Democracy in the Gallente Federation
Democracy in the Gallente Federation is the very core to the union's foundations. Fundamentally, it means that power ultimately rests with the people. How this is interpreted and executed varies exponentially. While it generally means that the government is accountable to its electorate, it also means popular participation in political discourse is encouraged amongst the citizens, and not necessarily within the halls of government. Whereas citizens of other empires are expected to follow their governments in relative silence (or otherwise have little to no say in the political process), members of the Federation citizenry are actively encouraged to be the ones dictating the political process, all in the pursuit of abiding by the democratic principle of ‘rule of the people’.
Below is a general (and some may say limited) overview of democracy in the Gallente Federation. Large elements of Gallente democracy do not necessarily pertain to government and politics, but may manifest itself through religion, culture, or society instead.
In terms of actual governance, the Federation recognizes three overarching categories of democracy for its member states. Each category has many different applications, and citizens are constantly finding new ways to utilize democracy in the Federation. All systems are built on the assumption that there are legally-protected third parties (eg. activist groups, free media forces, and other non-government organizations) that serve as intermediary between the citizens and their authority. Many experts agree that the effectiveness of any democratic system is dependant on how educated the populace is. The more educated the electorate is, the less susceptible a system is to its structural flaws. Similarly, if an electorate has easier access to modern technology, then the system is less likely to suffer from corruption or lack of accountability.
Direct democracies make up around 30-40% of the Federation's political systems. For the Federal Charter to recognize a member state as a direct democracy, a minimum of two-thirds of all local legislation must have been passed by public referenda.
Direct democracies involves the citizens voting on most, if not all, government decisions. They are common in territories that are either small and/or have access to modern technology. Small populations may use community hall meetings or tribal councils to facilitate decision-making. Intermediately-sized territories may elect a council of directors to draft bills and propose all legislation to the electorate. Technologically advanced cities and nations will rely on electronic mediums for their direct democracy, including virtual forums and social networking. There may be an elected human executive or a regulated artificial intelligence who will offer objective assessments on political decisions.
Direct democracies are popular due to the fact that decision-making is either mostly or completely in the hands of the people. As technology can be a keystone to these systems, there is a large novelty factor stemming from being able to adapt the latest piece of gadgetry to the political process. The extreme can be taken where a society will have no government in the typical sense at all, where direct democracy is synonymous with pure citizen rule, facilitated by a virtual citizens' forum or some other hi-tech medium. It should be noted that areas in the Federation with little to no technology whatsoever (such as tribal areas) are equally capable of direct democracy. Either way, statistics indicate that direct democracies are the least susceptible to corruption.
However, direct democracies are criticized as being unable to respond quickly to rapid changes on the political landscape, plagued by extremely frequent elections and referenda. On the other extreme, action may come too quickly, with no proper deliberation. Direct democracies are avoided when there is a chance of an oppression of minorities by the majority. This is particularly true on systems that rely on digital mediums, where dissenting or unfashionable opinions are drowned out by a populistic consensus. To counterbalance this, direct democratic governments tend to invest a very large segment of their budget to education.
Representative democracies make up around 20-30% of the Federation's political systems. For the Federal Charter to recognize a member state as a representative democracy, elections for political representatives must take place at intervals no longer than five years apart.
Representative democracies involve the citizenry electing representatives to govern society on their behalf. If the representatives fail, there are methods to remove them from office. This may come around at the next voting cycle, or there may be other vehicles such as votes of no confidence. Representative democracies may offer public votes, but they are typically under no obligation to do so. The use of a free and independent media is key here, who will be responsible for both informing the population of government activities and keeping the administration held to account.
Though representative democracies are criticized by the advanced societies as old-fashioned, it is defended for many different reasons. Majority rule is tempered, as populist outrage mostly finds itself impotent if the elected representatives demonstrate restraint. Moreover, representative democracies are designed to elect professionals with actual experience, rather than permit masses who may be inexperienced with policy-making dictate government line. Societies with low levels of education and/or political awareness will rely on representative systems.
However, if a representative system has few avenues of political interaction (especially true of areas without access to modern technology or third parties to fall back on), the population may be subject to an oligarchy that does not have the concerns of the citizens at heart. On the other hand, these oligarchies may be technocratic in nature, governing society for the sake of efficiency rather than popular contentment. Whether citizens (or off-worlders) are happy with this varies.
Representative democracy has proven very popular in societies who are considered to be either historically incompatible or disinterested with democracy, especially areas who simply want to tick boxes on the Federal Charter’s legal requirements. Jin-Mei may elect members of the Sang Do caste, while Caldari communities may elect experienced officers with corporate or military experience. Others may rely on unorthodox systems such as elective monarchies, particularly in ancient member states. Either way, these groups will simply participate in elections when required, and allow themselves to be ruled without qualm. While this has spawned so-called ‘single-party states’ in some areas of the Federation, it is assumed these are built as per the people’s will.
Hybrid democracies compose 40-50% of all systems in the Federation. For the Federal Charter to recognize a member state as a hybrid democracy, it must have a regularly-elected standing legislature combined with at least half of all laws passed by public vote.
Hybrid democracies are intended to strike a balance in order to avoid the pitfalls of the direct and representative systems. The citizens elect representatives who are expected to offer plebiscites on a semi-regular basis, but reserve the right to legislate on behalf of the electorate. Various legal measures may be in place to guarantee semi-regular referenda, or it may simply be a matter of tradition. In the latter case, the government may deviate between any one of the two previous systems depending on the current political cycle.
Hybrid systems are used in many different places, with both ideology and efficiency weighing in equally in the decision to use it. While hybrid systems are not subject to the same pitfalls as the other two systems, they do not have the same strengths either. This can result in criticisms of mediocrity and impotence, where government action is split between both the citizens and representatives who equally feel entitled to be the ones calling the shots. For the most part, however, compromises are reached.
The Federation government operates on a hybrid (or semi-direct) democratic system with constitutional measures in place to guarantee this. Though potentially capable of full direct democracy through its possession of advanced social technology, it does not have the means to implement it universally. This reality is combined with the traditional justifications of a hybrid system for the Federation government’s continued use of this form of democracy.
Whereas in other empires, voting on government decisions is restricted to senior officials (assuming it is used in the first place), the Federation entitles everyone to vote. There are two popular means to this end, but there may be others. Elections refer to the voting of political candidates into office. Referenda refers to the voting on whether or not to approve legislative proposals. In both instances, all eligible citizens are entitled to vote.
Political franchise in the Federation does not place restrictions on demographical considerations (such as gender, ethnicity, or social status) regarding who is entitled to vote, as this would be counter to the ideals presented in the Constitution. Nonetheless, despite it being called universal suffrage, it does not mean absolutely anyone is allowed to vote. Those who have violated certain laws in a jurisdiction may be excluded from participating in elections. At the interstellar level at least, those who have violated Federal Law cannot vote in Federal elections, though those who have only broken local district or member state law may be able to. Non-Federation citizens cannot vote in Federal elections, but may be able to vote in elections locally.
Age is the main measure of the qualification to vote, although some say the level of education is a much more accurate term to use, not wishing to discriminate based on a variable an individual has no control over. For Federal elections, any individual who is considered to have completed their secondary education in their home jurisdiction is eligible to vote (which ranges from anywhere between fifteen to eighteen years of age). In societies with extremely high levels of education and advanced systems of democracy, the local voting age may be as low as eleven. The limit that Federal Law permits regarding highest minimum voting age across all its member states is twenty-one, with the union average at around sixteen or seventeen. Although Federal voting is not compulsory, some jurisdictions can enforce voting in their local elections as mandatory.
Elections are the key feature of any representative democratic system in the Federation. Elections for the Federation President and Senate take place every five years. All member states with representative or hybrid systems must have frequent elections for their citizens by universal suffrage as a requirement of Federation membership. Federal Law stipulates that five years is the longest interval permitted between elections, though many of the more developed democracies have chosen to have elections as frequently as on a monthly basis.
At the Federation level, any citizen with suffrage is entitled to become a political candidate, either for President, Senate, or district parliament seat. Incumbent politicians anywhere in the union can apply to the Federal Administration's Electoral Commission to stand for a Federal or district office. As Federal and district elections are publically funded, incumbent politicians are paid for by the Federation. The most common tradition is that politicians from member nations will seek higher office. In the event a citizen has no prior experience in serving a district or Federal office, they must pay a large pre-designated fee attached with their application to the Federal Administration that will cover the election and campaign costs. The last successful candidate to do this was Jacus Roden.
Active or former military personnel of officer rank at the very least can also be paid for by the Federation, though serving candidates must retire if successful. It is extremely common for military officers to become Federal or district politicians for the more dangerous areas in the union, as the locals of these places are very aware of the importance of electing military-minded individuals. Given the Federation President's role as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, many prospective candidates will have at least a few years worth of experience in the military.
How many candidates stand for Federal office depends on the competition. For elections dominated by one or a small group of strong characters, there tends to be less than five candidates. In elections with no guaranteed winner from the off-set, there can be hundreds of candidates. In the latter instance, voting is typically done by order of preference.
The laws regarding the candidacy of politicians in individual member states varies, and is heavily dependent on local culture. Often, unwritten rules and traditions of a nation will be reflected in who is eligible for candidacy, or at least in who ends up as one. They may be heads of political alliances, or champions of the virtual political forums. In Intaki territories, many candidates are Reborn. The more life cycles a Reborn has gone through, the more respect they are likely to get from the electorate. In certain Jin-Mei areas, candidates tend to be of the Sang Do caste or occasionally Saan Go.
Campaigning is where a political candidate attempts to drum up popular support across a contested territory for success in an election. Each candidate in a Federal election receives the same level of campaign funding from the Federal Administration. This is done to create an equal battlefield where each candidate must demonstrate their resourcefulness and cunning in winning over the electorate with limited assets.
Citizens can donate anonymously, though any donation above a certain threshold (or in ISK) must be publically declared. To keep third parties out of the process, member states and private organizations (eg. corporations) are disallowed from financial contributions, although it is very common for both these entities to declare their support to a candidate in spirit. Member governments are free to campaign for any candidate of their choosing, particularly those whose successful election into office may benefit their territory.
The Federal Administration assists in the campaigning of Federal and district candidates. Two of the most common forms of popular campaigning at this level are multi-planetary holorallies and virtual surgeries. Multi-planetary holorallies involve a candidate hosting a 'master rally' on the world with their most support, and syncing broadcast onto various other planets. Citizens can attend physically or connect in remotely via holopresence. As a result, these holorallies will always appear busy even if there are no attendees at a particular location. Virtual surgeries are similar, where citizens from across the contested territory can plug in and challenge candidates directly. It is very common for candidates to be utterly destroyed when they fail to demonstrate both their humanity and capability to the diverse range of citizen-users they will interact with. However, virtual surgeries are only available to those with fluid router access.
The vast size of the Federation and proliferation of communications technology means that these events appear far larger than they actually are, giving the whole process a reputation of being a vivacious spectacle. In reality, the massive gap between interstellar government and the average citizen means that the election process at the Federal level tends to be dry though informative. Personable artificial intelligences are available for citizens to explore which candidate is right for them, but otherwise, it is possible to live in the wide expanse of the Federation and never hear of an election occurring beyond one’s home planet.
In elections inside member states, methods of campaigning vary. Television and HoloVision campaigning is common in areas with mid- to low-levels of technology, with traditional leaflets and billboards being the primary vehicle in the least developed areas. Similarly, campaign funding amongst member states can be private, public, or a combination of both. Manipulation of elections by special interests is common in territories that have elections which are privately funded. Member states can thus ask the Federal Administration to fund their elections. Campaigning in direct democracies are based around referendum choices rather than a candidate, and may involve popular discussions by citizens via various mediums or advertisements by third parties.
Federation elections are conducted by the Federal Administration’s Electoral Commission. To collect votes, the Federal Administration sends out starships to all member worlds. From orbit, the electoral officer’s vessel will deploy drones across the planet, who proceed to all inhabited areas (even if hostile or remote) to collect votes from the citizens who wish to participate. Citizens who have not registered with the Electoral Commission cannot vote, but the Federal Administration does send drone agents out once a year to all member worlds for registration. On listed space stations and well-connected major cities, voting and registration is done electronically. Other citizens living in space will travel to the nearest Federal Administration station to vote or register.
How elections are conducted and executed in Federation member states varies, like everything else in the union. In more traditional systems, citizens proceed to a government center or a designated building (such as a school or church) where they submit their vote. An electronic console is a common medium, but in societies which do not have access to such technology (or refuse to use such means as a matter of principle), a paper ballot is used instead. In advanced systems, citizens can submit their vote electronically from the home, where the local authority uses an AI to serve as an electoral officer.
For counting, hundreds of weak AIs are used, with additional security AIs employed to ensure hacking does not result in fraud. For Senate elections, where there is one representative to a sub-district, victory is granted to the candidate with the most popular votes. For Presidential elections, the candidate who wins the most districts is victorious. How a candidate wins a district is determined by how many sub-districts voted for that particular individual. Electoral reform is frequent, though this has been the current system for the past decade.
Yet again, the exact voting systems and collection methods vary between Federation territories. The largest variables in determining a voting system is the population, size, and technology level of a territory, as well as various other factors.
A referenda is where everyday citizens vote on public policy. It is unheard of outside of the Federation. Voting for a referendum generally uses the same mechanics as general elections.
The Federation government strives for maintaining a very open system of democracy, believing that elections every five years without regular citizen participation threatens turning the Federal government into an ivory tower disconnected from its constituents. The Federation can hold a public vote for new legislation which is called a referendum, and does so often. Despite this, turnout for these referenda are low, averaging around 10%, with a record high of 30%. This is because of the widespread apathy that exists regarding the Federation government, as its primary legislative activities do not have any effect on the average citizen. Even if the Federation government is aware of these low turnouts, it still holds regular public referenda as a matter of tradition and principle. Federal referenda continues on the assumption that those who do participate are the ones the most affected by the decision in question.
The frequency of member states holding a referendum for their jurisdictions vary. It is the main vehicle of the political process in direct democracies. In a notable number of Gallente societies, referenda is synonymous with everyday decision-making. Member states with representative systems may use referenda for particularly notable legislation, while hybrid democracies are expected to have at least semi-regular referenda.
Freedom of speech, assembly, and expression manifests itself through activism. It is a fundamental feature of Gallente democracy, with citizens of the Federation tending to be more politically aware than those found in other empires. Citizens from all backgrounds are encouraged by their societies to dedicate at least some of their daily efforts to one or more of a multitude of causes that suit their ambitions, be it the improvement of their own lives or the lives of others. It is considered by many that the Federation is only the sum of its people, and not the other way around as it is in other empires, meaning that the Federation as an ideal can only improve itself through the efforts of its citizens.
Activism can be conducted by anyone from groups of subsistence farmers and villagers to interplanetary groups composed of billions of citizen-users organizing their causes over GalNet and Faster Than Light Communication. How the activism is executed and what its end goal entails is as varied as the Federation itself, dependent on the actual issues in question and the level of technology available to the activists.
In societies and planets where there is a high level of technological integration with everyday living (such as Gallente Prime), popular activism is the lifeblood of the political process. Government transparency in these societies is unrivalled and corruption is negligible. A politician can have his or her credibility destroyed within hours of eagle-eyed digital activists uncovering their dubious activities. Indeed, a single mishap by these politicians often ruins any good that they have done, enforcing high and extremely rigid moral standards within these governments.
Though many call these technological democracies as the perfect incarnation of democracy, others dismiss it as overly populistic and inefficient, plagued by extremely frequent elections and referenda. Although the education systems in direct democracies strive to ensure the electorate are as politically knowledgeable as the politicians themselves, critics still feel that governance of a society should be left to professionally qualified individuals.
Not everywhere in the Federation is blessed with technology being a strong enabler of democracy, leaving activists to pursue more traditional methods such as picketing government buildings or organizing rallies. As there is no homogenization of popular opinion that is common amongst social communication networks, these particular societies will have blocs of activists with differing opinions and goals, often clashing with one another. Although this quite often results in conflict, citizens amongst these populaces have learnt to direct and control these tensions, leading to vibrant and progressive societies that constantly scrutinizes itself and its principles, spurring creativity and ethical notions as as result.
In the event neither technology nor social cohesion enable democracy to function well, the society in question is often stagnant and stale. This is an uncommon occurrence, however, as off-world activists are always ready to intervene in societies which are suffering from democratic lethargy. Remote areas may not be so fortunate.
Lobbying differs from common activism in the sense that it mostly refers to Federation level politics, with interest groups who are far more powerful than their planetary counterparts. The two largest forces in the Federal lobbying community are megacorporations and advocate groups, with the former being slightly larger than the latter.
Because the vast majority of citizens are not concerned with Federal level politics (given that it rarely has a consequence on everyday living), megacorporations have been able to entrench themselves as the largest force within the interstellar lobbying community. They have become an integral part of the system, to the point they can influence what bills are presented before the Senate.
Critics deride this as a clear sign of corruption in a supposed democratic system, but counterarguments point out that because these megacorporations employ millions of Federal citizens and play an active part in the welfare of many societies, they are key to keeping the Senate in touch with the rest of the Federation. In fact, because the Federation government is constitutionally kept as far away from planetary life as possible, it is often the case that individual megacorporations (who can operate just as much in space as they can on the ground) have a much better knowledge of what the population requires.
In direct opposition to the corporations within the Federal lobbying community are the interstellar advocate groups. The advocate groups are funded directly by member states, mostly by poorer worlds who feel underrepresented at the Federal level. These members consider the megacorporate lobbyists to be only representing the richer worlds of the Federation, thus pour millions into these advocate groups to stand up for them. Though not as large as the entrenched corporate interests, these advocate groups often have the support of citizens from across the Federation due to ideological sympathies. As a result, lobbying at the interstellar level is often seen as a battle between the rich and poor worlds of the Federation.
The freedom of information means that all citizens have the right to access and be provided with unaltered data, concerning any subject that may or may not affect their everyday life. News services and GalNet access are two means to this end.
Unlike in other empires, the Federation has legally protected the right to free media channels. The role of the media in the Federation is to hold the government to account by informing the population of its activities with a critical angle. Pro-government bias in the media is seen as repulsive by many citizens, as such outlets are perceived as nothing more than groupthink propaganda.
On the other hand, media agencies being able to criticize the government at will (without resorting to slander) can result in these outlets beginning to see themselves as champions of the truth and fighters of oppression. Though commendable in intent, this results in certain media channels being, in the opinion of some, unnecessarily critical of a government, influencing approval ratings despite harder statistics demonstrating the administration is actually doing more good than bad. In better-educated Gallente societies, where the common citizen is about as likely to listen to their neighbor as they are a news agencies, this is a rare occurrence.
The more popular news agencies such as The Scope take an apolitical stance, focusing more on impartiality and the delivery of factual information with no bias. For this reason have they emerged as the leading news agency in New Eden. The audiences of the Scope are expected to take their own individual interpretations from the news stories, encouraged to think for themselves on the matter rather than listening to another’s agenda.
GalNet was invented and established in the Federation not long after the invention of FTL communications in 23146AD. Initially used for colonists to communicate with their homeworlds, it has since expanded to permeate almost every element of most Federation societies, most notably becoming a key pillar in the democratic process. Active efforts are made to establish telecommunications relays and/or FTL fluid routers on as many worlds as possible for maximum coverage, no matter how remote an area is, prioritizing the availability of GalNet over the provision of any other technology.
As a result, the penetration of personal communication devices and GalNet access points is higher in the Federation than anywhere else. Even in remote villages where electricity is not constantly available, most households will have a single mobile communicator, even if other electronic devices or appliances such as television sets are absent. Gallente manufacturers produce very cheap communicators for those of lesser means.
Even if connection speeds vary, the principle behind the ongoing effort to offer every single Federal citizen access to GalNet is to encourage the existence of a harmonious interstellar society that promotes cross-cultural communication and understanding. Others find that unrestricted access to the free flow of information is the only safeguard against government tyranny. Whatever the case, forms of democratic participation via GalNet range from the relatively simple matter of submitting electronic votes, all the way up to virtual environments for the purposes of popular political discussion.
Some cynics point out that the reason significant effort is made to establish GalNet access universally is to give the Federal Intelligence Office an easier time with surveillance, undermining the freedom of privacy and democracy as a whole. While this has never been proven, it is a constant point of contention from a wide array of activists. Counter-arguments point out that the Federation government has never openly regulated, restricted, or censored GalNet, which is a common occurrence in other empires.