RSS iconTwitter iconFacebook icon

The Trek BBS title image

The Trek BBS statistics

Threads: 138,368
Posts: 5,356,257
Members: 24,625
Currently online: 594
Newest member: 3d gird

TrekToday headlines

Borg Cube Fridge
By: T'Bonz on Jul 29

Free Enterprise Kickstarter
By: T'Bonz on Jul 29

Siddig To Join Game Of Thrones
By: T'Bonz on Jul 29

Sci-Fried To Release New Album
By: T'Bonz on Jul 28

Star Trek/Planet of the Apes Crossover
By: T'Bonz on Jul 28

Star Trek into Darkness Soundtrack
By: T'Bonz on Jul 28

Horse 1, Shatner 0
By: T'Bonz on Jul 28

Drexler TV Alert
By: T'Bonz on Jul 26

Retro Review: His Way
By: Michelle on Jul 26

MicroWarriors Releases Next Week
By: T'Bonz on Jul 25


Welcome! The Trek BBS is the number one place to chat about Star Trek with like-minded fans. Please login to see our full range of forums as well as the ability to send and receive private messages, track your favourite topics and of course join in the discussions.

If you are a new visitor, join us for free. If you are an existing member please login below. Note: for members who joined under our old messageboard system, please login with your display name not your login name.


Go Back   The Trek BBS > Welcome to the Trek BBS! > General Trek Discussion

General Trek Discussion Trek TV and cinema subjects not related to any specific series or movie.

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old August 14 2009, 10:21 PM   #1
PhasersOnStun
Lieutenant Commander
 
PhasersOnStun's Avatar
 
Location: Orange County, CA
Star Trek: Governance

I'm new around here, but not forums. So I did use the search function to see if there were previous threads on this subject, but didn't find any. So I apologize if this has been talked to death already.

I'm pretty familiar with TOS and movies I - XIII, along with the new reboot. I'm not that familiar with the other series, movies, and I've never read the novels or other text.

One thing I've always wondered is about the government of Earth, and by association, the United Federation of Planets. Maybe this is discussed in TNG, DS9, VOY, or ENT. But I'm very curious:

I'm guessing the governments of the Federation Planets are all independent (in other words, Vulcan has a Vulcan government, and Earth has an Earth government, etc.) So while we've seen the "Federation President" in movies, who's running earth?

There is a basic idea that Earth is a sort of "utopian" society, but is it run by a ruling oligarchy? Socialist society? In none of the works that I've seen do I recall any mention of earth people of the 23rd century voting, but that's not to say it wasn't there, or it's not in some of the works I'm not familiar with.

Anyway, none of this is vital to my enjoyment of the series of course. I'm just curious, as it seems that the Star Trek universe is so often mentioned in the context of having conquered it's problems with petty nationalism and so forth, but without any details as to how.
PhasersOnStun is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 14 2009, 10:51 PM   #2
neozeks
Captain
 
neozeks's Avatar
 
Re: Star Trek: Governance

PhasersOnStun wrote: View Post
I'm guessing the governments of the Federation Planets are all independent (in other words, Vulcan has a Vulcan government, and Earth has an Earth government, etc.) So while we've seen the "Federation President" in movies, who's running earth?
A global government called United Earth is mentioned several times (even in TOS, I believe - UESPA) and we see some of it's workings in Enterprise, at which point the Federation doesn't exist yet. Below that, I believe there are continental federations, UE members (USA, I think a European Alliance and African Confederation were mentioned).
neozeks is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 14 2009, 11:27 PM   #3
USS Triumphant
Rear Admiral
 
USS Triumphant's Avatar
 
Location: Go ahead, caller. I'm listening...
Re: Star Trek: Governance

Welcome, Cadet.

Not canon, of course, but Spock's World by Diane Duane even briefly discusses Sarek having dinner with the POTUS - a mostly figurehead position by that time.

I propose:

In the 23rd century, the Federation is ruled by a governmental body that grew out of the principles established by the U.K, U.S., and various other democracies.

By the 24th century, the Federation is still apparently ruled that way, but in reality, it is ruled almost entirely by disguised agents from all of the Federation's enemies. Almost none of them are aware of each other, and somehow their individual, conflicting sabotages actually result in decent governance!
__________________
As the brilliant philosopher once said... Everybody, have fun tonight. Everybody, Wang Chung tonight.
USS Triumphant is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 16 2009, 02:58 PM   #4
Verteron
Rear Admiral
 
Verteron's Avatar
 
Location: United Kingdom
Re: Star Trek: Governance

PhasersOnStun wrote: View Post
I'm guessing the governments of the Federation Planets are all independent (in other words, Vulcan has a Vulcan government, and Earth has an Earth government, etc.) So while we've seen the "Federation President" in movies, who's running earth?

There is a basic idea that Earth is a sort of "utopian" society, but is it run by a ruling oligarchy? Socialist society? In none of the works that I've seen do I recall any mention of earth people of the 23rd century voting, but that's not to say it wasn't there, or it's not in some of the works I'm not familiar with.
There's a Sisko quote from Paradise Lost where he says "Overthrowing a legitimately elected President and giving Starfleet direct control over the government? Sounds like a dictatorship to me.". This seems to indicate the Federation President is elected, but this could still be an 'election' among members of the Federation Council as opposed to a general election and popular vote. Still, I lean towards the former.

The Federation government is pretty obviously headquartered on Earth, but this is analogous to the Federal government of the U.S. being headquartered in one of its constituent states rather than the District, as it is now. One could argue this might be a better arrangement (as it does seem the Federation President has a tendency to meddle in what would otherwise seem to be Earth-specific affairs), but nonetheless this does seem to be the model we have.

I imagine there is a multi-level government on Earth that includes leaders for each town, each region, each country (who might still be called 'Presidents' of their respective countries, i.e. there might still be a POTUS) under the leader of United Earth, who might also be called the President (of Earth) and democratically elected. We've never seen him or her, but this person may well be responsible for the day to day running of Earth.

The Federation President has, from time to time, apparently exercised some kind of direct rule on Earth, such as during the Whale Probe incident, and during the worldwide power outage in Paradise Lost, this may be just for unusual emergency situations rather than something that occurs day to day. As the base for the Federation government, I'm sure Earth's government works with the POTUFP more closely than many other world governments do, but nonetheless I'd like to think there's some kind of separation.

The alternative would be to assume that all of Earth had somehow been declared as a 'federal district' and was ruled directly by the Federation, whilst other worlds maintained their own governments, but this seems somewhat unacceptable to me. Why should a bunch of aliens rule over Earth when they are supposed to be nominally representing their own planets to the federal government?

In terms of the 'invisibility' of the Earth government in the 24thC, this is really to be expected. In a world where crime is practically nil, money does not exist (or at least isn't used regularly), everyone has a replicator or access to replicated goods, everyone has artificially intelligent computers at their beckon call to provide answers, solutions and teach their kids, one imagines the role of the government would be reduced to an invisible overseer rather than what we have in Western countries today.

Their responsibilities would probably mostly include: Energy production and a worldwide grid of power distribution, organising transportation (of people and parcels) via the transporter system or those tube trains we see criss-crossing Paris and San Francisco, maintaining a nominal police force (crime hasn't been completely eradicated, but why steal when you can have anything you like, and forensics are a fine art form?), providing access to information (a computer for all) and replicators (if there's not one in every home, one imagines there's an industrial replicator at the end of every street or where a corner shop or supermarket would be in the present day), and health (access to hospitals where doctors practice medicine because they want to, not for a salary). Educational institutions may also be organised by the government but equally may be private societies organised ad-hoc by groups of individuals: schools seem to be, even if colleges and universities work like they do currently. Many children may be homeschooled by the computer...

One imagines that with this vastly reduced bureaucracy there'd be no need for taxes (what would you tax anyway in a society with no money?) or all of the regulatory machina we have in our government today.

People in general do things because they want to: a chef opens a restaurant and cooks for people because that's what he enjoys, not because he's looking to make money, I doubt the patrons pay him for the food, instead he earns kudos via good reviews and happy customers, and that's his 'success' as a restaurateur. A Doctor doesn't practice medicine for a monthly salary, but because he wants to heal people. He signs on at a hopsital down the road because that's his life calling, not for the 200k/year salary. Likewise other professions, including Starfleet, who seem to be people mostly interested in exploration or 'frontier' science and medicine.

Whilst this seems quite socialistic, it's not socialistic in the same sense as socialism today - government is also very much reduced, so it's actually something that could appeal to people from any side of the political spectrum. What we're actually seeing is a 'post-scarcity' society, which is a fundamentally different form of society that cannot exist without ST's magic technologies, but seems like a natural way for things to go once anyone can have anything they want for free.
Verteron is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 16 2009, 03:01 PM   #5
barnaclelapse
Commodore
 
barnaclelapse's Avatar
 
Location: Waverly, VA.
Send a message via AIM to barnaclelapse
Re: Star Trek: Governance

USS_Triumphant wrote: View Post
Welcome, Cadet.

Not canon, of course, but Spock's World by Diane Duane even briefly discusses Sarek having dinner with the POTUS - a mostly figurehead position by that time.

I propose:

In the 23rd century, the Federation is ruled by a governmental body that grew out of the principles established by the U.K, U.S., and various other democracies.

By the 24th century, the Federation is still apparently ruled that way, but in reality, it is ruled almost entirely by disguised agents from all of the Federation's enemies. Almost none of them are aware of each other, and somehow their individual, conflicting sabotages actually result in decent governance!
So, basically, the more things change the more they stay the same.
barnaclelapse is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 16 2009, 07:20 PM   #6
neozeks
Captain
 
neozeks's Avatar
 
Re: Star Trek: Governance

Verteron, I salute you for this very fine analysis.

I have just a few points to make:
Verteron wrote: View Post
This seems to indicate the Federation President is elected, but this could still be an 'election' among members of the Federation Council as opposed to a general election and popular vote. Still, I lean towards the former.
I think I actually lean towards the indirect option. The direct option would be more democratic but considering just how huge and diverse the Federation and it's population are, the difficulties of campaigning and voting also seem quite huge. Computers and advanced communications could solve the problem, though.

The Federation government is pretty obviously headquartered on Earth, but this is analogous to the Federal government of the U.S. being headquartered in one of its constituent states rather than the District, as it is now. One could argue this might be a better arrangement (as it does seem the Federation President has a tendency to meddle in what would otherwise seem to be Earth-specific affairs), but nonetheless this does seem to be the model we have.
I guess Earthers choose to accept a greater federal influence on their planet because in return they also get prestige and a somewhat larger and more direct influence on the federal institutions themselves.

I imagine there is a multi-level government on Earth that includes leaders for each town, each region, each country (who might still be called 'Presidents' of their respective countries, i.e. there might still be a POTUS) under the leader of United Earth, who might also be called the President (of Earth) and democratically elected. We've never seen him or her, but this person may well be responsible for the day to day running of Earth.
In a story in the (non-canon, of course) book 'Tales of the Dominion War', a UE Prime Minister is mentioned which would suggest Earth uses a parliamentary or at least semipresidential system. There was also a Minister in an ENT eoisode.

In terms of the 'invisibility' of the Earth government in the 24thC, this is really to be expected.
It's also important that we actually VERY rarely see 24thC Earth in the series. We're usually following Federation ships and personel. Kind of like, if you watched a series about a US navy ship, you won't hear very much about the government of say, New York State.

What we're actually seeing is a 'post-scarcity' society, which is a fundamentally different form of society that cannot exist without ST's magic technologies, but seems like a natural way for things to go once anyone can have anything they want for free.
Energy, land and means of transportation are still finite though. I'd imagine that while everyone still freely gets enough credits (there was this site that had a nice, detailed theory on this) for comfortable living (sufficient housing, enough energy for replicating most stuff you need, ordinary transportation needs, medical coverage), you still have to earn, by working or saving, additional credits for more luxury stuff like a really beautiful house on a very good location, buying a more-energy-demanding or handmade object (didn't Scotty buy a boat?), a trip to the other side of the Federation and such.
neozeks is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 16 2009, 08:17 PM   #7
Verteron
Rear Admiral
 
Verteron's Avatar
 
Location: United Kingdom
Re: Star Trek: Governance

Thanks neozeks. Personally I thought I'd started rambling, but there you go

neozeks wrote: View Post
I think I actually lean towards the indirect option. The direct option would be more democratic but considering just how huge and diverse the Federation and it's population are, the difficulties of campaigning and voting also seem quite huge. Computers and advanced communications could solve the problem, though.
The other interesting point to make about this option is that it doesn't require other planetary governments to be democratic. Since presumably they can send whoever they want to the Federation Council as their representatives, an indirect system would mean that on a non-democratic planet operating on a feudal system, for example (like the Klingons), they could send representatives from their High Council (if they ever joined the Federation) without having democracy 'forced' upon them. It seems more in line with the Federation's policies on inclusion.

Energy, land and means of transportation are still finite though. I'd imagine that while everyone still freely gets enough credits (there was this site that had a nice, detailed theory on this) for comfortable living (sufficient housing, enough energy for replicating most stuff you need, ordinary transportation needs, medical coverage), you still have to earn, by working or saving, additional credits for more luxury stuff like a really beautiful house on a very good location, buying a more-energy-demanding or handmade object (didn't Scotty buy a boat?), a trip to the other side of the Federation and such.
That's true. We've heard mention of 'transporter credits'. Perhaps for other 'top bracket' items there are still requirements, call them credits if you will, which might even be determined by prestige (of a person's job, or their achievements) and there'd be a finite number. Perhaps there'd be some form of barter exchange or the ability to save them up. Not calling it 'money' sidesteps the fact that Earth supposedly doesn't use 'money' but still limits what are otherwise, as you say, finite resources. Not everyone can have a big house in the country, after all.

Trek isn't quite post-scarcity in the same way Iain M. Bank's "Culture" is, as you rightly say there are still apparent limits on land use and potentially top dollar luxury items.
Verteron is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 16 2009, 09:06 PM   #8
neozeks
Captain
 
neozeks's Avatar
 
Re: Star Trek: Governance

Verteron wrote: View Post
Thanks neozeks. Personally I thought I'd started rambling, but there you go
When discussing fascinating topics like the socio-economic order in Trek one can never ramble.

The other interesting point to make about this option is that it doesn't require other planetary governments to be democratic. Since presumably they can send whoever they want to the Federation Council as their representatives, an indirect system would mean that on a non-democratic planet operating on a feudal system, for example (like the Klingons), they could send representatives from their High Council (if they ever joined the Federation) without having democracy 'forced' upon them. It seems more in line with the Federation's policies on inclusion.
That is certainly true. Though I would think the Federation asks for at least some measure of democracy, seeing how they value equality and individuality. Have we seen a non-democratic member of the Federation?

That's true. We've heard mention of 'transporter credits'. Perhaps for other 'top bracket' items there are still requirements, call them credits if you will, which might even be determined by prestige (of a person's job, or their achievements) and there'd be a finite number. Perhaps there'd be some form of barter exchange or the ability to save them up. Not calling it 'money' sidesteps the fact that Earth supposedly doesn't use 'money' but still limits what are otherwise, as you say, finite resources. Not everyone can have a big house in the country, after all.
By 'not using money' I guess they mean 'we don't ordinarily need money in our everyday lives'. So for many people - ones that are satisfied with their basic, 'free' possesions, or crews onboard Starfleet ships where you're provided with everything anyway - money or credits is an exotic, rather unfamiliar concept, which they use only rarely.
neozeks is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 17 2009, 06:51 AM   #9
PhasersOnStun
Lieutenant Commander
 
PhasersOnStun's Avatar
 
Location: Orange County, CA
Re: Star Trek: Governance

Thanks for the fantastic discussion points Verteron and Neozeks! This is exactly the sort of information exchange I was hoping for. I really appreciate it! Based on your discussion, I have a few other questions:

Verteron wrote:
People in general do things because they want to: a chef opens a restaurant and cooks for people because that's what he enjoys, not because he's looking to make money, I doubt the patrons pay him for the food, instead he earns kudos via good reviews and happy customers, and that's his 'success' as a restaurateur. A Doctor doesn't practice medicine for a monthly salary, but because he wants to heal people. He signs on at a hopsital down the road because that's his life calling, not for the 200k/year salary. Likewise other professions, including Starfleet, who seem to be people mostly interested in exploration or 'frontier' science and medicine.
This all seems reasonable to assume for an advanced, peaceful society, especially given Roddenberry's own ideals. But it does beg another question. What about those who truly want to do something—to be a doctor, for example—but don't have the innate ability? Or you want to be a teacher, but lack the patience and intuition necessary even if you can learn the material and how to impart it?

It seems to me that the society above, in order to function at maximum efficiency, would need to be a meritocracy; in other words, you can follow your bliss or dream job, but for certain jobs, you'll need to prove your aptitude.

This is backed up in the latest Star Trek movie when Pike mentions that the delinquent young Kirk's aptitude scores are "off the charts." Those scores don't compel him to join Starfleet, but they imply that should he want to, he merits entrance. Now, I'm assuming that Pike was not referring to Kirk taking a specific Starfleet entrance aptitude exam, but rather a general aptitude test.

Of course, the thing about a meritocracy is that it will engender a certain amount of discontent. If someone wants to be a doctor or a teacher or a Starfleet officer but doesn't score high enough, they can get bitter.

neozeks wrote:
I'd imagine that while everyone still freely gets enough credits ... for comfortable living ... you still have to earn, by working or saving, additional credits for more luxury stuff like a really beautiful house on a very good location, buying a more-energy-demanding or handmade object (didn't Scotty buy a boat?), a trip to the other side of the Federation and such.
From the original series episode "Devil in the Dark," Kirk also uses the lure of getting "rich" to convince the miners to work out a pact with the Horta. This seems to imply that some people (the miners) even in this society are taking "dirty jobs" (such as mining) not so much because they feel it's a calling, but for the financial rewards.

If there are to be some people with more money/credits/etc. than others, then their must be some economic disparity, even in a generally classless society.

Verteron wrote:
The other interesting point to make about this option is that it doesn't require other planetary governments to be democratic. Since presumably they can send whoever they want to the Federation Council as their representatives, an indirect system would mean that on a non-democratic planet...could send representatives ... without having democracy 'forced' upon them. It seems more in line with the Federation's policies on inclusion.
neozeks wrote:
That is certainly true. Though I would think the Federation asks for at least some measure of democracy, seeing how they value equality and individuality. Have we seen a non-democratic member of the Federation?
Again, I'm not knowledgeable beyond a certain point, but I'd assumed that Vulcan was free, but not democratic. The fact that they are "logical" implies to me that they, perhaps more than a more "emotional" society, would be more willing to give up governance to the Oligarchy or Elders or Priests or whomever is most qualified, and not contest it. In other words, I don't think anyone could argue that Vulcan is a repressive society, but I also image that there is no voting, campaigning, representation, etc. I may very well be wrong, however.
PhasersOnStun is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 17 2009, 04:00 PM   #10
neozeks
Captain
 
neozeks's Avatar
 
Re: Star Trek: Governance

PhasersOnStun wrote: View Post
Thanks for the fantastic discussion points Verteron and Neozeks!
You're welcome We all love a good discussion.

From the original series episode "Devil in the Dark," Kirk also uses the lure of getting "rich" to convince the miners to work out a pact with the Horta. This seems to imply that some people (the miners) even in this society are taking "dirty jobs" (such as mining) not so much because they feel it's a calling, but for the financial rewards.

If there are to be some people with more money/credits/etc. than others, then their must be some economic disparity, even in a generally classless society.
Good example. I imagine full economic equality is simply impossible, at least without forcing it on people (and that's not really Trekkie). But when everyone has a comfortable high living standard and an equal chance to gain a bit more, disparity loses it's prevailing importance (ie. nobody even notices it, really).
We should also remember the Federation is a mix of hundred cultures, planets and colonies. Not all have to have the same economic system (though I expect all are developed and socially just to some required degree). Some probably still have money and markets. There was mention of a Bank of Bolarus, for example. Bajor would have been admitted into the Federation while still being nowhere near as developed as Earth.
i imagine there is though also some kind of overarching economic system on a UFP level - maybe the Federation credits we heard mentioned from time to time.
And since you mention the miners, you know, I just realized something. I've always wondered - why mine anything, when you can replicate it? I figured they were probably just mining stuff that couldn't be replicated. But I was just now reading up on the replicators and realized that they work differently than I thought. They don't create matter just out of energy, they rearange other matter. So you still need raw materials for replicators to work. Waste materials could be used, of course (making a new shirt from an old one), but ocasionally you'll still need 'fresh' matter.

Again, I'm not knowledgeable beyond a certain point, but I'd assumed that Vulcan was free, but not democratic. The fact that they are "logical" implies to me that they, perhaps more than a more "emotional" society, would be more willing to give up governance to the Oligarchy or Elders or Priests or whomever is most qualified, and not contest it. In other words, I don't think anyone could argue that Vulcan is a repressive society, but I also image that there is no voting, campaigning, representation, etc. I may very well be wrong, however.
Makes sense, going on what we know of the Vulcans (it would surely aleviate a significant problem with democracy - two stupids can outvote one smart guy ). Maybe the 'democracy' requirement I mentioned is for the population to peacefully and willingly accept their political system, even if the system itself isn't democracy.

Last edited by neozeks; August 17 2009 at 04:10 PM.
neozeks is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 19 2009, 12:28 PM   #11
Sci
Admiral
 
Sci's Avatar
 
Location: "We hold these truths to be self-evident..."
Re: Star Trek: Governance

At the risk of covering some stuff that's already been covered...

PhasersOnStun wrote: View Post
I'm new around here, but not forums. So I did use the search function to see if there were previous threads on this subject, but didn't find any. So I apologize if this has been talked to death already.

I'm pretty familiar with TOS and movies I - XIII, along with the new reboot. I'm not that familiar with the other series, movies, and I've never read the novels or other text.

One thing I've always wondered is about the government of Earth, and by association, the United Federation of Planets. Maybe this is discussed in TNG, DS9, VOY, or ENT. But I'm very curious:

I'm guessing the governments of the Federation Planets are all independent (in other words, Vulcan has a Vulcan government, and Earth has an Earth government, etc.) So while we've seen the "Federation President" in movies, who's running earth?
The most that we know canonically is that the planetary state created with the unification of Earth is known as, understandably, United Earth (ENT: "The Forge"). Nathan Samuels was referred to as a United Earth Minister in "Demons"/"Terra Prime" (ENT).

Non-canonically, the Star Trek: Corps of Engineers novel The Future Begins establishes that during the Earth-Romulan War, a woman named Lydia Littlejohn served as President of United Earth. (This was actually a reference to the novel Starfleet: Year One, which was made almost immediately out-of-continuity with the canon when ENT began a month or so after it was published.) Meanwhile, the ENT novel The Good That Men Do establishes Nathan Samuels to be the Prime Minister of United Earth, and the Tales of the Dominion Wars short story "Eleven Hours Out" establishes that the United Earth Prime Minister, Federation President, and United States President all toured the City of San Francisco after the Breen attack in 2375 (established in the DS9 episode "The Changing Face of Evil").

Meanwhile, the Myriad Universes novel A Less Perfect Union establishes the U.E. legislature to be the Parliament of United Earth prior to the divergence of its timeline from the main timeline. (Myriad Universes novels are "What If...?" novels that are all set in unique timelines that differ from the normal timeline.) The ENT novel Kobayashi Maru makes reference to something called the United Earth Council, but it's unclear what the U.E. Council is.

I take all this as an indication that United Earth is a republican parliamentary democracy a la Ireland, Italy, Israel, or Germany -- with a mostly ceremonial President, a Prime Minister who holds the real power, and an elected Parliament whose support determines who the President appoints as Prime Minister.

There is a basic idea that Earth is a sort of "utopian" society, but is it run by a ruling oligarchy? Socialist society? In none of the works that I've seen do I recall any mention of earth people of the 23rd century voting, but that's not to say it wasn't there, or it's not in some of the works I'm not familiar with.
Trek does seem to avoid this. The DS9 episode "Paradise Lost" refers to the Federation President as the "legitimately elected president," though.

Verteron wrote: View Post
There's a Sisko quote from Paradise Lost where he says "Overthrowing a legitimately elected President and giving Starfleet direct control over the government? Sounds like a dictatorship to me.". This seems to indicate the Federation President is elected, but this could still be an 'election' among members of the Federation Council as opposed to a general election and popular vote.
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." There are some Prime Ministers that have different titles, like Chancellor or Taoiseach, but PM is the most common title. The closest to a PM holding the title of "President" would be something like the formal titles of the Spanish and Italian PMs, el Presidente del Gobierno de España (the President of the Government of Spain) and Presidente del Consiglio dei Ministri (President of the Council of Ministers), respectively. In both those, the PM is called "President," but isn't viewed as the president of the state, but as president of the government of the state. We could fudge it and think that maybe the Federation President isn't actually President of the Federation but instead President of the Federation Cabinet or Government, except that his full title was established in Star Trek IV: the President of the United Federation of Planets. There's really no way to interpret him as being a PM rather than a President without jumping through way more linguistic hoops than I think is reasonable.

Speaking non-canonically, the novel A Time for War, A Time for Peace by Keith R.A. DeCandido establishes the following about Federation presidential elections:

Anonymous petitions for presidential candidacy are submitted to the Federation Council, which convenes for the purpose of determining which individuals so petitioned fulfill the legal requirements for candidacy. What those requirements exactly constitute is never established, though we do discover in this novel that an active-duty Starfleet Admiral (William Ross), a Federation Special Emissary, and a currently-serving head of government of a Federation Member State all qualify, and in later novels find that former Starfleet flag officers, Federation Councillors, former heads of government of Federation Member States, former and current Cabinet members, and, apparently, former Member State cabinet members, all legally qualify.

Once a potential candidate has been qualified, candidates then confirm their presidency with some sort of public announcement. (In War/Peace, Admiral Ross indicated that he had not submitted his name to the Council for candidacy and would not accept candidacy, instead endorsing Cestus III Governor Nanietta Bacco.) From there, the candidates campaign all across the Federation until election day.

On election day, all Federation citizens are allowed to vote for President in a non-partisan popular election -- a massive process because of the Federation's huge and far-flung population, including Starfleet officers serving on ships deployed far beyond the Federation's borders. The process of counting all votes takes approximately one week, and is verified by two independent auditing firms, before the victor is formally announced. We don't know exactly what system for determining winners is used -- the only election we see has one clear victor. Whether they have run-off elections if one candidate in a tri-polar or mutli-polar race only wins a plurality but not a majority of votes is unestablished. I would infer that they use first-past-the-post, but that's just my guess.

War/Peace also establishes that when a Federation President dies or resigns before the completion of his/her term, the Federation Council declared one of its members to serve as President Pro Tempore. From there, a special election is called in one standard month. After the election, the office of President Pro Tempore is vacated and the president-elect immediately takes office.

We don't know when the president normally takes office, though we do know that the special election seen in War/Peace, which occurred in November or October of 2379, occurred a year before the normal election would have. Federation Presidents serve for a term of four standard years, and can be re-elected to an unlimited number of terms. Most Presidents only serve two or three terms at most, however.

The sequel, Articles of the Federation, also by DeCandido, follows the first year in office of the victor of the War/Peace election, and establishes that the Federation President's office is located on the top floor, Floor Fifteen of the Federation's capitol, the Palais de la Concorde. The Palais de la Concorde is a huge cylindrical building located on the site of the current Place de la Concorde in Paris. Its first floor houses the Federation Council Chambers, Floor Two houses the Palais legal counsel office and transporter bay, Three through Eleven house the offices of Federation Councillors, Twelve houses the Federation's state dining room, and Thirteen and Fourteen house the Cabinet and Presidential staff, with Fifteen being dedicated to the Presidential Office, a private study, private transporter bay, two meeting rooms, and the reception area.

The Federation government is pretty obviously headquartered on Earth, but this is analogous to the Federal government of the U.S. being headquartered in one of its constituent states rather than the District, as it is now. One could argue this might be a better arrangement (as it does seem the Federation President has a tendency to meddle in what would otherwise seem to be Earth-specific affairs), but nonetheless this does seem to be the model we have.
The U.S. practice of headquartering its government in a Federal District whose citizens do not have legal quality in the U.S. Congress even as they have a unique cultural and political identity that separates them from from the neighboring states is a horrible system, and one I would hope the Federation does not copy. Citizens of the District of Columbia outnumber citizens of the State of Wyoming, yet they have no United States Representative and no United States Senators. They do not even have full control over the District government, which was created by Congress, whose decisions can be overturned by Congress any time it wants, and can be dissolved at Congress's pleasure -- interference in local affairs that the citizens of the states would never tolerate if the Congress tried to do that to their state governments. D.C. citizens get a non-voting Delegate who cannot even vote on the floor, even though they pay the same taxes as anyone else and are subject to federal law like everyone else. It's taxation without representation and legal inequality, and it needs to change, ASAP. The District of Columbia needs to be given statehood, and I hope that no one EVER copies that system again.

In any event, I don't think it's clear that the Federation often interferes in Earth-specific affairs. The most we know is that the Federation President can declare a State of Emergency on a Federation world, which they have done on Earth during the occasions when someone threatened Earth (V'Ger, the Whale Probe, the Borg, and the feared Dominion invasion).

The Federation President has, from time to time, apparently exercised some kind of direct rule on Earth, such as during the Whale Probe incident, and during the worldwide power outage in Paradise Lost, this may be just for unusual emergency situations rather than something that occurs day to day.
That wasn't direct rule -- that was a State of Emergency. That doesn't mean the U.E. government was dissolved during the State of Emergency. Former U.S. President George W. Bush declared a State of Emergency in New Orleans just before Hurricane Katrina, but that doesn't mean that he was directly ruling the State of Louisiana. (And remember that Earth is merely the most prominent of several planets under the jurisdiction of United Earth, which apparently includes Luna and several U.E. colonies.) In fact, more than likely United Earth declared its own State of Emergency simultaneously, as the State of Louisiana did.

As the base for the Federation government, I'm sure Earth's government works with the POTUFP more closely than many other world governments do, but nonetheless I'd like to think there's some kind of separation.
Agreed. They probably work most closely on issues of planetary defense. I certainly doubt the Federation gets involved in internal Earth politics, just like the U.S. federal government doesn't get involved in internal state politics.

The alternative would be to assume that all of Earth had somehow been declared as a 'federal district' and was ruled directly by the Federation, whilst other worlds maintained their own governments, but this seems somewhat unacceptable to me. Why should a bunch of aliens rule over Earth when they are supposed to be nominally representing their own planets to the federal government?
Agreed, and more. See above.

One imagines that with this vastly reduced bureaucracy there'd be no need for taxes (what would you tax anyway in a society with no money?) or all of the regulatory machina we have in our government today.
Star Trek has been wildly inconsistent with whether or not the Federation has a monetary system. Personally, I think it does -- stories like "Mudd's Women," "The Devil in the Dark," "The Trouble With Tribbles," and "Author, Author" make no sense if it doesn't -- but that one doesn't need money to survive comfortably, only to earn luxuries. I imagine the Federation government can tax those who become especially rich to make sure that they do not become too socially dominant.

neozeks wrote: View Post
What we're actually seeing is a 'post-scarcity' society, which is a fundamentally different form of society that cannot exist without ST's magic technologies, but seems like a natural way for things to go once anyone can have anything they want for free.
Energy, land and means of transportation are still finite though. I'd imagine that while everyone still freely gets enough credits (there was this site that had a nice, detailed theory on this) for comfortable living (sufficient housing, enough energy for replicating most stuff you need, ordinary transportation needs, medical coverage), you still have to earn, by working or saving, additional credits for more luxury stuff like a really beautiful house on a very good location, buying a more-energy-demanding or handmade object (didn't Scotty buy a boat?), a trip to the other side of the Federation and such.
This.

Verteron wrote: View Post
neozeks wrote: View Post
I think I actually lean towards the indirect option. The direct option would be more democratic but considering just how huge and diverse the Federation and it's population are, the difficulties of campaigning and voting also seem quite huge. Computers and advanced communications could solve the problem, though.
The other interesting point to make about this option is that it doesn't require other planetary governments to be democratic. Since presumably they can send whoever they want to the Federation Council as their representatives, an indirect system would mean that on a non-democratic planet operating on a feudal system, for example (like the Klingons), they could send representatives from their High Council (if they ever joined the Federation) without having democracy 'forced' upon them. It seems more in line with the Federation's policies on inclusion.
I disagree, strongly. The Federation Constitution/Charter (the canon uses both names for it, and the novels introduce a third as its formal name: the Articles of the Federation) is established to guarantee to all Federation citizens certain rights, including freedom from self-incrimination (the Seventh Guarantee, established in TNG's "The Drumhead") and control over artistic works (the Twelfth Guarantee, established in VOY's "Author, Author"). And on top of that, it bans caste-based discrimination. So we have the strong implication that the Federation itself is a liberal democracy. How can a liberal democracy function if its constituent governments are not themselves liberal democracies?

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.

PhasersOnStun wrote: View Post
Again, I'm not knowledgeable beyond a certain point, but I'd assumed that Vulcan was free, but not democratic.
I don't think there's any evidence to support this inference. We know that during ENT, Vulcan was under the control of the High Command, their military, with the Administrator of the High Command serving as de facto military dictator. But "Home" and "The Forge" established that this was a new state of affairs -- that after the P'Jem institute, the First Minister (which is an alternate English term for a Prime Minister) was dismissed and the High Command seized power. And the High Command was dissolved at the end of "Awakening."

The ENT novels The Good That Men Do and Kobayashi Maru establish that the Confederacy of Vulcan is now under the control of a democratically-elected Vulcan Council, with the newly-restored First Minister serving as head of government. T'Pau is the current First Minister of the Confederacy of Vulcan as of mid-2155.

The fact that they are "logical" implies to me that they, perhaps more than a more "emotional" society, would be more willing to give up governance to the Oligarchy or Elders or Priests or whomever is most qualified, and not contest it.
Hardly. If anything, a more logical populace is more likely to recognize that most oligarchies or inherited elites (be they aristocrats or the mere rich) tend to be self-serving and are rarely more qualified that individuals who have achieved power democratically. Vulcans may have a stronger propensity towards representative democracy -- there may be far fewer popular referendums on Vulcan than on Earth, for instance -- but no rational populace would accept the fiction that the elites can be trusted to do what's best for us without democratic accountability.

Then there's the most basic problem of any non-democracy:

A government can only function with the consent or acquiescence of its population. But how can a non-democratic government maintain the support of its population, particularly if it does not have an external enemy to scapegoat, as a Federated Vulcan would lack? Logically, a government needs to renew its popular consent... which means democracy.
__________________
"Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic Socialism, as I understand it." - George Orwell, 1946
Sci is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 19 2009, 02:30 PM   #12
neozeks
Captain
 
neozeks's Avatar
 
Re: Star Trek: Governance

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. Of course, the catch is these Presidents are largely ceremonial roles with little real power (though I believe they are technically still CinCs) and most of the power is with their Prime Ministers. The Federation presidents we've seen seemed to have larger powers than just ceremonial and we've never heard of an UFP PM, so I doubt it's this system they use. 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. Maybe they have something like France or Russia? A rather powerfull and dominant President but still with a separate PM and his Cabinet?
(and, after I wrote all this, I just realized you said head of government, not head of state... )

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.
neozeks is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 19 2009, 06:55 PM   #13
Sci
Admiral
 
Sci's Avatar
 
Location: "We hold these truths to be self-evident..."
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.
__________________
"Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic Socialism, as I understand it." - George Orwell, 1946
Sci is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 19 2009, 08:49 PM   #14
neozeks
Captain
 
neozeks's Avatar
 
Re: Star Trek: Governance

Sci wrote: View Post
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.
Heh, just to be picky, the President of South Africa is both a head of state and a head of government and is elected by the lower house of the SA Parliament.
Of course, this is an exceptionally rare case. In the end the point is that even though a president can be elected by a parliament, if you're going to give him substantial powers it's smarter and more democratic to draw his power directly from the people.

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."
Yeah, from time to time the Council does seem to micromanage a lot. Sometimes it seems it's not just a legislature but does some executive jobs as well. How exactly are it's member elected? Are they like US Senators or are they representatives of the member planets' governments?

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...
I really should read that novel.

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.
Yeah, well them Brits have always been peculiar, having no Constitution and all that. Heck, who knows what the Queen could legally do if she really wanted. Of course, tradition and convention are as strong as law in this case. Existence of a state religion is also much more a case of tradition than of any real substance.

I seem to recall than in some episode a political decision had to be made and aside from the secular government, the Vedek Assembly also held a vote. I could be wrong though, and in the end you're right, it's unclear.
neozeks is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 19 2009, 09:06 PM   #15
Sci
Admiral
 
Sci's Avatar
 
Location: "We hold these truths to be self-evident..."
Re: Star Trek: Governance

neozeks wrote: View Post
Sci wrote: View Post
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.
Heh, just to be picky, the President of South Africa is both a head of state and a head of government and is elected by the lower house of the SA Parliament.
Touche! I had forgotten about that example. But, yeah, that is relatively rare.

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."
Yeah, from time to time the Council does seem to micromanage a lot. Sometimes it seems it's not just a legislature but does some executive jobs as well. How exactly are it's member elected? Are they like US Senators or are they representatives of the member planets' governments?
The canon has never explained how Federation Councillors are chosen. We've never even met one (unless Sarek was one, anyway).

In the novels, Federation Councillors are chosen according to whatever mechanism the Member State decides for itself, and each Member State gets one Councillor. The Federation Councillor from Betazed, for instance, is popularly elected (Articles of the Federation), while the Federation Councillor from Bajor is nominated by the First Minister and confirmed by the Chamber of Ministers (Bajor: Fragments and Omens by J. Noah Kim), and the Federation Councillor from Andor is determined by whichever political party holds a majority of seats in the Parliament Andoria in the same manner as a Cabinet post in a parliamentary system (Andor: Paradigm by Heather Jarman).

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...
I really should read that novel.
Es muy bien.
__________________
"Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic Socialism, as I understand it." - George Orwell, 1946
Sci is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Tags
earth, federation, government

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump



All times are GMT +1. The time now is 07:58 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.6
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
FireFox 2+ or Internet Explorer 7+ highly recommended.