The Riikskogu is the elected legislative body of the republic of Karolia. It sits in the capital city of Säntjana for 44 weeks of the year and is responsible for all federal legislation. The parliament is divided into two chambers, a lower house which is elected nationally by proportional representation and an upper house which is formed of independent representatives from each state and town.
The first Karolian parliaments were formed in medieval states that had either overthrown their monarchs or had forced them to accept representation from commoners. The first mention of a 'kougu' is from 1276 in Fontjana when a council of 45 representatives of the city guilds met to draw up regulations for the city's markets and the levying of rents on shops leased from guild leaders. This gradually evolved and increased in power into a semi-elected chamber which had limited powers to advise the monarch of the state. In 1457 the council, led by an Elector, became the sole government of the state and founded the first republic in Karolia.
The 1789 confederation had been envisaged as a republic by its architects, which would be led by an elected President. At this time there were few states in which monarchs still held the balance of power, having either been deposed or killed in the civil war. The remainder of states agreed to establish fully democratic systems on the death of their current ruler.
The first President of Karolia was not, as is frequently but erroneously stated, Jän Maasriiäs (he was the first President of the fully unified country but not the first to hold the title), but the Elector of Paliiso, Huuvik Seis Jorven, with Aleksi Kaastorii as vice-President. They established the first system of representation: each state would elect fifteen men to be their members of parliament. All men over the age of 21 were eligible to cast a vote every year and to stand for election, although in practice it was the wealthier classes who volunteered themselves. The President would then be voted by this body, which called itself the Riikskogu. In 1894 this changed to the office of Chancellor, with the Preseident voted for by a separate public election. Universal suffrage for all over 21 was also introduced in 1894, with the voting age lowered to 17 in 1958.
In 1942 the system of election for the Kogupaane was changed to proportional representation via the d'Hondt method. Each state fields a list of candidates and the number of seats is decided according to the population of the state. The elected individuals are then chosen based on the division of the vote.
The KL, as it is abbreviated, is the body of party-member representatives that form the upper house of the Riikskogu. The 330 members of the chamber, who all hold equal voting powers, are in the current situation divided by party as follows:
Government coalition (165 seats):
- Labour Party ()103
- Green Party of Karolia (Puhanapaarti) 48
- New Democrats ( Neuu Demokraatid) 12
- Socialist Party (Sociaalistipaarti) 2
Opposition coalition (160 seats)
- Centre Party (Kesketpaarti) 97
- Karolian Liberals (Karolijas Liiberaalpaarti) 59
- Solidarity Party () 4
Non-aligned (5 seats)
- Karolian National Party () 3
- Karolian Way () 1
- Kyori Independence Party () 1
Such a small majority for the ruling coalition is not uncommon in the house, neither are minority governments. They must hope to persuade the non-aligned parties to vote with them or hope to win over the Electorikogu to secure legislation.
See main article
The lower house of the parliament is the House of Electors, made up of independent representatives. They will debate and vote on legislation after it has been proposed in the KL. It is formed of:
- 1 Elector per state (21) who act as an overseeing council for the chamber.
- 1 per settlement or electoral parish of 50,000 residents (or thereabouts). This works out at 366, resulting in a house of 387 seats. A close vote can therefore be decided conclusively either way in the house.
The Elektorikogu must pass or reject any legislation by a vote, but do not require a particular margin apart from in very special circumstances (emergency legislation, vote of no confidence in the President, etc)
Formation of government
The open list D'Hondt Method is used to elect candidates.
Coalition governments are the norm in Karolia. Usually two parties have enough seats to form a majority government between them, but occasionally a coalition of several smaller parties or a minority government have occurred. Following the results of an election, it is often several days of negotiation before a group of parties announces it has a majority.
There have been cases of a ruling coalition splitting apart in the middle of a term of office. In some cases, a new coalition has been formed shortly afterwards or a minority government, but in cases of deadlock a special power of the President and Chancellor (who must agree on the decision) a general election may be called to form a new government.
President of the Chamber
The President of the Chamber (not to be confused with the state president) is elected separately by the Kogupaane Likme members. The President will usually represent the ruling party or coalition but their role is non-partisan; to keep order and schedule in the sessions and to organise votes.
The office of Chancellor (Kansellore), roughly equivalent to Prime Minister, is awarded to the leader of the largest party or another party from the ruling coalition. They are not directly voted for by the public and there is no restirction on the number of times they may hold office. The current Chancellor is Tänii Säpaarv, leader of the
The Riikskoguhus is one of the most recognisable structures in Karolia. The building is positioned on a north-south axis at the western end of Maasriias Őt inside the Čirkoli and has a distinctive Romantic style, including a dome and turrets which evoke the castles built during the warring periods of Karolian history. Built between 1861 and 1866, it was designed by the young architect James Gilbert-Scott who was not in fact a Karolian citizen but from Rogolnika and hardly spoke the local language. Gilbert-Scott's design was originally to have been a functional classical rectangle with restrained decoration and identical debating chambers at each end, but he saw an opportunity to make his mark on the international stage and persuaded the Karolian government to accept a far more ornate and expensive building in two wings which would be a landmark in the new capital city. The decoration was not completed until a year after the government occupied the parliament and the building cost four times the original design.
A short driveway runs parallel to Čirkoli allowing access to the main east entrance and lobby chamber, which is faced by a rectangular tower and steep roof. Upon entering (this area is open to the public) there is a wide staircase leading up to the Kogupaane chamber, which is a tiered semicircle facing east. It is a well-known Säntjana urban legend that there is, or was, a secret passage from the side of the chamber to the platform at the adjacent Parliamentakogu metro station to allow late arriving members to sneak in; however, since the platform on the side of the tracks closest to the building is served by trains that have only just left the terminus at Circolo-Maritima rather than from the suburbs, this is unlikely to be true. However, the flange squeals of the trains negotiating the tight curves around the building can be heard from within the chamber.
The Electorkogu chamber is at the opposite end of the building and is the most spectacular feature - a round tower containing a tiered circular debating chamber with a high dome over it. It was originally proposed to house offices and storerooms in the roof space but Gilbert-Scott managed to have his way in leaving the intricate roof supports and decoration on show to those below and surrounding the chamber on the open three sides with tall windows. The electors' offices are contained in the space below the chamber.