POLITICS OF ANGLETER
I. THE KING AND THE APOSTOLIC CROWN
The King of Angleter, George V, is the sovereign ruler of Angleter. Historically, the King or Queen was an absolute monarch, although they usually devolved day-to-day power to appointed ministers. However, over the last half century, and especially since the Constitution of 1973, the King has functioned as a constitutional monarch. Under the Constitution, the King retains almost absolute authority to appoint and dismiss Government ministers, and all ministers exercise power in his name, as the Apostolic Crown of Angleter. He is, however, subject to limits on the number of MPs he can appoint as ministers, in order to preserve the independence of Parliament.
The Apostolic Crown holds a range of powers under the Constitution, including the power to dismiss and recall Parliament, and the power to veto legislation. However, the Apostolic Crown cannot do various things, such as raise taxes, spend money, make legislation, or declare war, without Parliament.
This means that the King is also limited, in practice, in whom he can appoint as ministers – any Government would need to command the support of Parliament, and so the King almost always appoints a victorious party leader as Prime Minister and accepts their choice of ministers. If the King were to dismiss his ministers, it would likely cause an election.
Despite his role at the heart of the Constitution, the King generally keeps silent on day-to-day party political matters, in order to maintain his role as a symbol of national unity, and in order to maintain healthy working relationships with all parties. While he chairs Cabinet meetings, he rarely takes part in Cabinet votes. However, the previous King, Joseph IV, spoke out occasionally on issues such as Angleter's accession to the European Union, and it is generally accepted that the monarch's word, while used rarely, carries great weight with the public.
Parliament is the supreme legislative body in Angleter. The Constitution frames Angleteric politics as a relationship between the Crown and the nation, and Parliament is the official representative body of the Angleteric nation. It comprises two chambers – the elected Chamber of the Plebeians, and the mostly hereditary Chamber of the Nobility.
The Chamber of the Plebeians has 497 members (MPs), elected in single-member constituencies under the first-past-the-post system, which was reinstated in 2009. All Angleteric citizens over the age of 18 may vote in these elections, except for the King, members of the Chamber of the Nobility, convicted prisoners, bankrupts, and those certified insane. All legislation must first be proposed in the Chamber of the Plebeians, and it is considered by far the more powerful chamber of Parliament.
Legislation in the Chamber of the Plebeians is subject to a rigorous legislative process. A Bill is first debated on its general principles, and then either voted down or sent to one of the Chamber's powerful committees, which then scrutinises the Bill and proposes amendments to it. The whole Chamber then deliberates on those amendments and holds a final vote on the Bill before sending it to the Chamber of the Nobility.
Committees in the Chamber of the Plebeians are large groups of around 30 MPs from all parties, focussed on a specific area. Their roles include scrutinising legislation, questioning Government ministers and holding them to account, and conducting enquiries relating to their area.
The Chamber of the Nobility consists of 275 hereditary noblemen and women, and 24 Catholic bishops, all of whom are required to be non-partisan, although it is generally regarded as quite traditionalist in outlook. It is rare that this Chamber rejects a Bill passed by the Chamber of the Plebeians outright, especially after a confrontation with a Socialist government in 1980 where it was threatened with abolition. It does, however, suggest amendments, which the Chamber of the Plebeians then deliberates on. Bills can go back and forth multiple times before both Chambers agree on a text which is passed on for the King's approval.
III. THE JUDICIARY
Angleteric politics is centred around Parliament and the Apostolic Crown, leaving the judiciary relatively weak. The law is first and foremost interpreted by Parliament itself via further legislation where necessary, leaving little room for 'judicial activism'. The Constitutional Court may impose temporary injunctions on legislation or activity that it rules to be unconstitutional, but it defers to Parliament and the Apostolic Crown as to how any such quandary should be resolved. The Constitutional Court consists of seven members, appointed by the Apostolic Crown, subject to the approval of the Chamber of the Plebeians.
Angleter has a common law system inherited from the English crusaders who founded the country in the early 13th century, although its laws have since diverged considerably and taken on influence from other sources of law, including Byzantine law, Catholic canon law, French customary law, and Islamic sharia and 'urf.
There are three main streams to Angleteric law – civil, criminal, and equity. In criminal law, the lowest court is the Magistrates’ Court, presided over by elected Justices of the Peace, where small offences may be dealt with (only if the defendant pleads guilty), and where preliminary criminal proceedings are held. Cases are then tried before a 15-member jury at the Crown Court; and convicted defendants may appeal the jury’s verdict, or the judge’s sentence, at the Appellate Court, which may adjust sentences, or overturn verdicts and order a retrial.
In civil law, preliminary proceedings take place at the hundred court, which can also deal with smaller claims. Most cases, however, are dealt with by one of seven civil courts – the Court of Matrimonial Causes (family law), the Court of Admiralty (maritime law), the Court of Probate (wills), the Court of Constitutional Causes (constitutional law), the Court of King’s Bench (claims relating to the Apostolic Crown), the Court of Exchequer (debts), and the Court of Common Pleas (all other issues). Appeals from the former four go straight to the Constitutional Court, while appeals from the latter three go first to the Court of Exchequer Chamber.
Equity law exists as a counterweight to the possible harshness, and slow pace of change, of the normal common law system; and can offer remedy to deserving plaintiffs where the current corpus of common law can offer no relief. Equity cases include, but are not limited to, matters relating to trusts, fiduciary law, relief against penalties and forfeiture, bankruptcy, and injunctions. The main equity courts are the Courts of Chancery, whose decisions can be appealed at the Appellate Court of Chancery.
Although Angleter is technically a unitary state, decentralisation is woven into its political system. The country is divided into sixteen provinces, each in turn divided into 'boroughs' (large cities and towns) and 'hundreds' (more rural areas), with the boroughs in turn divided into neighbourhoods. Many of these smaller units operate a form of direct democracy, and all units below provincial level are non-partisan.
Angleteric politics, at least in theory, operates on the principle that each issue should be dealt with at the lowest possible level, and each level of government is mostly self-financing, with some degree of 'equalisation' between richer and poorer areas. Policy making in Angleter usually involves the Apostolic Crown or Parliament setting a framework, and allowing provincial and local governments and legislatures to apply that framework in their own way.
The sixteen provinces have their own Parliamentary system, and a member of the nobility acting as Lord Lieutenant, effectively filling the role of the King at provincial level. However, provincial legislatures and governments are firmly subordinate to national law, although some national laws may be subject to a temporary injunction by provinces in extreme cases.
V. POLITICAL CULTURE
Angleter is generally considered a centre-right country, and has had centre-right governments for most of its democratic history. The Conservative Party, founded in 1973 by Sir Charles Catt out of the ashes of the old Levantine Legion, governed from a socially conservative standpoint for most of the 1970s. It later merged into the CLP, or Conservative and Libertarian Party, which combined social conservatism with economic liberalism, and which dominated Angleteric politics in the 1990s and 2000s. It usually governed with centrist, nationalist, traditionalist, or libertarian coalition partners.
In 2009, the Democratic Party, founded by Navdeep Khatkar in opposition to the Neo-Venetia War, swept to power and became Angleter's main centre-right party, although since its defeat in 2015 it has become increasingly divided between conservatives who identify with the tradition of the CLP, and liberals, who would consider themselves heirs to the Social Liberal Party, which supplied a Prime Minister in the form of Janet Norris in the 1980s, as part of a coalition deal with the Socialists.
Many social conservative parties flourished as the CLP drifted away from the Conservative Party's traditionalist roots, and the most successful of these was the staunchly militaristic and nationalist Angleter National People's Party. This tradition has, however, withered in recent years, torn between the hawkish Democrats and the new brand of anti-war right-wing populism advocated by the Citizen Alliance, which gained power in 2018.
Angleter's left wing has long been conscious of its position as a minority, but often has successfully broadened its appeal to obtain power. The Socialist Party was a social democratic party which focussed on economic issues, aiming not to alarm the socially conservative impulses of many working-class and lower middle-class Angleteric voters. It enjoyed its ascendancy in the 1980s and 1990s, before a massive defeat in 1997 led it to tack to the left, absorbing the orthodox Marxists of the Communist Party.
The Socialists split in 2008, with the Communists re-adopting their old identity, and the Socialists rebranding as the Social Democratic Party. A traditional focus on economic left-wing populism and moderate social policies restored the party's fortunes briefly in 2015, with Sam Courtenay forming a minority government than endured for three years.
The Communists, meanwhile, have sought to broaden their appeal beyond traditional working-class enclaves where the local trade unions happened to have a stronger Marxist tradition. It reabsorbed a Maoist offshoot, the Social Republican Party, in 2011, and a growing alliance with student activist groups led it to join an electoral alliance known as the Coalition for Socialism and Liberation in 2016. The CSL's focus on intersectional activism has found it a new, young voter base, at the expense of some of the Communists' already-dwindling working-class support.