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1635 The Dreeson Incident: Chapter Twenty Five

       Last updated: Tuesday, October 28, 2008 08:03 EDT




    "Well, if you want an honest answer . . ." Count Ludwig Guenther of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt raised his eyebrows.

    "I very definitely do," said Tony Adducci.

    "I don't think Duke Albrecht wanted to run against Piazza for president of the State of Thuringia-Franconia. At all. So don't hold it against him once the election is over. I know that he's William Wettin's brother, but he's really not a political type. He's perfectly happy, really, managing their property - finding new leaseholders and trying to bring it back into maximum production. But once someone among the Crown Loyalists noticed that there's no prohibition in the SoTF constitution against a nobleman running for president - which would have been governor, up-time, if I understand what I have read concerning the structure of your government."

    Adducci started to cuss a blue streak, which finally dwindled into, "Hell, it's like John and Bobby Kennedy, more than anything else, I guess. Brother act."

    Mary Kat Riddle shook her head. "I wish Ms. Mailey was here. Or Mr. Piazza. But I'll do what I can to sort it out for you all." She pushed her hair behind her ears, a little nervously.

    "Let's start at the beginning. William Wettin isn't 'running for prime minister.' That's not the way it works in a parliamentary system. Wettin's running for the lower house of the USE parliament from the Duchy of Saxe-Weimar - which is now actually one of the counties in the SoTF, just like we are."

    She looked at Count Ludwig Guenther's wife Emelie, who was going to have a baby . . . just any minute now, it looked like. She was due this month. They'd gotten to be friends. "Or you are, in Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt."


    "If the Crown Loyalists win a majority of the seats in the USE House of Commons in this election, they'll pick Wettin to be prime minister. Or, technically, send his name to the emperor, who will have to agree, pretty much, the way things are set up now. Gustav won't just be able to appoint someone, right out of the blue, the way he did with Mike last year. There's an actual system in place."

    Count Ludwig Guenther nodded his approval.

    Mary Kat looked back at Tony. "Let me back up a bit. Since Wettin is a commoner now, Duke Ernst is away working for Gustav, and Duke Bernhard is a loose cannon, Duke Albrecht has been representing Saxe-Weimar in the SoTF House of Lords."

    Tony nodded. "Okay."

    "The USE doesn't have a House of Lords, exactly, even though its parliament is designed on the British model. In the CPE, its upper house used to be called the Chamber of Princes. We carried over the title but added the provision that if the head of state or a province was an elected or appointed official, then that official represented the province in the Chamber of Princes." She smiled. "That's why our very own unassuming Ed Piazza will wind up being not just the SoTF president, but also the SoTF 'prince' in the Chamber of Princes."

    "I don't like this mixing the executive and legislative branches together," Joe Stull muttered. "We learned about checks and balances in civics. There's supposed to be three branches of government and they're supposed to be separate."

    "We all know, Joe," Tony said. "We've heard your opinion before. My wife says that Montesquieu would be proud of you."


    Mary Kat looked at Count Ludwig Guenther, got a cue, and went on. "The reason Wettin's a commoner is that when they wrote the USE constitution, they put in a requirement that the prime minister had to be from the lower house - the House of Commons, not the Chamber of Princes. So he abdicated."

    She sighed, pushing her hair back again.

    Count Ludwig Guenther smiled. "Do you have a problem?"

    "I honestly don't understand this one, myself. I mean, we'd already 'slid' Saxe-Weimar out from under him. He wasn't a ruling prince any more. Being a duke was just a kind of personal title - not political, any more. If they'd had the constitution written up then . . ." She frowned. "I hadn't thought of this before, but Mike was the president of the NUS then. He'd have been serving in the Chamber of Princes then, just like Ed is now."

    "Yes." Count Ludwig Guenther rather enjoyed watching the young up-time lawyer think.

    "But Gustavus Adolphus just sort of arbitrarily appointed Mike the prime minister of the new USE, before they got the new constitution written. Ed succeeded him as president. Oh. This is baaaaad! Once he was president, since they weren't able to have elections, then Ed appointed Mike to the House of Commons from one voting district in Thuringia, making him eligible to be prime minister under the new constitution. Sort of ex post facto."

    She looked at the count again. "Believe me, for the USA in the twentieth century, and ever since the American constitution was adopted, ex post facto was forbidden. Bad stuff. No ex post facto laws. But what else could Ed have done?"

    He nodded. "I am familiar with the platitude that hard cases make bad law."

    "Okay. But things were really crazy those few weeks right after the Battle of Wismar, so they had to do something sort of . . . retroactive . . . to fix the situation. Also, because Mike and Wettin had made a sort of gentlemen's agreement, Ed appointed Wettin to the House of Commons from another voting district in Thuringia. And . . . stuff happened."

    "Scads of bad stuff," Joe Stull muttered. "I know all about it. It was all over West Virginia, up-time, like slime. Horace Bolender and his cronies down-time, too. 'One hand washes the other.'"

    "Okay." Mary Kat looked around the room. "This is what I really don't understand. Only about a dozen people were eligible to serve in the Chamber of Princes back then. Two of those were Gustavus Adolphus being the Duke of Mecklenburg and Gustavus Adolphus being the Duke of Pomerania. Brunswick. Hesse-Kassel. Ed. The governor of Magdeburg Province, who's elected, like Ed.

    "Now, since, the Congress of Copenhagen, there are several more, and a bunch of them are the provincial administrators that Gustavus Adolphus appointed - his own guys in Westphalia, Upper Rhine, and Mainz. There will be another appointed member of the upper house from Swabia once things settle down there, but it doesn't look like that will happen in time for this election. Those appointed administrators may or may not get elected as the heads of those provinces in this election. I'm not even sure if Gustavus is planning to throw them open for election this time around."

    Nobody else had anything to contribute on that issue, so after a pause, Mary Kat continued.

    "But, since Copenhagen, there actually already are more elected members of the upper house - the mayors of the new expanded imperial city-provinces like Hamburg and Frankfurt am Main. But none of those elected members can ever be prime minister, any more than Ed can, because the constitution says that the prime minister has to come from the House of Commons, the lower house."

    "Your analysis is admirably succinct," Count Ludwig Guenther said. "And correct."

    "I never really thought about this before." Mary Kat looked at the count. "Where does this leave, uh, guys like you? Nobles who hang onto their titles but aren't princes? You don't get to be in the Chamber of Princes and you don't get to be in the House of Commons."

    "If they are my age? They may resign themselves to exerting local political influence only, at the level of the provinces. Or they may accept appointive positions in the USE executive branch, as Wilhelm of Hesse-Kassel's brother Hermann has done."

    Mary Kat nodded. "He's Secretary of State. And Wettin's brother, Duke Ernst, is regent in the Upper Palatinate."

    "If they are younger? Why, in my opinion, they should think of abdicating their titles, so they can enter the House of Commons." Count Ludwig Guenther smiled wryly. "That, I believe, was in large part the point of it all."

    Joe Stull shook his head. "Sure does make a man understand the proverb about not watching anyone make laws or sausages. But you're off on a tangent. Way out in left field. Can we get back to Duke Albrecht of Saxe-Weimar running against Ed Piazza?"

    Mary Kat checked where she was on the outline she had brought to the meeting. At least they'd warned her a couple of days ahead of time that they wanted a briefing. She wasn't coming in cold.



    "Way back when we - well, not me as a part of 'we' because I sure wasn't on the committee - but when the constitutional subcommittee of the Emergency Committee drew up the NUS constitution, back in 1631, Grantville wasn't setting up a parliament. Our constitution sets up a congress. It's turned into a state legislature for all practical purposes, now that we're a province of the USE, but we're still calling it 'congress' and it's still organized pretty much the same. With a 'house and senate' structure, except -"

    "How many 'excepts' are there going to be?" Joe asked.

    "A lot. If you'll just let me finish what I'm saying now . . ." Mary Kat sighed. "Sorry, Joe. I'm getting frazzled."

    "I'm frazzling you. Sorry, go ahead. I'll keep my mouth shut."

    "In the deal that Mike and Gustavus Adolphus made after the Croat Raid in 1632, Gustavus Adolphus, back when he was the Captain General and not the emperor yet, made Mike agree that the NUS had to have a House of Lords. Except not like the English House of Lords, where guys got to come just because they had titles. That would never have worked, because the German noble houses don't use primogeniture."

    Joe broke his promise and opened his mouth. "What the hell's that?"

    "Oldest son takes it all. That's too simple, but not-too-simple would take all night to explain. In England, just the one guy was noble. In the Germanies, all the sons and daughters are noble. We'd have ended up looking like Poland or someplace if we'd let them all into the NUS House of Lords. So the House of Lords that Ms. Mailey - it was her, really - designed was more like the Chamber of Princes. Not every noble in the NUS had a seat in it. If the place being represented had a ruling count or duke or something, he was automatically in it."

    She waved across the room. "Like Count Ludwig Guenther for Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt when it joined the NUS, or Margrave Christian of Bayreuth, now, after the Ram Rebellion. But for Grantville, and Badenburg, and other places without lords that joined the NUS, the person elected to the House of Lords could be a commoner and was called a senator. Like Becky. Didn't have to be a noble. Plus, nobles who weren't rulers didn't have a seat in the House of Lords. Just the ones who used to be in the Reichstag."

    "Okay," Tony Adducci said.

    Joe Stull shook his head. "Not okay by me. I'm getting a headache already."

    Mary Kat stood up. "And, now, here's the point, so pay attention, Joe. Sort of the reverse, and it's never been amended - just got carried over to the SoTF without change. The constitution that the Emergency Committee drafted didn't say that the president of the NUS had to be a commoner. Just a citizen."

    Tony brought his chair forward so hard that the front legs skidded on the hardwood floor of Chad Jenkins' living room. "Oh, God. Why not?"

    Chad Jenkins shrugged. "Because it damned well didn't occur to the constitutional subcommittee. We were flying by the seat of our pants, back then, all of us. It just didn't occur to anybody to put in a requirement that the president had to be a commoner."

    Missy Jenkins frowned. "Not even to Ms. Mailey?"

    Her father shook his head. "Nope. Who dreamed, back then, that any noble was ever going to want to run for president of the NUS?"

    Tony's next contribution was, "Flying, fucking, triple-damn."

    Mary Kat looked at Countess Emelie a little apologetically. "So. Duke Albrecht's got a grandfathered seat in the SoTF House of Lords. He doesn't have to run for that. Then the Crown Loyalists figured out that he can run for president against Ed, too. Without resigning from the House of Lords, unless he gets elected."

    Count Ludwig Guenther nodded. "Which he doesn't have a prayer of doing. The Piazza-Ableidinger ticket is going to win the SoTF in a landslide and the Crown Loyalists know it. Which is why they aren't wasting a viable candidate running against Ed Piazza."

    Missy giggled. "Or against Dad, for Becky's seat."

    "I am sure," Count Ludwig Guenther said a little sententiously, "that they seriously regret having nominated Marcus von Drachhausen just two weeks before he was arrested for attempted rape. Not to mention the subsequent charges brought against him in the Bolender scandal. They've been playing catch-up ever since, trying to find someone with the sheer gall to accept a belated special nomination."

    Joe Stull reached for another beer. "I really can't say that I wish them luck."

    In the carriage on the way back to Rudolstadt, Count Ludwig Guenther looked at his wife a little anxiously. "Do you think I should have made my point more forcefully, dear? I meant my statement that I don't think Duke Albrecht wants to run against Piazza for president of the State of Thuringia-Franconia. At all. I am honestly afraid that many of the up-timers are likely to hold it against him personally once the election is over. That will make things much more difficult in the House of Lords, and possibly spill over into the SoTF's ability to influence measures in the USE parliament. Because of the relationship with Wettin. While it's true enough that Albrecht isn't a viable candidate in his own right, his name on the ballot will help with name recognition for Wettin."

    Emelie leaned her head against his shoulder. "Why on earth would they hold it against him?"

    "Because so many of them, in their hearts, have contempt for the art of government. The art of politics that is, in its essence, compromise. The ability to see that the other side may also have a point. They want a world that comes in black and white; absolute good or absolute evil. They find multiple shades of gray frustrating.

    "It is, I think, one of the reasons that I am able, and Gustavus Adolphus, for that matter, is able, to work with Stearns. He, very refreshingly, came to us as an experienced negotiator. In the odd environment of these 'unions,' to be sure, but still with what amounts to extensive experience in diplomacy. He realizes that after the negotiations are over, life must continue. That it is the attitude of 'either we smash them utterly or they will smash us utterly' that drew the Germanies into this disastrous war."

    His voice trailed off. "Not to mention the Lutheran theological negotiations of last spring."

    Emelie shifted her head, so she could look up. "You mean Stearns understands that a victory, to be secure, must lead to a peace that both sides can bear."

    "Precisely. That it is unwise to demonize the other side. Except, of course, in those rare cases when the other side is utterly demonic. But Albrecht of Saxe-Weimar is by no means a demon. Not even an enemy of the Fourth of July Party. Merely, for the duration of this campaign, an opponent."

    "But if Prime Minister Stearns understands all this . . . ?"

    "There is no way that Stearns can be omnipresent, my dear. He is now an actor on the national - even the international - stage. But we must somehow make sure that the scenes being acted in our provincial theater . . . I am far from sure how to phrase this."

    "Remain in harmony with the overall theme of the larger play?"

    "Excellent, dearest. Excellent."

    "I think the carriage is coming to a halt. We are home."

    The count nodded absentmindedly. "I must speak with Piazza. He also, of course, understands negotiations. School boards. Parent-teacher associations. Such a plethora of training grounds for an aspiring participant in the 'great game.' It's a pity that so many of them were politically apathetic."

    Emelie smiled as the footman handed her down from the coach. "The 'great game.' Kipling. I have read Kipling, too."

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