Prime Minister of Themiclesia

Prime Minister of Themiclesia
震旦相, tjerh-tanh-smjangh
Lee Teng-hui (president 5).jpg
Incumbent
Lja Le (徐貽)

since 2016
Typehead of government
Member ofCabinet
Reports toThe Emperor
ResidenceNo. 3 East, Outer Protonotaries
Chancery Residence
SeatCourt Hall (Themiclesia)
AppointerThe Emperor
Term lengthunlimited
Constituting instrumentStanding Order of Administrators (吏令)
Customary usage
Formationc. 550
DeputyRight Minister, Left Minister

The Prime Minister of Themiclesia (震旦相, tjerh-tanh-smjangh) of Themiclesia is the head of the Themiclesian government. Historically, the head of government was the most powerful individual or individuals holding authority in the name of the monarch and over all his possessions. Several offices have been in this position, but the current is the President of Correspondence (尚書令, ′djang′-st′ja-ringh). The incumbent is Lja Le, who assumed office in 2016 after the retirement of St′ang Krugh.

Terminology

The term smjangh (相; Old Menghean: *s- prefix from 望 *mang-s) that is translated as "prime minister" is a general appellation of the most powerful advisor or executive of the monarch. While it is derived from the word smjangh-prong "chancellor", the prime minister is not always the chancellor. Instead, the position of prime minister shifted to different offices several times in Themiclesian history as the government structure changed to respond to political realities at court. This is not to say that the monarch was free to many any official his prime minister: existing hierarchies were, for the most part, respected by the crown, as they represented accumulated administrative experience and were buttressed by aristocratic interests.

Selection

According to a 19th-century political maxim, a government minister's "primary task is the procurement and prolongation of parliament's confidence for the administration that is charged to his authority"; according to some commentators, this characterization is still accurate and defines the office of prime minister as a political instead of administrative one, and there are no statutory qualifications or duties associated with the office. Given the partisan nature of Parliament, the prime minister will almost always be the leader of the dominant party in Parliament; otherwise, that party can easily unseat any government minister by withholding his or her budget. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, adequate support must be found in both chambers of Parliament; however, the House of Commons has become the primary determiner of a government's fate between 1920 and 1950, democratic legitimacy being recognized over parliamentary sovereignty.[1]

Every government since 1845 has included at least one member of parliament and one peer; this allows both chambers to hold the government to account by questioning members serving as ministers and the government formally to present its views to both chambers. Since it would be exceptionally difficult to lead parliamentary debates, like prime ministers are expected to do, without a seat in either chamber, all have been parliamentarians in the modern era. Party leaders that do not have a seat are expected to demonstrate their power by immediately procuring an MP's resignation, which results in a by-election the leader must then win; if he could not procure and win a by-election, a different prime minister may be appointed. Modern convention holds that the party leader must procure a resignation before assuming office, being allowed to hold it as the by-election, always in a safe seat, occurs.

All prime ministers since 1931 have been members of the House of Commons, with the exception of the Lord of Srong-sngrjar between 1971 – 72. After the 1971 general election, the Conservative leader suddenly died, and the party believed that Srong-sngrjar, as a peer, had a seat in Parliament and did not need to seek a by-election; however, the issue of his legitimacy was exploited by the Liberals and Progressives in opposition and haunted the government, resulting in its early demise after only ten months. His inability to participate in the House of Commons has only compounded the inefficacy of his administration and weakened his control over Conservative MPs. In view of these difficulties, no peer has since been prime minister except in a caretaker capacity (where a change of government is imminent), this last occurring in 1989.

Term of office

The Themiclesian prime minister continues to hold office until he or she resigns, is dismissed, impeached, or dies. In modern practice, prime ministers are rarely dismissed, and impeachment, which deprives a person of the right to hold office for life and potentially carries amercement of arbitrary magnitude, are considered drastic even in the most extreme situations of misbehaviour. The only prime minister to be dismissed recently was the Lord of Rjem-′an in 1909, whose ill-health prevented him from formally resigning before court, which was ordinary at that time.

Prime ministerial resignations typically fall under two categories—when he or she resigns with the entire government or resigns alone. The former situation occurs when the government party or coalition loses a general election, or when the government loses parliamentary confidence through either a vote of confidence or a money bill. If parliamentary confidence is lost, the government may seek a new mandate through a general election. A prime minister is conventionally required to resign alone if the party or coalition that supported him no longer does so. The party or coalition may choose (and typically already has chosen) a new leader to replace the incumbent prime minister. The incumbent prime minister is not permitted to seek a general election in this case, as a government that holds parliamentary confidence still exists.

Roles

The Prime Minister of Themiclesia is the most senior member of the Cabinet, which oversees the executive branch of government and is collectively accountable to Parliament. Convention and standing orders of the Cabinet, usually agreed upon its formation, grants the Prime Minister the power to chair Cabinet meetings and set its agenda. Additionally, the Prime Minister oversees the two Cabinet Secretaries, who jointly lead the Cabinet Office and execute Cabinet resolutions relative to the preparation of reports, collection of information, and drafting of legislation that are not within the remit of any other government department. A number of minor departments, when not assigned to a specific portfolio, are considered within that of the Prime Minister.

As chief executive, the prime minister is expected to lead Cabinet discussions and to regulate its members' speeches to ensure that discussions are fully developed and business is done promptly; however, the premier has no statutory authority over any minister, whose powers are granted by statute. According to some descriptions, the relationship between Cabinet ministers is a continuation of that between prominent members of the parliamentary party. If a prime minister wields is authoritative within the party, he or she is more likely to be able to sway other ministers' actions, and vice versa; it has been commented that, due to differences in party organization, Liberal prime ministers are more likely to be authoritative than Conservative ones, though the prime ministerial power has fluctuated considerably even in recent decades.

There are very few laws that explicit empower the prime minister, and some argue legislators have deliberately deprived the premier of superior influence in order to maintain the tradition of collegiate government, which is ancient in Themiclesia. Most of the Cabinet's powers are defined through the phrase djangs-ts′jêng (上請), lit. "submit for approval", found in many statutes; an unidentified recipient defaults to the crown, whose executive functions are exercised by Cabinet. The prime minister has priority to commence discussion and formulate policies over any matter that statutes and portfolio divisions do not assign to other ministers, though any decision is ultimately taken by Cabinet as a whole.

The Prime Minister is supported by the Prime Minister's Private Office, which consists of civil servants that take care of routine correspondence, both political and personal, and any individual the prime minister appoints to attend it. These advisors are not paid a public salary and, in modern practice, most frequently the prime minister's electoral agents, senior party figures, and thinktank staff; however, historically, they have also been cooks, butlers, secretaries, business agents, personal friends, and even family members. This greater latitude in granting access to political spaces is connected by many authors to the privilege of ministers before the 19th century to receive a residence in the palace for not only oneself, but also family, retainers, and servants.

Unlike certain other jurisdictions, most Themiclesian prime ministers did not have unilateral authority to nominate or dismiss members of his government. A government's composition, if coming in from opposition, is normally and secretly determined in the weeks ahead of a general election and then adjusted afterwards to account for any designates failing to win seats. A party leader attempts to form the broadest possible collective leadership that oversees the party's campaign and weathers rogue candidates (who run without the party's permission on the strenght of his or her own reputation); government posts are assigned at this point to ensure support from influential figures and a stable parliamentary party after the election. This process does not always present the most powerful figure in the party as prime minister, and it is still criticized for lack of transparency.

Privileges

Residence

If a prime minister is a serving member of parliament, such as nearly always in recent decades, he or she is entitled to an apartment in the Outer Protonotaries Court ex officio. While apartments have been provided for members of the Council of Protonotaries since antiquity, MPs have come to outnumber the 37 apartments provided, so only senior members of the house are permitted this privilege. While prime ministers may, through his power in the chamber, choose any of the apartments, most have selected No. 3 on the east side, since this one is the closest to the bridge that leads to the working premises of the House of Commons. Furniture and basic services like cleaning and catering in these apartments are provided by the state. A number of smaller apartments were added after the Pan-Septentrion War under a consideration of fairness towards backbenchers, though no prime minister has resided in them.

As Chancellor of Tsjinh, the prime minister also has an apartment (相舍, smjangh-l′jah) in the Chancery (相府, smjangh-pjo′), which would have been heavily staffed before the modern era; however, austerity measures in the wake of the Maverican Wars and a series of peers in office, not needing residences, have rendered this apartment disused. Today, it is mostly used as an office space for the Prime Minister's Private Office (相私官), but a bedroom is still available in it.

Transport

As part of the Council of Correspondence, the prime minister enjoys a motorcade (駕) that may be summoned for any official business. The motorcade includes a limousine for the premier, a sedan for his secretaries or agents, and an optional car for family members. Prime ministers in ill health have generally received an additional vehicle for care personnel and medical equipment, in case of emergencies. The motorcade includes chauffeurs paid at public expense. Abuse of the motorcade is controversial in Themiclesia, for such purposes as going on personal vacations and chauffeuring individuals not entitled to it. Generally, the prime minister will also possess a personal car, which may be parked at the prime ministerial residence. While it was common for a prime minister to retain a private chauffeur for his vehicle, prime ministers have generally been able to drive since the 80s.

The prime minister, along with Cabinet and junior ministers, enjoys first-class service ex officio on any route operated by the National Railways, or the highest level of service on routes where first-class is not available. Traditionally, prime ministers have refrained from sitting on saloon carriage on trains, since this is typical of royalty. Domestic cruise lines and ferries typically offer free passage, also at the highest class of service, to government ministers; however, some prime ministers have preferred to pay for all fares on private vessels. If the prime minister is travelling in a military vehicle, vessel, or aircraft, that transport is named "Commandeer B" (御乙), since the "A" transport is symbolically reserved for the prime minister's herald. The word "commandeer" refers to the authority of the crown and its first minister, who outranks all military officers.[2]

Security

Until recently, prime ministers have generally relied on household retainers (舍人) for protection of his person, residence, and property.   These retainers are allowed to follow the prime minister almost everywhere he goes, except for the royal palace hall, the emperor's home. There was a customary limit on the number of armed retainers, 20 for Cabinet ministers and 8 for junior ministers, though most ministers found them unnecessary for urban activity. Cabinet ministers are also permitted to fanfare to announce their arrival. It is properly the privilege of peers to arm retainers, but in the 19th century the crown assigned its own retainers, the Gentlemen-at-Arms, to prime ministers that were not peers. A retainer expected grants of land or opportunities in return for service, which was nominally unpaid.

Into the 20th century, commoners serving as prime ministers became the rule rather than exception, while the number of gentlemen-at-arms and retainers rapidly dwindled. After the Gentlemen-at-arms were strained to foil a series of attempts on Emperor Hên's life, it also became questioned if they, receiving no formal training, were reliable in this duty around the head of government and other dignitaries. Diplomatic security personnel began protecting ministers in 1940, for their discretion and experience around sensitive information and situations. Today, the Kien-k'ang Metropolitan Police stations patrols around the prime minister's official residences and private city home, while the Foreign Office's agents monitor the prime minister's surroundings in public. Both are present when the motorcade is in use.

History

During the late Hexarchy, the Tsjinh state disestablished many of its inner domains (內諸侯, nubh-tja-go) to enlarge the demesne land (寰官, gwren-kwar), directly controlled and taxed by the ruler; this enlarged the power of the Chancellor of Tsjinh, the head of the bureaucracy. Following the Treaty of Five Kings, the Tsjinh monarch acquired primacy over the other four states. The chancellor thus sometimes became suspect, since he could be very well-regarded and able but have connections to other states. Additionally, the Tsjinh monarch actively encouraged the vassals of the other barons to defect (外諸侯, ngwadh-tja-go), sometimes permitting them autonomy beyond the chancellor's jurisdiction. Titles were offered to courtiers for their prolonged support, if a hostile court offered competitive terms. What had been a relatively unitray state in the 2nd century became pluralistic by the early 5th. The jurisdiction of the chancellor fragmented, and monarchs dealt with many autonomous leaders.

In 420, the Tsjinh was overthrown by King Mjen of Sungh. Having himself been chancellor, Mjen left the office vacant in case a usurper imitated his rise to power. In its stead, the two Right and Left Vice Chancellors (丞相, djeng-smjangh) became collegiate ministers.[3] The Right Vice Chancellor was regarded as the more senior, but the two were co-equals in power and access to the monarch. Only during very brief periods was a full chancellor appointed over them. The Sungh monarchs' desire to increase royal power prevented the consolidation of baronial land under the Vice Chancellors. During the final decades of the Sungh dynasty, the Council of Correspondence emerged as a keystone department to administer the many types of resource towards warfare, working in the name of the king. While this was only done during warfare initially, the Council's power grew in the absence of an active monarch.

The Council of Correspondence, an old office of secretaries that managed royal correspondences, grew in power and came to eclipse the Chancellor of Tsjinh as the monarch's first minister.[4] To the crown, the Council had important advantage over the Chancery: it was outside of the ordinary bureaucracy, a collegiate office, and oversaw state papers without regard for internal boundaries. Contra the Chancery, which only oversaw the demesne land. In the late Tsjinh, its aristocracy had gained control over the bureaucracy through the civic election system, whose rigid rules of appointment and promotions reduced both royal power and social mobility. But as the Council was made up of secretaries without formal authority, the crown appointed allies without threat of ceding power, since the secretaries' decisions the crown must ultimately validate.

The Sungh gave way to the Rjang in 491, whose inchoative ruler, repledged himself to the Treaty of Five Kings but sought to vassalize the other crowns. In 497 – 505, war broke out and ended in favour of Rjang. It mobilized troops on an unprecedented scale, some estimate over 100,000 over the period, creating logistical demands of similar proportions. Changes in government structure occurred to meet the demands of warfare, most centrally the final consolidation of administration over the baronies in both the frontiers. To reduce the number of grain shipments over land and water, baronial subjects were conscripted into agricultural labour by the central government while barons were appointed to military offices. After the end of the war, the Rjang did not restore the barons' manorial powers and instead granted them increased incomes made possible by intensive agriculture; the Council's power over these lands was thus normalized in peacetime.

Deputies

The deputies of the President of Correspondence are the Minister of the Left (左僕射, dzar-bok-mljagh) and Minister of the Right (右僕射, gwrje′-bok-mljagh), in this order. However, the Minister of the Left may be prime minister when the office of President is vacant, such as during the premiership of Lord Tl'jang-mjen (1872 – 78). Tl'jang-mjen governed as Minister of the Left to avoid becoming a peer upon appointment, and he was consistently named as prime minister both in speech and writing, reflecting that the office of prime minister is not attached to that of President. In this situation, the next most senior minister will usually not use the title of Minister of the Right, but the lower one of Secretary of State for Rites.

Style of address

In reference, most Themiclesians use the word "president of correspondence", the formal title of the prime minister, before his personal name, for the first mention. Where context is clear, normally only the title is used. For example, the current prime minister would be referred to as "president of correspondence, Le" (尚書令貽) then as "president of correspondence" (尚書令). In speech, the prime minister is typically called "prime minister lord" (相君), since prime ministers have usually been peers.  In letter salutations, the prime minister is styled ntenh-ghra′ (殿下) or kap-ghra′ (閤下), referring to the palace hall in the Chancery and the small gates leading to private quarters in the same, respectively. These titles are usually translated as "Your Highness" or "Your Excellency". If an incumbent or former prime minister dies, the proper terminology is m′eng (薨).

In foreign languages, the prime minister is simply called "the Prime Minister". Traditional media do not use the phrase "Mr. Prime Minister", but it is occasionally seen in foreign press.

Peerage problem

It was customary for many centuries for the prime minister to be a peer. Peers were frequently from generations of counsellors to the monarchy and therefore enjoyed preferrment to the crown. While peers do not always form a political party, the monarch usually strived to maintain a working relationship with them, if for nothing more than a check on the civil service. If the throne was strong, prime ministers could be promoted from administrators and be made peers; if not, the prime minister was usually selected from the ranks of the peers. The wider court agreed with this arrangement, as peers were a conservative influence, whereas bureaucrats could be eager for achievement. The benefit of stability was also conferred by having a peer in charge, since other peers effectively formed his council; drastic policies were made less likely.

Following the Great Settlement, the peers behaved as a dovish political party and gained an upper hand at court against the hawkish civil service. The crown attempted without success to wrest power from the peers on several occasions; as a response, the peers made it a legal requirement that the President of Correspondence be a peer. In the previous century's continuous warfare, many commoners have distinguished themselves and become the emperor's prime minister, while peers were weary that the balance of power was shifting to the bureaucrats supported military activity. While the military has become a tool of social mobility to some extent, ministers were still chosen from bureaucrats with a long family history of public service.

After 1820, it was once again the rule that all prime ministers be made peers upon appointment, not broken until 1872 when Lord Tl'jang-mjen refused a peerage, as his power base was in the House of Commons. In 1875, rising Conservative politician Lord Gwrjang-goi, became the Lord of Krungh at his father's death and was thereby set back in his career for more than two decades, losing his rapport in the House of Commons and having to compete with the Lord of M'i for primacy in the upper house. In the 1900s, some prime ministers have used, amidst criticism, the peerage as weapons to unseat party rivals or to end a perdecessor's political career, since governing as a peer became difficult since the resignation of the Lord of Sloi in 1931. Following similar laws in Anglia and Lerchernt, it was made possible to refuse or resign a peerage in 1957.

Since Go Mjanh-kje, peerages have been offered to prime ministers at resignation, instead of appointment; this is supported by both parties as the less politically-disruptive option, while still retaining an important and traditional dignity for a prime minister. However, many prime ministers did not wish to take a peerage even at resignation, if they believe they would return to power in the Commons. Since the Pan-Septentrion War, former prime ministers have generally been allowed to take up a peerage at request, which usually occurred at retirement instead of resignation.

List of positions

  • Tsjinh and before (to 420): chancellor
  • Early to mid-Sungh (420 – 465): vice chancellors
  • Late Sungh (465 – 491): president of correspondence
  • Rjang (491 – 542): president of correspondence
  • Mrangh (542 – 752): president of correspondence
  • Early Dzi (752 – 945): president of protonotaries
  • Late Dzi (945 – 1080): council of peers
  • Drjen (1080 – 1210): council of peers
  • Ngwrjedh (1210 – 1464): president of correspondence
  • Tsjinh (1464 – 1800): president of correspondence
  • Modern period (1800 – now): president of correspondence

List of holders

Legend:

  Anti-royalist → Conservative
  Imperialist → Reformist → Liberal
Independent or other
Prime minister Shinasthana Appointed Dismissed Seat
  Lord of Gar-lang 河陽侯 Oct. 2, 1800 Jan. 14, 1814 Council of Peers
Lord of Kjarh-djêng 建成侯 Feb. 5, 1814 Nov. 27, 1817
  Lord of Mjenh-lang (1) 文陽侯 Dec. 1, 1817 May 22, 1821
  Lord of Sg′jang 庠侯 May 22, 1821 Jul. 29, 1823
C Lord of Mjenh-lang (2) 文陽侯 Jul. 31, 1821 Oct. 12, 1825
C Lord of Hrus 孝侯 Nov. 10, 1825 Apr. 2, 1826  
C Lord of Tubh (1) 薱侯 Apr. 21, 1826 Sep. 30, 1833
Lord of Ran (1) 闌侯 Oct. 5, 1833 Feb. 22, 1836
C Lord of Tubh (2) 薱侯 Feb. 22, 1836 Sep. 30, 1836
Lord of Ran (2) 闌侯 Oct. 5, 1836 Mar. 10, 1838
C Lord of Mrangh 孟侯 Mar. 10, 1838 Dec. 5, 1838
Lord of Stsrungh 淙侯 Dec. 5, 1838 Nov. 1, 1839
Lord of Ng′rjar′-ljang 彥陽侯 Nov. 1, 1839 Apr. 2, 1840  
C Lord of R′egh-′rjum (1) 徠陰侯 Apr. 2, 1840 Jul. 12, 1841  
Lord of Ran (3) 闌侯 Jul. 12, 1841 Aug. 2, 1843
C Lord of R′egh-′rjum (2) 徠陰侯 Aug. 2, 1843 Feb. 5, 1844
Lord of Lri 遲侯 Feb. 5, 1844 Jun. 24, 1844
Lord of Rjai-lang (1) 漓陽侯 Jan. 15, 1844 Jul. 22, 1847 Council of Peers → House of Lords
C Lord of ′Rik-ljang 益陽侯 Jul. 23, 1847 Sep. 14, 1847   House of Lords
L Lord of Rjai-lang (2) 漓陽侯 Sep. 14, 1847 Jun. 10, 1858 House of Lords
C Lord of Ghor (1) 桓侯 Jun. 10, 1858 Dec. 1, 1858 House of Lords
L Lord of Rjai-lang (3) 漓陽侯 Dec. 1, 1858 Jun. 10, 1859 House of Lords
C Lord of Ghor (2) 桓侯 Jun. 14, 1859 Feb. 4, 1861 House of Lords
L Lord of Sng′rja′ (1) 楚侯 Feb. 11, 1861 Nov. 30, 1866 House of Lords
C Lord of Nja′-′rjum 女陰侯 Nov. 30, 1866 Mar. 5, 1869 House of Lords
L Lord of Sng′rja′ (2) 楚侯 Mar. 7, 1869 Dec. 1, 1873 House of Lords
L Lord Tl′jang-mjen 昌文君 Dec. 1, 1873 Mar. 22, 1878 Kien-k'ang West
C Lord of M′i (1) 迷侯 May 15, 1878 Jul. 21, 1880 House of Lords
L Lord L′ong-mjen (1) 通文君 Jul. 22, 1880 Nov. 25, 1886 Sng'rja
C Lord of M′i (2) 迷侯 Nov. 25, 1886 Jan. 22, 1889 House of Lords
L Lord L′ong-mjen (2) 通文君 Jan. 27, 1889 Feb. 4, 1891 Sng'rja
C Lord of Snur-ljang 綏陽侯 Feb. 4, 1891 Oct. 5, 1894 House of Lords
C Lord of Krungh 洚侯 Oct. 6, 1894 May 10, 1907 House of Lords
C Lord of Rjem-′an 臨安侯 May 12, 1907 Mar. 10, 1909 House of Lords
L Lord of Mik (1) 邲侯 Mar. 22, 1909 Jan. 15, 1912 House of Lords
L Goh Mjanh-kje (1) 冓萬基 Jan. 15, 1912 Nov. 22, 1915 Gwreng
L Lord of Mik (2) 邲侯 Nov. 22, 1915 Apr. 30, 1916 House of Lords
L Goh Mjanh-kje (2) 冓萬基 Apr. 30, 1916 Jul. 13, 1918 Gwreng
C Lord of Sloi (1) 隨侯 Jul. 13, 1918 Oct. 7, 1921 House of Lords

Notes

  1. According to some, this outcome is inevitable after the franchise has been made universal in 1907. By that point, the House of Lords can no longer claim to represent the interests, however obliquely and dishonestly, of classes excluded from the franchise: the House of Commons now represented the interests of virtually all Themiclesians. This argument was once the upper house's standard defence, that they represented the interests of their tenants and even the entire agrarian economy.
  2. If the Cabinet Secretaries are following the Prime Minister, their transports would be called "Accompanitant A" (副甲) and "Accompanitant B" (副乙), respectively.
  3. In situations where two similar things require differentiation, opposite descriptors were frequently used; the words "right" and "left" have no physical relevance, except to provide a contrast.
  4. The other royal houses of Themiclesia did not recognize the name change from Tsjinh to Sungh.

See also