Politics is like muck-spreading. No matter how much the stench turns your stomach, it still has to be done. So quit bloody whining; all that matters is what we achieve, not how we go about it. A tree is known by its fruit, not by its leaves.

Walter Brewer, senator for Upwold

Overview

The Imperial Senate is a representative chamber; each territory in the Empire selects a single senator according to the customs of that nation. To be eligible to return a senator, at least half of the territory must be under Imperial control. If more than half of a territory is controlled by barbarians or foreign powers, then it cannot be represented in the Senate. A territory must be part of one of the ten nations of the Empire. When new territories are captured, they are allocated to a nation by majority vote of the Senate. A territory may only return a senator who is recognized as a member of that nation by the nation's egregore.

Responsibilities

Officially senators represent the people of their territory and their nation in the Imperial Senate. As part of the ruling body of the Empire, senators are ultimately responsible for the well-being of the entire Empire. Collectively their duties include passing laws, assigning the Imperial budget, and appointing other Imperial titles, notably The Throne and the generals of their nation.

Senators are expected to attend at least some of the Senate sessions, and to both raise motions and cast their votes wisely. In doing so they must balance many competing interests; the Empire, their nation, their territory, the people who got them elected, and their own ambitions. It is rare that all these interests align and even the most virtuous senator can find themselves forced to make painful compromises.

During a sitting, a senator is expected to comport themselves with proper decorum and act respectfully toward their peers. A senator may be sanctioned by the Speaker for the Senate in response to boorish or disruptive behaviour.

Following a decision of the Imperial Senate, the responsibilities of a senator include calling for a moment of silence to honour the dead after any motion for emergency resupply is voted on.

Limitations

Military Council Prohibition

Although senators choose the generals, the Senate is forbidden by the Imperial Constitution from interfering with the Military Council under any circumstances. The constitution states that "The Military Council will execute the strategy of war without interference from the Senate." Interpretation of what constitutes 'interference' is complex, but it is always a crime for a senator to enter the Military Council chamber when it is in session. Magistrates work hard to enforce this law and senators risk harsh penalties if they break it.

Some historical scholars claim this reflects the importance the First Empress and her advisors placed on the separating the business of war from the business of politics. Less flattering interpretations point out that since the Empress (or Emperor) is a member of both chambers, this ruling also enhances the prestige and power of The Throne. This restriction supersedes even the right of Witness possessed by a Senator who is a member of the Synod.

Abstention

Senators do not have the power of abstention as they represent the citizens of the Empire. If they are present for a session then they are legally required to vote and face censure by the Speaker, as well as the censure of the Synod and the attention of the magistrates if they try to abstain.

Senators are permitted to miss a session entirely. In such cases they must only explain themselves to the Synod. Omission is commonly accepted by those senators who take the battlefield regularly, but those whose absence is driven by a lack of courage or prosperity risk revocation.

Powers

Member of the Senate

Each senator is a member of the Senate. They are entitled to enter the Senate chamber at the start of a Senate session and participate in the debates.

Representation

Senators may cast a vote on any motion that is brought before the Senate.

Proposal

Senators may propose a single motion for consideration by the Senate each summit.

The limitation on this legal power is on the title, not the occupant. If a new citizen is elected to the title, they cannot use the ability that summit if it has already been used.

Executor

If a motion requires significant decisions to be made outside the Senate chamber, then it is responsibility of the senator who proposed the motion to execute those decisions. E.g. if the Senate passes a motion to construct a dam across the Couros river in the territory of Bastion in Highguard, then any further decisions are the responsibility of the senator who proposed that motion. The dam will require materials that must be purchased from the Imperial Bourse, so the Senate may vote a budget for this project. That money is then given to the senator who proposed the motion who can use it as they see fit to attempt the goals stated in the motion.

Historically it was considered virtuous for a senator to keep any funds assigned by the Senate that are not required to carry out a motion. It was widely held that a successful senator who worked hard to secure the resources needed at a cheaper price deserves to be rewarded for their prosperity. In recent times this practice has been strongly criticized and senators have felt a heavy pressure to return unused funds. Although it is unconstitutional to legally compel a senator to return any funds, this new practice remains widespread.

Curtailment

A senator may call for a vote of curtailment to end the current Senate session early. Curtailment is not a motion, and the call does not need to be seconded.

A senator may only call for a vote of curtailment if they (or their legal proxy) are present in the chamber during the session, they cannot submit the request in advance.

Proxy

A senator is entitled to appoint a proxy who may exercise the legal powers of their office in their name.

Appointment

Each nation has a traditional mechanism to return a senator for a territory. Usually, but not always, the ability to directly influence the choice is limited to those who dwell in the territory. The Imperial Civil Service are responsible for overseeing the appointment processes for senators and do their utmost to ensure due process is followed. When a new territory is assigned to a nation, the Imperial Civil Service consults the egregore of that nation to determine how the senator for the territory will be selected.

Senator elections take place on Saturday afternoon during a summit. The Civil Service will not run emergency Senate elections.

A senator can be revoked by the General Assembly, the appropriate National Assembly, and by the Assembly of the Nine.

Further Reading

Core Brief

Additional Information