Political Structure

Answers to the internal politics questionnaire for MAFC

Federal Structure

The MAFC has a federal, devolved structure as befits its freewheeling, frontier past. The key to the Federal organisation of the MAFC are the Regional Councils. Each region (Quadrant) has a legislative body based at the Regional Capital - the Regional Council. Representatives are sent by all of the planets in the Quadrant to the Regional Council - the council usually has 2-300 seats, with the number of seats per planet allocated on a population basis.

How planets decide upon selection of representatives to the council is entirely their own business. This is why it is an association of FREE colonies, and it helps to facilitate the joining of new, non-Martian colonies to the MAFC, allowing them to keep their own local government structure intact. There is thus a high degree of local autonomy. Within Quadrant 7, for example, the planets have mostly chosen to model themselves upon the old Viking tradition of popular assemblies ('Things') which deal with all matters by popular vote - government by referendum in effect. The representative nature of Martian government means that they are forced to elect popular leaders to represent their views at councils, but also means that these leaders are frequently replaced by the somewhat mercurial nature of politics on the so-called 'Viking worlds'. Xynam on the other hand is an exception to this, and representatives are generally life appointments. This has served to strengthen Xynam politically at the expense of the other planets.

There is also a Regional High Council, which has one representative from every major world in the Region (definitions of 'major worlds' are essentially to do with population, to stop small research stations and the like declaring themselves as a separate 'world'). Again the method of election of representatives is down to individual planets. If the Regional Council is the legislature, then the High Council is the Executive, forming a sort of 'cabinet'.

One member of the High Council is then elected as Supreme Councillor by the Regional Council. The preponderance of votes in the Regional Council held by the Regional Capital tends to mean that the Supreme Councillor is almost inevitably the representative of the capital world. Although he or she is notionally 'primus inter pares', this backing tends to give the Supreme Councillor more leverage over his/her fellow High Council members.

Selections of representatives for Regional and High Councils are held every seven years (although, as said above, some planets choose representatives more or less frequently - some hold the post for life or even on a hereditary basis - nevertheless, barring death or impeachment, representatives are only changed in the actual councils every seven years).

The actions of Regional and High Councils are very much left to their own discretion BUT there is a Association Court which is appointed by the MAFC centrally and which is able to rule any action unconstitutional or remove any Councillor who is viewed as having transgressed too far. The Association Court is also the main court of appeal for any Region (only exceptional cases are allowed to be appealed to the Supreme Court on New Mars).

For more detail on the Quadrants, see here.

Central Authority

As well as the nine Regional Councils (even Quadrant 0 has - or had one) there is also a Grand Council, formed by representatives of all of the major worlds in the MAFC, which meets at New Mars. The Grand Council is a bit like the General Assembly of the old United Nations, acting as a forum for individual worlds to air grievances. Its actual powers are quite limited (think the European Parliament), and it has somewhat of a reputation as a 'Talking Shop'.

The meat of central government is the Martian Senate. The Senate has two representatives from each Region (18 in total), plus 12 who are supposed to represent various walks of Martian life, but who tend to be major figures on New Mars and the old colonies. The Senate has the ability to appoint justices to the Association Court and the Supreme Court. It also has (in theory) overall charge of the Martian Star Navy.

However, in recent years, with the rise of the Martian Union (see below), executive power has come to rest in the Senate Interstellar Coordination Committee.

The following diagram illustrates how the whole thing fits together. See also the page on Pan-Quadrant Government.

Political Parties

Martian politics are very much local politics. Furthermore Mars has a distrust of organised political parties, particularly ones that are not local to a planetary system. Still there are groupings or banners under which elected representatives tend to congregate at Regional Councils and the like. A few of these span quadrants and act as political parties. The dominance of Quadrant Zero in the MAFC (federal) government and recent events such as the failure of the Pickles Administration and the Exterminator War have meant that these groupings are becoming more important

The Issues
The main issues in MAFC politics are, in decreasing order of importance:

- Q0 versus the outer quadrants - the balance of power, the transfer of resources
- Size of the armed forces - does the economy justify the level of spending?
- Level of government spending - small or big government - at federal level more of a matter of principle than policy as taxes are mostly local.
- Accretion of neutrals - how actively should they be encouraged to join the MAFC?
- Genetic Engineering for the masses
- Position of Old Mars, and to a lesser extent other ex-Martian worlds

The Pan-Quadrant Parties

Central Democratic Party

Centrists and pragmatists, the CDP believe that the balance between Q0 and the colonies is about right. Their political platform in the long term is to maintain the status quo. The party returned to power with the election of Charles L. Harness in Q0 as the Supreme Councillor of the Martian Union in 3200, but the party suffered a lapse in support and a term out of office after the Douglas Affair. It is now back in power, in coalition with the MCGF since 3210, and is led in the Senate by party veteran Minos Cornelius.

Significant in: All quadrants, including Q0

Martian Liberal Welfare Party
The MLWP is a left-of-centre party of considerable age. At various times it has supported just about all but the most extremist policies. It has also got the reputation as the party of power for its own sake. It held the balance of power in the federal government until the impeachment in the Grand Council of the MAFC of its leader, Supreme Councillor of the Martian Union Aster Thierry Pickles, and returned to power in 3206-10 after the Douglas Affair under Senator Anton Dec.

Significant in: All quadrants, including Q0

Martian Colonial Growth Party
The MCGP are federalists and are strong in the outer quadrants. Their lack of political power in Q0 means they are forever the party in waiting. However at times, their votes in Quadrant Zero do become important and they are able to join in coalitions and thus get a taste of power. Their current leader within the Senate is Senator 'Toinette Banderas of Q5.

Significant in: Q1-8

New Helix Party
Neo-Darwinists and very libertarian; they have an internal split between those that propose active measures to liberate ex-Martian colonies and to incorporate neutrals with sizeable pro-Martian communities, and those who take the opposite view, that such groups are only worthy of joining the MAFC if they can do it for themselves. What keeps the two groups together is the knowledge that apart they have even less chance of political power. All factions within the party are though quite aggressive. Their name indicates that they like to think they descend from the Martian Helix Brotherhood.

Significant in: Q0, Q4, Q8

Humanity's Future Party
Pan-humanists, interested in uniting humanity. There are various different sub-strains, including those that want to accrete colonies to the MAFC but also a few that apparently want a single human polity. Generally considered most sympathetic of the major parties to naturals and branded as soft on DAFT. The HFP was part of the governing coalition led by Anton Dec of the MLWP from 3206-3210.

Significant in: Q0, Q1-Q4


Free Mars Party
Usually identified with wealthy landowners and the like. Economically, a conventional right of centre party. Strong on Quadrant rights. Rather conservative and sometimes subject to allegations of mutual favouritism. The Free Mars Party is a traditional ally of the CDP, and has been in coalition with them from 3200-05 and since 3210, under its popular leader Q4 Senator Phil Dermond, who also ran the Government of National Unity in 3205-6 after the Douglas Affair.

Significant in: Q6, Q7, Q8


The Martian Star Navy (MSN)

The MAFC decided from the beginning to have a very devolved power structure, where the interests of all were represented. However, it was recognised that this was a sure-fire way to losing the fight for independance from Earth if extended into the military sphere. As a result, the Martian government is exclusively civilian, and military matters are placed into the hands of the MSN.

Over the years a body of 'custom and practise' has built up around the MSN, which has turned the military almost into a separate branch of government.

The MSN is an almost totally autonomous body. It has control over starships, bases, shipyards, marine forces, ground forces, and has expanded its activities into defence research and procurement.

It is funded by Association-wide taxation: the Navy is virtually the sole recipient of taxes collected Association-wide (some go for admin and Association courts, but 95% of 'Federal' taxes go to maintain the Navy). For this reason, the local Association bureaucracy - Association Courts etc - in any Quadrant is closely tied in with the MSN, and operates virtually as an extension of it.

More details on Mars' armed forces can be found here.

Civil/Military separation

The total separation of civil and military authority means that an organised revolt by any one Quadrant is virtually impossible. To prevent any Quadrant's Navy taking matters into its own hands the Navy rotates units so that they tend not to serve in the Quadrant in which they were recruited, and rotates senior officers even more frequently so that they are not able to create local power bases. The Navy is thus the one totally centralised structure in the MAFC.

By custom and practise, no officer is able to stand for political office until at least five years have elapsed since they left the service. Since recruitment tends to be for very long terms of service anyway (25 or 30 years is common) and since the armed forces form a priveliged elite in Martian society with all manner of tax exemptions, special shops, free education and healthcare and purpose-built accomodation for families etc, and generally because they have such a high perceived status by the rest of Martian society, the armed forces are a sought-after career in their own right, and there is little incentive to dabble in politics.

Also, since the Navy is more organised and centralised than any other aspect of the state, it is also able to exert a disproportionate influence on policy anyway, without having to take overt political power (which would in any case be completely intolerable not only to the public at large but also to the quasi-religeous codes by which the armed forces live).

The Martian Union

The rather decentralised nature of the MAFC has tended to mean that it is unlikely to come up with coherent, Galaxy-wide strategies, preferring to organise on a regional basis. As a result, the MSN has had what some feel to be undue influence on policy-making, leading to Mars' traditional belligerence in the pursuit of new colonies.

As a counter to this, some attempt to create a greater centralisation of power has occurred among some of the worlds of Quardant 0. The worlds have agreed to pool sovereignty under the banner of the Martian Union. This state-within-a-state has virtually subsumed the old Quadrant 0 Regional Council, and has also come to control nearly half of the seats in the Senate and is able to wield them as a block, bringing representatives from other regions onside via a combination of bribes and threats. Some blame the MU for the decline in powers and importance of the Grand Council, and there has been some restless talk from the other Regional Councils.

So far the MU has not tried to trespass too much on the jurisdiction of the other Regional Councils, but some say it is only a matter of time. Whether the Exterminator War will provide the impetus for a gathering of powers at the centre of the MAFC, and what effect this will have on theregions is a matter for great speculation within the MAFC.

More on the Martian Union can be found in the section on Quadrant 0.