the most flexible and wide ranging. The legal powers of the Imperial Synod and the Imperial Conclave are clearly defined and tightly constrained in the range of things they can directly accomplish. The Imperial Military Council and the Imperial Bourse are flexible but their focus is much more constrained. Only Senate has the power to make law and it is the Senate that chooses an Empress and the Senate that controls the balance of power between the houses.
The powers of the Senate are employed using either a Senate motion or a Senate announcement. Only a member of the Senate with the right to propose a motion may raise motions on the Senate floor. Some of the powers of the Senate may be delegated to the holder of an Imperial title to carry out. Any Imperial title that has had Senate powers delegated to it may employ those powers by making a suitable announcement during a session.
Changes to Imperial Law
The Senate has the power to introduce new laws or to change existing laws. As with other motions, changes to the law are subject to scrutiny by the Constitutional Court. A proposal may be consistent with the Constitution or inconsistent with the Constitution. In the latter case the motion is described as having constitutional implications.
- A motion that is consistent with the constitution can be passed by majority vote of the senators present.
- A vote that has constitutional implications requires the approval of two-thirds of all current senators in the Empire and must be authorized by The Throne and approved by three senior Magistrates.
Any character may discuss a proposed motion with the Constitutional Court to try to find a way to make it consistent, or stop it being inconsistent with the Constitution. They will offer advice as best they can. There is no right of appeal however, as the members of the court are NPCs. Their decisions are made in the interests of keeping the game enjoyable, they are not made so as to create plot when players disagree with them.
Where a motion with constitutional implications is passed and ratified, the civil service will amend their interpretation of the constitution as necessary and add any relevant notes to the commentary.
Only the Senate has the power to create new Imperial titles.
A number of titles are appointed by the Senate, including the Throne. The procedures for an appointment by the Senate depend on whether the position is Imperial or national; whether it was created by a constitutional vote, and whether the Senator who raised the motion indicates that they intend to use the power of escalation.
The Senate may be also step in to appoint a national title where the Senators of the nation in question cannot reach an agreement.
The Senate can create a new Conclave order or dissolve an existing one. This is always a constitutional vote. A newly created order requires a clear statement as to its purpose and attitudes to magic, and a symbol similar to those possessed by existing orders that is used with the Arcane Mark ritual. If an order is dissolved, the contents of its vault are redistributed among the remaining orders.
This power is usually used at the instigation of the Conclave.
The Senate is responsible for relations with foreign powers. It has the power to issue a formal declaration of war or peace, as well as extending legal protection to envoys and representatives of barbarian powers for short periods to allow diplomacy to take place.
Declaration of War
The Senate can declare war on any foreign power. Any foreign powers, nations or tribes that the Empire is at war with are considered to be barbarians. Barbarians are not protected by Imperial Law and are considered enemies of the Empire, so it is illegal to trade with them.
Declaration of Peace
The Senate can also end to a state of war. External powers that the Empire is not at war with are classed as foreigners; it is legal to trade with them and their rights are protected by Imperial Law.
The Senate can create an Imperial ambassador to negotiate on behalf of the Empire with the representatives of a specific foreign nation or empire. If the Empire completes the construction of an embassy, a new Imperial title of ambassador is automatically created, if one does not exist already for that nation. This legal power allows the Senate to deal with nations and countries - it is not possible to create an ambassador to a family, group, or faction within a nation.
An ambassador has the authority to negotiate with representatives of the foreign power on behalf of the Imperial Senate, but if the results of any negotiation require the use of one or more of the Senate's legal powers, then that deal must be ratified as a treaty by the Senate. The ambassador cannot automatically undertake actions that require the use of any legal powers - such as a declaration of war or peace - unless explicitly granted these additional legal powers by Senate motion.
There may only be a single ambassador to a foreign nation at once - but the Senate can choose to create other Imperial titles that have responsibilities to cover specific areas - for example to ensure good relations with certain members of a nation, or to encourage and promote trade with that nation.
The Imperial Senate can vote to ratify a treaty that has been raised as a Senate motion. Ratification of a treaty is considered to be a single motion before the Senate because the Senate can either choose to accept the treaty or reject it. It is not possible to amend a treaty once it is presented as a motion; it either passes in its entirety in the form it was submitted or it does not pass. The only legal way for the Senate to ratify variations of a treaty is to submit different treaties as separate motions.
Any citizen can negotiate and agree a deal with individuals from another nation, but only the Imperial title with authority may submit a treaty for ratification by the Senate and only when the civil service have confirmed that it is a genuinely negotiated treaty with members of that nation.
The Senate can opt to cede Imperial control over a region or territory to a foreign power. This allows a foreign nation, empire, or eternal the ability to take uncontested control of the location. Control of the land is not granted immediately - the foreign power must still send forces to seize the area - but no Imperial citizens or forces will attempt to resist the incursion unless one or more generals gives explicit orders to the contrary. Normally the Senate will use this power to cede land as part of a peace treaty, but this is not a constitutional requirement.
When land is ceded by the Senate, the effects are different to an invasion. The civil service ensure that the Imperial citizens who dwell in the affected areas are duly informed and do everything possible to help them evacuate the area. There are always a few hold-outs who prefer to take their chances and remain - but the majority of citizens prefer to live in the Empire and will move as the border moves, taking what belongings they can with them. Such movements are not without cost, but the civil service does everything possible to reduce the burden.
The Senate may also use a motion to cede control of any Imperial commission. The Senate may choose to relinquish control of any Imperial asset in this way. Sinecures, follies, colleges, great works, bourse seats, fortifications, even an army (representative of weapons, armour, and other materials being handed over) can all legally be ceded to a foreign power. It is possible to cede a commission as part of the same motion used to create the commission in the first place - for example the Senate could pass a motion to construct a folly in the form of a giant monkey in the Bay of Catazar and cede control of the completed statue to the Grendel with the same motion.
As with ceding land, the foreign power must still exert their power to claim the asset - otherwise it remains under the control of the Empire. However seizing an asset is usually easier and may not always require the foreign power to send soldiers to take control. If the Empire cedes control of a commission then they cannot continue to build it or employ it in anyway - even if the other party does not take control of the asset.
Any Imperial title whose powers are linked to an asset that is ceded is automatically abrogated as soon as the motion of concedence comes into force. For example, if the Empire passes a motion to cede a territory to the Druj then the Imperial title of senator for that territory is automatically abrogated as part of the same motion. Ceding a folly, great work or similar would abrogate any Imperial title with responsibility for the structure.
This power asserts the legal will of the Empire to give up all control over the affected area - it is categorically not possible to cede control of something but retain any element of control over it under any circumstances.
The Senate receives taxes drawn from every territory in the Empire, along with the money raised from the auction of Imperial Bourse seats and such donations as may be made by private citizens from time to time. This great wealth forms the Imperial treasury. Much of the wealth is pre-allocated to pay for the armies and fortifications that defend the empire, however senators can pass motions that call for one-off or regular disbursements from the Imperial treasury.
A senator can raise a motion to have treasury funds assigned to almost any project. Such a motion will usually include wording that indicates what the money is for. Although this direction does not carry legal standing - it cannot be enforced by a magistrate, it may be used by the Synod to judge if the money has been well spent. The funds might be used for anything - buying medical supplies for an upcoming battle; purchasing mithril to improve all the mana sites in Dawn; constructing a set of magic standards for the armies of Varushka; funding a project, scheme or group, or any number of other examples.
Only the Senate has the power to authorize a new commission.
The Senate can order rudimentary historical research on a chosen subject.
The Senate can instruct civil servants working the Prognosticators Office to carry out an appraisal of a known problem to see what opportunities exist.
The Senate can use a senate motion to instruct civil servants to vary the tariffs charged by the Empire on goods bought and sold by visiting foreigners.
A territory is conquered at the point where half or more of the regions in that territory are under Imperial control. When a territory is conquered it must be assigned to a nation of the Empire by a vote in the Senate, before it can legally be considered part of the Empire. Until 379YE it was understood that it would be unconstitutional for the Senate to reassign a territory. Once a vote had been passed then the status was fixed and could not be changed while the territory remains part of the Empire. However, this is no longer the case and territories may be reassigned by use of a motion of relinquishment and then a motion of assignment. A national bourse seat in a territory that is assigned will automatically transfer to the nation receiving the assignment and will be appointed by the bourse mechanisms laid down for that nation.
In practice competing claims are exceptionally rare and only Holberg has ever been successfully contested, so the motion is normally more formal than political. Traditionally a senator from the Imperial nation that is laying claim to a territory will propose the motion and take the opportunity to deliver a suitably portentous speech.
If an asset that produces ilium, mithril, weirwood or white granite is in a region that is conquered by the Imperial armies - the asset is subject to a vote of allocation. Control of the asset is vested in the Imperial Bourse - as prescribed by the Imperial Constitution but the vote determines whether the asset will be a national asset or an Imperial asset.
Imperial assets are auctioned to the highest bidder - with the money raised being added to the Imperial treasury. Any Imperial citizen may bid for such a position - although as with any position, an individual citizen can only ever hold one title.
National assets are appointed by the bourse mechanisms laid down for the nation in which the territory is located. Only an Imperial citizen of the nation in which the territory is situated may be selected to hold that title. If the asset is in imperial control but the territory has not yet been conquered by the empire, then it can be allocated to any nation and will be appointed according to that nation's mechanism.
The only way for a new vote of allocation to take place is if the resource is lost and then later reconquered. At this point the former status of the resource is irrelevant and a new vote of allocation is needed. Any senator may raise a vote of allocation, although if the motion calls for the resource to be national then it is traditional for the senator whose territory the resource is located in to raise the motion.
A vote of allocation does not arise for a bourse asset in a territory that is relinquished and re-assigned, the asset remains national or Imperial (see assignment above).
The Senate can relinquish a national or Imperial Bourse resource, or a territory. The motion of relinquishment requires a constitutional vote to pass and is subject to a veto by the General Assembly, the Assembly of the Nine and by the national assembly of the nation relinquishing the territory or resource if it were not Imperial.
The relinquished territory or resource would become eligible for allocation or assignment as appropriate at the next Senate session.
If the Senate relinquishes a Bourse seat the new assignment comes into effect next time that seat is eligible to be allocated (for example, if the current holder dies or steps down, or during the normal season where the Bourse seat would be appointed).
A motion may call for the abrogation of most previous Senate decisions. If the vote is successful, then the motion is nullified in the most effective way possible. A change to the law would be repealed, a title created would be dissolved, a war declared would be cancelled.
Abrogation cannot reverse time, resources expended on a commission that is abrogated are lost. The powers of a title are lost when the title is dissolved but previous uses of those powers are not unwound. A foreign power might be placated by the abrogation of a declaration of war - but they are not likely to forget that it happened.
Territorial motions (allocation and assignment), disbursements and appointments cannot be abrogated.