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Pegasus Government

NavyMongoose Mar 1st, 2013 27 Never
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  1. This being the excerpt from
  3. Concerning the Governance of the winged ponies, the PEGASI, beginning with the History of such governance, a Description of its Present Form, and a number of useful Observations concerning its Practice and Effectuality
  4. Written and compiled by the Department of History at the Royal Canterlot University:
  5. A special edition suitable for use in the education of foreigners and of the young
  8. OVERVIEW (From the "New Cloudsdale Companion")
  10. Ask your average citizen about how the pegasi manage their own affairs and the likely answer is something kin to 'the thinner air makes them a tad radical and careless, is what!' or perhaps something more like 'I hear they all have to be in the Draft; what a frightening thing!' That the substance of both these comments, the free-wheeling radicalism and the strong, urgent militarism can both be, in some sense, true of the pegasi is the crucial paradox that underlies their society. The pegasi are not inclined to strict systems of understanding (as the unicorns are) nor do they subject themselves to natural cycles of nature (as the earth ponies do). In fact, the social expression of the pegasi is formulated amidst a cultural milieu of defying nature, as the art of weather-making demonstrates. Yet to reduce the whole question to a simple dichotomy between defiance and discipline is to miss a large portion of what makes pegasus governance a continuing object of interest to scholars.
  12. In no small measure, the pegasus modes of statecraft are a product of centuries of historical development, a consequence of action and reaction, proposition and accident, all intertwined in a complex relationship that is difficult to fully decipher. However, amidst the confusion that arises from complexity one discerns a definite pattern once elucidated by a famous couplet: In hardship, steel; in peace, silver. If there can be said to be a defining principle in pegasus society, it is this: That everypony of his own accord must push themselves to the limits of their ability, for the sake of all.
  17. The most immediate experience of the government which the average pegasus has is through his elected representative in the Gerousia, or Senate. Yet in ages past the Gerousia often functioned as little more than a rubber-stamp body for decisions made by those who held the real power. The present Gerousia owes much of its substantial power to the efforts of reformers and agitators, especially those that arose in the immedietely aftermath of the Nightmare War.
  19. Cloudsdale is divided into 30 districts of approximately equal population, each of which elects a single Geronte, or elder. In the past, the term 'elder' had a very literal meaning, as only pegasi of advanced age could stand for office, but the reformers of the Winter Balancing reduced it significantly to the current requirement. It was also customary to elect members of the aristocratic families, but as the political participation of the non-aristocrats increased (much of which was a result of the Adiabatic Renewal) the Gerousia slowly shifted to become the more plebian body that it is today.
  21. Once the election concludes, the Gerontes must decide who is to preside over the whole body. Factions are, as a rule, highly fluid, and negotiations can take several days before an agreement is reached and the president and all Gerontal officials are appointed. The president himself is often the leader of a notable faction, but in other times he is a compromise candidate suited to act as a mediator between rival factions.
  23. The Gerontes as a collective hold a vast array of powers. Most importantly, only they can initiate bills of revenue that occur within Cloudsdale; even Royal Prerogative has no power unless allowed by the executive (feudal tithes to Canterlot are set by the Crown, but it cannot decide where the funds actually come from within Cloudsdale). The Gerousia manages trade, provides infrastructure and improvements, and devises the entire civil code for the city. Perhaps its most notable power, though, is its ability to select and appoint the Strategos, that is, the chief executive of the city.
  28. By far the most misunderstood element of pegasus government is how it chooses its executive officers. Even among pegasi there is the misconception that the executive officers function as some sort of elected junta or militaristic cadre, but that elides over the centuries of evolution that these most important of offices have undergone.
  30. Of course, military elements persist to the present, as one can note from the very nature of the office of the chief executive, the Strategos (which, translated into Common Equestrian, means 'High General'). Arguably the most ancient office - it dates to the time of Hurricane Taramones (the famous 'Commander Hurricane') and perhaps even before that - it has persisted throughout the entire period of pegasus history despite numerous changes in scope and function. The Strategos, as Commander-in-Chief of all pegasus forces in Cloudsdale, is the supreme enforcer of pegasus law. All Strategoi must be military or para-military officers who possess a Royal Commission. While theoretically officers of any corps can be chosen by the Gerousia, in practice the Strategoi have almost always come from the Aerial Cavalry, that is, the Equestrian air force. However, it is not unheard of for peace officers, Weather Patrollers, or even Meteorological Technicians to be made Strategos.
  32. The Strategos never governs alone, however. Alongside him are the five Ephors, the civil executives elected at large by all of Cloudsdale. The Five, as they are colloquially named, symbolize the five tribes of pegasi which accompanied Hurricane to Equestria, and in fact the Ephoroi were originally elected from each of those tribes. Unlike the Gerousia, the Ephorate has remained quite aristocratic, and in fact the Great Law stipulated until very recently that all candidates for the Ephorate must be of a noble family and be vetted by either a current or past Ephor or a Geronte. The Adiabatic Renewal, however, opened up the office to all citizens, provided that such citizens receive the recommendation of "a noted leader" (which has come to mean a leader of any officially-recognized society, organization, or corporation). Together with the Strategos they oversee and perform all executive functions of state, including military regulation and external policy (that is, relations with bodies outside Cloudsdale, including the Crown).
  34. In times of war, however, the Ephoroi lay down their authority and appoint the Strategos as the sole ruler, or dictator, of Cloudsdale. The Strategos then usually forms a junta, known as the Archontes, comprised of subordinate officers known as Taxiarchs (Ephors are often reappointed as Taxiarchs in the Archontes). When the conflict is over, either the Gerousia or the Crown promulgates a declaration of peace, and the Strategos is obliged to surrender his absolute power to the Ephoroi once again, on penalty of forced removal (thankfully, such a situation has yet to occur).
  39. Unlike the other offices, the members of the judiciary are not responsive to the citizenry as a whole. Rather, they are chosen by and from the membership of the Law Guild of Cloudsdale. This suffices for the appointment of lower magistrates, but for higher offices the participation of the general public is required. The Areopagus, the highest court in Cloudsdale, is chosen by a select group of citizens called the Heliaia, which is chosen by lot from among all the eligible voters. In former times, the Heliaia was a very exclusive body, similar to the Ephorate.  Unlike the Ephorate, however, sheer necessity forced reform as many of the hereditary members left to establish the colonies or sought to pursue careers outside of law (the present Law Guild also stems from such events).
  41. Cloudsdale (and pegasus government in general) is unique in its system of commissioned civil servants, a development from the militarism of ancient pegasus societies. In effect, all the managers and leaders of the government agencies receive a Royal Commission and are accorded rank and precedence alongside regular military units such as the Aerial Cavalry. The Weather Patrol is the most prominent example of such an agency, but the Meteorological Service, the Merchant Aeronauts, and even the Flying Mail fall under this system.
  43. A key component of this para-military public service is the flight schools, which are really modelled on the basic training of pegasi soldiers in the past. In fact, all pegasi were required to participate in military training, known as the agoge, before they were granted the right to vote. Even mares were obliged to take part, but as a consequence they, too, received suffrage, a radical innovation during a time when only landed stallions possessed political rights in the other jurisdictions of Equestria. As society evolved, the requirement to graduate flight school fell into abeyance, but the emphasis on physical prowess and duty to the community persists in all aspects of political culture.
  48. One cannot have a full understanding of pegasus society and government without also discussing the colonies, or apokiai. Originally founded as military outposts, the pegasus colonies of Equestria eventually developed into full-fledged communities, with their own particular institutions and traditions. Those colonies of a more aristocratic bent, such as Skyrocuse, have systems very similar to the Ephorate of Cloudsdale, but others, such as Noniopolis and Pasternum, are more populist. Instead of Ephors, these latter colonies have an assembly known as the boule which selects from its own number the civil executive or prytany.
  50. All the colonies possess a strategos, however, and it is this common feature which comes into prominence during times of crisis. When the Crown declares a state of general war involving all of Equestria, every colony immedietely comes under martial law, with the strategoi governing solely in each. A draft is initiated requiring all adult pegasi to report for military duty. The strategoi then form a national military council, the Grand Archontes. As the first among equal and in keeping with his historical seniority, the strategos of Cloudsdale is granted the title of Polemarch, or supreme commander of all pegasi beneath only the Crown itself. In times of truly grave crisis, the Grand Archontes institutes the theme system, dividing the whole nation into regions partially governed by an individual strategos.
  52. Under the Pact of Harmony, the pegasi have surrendered ultimate sovereignty to the Diarchy at Canterlot, that is, to Princesses Celestia and Luna. The pegasi retain most of their ancient rights and offices but owe deference and duty to the Princesses, each of whom they refer to as basilissa, a venerable title referring to a female sovereign.  The Diarchy takes a hoofs-off approach to internal pegasus affairs, allowing pegasi to manage their internal issues, but often engineers initiatives of national or trans-colonial importance. Several strategoi or other officials have been summoned to Canterlot to serve in the royal court or to provide some other service.
  54. Recently, however, there has been a move to formalize the relationships between all the colonies. The Ecclesian Movement is a group of prominant pegasus political figures who believe that there should be some kind of general assembly, or ecclesia, which would act as a clearing house for all pegasus affairs. These ecclesiasts, though small in number, are highly influential, but many others, in particular Crown officials, have resisted the movement's aims. Likely this is a result of the continual Canterlotian suspicion of national bodies separate from the Crown, and this in turn is a consequence of the Summer Wars, which pitted parliamentarians against so-called royalists.
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