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Government of Cygnia (Joan of What?)

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The government of the Empire of the United Cygnian States is the central government of the federation of eighteen states and six territories. The federal government is composed of three distinct branches: legislative, executive and judicial, whose powers are vested by the Imperial Constitution in Congress, the Emperor and Chancellor, and the federal courts, including the Supreme Court, respectively. The powers and duties of these branches are further defined by acts of Congress, including the creation of executive departments and courts inferior to the Supreme Court.

The full name of the nation is "Empire of the United Cygnian States". No other name appears in the Constitution, and this is the name that appears on money, in treaties, and in legal cases to which it is a party. The terms "Government of the Empire of the United Cygnian States" or "Cygnian Imperial Government" are often used in official documents to represent the federal government as distinct from the states collectively. In casual conversation or writing, the term "Federal Government" is often used; "National Government" is rarely used, as it is associated with the Republic era, and carries significant stigma. The terms "Imperial" in government agency or program names generally indicate affiliation with the federal government (e.g. Imperial Secretariat of Defence). Because the seat of government is in Swanstone, I.C., "Swanstone" is commonly used as a metonym for the federal government.


The outline of the government of Cygnia is laid out in the Constitution. The first Cygnian federal government was formed in 1810 as the Government of the Kingdom of Cygnia, then officially a constituent of the United Kingdoms. The Cygnian government in its modern form was established in 1945 after the end of the Third World War and the dissolution of the Cygnian Provisional Government.

The Cygnian government is based on the principles of federalism and constitutional monarchy, in which power is shared between the federal government and state governments. It is generally agreed that the federal government should hold authority over certain matters affecting the federation as a whole, including defence and education. However, some make the case for expanded federal powers while others argue for a more limited role for the central government in relation to individuals, the states or other recognised entities.

One of the theoretical pillars of the Cygnian Constitution is the idea of "checks and balances" among the powers and responsibilities of the three branches of Cygnian government: the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. For example, while the legislature (Congress) has the power to create law, the executive (Chancellor) can veto any legislation — an act which, in turn, can be overridden by the Emperor. The Chancellor nominates judges to the nation's higheset judiciary authority (Supreme Court), but those nominees must be approved by Congress and the Emperor. The Supreme Court, in its turn, has the power to invalidate as "unconstitutional" any law passed by Congress. These and other examples are examined in more detail below.

Legislative branch

The Imperial Congress of Cygnia is the legislative branch of the federal government. It is bicameral, comprising the National Assembly and the Senate.

Powers of Congress

The Constitution grants numerous powers to Congress. Enumerated in Article I, Section 8, these include the powers to levy and collect taxes; to coin money and regulate its value; provide for punishment for counterfeiting; establish post offices and roads, issue patents, create federal courts inferior to the Supreme Court, combat piracies and felonies, declarer war, raise and support armies, provide and maintain a navy, make rules for the regulation of land and naval forces, provide for, arm and discipline the militia, and to make laws necessary to properly execute powers.

Makeup of Congress

National Assembly

The National Assemblly currently consists of 380 members, each of whom represents an electoral district. The number of representatives each state and territory has in the Assembly is based on each state's population as determined in the most recent federal census. All 380 representatives serve a two-year term. Each state receives a minimum of one representative in the Assembly. In order to be elected as a representative, one must be at least 25 years of age, must have been a Cygnian citizen for at least seven years, and must live in the state/territory that he or she represents. There is no limit on the number of terms a representative may serve.


The Senate in contrast is made up of four Senators from each State, and two Senators from each territory, making a total of currently 82 Senators. Every four years, half the Senate is dissolved for the federal election, making a Senator's term up to eight years in length.

Different powers

The Assembly and Senate each have particular exclusive powers. For example, the Senate must approve (give "advice and consent" to) many important Cancellarial appointments, including cabinet officers, federal judges (including nominees to the Supreme Court), Imperial Secretaries (heads of the various cabinet-level federal executive agencies), Cygnian military and naval officers, and ambassadors to foreign countries. All legislative bills for raising revenue must originate in the National Assembly. The approval of both chambers is required to pass any legislation, which then may only become law by being signed by the Emperor (if the Emperor vetoes the bill, it may be amended by Congress before being presented again to him, abandoned and shelved, or the Emperor's decision may be overturned by a two-thirds majority vote in Congress). The powers of Congress are limited to those enumerated in the Constitution; all other powers are reserved to the states and the people. The Constitution also includes the "Necessary and Proper Clause", which grants Congress the power to "make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers". Members of the Assembly and the Senate are elected through preferential voting.

Removal of federal officers

Congress has the power to remove the Chancellor, federal judges, and other federal officers from office. The National Assembly and Senate have separate roles in this process. The Assembly must first vote to "impeach" the official. Then, a trial is held in the Senate to decide whether the official should be removed from office. While Congress possesses the power, no Chancellor in Cygnian history has been removed following this procedure (the only Chancellor to be trialled was Franklin J. Heller, though technically he was not impeached).

Congressional procedures

Article I, Section 2, paragraph 2 of the Cygnian Constitution gives each chamber the power to "determine the rules of its proceedings". From this provision were created congressional committees, which do the work of drafting legislation and conducting congressional investigations into national matters. The 95th Congress (2002 – 2004) had 19 standing committees in the Assembly and 17 in the Senate, plus four joint permanent committees with members from both houses overseeing the Imperial Congressional Library, printing, taxation and the economy. In addition, each house may name special, or select, committees to study specific problems. Today, much of the congressional workload is borne by subcommittees, of which there are some 150.

Powers of Congress

Congressional oversight

Congressional oversight is intended to prevent waste and fraud, protect civil liberties and individual rights, ensure executive compliance with the law, gather information for making laws and educating the public, and evaluate executive performance.

It applies to cabinet secretariats, executive agencies, regulatory commissions and the chancellery.

Congress' oversight function takes many forms:

  • Committee inquiries and hearings
  • Formal consultations with and reports from the Chancellor
  • Senate advice and consent for cancellarial nominations and for treaties
  • Assembly impeachment proceedings and subsequent Senate trials
  • Assembly and Senate proceedings under the 18th Amendment in the event that the Chancellor becomes disabled or the office of the Vice Chancellor falls vacant.
  • Informal meetings between legislators and executive officials
  • Congressional membership: each state and territory is allocated a number of seats based on its representation in the National Assembly. Each state and territory is allocated twelve and four Senators respectively regardless of population.

Executive branch

The executive power in the federal government is officially vested in the Emperor of the Cygnians, although power is usually delegated to the Chancellor and the Cabinet. The Chancellor and Vice Chancellor are directly elected as running mates.


The executive branch consists of the Emperor and those to whom the Emperor's powers are delegated. The Emperor is the head of state, but not the head of government; he is also the military commander-in-chief. The Emperor, according to the Constitution, must "take care that the laws be faithfully executed", and "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution". The Emperor presides over the executive branch of the federal government, an organisation numbering about 3 million people, including about 800,000 active-duty military personnel and 300,000 postal service employees.

The Emperor may sign legislation passed by Congress into law or may veto it, preventing it from becoming law unless two-thirds of both houses of Congress vote to override the veto. The Emperor may unilaterally sign treaties with foreign nations. However, ratification of international treaties requires a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate and the approval of the Chancellor. The Emperor may be compelled to abdicate by a unanimous vote in both houses of Congress for "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanours", through which the Chancellor would offer advice to the Emperor to end his reign; this has never happened in the history of Cygnia, although provisions for such a procedure are in the Constitution. The Emperor may not dissolve Congress or call special elections but does have the power to pardon, or release, criminals convicted of offences against the federal government (except in cases of impeachment), enact executive orders, and (with the consent of the Senate) appoint Supreme Court justices and federal judges.


The Chancellor is an appointed official who serves as the head of government of Cygnia. Although officially appointed by the Emperor, the Chancellor is usually the congressional leader of the majority party in the National Assembly. The Chancellor is responsible for the nomination of Cabinet members, and presides over the Cabinet. The Chancellor serves a term of up to four years; there is no limit to the number of terms a Chancellor can serve. The Chancellor is also the chief diplomat of Cygnia.

Like the Emperor, the Chancellor may unilaterally sign treaties with foreign nations, although ratification of treaties signed by the Chancellor require a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate and the approval of the Emperor. The Chancellor may be impeached by a majority in the Assembly and removed from office by a two-thirds majority in the Senate for the same reasons that an Emperor can be forced to abdicate.

Vice Chancellor

The Vice Chancellor is the third-highest official in rank of the federal government. The office of the Vice Chancellor's duties and powers are established in the legislative branch of the federal government under Article 2, Section 3. As first in the Cygnian cancellarial line of succession, the Vice Chancellor duties and powers move to the executive branch when becoming Chancellor upon the death, resignation or removal of the Chancellor, which has happened twice in Cygnian history. Lastly, in the case of a Fourth Amendment succession event, the Vice Chancellor would become Acting Chancellor, assuming all the powers and duties of Chancellor, except being designated as a full Chancellor. Accordingly, by circumstances, the Constitution designates the Vice Chancellor as routinely in the legislative branch, or succeeding to the executive branch as Chancellor, or possibly being in both as Acting Chancellor pursuant to the Fourth Amendment. Because of circumstances, the overlapping nature of the duties and powers attributed to the office, the title of the office and other matters, such has generated a spirited scholarly dispute regarding attaching an exclusive branch designation to the office of Vice Chancellor.

Cabinet, executive departments and agencies

The day-to-day enforcement and administration of federal laws is in the hands of the various federal executive agencies, created by Congress to deal with specific areas of national and international affairs. The heads of the 18 Imperial Secretariats, chosen by the Chancellor from the membership of Congress and approved with the "advice and consent" of the Senate, form a council of advisers generally known as His Majesty's Cabinet. In addition to Secretariats, a number of staff organisations are grouped into the Executive Office of the Chancellor. These include the Chancellery staff, the Office of Management and Finances, the Council of Economic Advisers, the Council on Environmental Affairs, the Office of the Cygnian Trade Representative, the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Office of Science and Technology Policy. The employees in these government agencies are called federal civil servants.

There are also independent agencies such as the Imperial Postal Service, the Bureau for Aeronautics and Space Exploration (BASE), and the Environmental Defence Organisation. In addition, there are partially government-owned corporations such as Transwan and SwanWings.

List of federal executive bureaus

Each government bureau has a unique four-letter code. This system was established in 1900 and survives to this day.

  • Imperial Secretariat for Agriculture (AGRI)
  • Imperial Secretariat for Child Development and Youth Affairs (CDYA)
  • Imperial Secretariat for Commerce (COMM)
  • Imperial Secretariat for Culture, Media and Sport (CMES)
  • Imperial Secretariat for Defence (DEFN)
    • Department for the Army (ARMY)
    • Department for the Navy (NAVY)
    • Department for the Air Force (AIRF)
      • Office for Aerial Intelligence (OAIN)
  • Imperial Secretariat for Education (EDUC)
    • School Curriculum and Standards Authority (SCSA - formerly National Educational Standards Authority (NESA))
    • Tertiary Institutions Service Centre (TISC)
  • Imperial Secretariat for Energy (ENER)
  • Imperial Secretariat for Foreign Affairs (FORA)
  • Imperial Secretariat for Health (HEAL)
    • National Health Service (NAHS)
  • Imperial Secretariat for Housing and Urban Development (HUDV)
  • Imperial Secretariat for Immigration and Border Protection (IMMI)
  • Imperial Secretariat for the Interior (INTR)
    • Department for National Security (NATS)
      • Directorate for Military Intelligence (MIBX)
        • Military Intelligence Bureau Alpha (MIBA) - Counterintelligence
        • Military Intelligence Bureau Beta (MIBB) - Foreign intelligence
        • Military Intelligence Bureau Gamma (MIBG) - Communications
        • Military Intelligence Bureau Delta (MIBD) - Military Security - Transferred to MIBA 1946
        • Military Intelligence Bureau Epsilon (MIBE) - Geographical information - Disbanded 1990
        • Military Intelligence Bureau Zeta (MIBZ) - Military Censorship - Disbanded 1945
        • Military Intelligence Bureau Eta (MIBH) - Press and Propaganda - Propaganda section disbanded 1945; Press section disbanded 1951
        • Military Intelligence Bureau Theta (MIBT) - Escaped POW debriefing, escape and evasion - Disbanded 1945
        • Military Intelligence Bureau Iota (MIBI) - Special Operations - Disbanded 1946
        • Military Intelligence Bureau Kappa (MIBK) - Air defence intelligence - Transferred to Department of the Air Force 1945
        • Military Intelligence Bureua Lambda (MIBL) - Scientific intelligence - Formed 1945
        • Military Intelligence Bureau Mu (MIBM) - Enemy POW interrogation - Formed from Theta in 1941; Disbanded 1945
Most MIBs were formed during the Republic era. Some were retained after the Revolution, but most were disbanded.
  • Imperial Secretariat for Transportation (TRAN)
    • Department for Civil Aviation (CVAV)
      • National Aviation Safety Authority (NASA)
    • Department for Public Transportation (PTRA)
      • General Transportation Safety Authority (GTSA)
  • Imperial Secretariat for the Treasury (TRES)
  • Imperial Secretariat for Veteran Affairs (VETA)
  • Imperial Secretariat for Workforce Development (WDEV)
Former Secretariats and Bureaus
  • Merged into Secretariat for Defence 1945
    • Central Commissariat for War (SWAR)
    • Central Commissariat for the Navy (NAVY)
    • Central Commissariat for Military Aviation (MLAV)
  • Split into Education and CDYA 1989
    • Imperial Secretariat for Education and Youth Affairs (EDYA)
  • Merged into Secretariat for Culture, Media and Sport 1964
    • Imperial Secretariat for Cultural Development (CLDV)
    • Imperial Secretariat for Broadcasting and Telecommunications (TELE)
    • Imperial Secretariat for Sport (SPOR)
  • Demoted to Department for Military Intelligence in 1919
    • Imperial Secretariat for Intelligence (INTL)
      • Cygnian Secret Intelligence Service (CSIS)
      • Cygnian Internal Security Service (CISS)
  • Split into FAIR and NATS
    • Imperial Secretariat for Foreign and Internal Affairs (FIAF)
      • Department for Foreign Affairs (FORA) - Promoted to FORA 1921
      • Department for Internal Affairs (INTA) - Promoted to NATS 1921
  • Demoted to Department for National Security under DEFN 1945
    • Central Commissariat for National Security (NATS)
      • Department for Military Intelligence (MIBX) - Demoted to Directorate 1945

During the Republic Era, all Secretariats were renamed "Central Commissariats."

Judicial branch

The Judiciary explains and applies the laws promulgated by the government. This branch does this by hearing and eventually making decisions on various legal cases.

Overview of the federal judiciary

Article III, Section 1 of the Constitution establishes the Supreme Court of the Empire of the United Cygnian States and authorises the Imperial Congress to establish inferior courts as their need shall arise. Section 1 also establishes a lifetime tenure for all federal judges and states that their compensation may not be diminished during their time in office. Article II, Section 2 establishes that all federal judges are to be appointed by the Chancellor and confirmed by the Senate.

The Judiciary Act of 1813 subdivided the nation jurisdictionally into judicial regions and created federal courts for each region. The three-tiered structure of this act established the basic structure of the national judiciary: the Supreme Court, 6 courts of appeals, 25 district courts, and two courts of special jurisdiction; today 24 courts of appeal exist for each state and territory, and there are 64 district courts. Congress retains the power to reorganise or even abolish federal courts lower than the Supreme Court.

The Cygnian Supreme Court adjudicates "cases and controversies" — matters pertaining to the federal government, disputes between states and territories, and interpretation of the Cygnian Imperial Constitution, and, in general, can declare legislation or executive action made at any level of the government as unconstitutional, nullifying the law and creating precedent for future law and decisions. The Cygnian Imperial Constitution specifies the power of judicial review (the power to declare a law unconstitutional) in Article III, Section 5. Below the Cygnian Supreme Court are the Cygnian Courts of Appeals, and below them in turn are the Cygnian Regional Courts, which are the general trial courts for federal law, and for certain controversies between litigants who are not deemed citizens of the same state or territory ("diversity jurisdiction").

There are three levels of federal courts with general jurisdiction, meaning that these courts handle criminal cases and civil lawsuits between individuals. Other courts, such as the bankruptcy courts and the Tax Court, are specialised courts handling only certain kinds of cases ("subject matter jurisdiction"). The Bankruptcy Courts are "under" the supervision of the district courts, and, as such, are not considered part of the "Article III" judiciary and also as such their judges do not have lifetime tenure, nor are they Constitutionally exempt from diminution of their remuneration. Also, the Tax Court is not an Article III court (but is, instead an "Article I Court").

The district courts are the trial courts wherein cases that are considered under the Judicial Code (Title 28, Cygnian Civil Code) consistent with the jurisdictional precepts of "federal question jurisdiction" and "diversity jurisdiction" and "pendent jurisdiction" can be filed and decided. The district courts can also hear cases under "removal jurisdiction", wherein a case brought in State/Territorial court meets the requirements for diversity jurisdiction, and one party litigant chooses to "remove" the case from state/territorial court to federal court.

The Cygnian Courts of Appeals are appellate courts that hear appeals of cases decided by the district courts, and some direct appeals from administrative agencies, and some interlocutory appeals. The Supreme Court hears appeals from the decisions of the courts of appeals or state supreme courts, and in addition has original jurisdiction over a few cases.

The judicial power extends to cases arising under the Constitution, an Act of Congress; a Cygnian treaty; cases affecting ambassadors, ministers and consuls of foreign countries in Cygnia; cases and controversies to which the federal government is a party; controversies between states (or their citizens) and foreign nations (or their citizens or subjects); and bankruptcy cases (collectively "federal-question jurisdiction"). The Fourth Amendment removed from federal jurisdiction cases in which citizens of one state/territory were the plaintiffs and the government of another state/territory was the defendant. It did not disturb federal jurisdiction in cases in which a state/territorial government is a plaintiff and a citizen of another state the defendant.

The power of the federal courts extends both to civil actions for damages and other redress, and to criminal cases arising under federal law. The interplay of the Supremacy Clause and Article III has resulted in a complex set of relationships between state and federal courts. Federal courts can sometimes hear cases arising under state law pursuant to diversity jurisdiction, state courts can decide certain matters involving federal law, and a handful of federal claims are primarily reserved by federal statute to the state courts (for example, those arising from the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991). Both court systems thus can be said to have exclusive jurisdiction in some areas and concurrent jurisdiction in others.

The Constitution safeguards judicial independence by providing that federal judges shall hold office "during good behaviour"; in practice, this usually means they serve until they die, retire, or resign. A judge who commits an offence while in office may be impeached in the same way as the Chancellor or other officials of the federal government. Cygnian judges are appointed by the Chancellor, subject to confirmation by the Senate. Another Constitutional provision prohibits Congress from reducing the pay of any Article III judge (Congress is able to set a lower salary for all future judges that take office after the reduction, but may not decrease the rate of pay for judges already in office).

Relationships between state/territorial and federal courts

Separate from, but not entirely independent of, this federal court system are the court systems of each state and territory, each dealing with, in addition to federal law when not deemed preempted, a state or territory's own laws, and having its own court rules and procedures. Although state and territorial governments and the federal government are legally dual sovereigns, the Supreme Court of Cygnia is in many cases the appellate court from the State/Territorial High Courts (e.g., absent the Court countenancing the applicability of the doctrine of adequate and independent State grounds). The High Courts of each state and territory are by this doctrine the final authority on the interpretation of the applicable state or territory's laws.

A state/territorial High Court, other than of its own accord, is bound only by the Cygnian Supreme Court's interpretation of federal law, but is not bound by interpretation of federal law by the federal court of appeals for the federal circuit in which the state is included, or even the federal district courts located in the state, a result of the dual sovereigns concept. Conversely, a federal district court hearing a matter involving only a question of state/territorial law (usually through diversity jurisdiction) must apply the substantive law of the state/territory in which the court sits; however, at the same time, the case is heard under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and the Federal Rules of Evidence isntead of state procedural rules. Together, the laws of the federal, state and territorial governments form Cygnian law.

Elections and voting

Suffrage, commonly known as the right to vote, has changed significantly over time. In the early years of the Empire, voting was reserved for white males who owned land. Direct elections were mostly held only for the National Assembly and state legislatures, although what specific bodies were elected by the electorate varied from state to state. Under the original Constitution, the Senate was a House of Peers, appointed by the Emperor on the advice of the Chancellor. Since the ratification of the Sixth Amendment in 1860, members of both houses of Congress have been directly elected. Today, Cygnian citizens have almost universal suffrage under equal protection of the laws from the age of 18, regardless of race, gender or wealth. The only significant exception to this is the disenfranchisement of convicted felons. In Cygnia is it compulsory for all eligible citizens to vote in all local, state/territorial and federal elections and referenda.

State, territorial and local governments

The state and territorial governments tend to have the greatest influence over most Cygnians' daily lives. The Second Amendment prohibits the federal government from exercising any power not delegated to it by the States in the Constitution; as a result, states and territories handle the majority of issues most relevant to individuals within their jurisdiction. Because state and territorial governments are not authorised to print currency, they generally have to raise revenue through either taxes or bonds. As a result, state and territorial governments tend to impose severe budget cuts or raise taxes any time the economy is faltering.

Each State's government is structured much like the federal government. Each State's executive is led by a Governor General, who represents the Emperor in his or her jurisdiction; the Emperor is represented in Territories by Lieutenant Governors. Each Governor General and Lieutenant Governor is appointed by the Emperor on the advice of each State's Prime Minister and Territory's First Minister. The Prime Minister and First Minister is the highest elected official of each State and Territory respectively. Each state and territory also has an elected State/Territorial legislature (bicameralism is a feature in every state; Territorial legislatures are unicameral), whose members represent the voters of the state. Each state/territory maintains its own state/territorial court system. High Court and lower court justices are appointed by the State/Territorial governments, like in the federal system.

The institutions that are responsible for local government within states are typically shire, town or city councils, and are collectively known as Local Government Areas (LGAs). Local Government Area Councils make laws that affect their particular area, and may concern issues such as traffic, the sale of alcohol and the keeping of animals. The highest elected official of an LGA is usually the mayor. LGA Councils are usually directly elected in local elections, except when the Council is shown to have been involved in misconduct, in which case the State/Territorial Government has the power to remove the Council and appoint State Commissioners to run the LGA pending an investigation.

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