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21 April 2008 @ 01:37 pm
BSG - politics and police  
Over at TWOP there was some discussion in the politics thread about the Quorum of Twelve and how it works, since we get a glimpse of it in "Ties that Bind." Now, keeping in mind that I used to study comparative politics so therefore what is interesting to me is probably tl;dr for many, I have many thoughts to share. *g*

I've long believed that Roslin and Co need to let go of this idea that she's more than a mayor. So many of their institutions from the old big Colonies are useless because 40,000-ish people is a town, not a country.

Except when it is one. Because today I had the thought that, hey, there's a real Earth country with a small population, let's see what they do. (minor spoilers for "Ties that Bind")

For the geographically challenged, Monaco is a teeny city-state on the shore of the Mediterranean, surrounded by France. It has a population of about 35,000 people, many of them immensely rich. It's the home of the Monte Carlo casino/resort from the Bond books and movies (except the most recent Casino Royale where the action was moved to Montenegro). It has a national assembly of 24 (and a city council with 15 and a mayor, to decide smaller matters) elected at large. So, a 'national' body of 12 to deal with a population of 38,000 seems pretty reasonable. I presume that if the Twelve Colonies has some kind of lower house they've sensibly abandoned it, since we haven't heard of such thing.

One of the other things I looked at is Monaco's relationship to the military and law enforcement. First of all, the majority of its defense is handled by Galactica France, by treaty. It has a tiny standing military, whose duties appear to mostly consist of fire fighting, palace guard, and the occasional armed backup to the police. But what a police force -- it's proportionally HUGE. 500 sworn officers (that's one officer for every 70 residents; NYPD is 1:227 and LAPD's ratio is much worse.) In Monaco, however, the police also handle functions like border patrol and customs. Due to its wealth and abundance of police, Monaco has a murder rate of one per year -- which is lower than we've seen in canon for the RTF (and that's not including Cylon victims and executive-approved death squads and any off-screen murders).

In the RTF, we can probably assume that each ship has its own ad-hoc policing system. They all have captains and had crew before the attacks who can act as security. It probably works well enough on ships where the captains are fair, and works terribly where the captains are part of the inevitable protection rackets, drug selling, hoarding, and prostitution. (Because I'm cynical like that, I wonder how many of those shiny Quorum members are the puppets of their ship captains, especially if they're all as "elected" as Lee was...) But Black Market shows where the system breaks down completely - there's no fleet-wide 'police' force capable to investigating problems that cross into other ships or looking into corruption or abuses on each ship. We see the military having to step in, once the situation has already gotten out of control -- Fisk's murder prompted Lee's investigation, Tyrol got sent to the refinery ship, even the hostage situation when Billy was killed had to be dealt with by the military -- but they're not proactively investigating at all.

So what happened in New Caprica? During the Missing Year, there was no police, apparently, given that the NCP seemed like a new notion (otherwise, the Cylons should've just co-opted an existing police agency). I would guess that the (retired) military on NC were probably acting as ad-hoc police in the settlement at first, with perhaps Gaeta stepping into place as administrator. Also, the Colonies being a religious society in general, the average person probably took advantage of the priests and oracles for dispute resolution.

But whatever method got adopted on New Caprica then got thrown into chaos again at the Second Exodus, and in all of S.3 we got very little idea that there's much of a government beyond Laura and Zarek at all. When Lee calls the RTF a gang, he's probably even more right than we've been told.

So I have some sympathy for Roslin trying to deal with her fractious Quorum and no justice system to lean on. I understood exactly what Zarek meant when he was talking to Lee - she has the best intentions in the world, and she's right that they desperately need law enforcement and justice system, but the manner she's trying to deal with the problems is tyrannical and easily abused.

And I still haven't shared the REST of my thoughts on Ties that Bind.

Be afraid. Be very afraid. ;)
showmewrtr: Helo cigar phalliciousshowmewrtr on April 22nd, 2008 02:15 am (UTC)
Those are some awesome thoughts!!!!!
lizardbethlizardbeth_j on April 22nd, 2008 04:31 am (UTC)
thanks! Sometimes the old Political Science degree can't help but come pouring out... hee
Allison: Roslin -pensivefrolicndetour on April 23rd, 2008 03:37 am (UTC)
Oh, very very interesting stuff. Are Quorum delegates all appointed, or is it just Lee since he's finishing out the Deligate Calen's term?
lizardbeth: Anders - cross outlizardbeth_j on April 23rd, 2008 05:46 am (UTC)
thanks. I was being a bit facetious with Lee (since I find it endlessly amusing that Mister Democracy got his job through appointment), but I assume that the members of the Quorum are elected as a general rule. Though I wonder how they run those elections, if say, only Capricans are supposed to vote for the Caprica delegate. I can see how appointment is easier than running what amounts to a primary across the entire fleet.

However, the weird thing is, we knew the Quorum was housed on Cloud Nine which went all splodey, we never hear about the Quorum on New Caprica, but apparently it re-established itself in time to approve Zarek and Roslin's power swap post-Collaborators. So whether they were somewhere else and were spared the Wrath of Gina, or there were emergency elections on New Cap we never heard of, or they were all appointed by Zarek... I don't know. They talk about 'constituents' but I don't think that means much, since they'd probably say that anyway. There probably is a mix (some died with the bomb, and others lived by chance). The few Quorum members we saw way back when have been replaced in the intervening years, but it's hard to know when that happened.

I should, er, stop, before I run into the comment limit and embarrass myself. *g*