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Old August 19 2009, 06:55 PM   #13
Sci
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Re: Star Trek: Governance

neozeks wrote: View Post
Sci wrote: View Post
I don't think that's likely. If the President was chosen by the Council, then he wouldn't really be the President of the United Federation of Planets; in English, the term for a head of government chosen by the legislature is "Prime Minister."
This isn't entirely correct, though. You forgot countries like Germany and Italy (Germany especially, since it is also a federal republic). Both have a head of state called a President but he isn't elected by the people. He is elected by a special body consisting of Members of Parliament and state/regional representatives.
Yeah, but I deliberately disregarded those Presidents because they aren't the actual leaders of the country. They are, as you noted, ceremonial heads of state with little real authority; they are heads of state but not heads of government.

The Federation President, by contrast, has been consistently depicted as being both the head of government and the head of state. If the head of government is determined by or from amongst the legislature, then the head of government is a Prime Minister or President of the Government, not the President of the state. Ergo, the Federation President cannot be selected by the Council.

OTOH, I doubt the UFP Prez is as powerfull as the US one. The Federation seems to me a much more loose federation than the USA (and it should be, since it isn't truly 'one nation' like the US, but more a 'union of nations' like the EU) and I doubt one man would be given such power.
In fact, the canon has seemed to imply that the President shares a lot of power with the Council. It was the Council, for instance, that issued the Enterprise her orders in "The Defector," and it was the Council that determined Federation policy towards the Klingon invasion of Cardassia in "The Way of the Warrior."

Articles establishes that the Federation President must, amongst his/her duties, preside over full sessions of the Council, and always works closely with the relevant Councillors from a given issue's Council committee. The President is also responsible for nominating Councillors for a given committee, with the full Council then confirming it. So the implication is that while the role of the Federation President is analogous to the U.S. presidential system, the relationship between the President and Council is closer to that between a Prime Minister and Parliament. It's sort of a hybrid system in that regard.

Given Star Trek's commitment to American liberalism and the reflection of those values in its depiction of the Federation, I can't buy the idea that the Federation allows Member States to join that are not themselves liberal democracies.
The Federation doesn't seem to be completely strict though, allowing for some cultural peculiarities. Take Bajoran politics, for example. They were a democracy with a secular government, but the religious authorities like the Kai and Vedek Assembly also held an important political position (wasn't it a Kai that led the peace talks with Cardassia?). Yet, the UFP is ready to admit Bajor in.
A strict separation of church and state is not a necessary condition of liberal democracy. The United Kingdom is a liberal democracy, yet it has a state religion in the form of the Church of England and the Church of Scotland.

Also, we don't know exactly what role the Bajoran church plays in Bajoran society. The vedeks and kais that were negotiating with the Cardassians may have been doing so as special emissaries appointed by the government (sort of like how North Korea is sending folks to negotiate with New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson -- not in his role as Governor of the State of New Mexico, but in a separate role as a special representative of the U.S. government). It's possible that the Bajoran church has no official relationship with the Bajoran government; it's unclear.
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