Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Point?

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Captain Shatner, Jul 30, 2012.

  1. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    One Member, one vote is entierly fair. It means each member of the UFP has exactly the same voting power.
     
  2. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    Why should they?

    As pointed out, that gives unfair advantage to certain members. The citizens of others are poorly represented as the result, and deserve better.

    "Members" are just abstractions. It's the people that count.

    In any case, as already mentioned, Bajor in "Rapture" was said to have to choose representatives to the Federation Council, plural. It could definitely do with just one if there was only one vote. (And no, it wasn't a reference to Bajor having to choose a succession of people to the single position of Bajoran FCM - Admiral Whatley spoke of what has to be done at the point of entry specifically.) So we have a good reason to believe that members get more than one representative and more than one vote, although we also have a good reason ("Journey to Babel") to believe that members typically cast uniform votes. And we have no idea how the number of Council Members / votes is determined, although it would stand to reason that this is somehow related to the total population represented by the member.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  3. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    Ok lets say we have a 10 member Federation

    One Member has a population of 10bn and each of the other nine had 1bn. That would mean one member would always hold the balance of power, hardly fair. If you weighted voting based upon population.
     
  4. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    Why not? The heart of democracy is that minority has no say.

    What "member" those people belong to is not relevant. No doubt they can move between member worlds freely, too. The Federation has trillions of people, but just 150 members at the last count - an excellent argument for dismissing the members altogether as they have no chance of fairly representing the multitude of citizens. If two out of five Bajoran FCMs want to vote for a new tax and two against while one abstains on religious grounds, that's at least a tad fairer than having "Bajor" vote one way or another and thus disregard what more than half the population is thinking!

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  5. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    No the heart of democracy is that it is as fair as it can be. If it's pre-loaded so that one side is always in dominance (i.e who has the largest population, esp if that popualtion is greater than the others combined) than it's almost a dictatorship.
     
  6. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    Which means the minority has no say. That's the only way to play fair.

    Indeed - so if any pair of two-bit planets is given the power to vote down a single world with trillions of people, it's not much of a democracy.

    Again, members aren't sides. Members cannot fairly represent sides. Members are just... Dunno, useless figureheads. Okay, it's plausible for Vulcan to vote with one voice, because the people are religiously obligated to accept that logic reveals the single right solution to everything. But thankfully we haven't heard of any other member casting a single vote so far.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  7. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    Timo has made all the arguments I would've. MacLeod, what's fair to you doesn't have to seem fair to others.

    One member, one vote is unfair to larger populations - they're underrepresented. Proportional voting is unfair to smaller populations - they're underrepresented!

    Do we even know what the definition of a UFP Member is? Is it by planet? By government? By species? Is Earth a Member, with all people on it, human and alien voting as Earth's population? Or is it that all Humans are Federation citizens, voting as humans whatever planet they might reside on? If Andorians were feeling unfairly underrepresented in one system, they could move to Earth and be represented there, despite not being Human. But if it's by species, then they're just going to have to suck it up and face the fact that they're a lower population species. That's not fair, but that's life.
     
  8. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    All the above suggests there are voting blocks or political parties of some sort. But even parties are unfair, as they may represent their members well on one issue but fail to do so on another. This is easily solved by the voters voting for the party that gives the best representation - but only if they can hop from party to party in real time, choosing the best party for each new issue at hand.

    It is possible that the Federation populance democratically votes on issues, leaving the representatives out of job. Or this particular job, at any rate. We have never seen Council Members vote on anything, I think. (A bunch of Ambassadors were fuzzily related to the voting process in "Journey to Babel", but we never quite learned what was going on there and whether this had anything to do with regular UFP governing procedures.)

    But if the UFP is a representative democracy, then it is pretty likely that the representatives act as a sanity filter of sorts: they may listen to the popular vote, and then choose how to pass it on. The real question then goes, do Bajoran representatives only listen to the Bajoran popular vote, or do all representatives bow to the UFP-wide popular vote? The latter would make quite a bit of sense: Bajor sends in five representatives for its five billion people, not to get five Bajoran votes, but to get five Bajoran-minded people to process the popular vote as they best see fit. Muscae Minor sends in one representative for the same purpose, while Ursa Major sends twelve.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  9. neozeks

    neozeks Captain Captain

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    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    Of course, while they certainly shouldn't be deified and mindlessly worshiped today, it should be noted that even with all the flaws they and their Constitution were still very progresive and revolutionary for their time.

    Right, and that's why bicameral legislatures exist. Maybe the Federation Council is bicameral too, which would solve that problem. We don't really have any firm evidence either way, even though it seems most accepted (in the novels as well) that it's unicameral.

    One way to combine "one member, one vote" and proportionality in a single-chamber legislature would be to add a second requirement for something to pass - it's not enough that a majority of Councillors vote for it, they also have to represent a majority of the population. Something like how the Council of the EU will work under the new Lisbon Treaty. The Council of the EU is a rather special (quasi)legislative body that isn't really elected in the way I imagine the Federation Council is, but the voting mechanism could still work. If we also want to include the line about Bajor choosing multiple councillors we could say every member gets more than one, but still an equal number of Councillors. That would allow the members' populations to be represented by more than just one voice in the Councill. And a legislature of just 150-ish councillors strikes me as a bit small for something as huge as the Federation.

    Seems most logical and workable that it would be by government. Though I could imagine a parallel structure of species-based councils/institutions existing for matters related solely to a single species, mostly those matters connected to a species' biology - say, age of consent and so on. Sort of like how Belgium has parliaments for both each of it's federal regions AND for each of it's language communities (for matters relating to culture, language, etc.). Not that Belgium is exactly a shining example of a stable and functional federal state... :lol:
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2012
  10. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin


    So both systems are unfair in some respects. What is Winston Churchill once said "Democracy is the worst form f government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time"
     
  11. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    But if representation is for the individual citizens of the federation, and not by planet of birth, planet of residence, or species, then a citizen could vote for any politician running for the council from any species and planet in the federation.

    It would be like myself (who lives in Seattle) voting for a representative in the federal government, who is from say florida, because I feel that that person would best represent my personal views, more so that any of the politician running in my home state or district. just as I can vote for anyone for American President, I can vote for anyone to be my senator.

    He wouldn't so much represent my state, as my country.

    :)
     
  12. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    So, Councillor Spunk of Vulcan could represent all the like-minded individuals of the Federation, while Councillor Growl of Tellar represents another faction of individuals in the Federation, whether or not they all happen to be from Tellar or Vulcan. So, basically, political party representation, rather than geographic or cultural representation.
     
  13. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    Indeed. And "Vulcan" voting in the Coridan issue as one planet might be an artifact of all Vulcans being so bloody single-minded about everything, lest somebody think that there's a fault in their common logic. Quite possibly Tellar would have been split on the issue even after Ambassador Gav reported on his Babel findings, and there would be no "Tellarite vote" - indeed, such a thing might be a contradiction in terms, considering how argumentative the Tellarites are supposed to be as a species.

    ...Although admittedly the episode does not literally feature a "Vulcan vote". Gav just asks how Sarek will vote personally, and Sarek says that "we" will vote for the admission, supposedly indicating that all of Vulcan is behind him on this.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  14. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    In Journey, Ambassador Sarek does say at one point, "My government's instructions will be heard in the council chambers on Babel." It's interesting that when Sarek refers to "my government," he was obviously not talking about the Federation Council, but (apparently) the Vulcan government.

    :)
     
  15. OneBuckFilms

    OneBuckFilms Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    I remember reading somewhere that the Federation was intended to be similar to the United Nations.

    Each world has it's sovereignty.

    Kirk: Your world is yours.

    That being the case, then each world would have it's own political systems for electing or choosing representatives for the Federation Council.

    This means one Government/Planet/Member, one vote, with founding members possibly having veto power.

    Starfleet would then take on the roles of both exploration and peacekeeping, similar to the peacekeeping forces the UN currently has.
     
  16. OneBuckFilms

    OneBuckFilms Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    Journey to Babel also seems to play into the UN type model, where the Federation is a union of sovereign worlds, hinting that admission of new members requires a vote from existing member governments.

    Some general thoughts on the merits of the US political system:

    The US is a democracy in a general sense, technically a Democratic Republic.

    If the US is seen as a model for the Federation, then it fits that each world would be analagous to a state, with it's own sovereignty, but signed up to the "Union", with a limited central government for regulating commerce, treaties and mutual defense.

    RE: The Electoral College.

    This to me is a counterbalance, as a way of preventing pure democracy turning into mob rule.

    From having 2 houses in Congress, the 3 branches of Government with distinct duties and relationships, and the limitation of federal and state powers, it seems the US was built on the principal of avoiding a single point of power, such as a King.

    Term limits are also an extension of this.

    It is also heavily invested in checks and balances, where nobody can generally do anything drastic against the wishes of other branches of government.

    This is a good thing, IMHO.

    Any goverment system is imperfect. The American system is the least imperfect, and best system human beings have managed to create so far.
     
  17. Sindatur

    Sindatur The Grey Owl Wizard Premium Member

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    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    While I do agree that forms of Democracy are the best we've got, I hate to be so absolutist about the American form being "The Best".

    Our infrastructure locks us into a two party system, it is just about impossible for a 3rd party to get much influence, or even enough influence to make a difference.

    It's not at all uncommon for a single Party (either Democrat or Replubican) to have control over both Houses of Congress and the Presidency, and with that, there are really little checks and balances, other than The Supreme Court (YMMV on wether you believe they play Politics or truly vote in their best conscience, it's my hope most of the time it is the latter). Locked into only a two party system, there is often no need for compromise or coalitions.

    I'd have to know more about other Democracies' multi-party system to know if ours actually is the best, but, I'd certainly like to see the two party stranglehold broken with a viable 3rd and/or 4th party having the ability to have influence
     
  18. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin


    Two of the main forms of democracy in use the world today the Westminster (British) or Presidential (US) have their pros and cons.

    It doesn't mean that one is better than the other.
     
  19. OneBuckFilms

    OneBuckFilms Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    The two-party system is not designed as such. It evolved into a system with 2 parties. We have other parties, but it is not a systematic flaw, but an evolutionary/historical one.
     
  20. OneBuckFilms

    OneBuckFilms Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    I'd agree with that, though I view them as subtle variants on the same basic system.

    House of Commons and House of Lords = House and Senate.

    President = Prime Minister.

    Semantics and some finer points are really the only functional differences. At least on the Federal level.