Understanding the Federal Council

  • by Eric Tiler Corman, Bricklyn Eagle Political News correspondent
  • July 30, 2021

Summary of Article ➤ The Federal Council of the Realm of Bricklyn (FCRB) is the national governing body. Gain an appreciation of the FCRB’s responsibilities under the Bricklyn Constitution, as well as the contrasting role of the King.

Warning to readers. As a reporter, I shouldn’t be telling you this, but unless you’re a political or comparative government junkie, or a reporter like me, you may find some of the following a bit dry to read. In that case, just focus on the material I’ve highlighted in bold!

The Federal Council of the Realm of Bricklyn (FCRB) came into existence on the day of the Realm‘s founding: May 14, 1961, following an advisory referendum put to all citizens of the three cities of Bricklyn, South Bricklyn, and Bricklyn Junction to: (1) disassociate from the Danish Realm; (2) associate to create the Tripartite Realm of Bricklyn; and (3) adopt the draft Constitution for Bricklyn.

The citizenry of the three cities by a 3-1 margin voted in support of the three questions. Voters also elected their representatives to the newly formed FCRB.

Given the relatively small population of the three cities making up the Realm of Bricklyn — at the time of founding in 1961, just 21,755 citizens (36,054 today) — Bricklyn’s founders did not see the need for a large legislative body. Instead, federal level decisions are made by the seven member FCRB, whose members are elected to three year terms.📍

📍There has been a regular tug and pull between federal and local responsibilities which are beyond the scope of what we’re covering today. Suffice it to say, all “foreign affairs,” including relations with both Inland and Outland communities are within the purview of the FCRB.

Six of the seven Council seats are allocated by a population-based formula. Since the founding of the Realm the allocation has not varied, with Bricklyn having three seats on the Council; South Bricklyn having two; and Bricklyn Junction one seat. We should note that even the smallest of the three cities is guaranteed at least one seat on the Council.

The seventh seat, however, is the most important one, as that Councilor is elected by a vote of the entire Realm — that is, of the residents of all three cities. It is comparable to what can be called an “at-large” seat. But there is one critical distinction. The at-large Councilor is also designated the President of the Council. Since 2012 at-large Councilor Hilma Plater-Zybrick has served as President.

The Role of the Council President

The President of the FCRB, like all other Councilors, has only one vote on the Council. However, she also has several other key responsibilities, one of which is serving on certain Special Committees set out in the Constitution as having the power to make key appointments. For example, the appointment of the Realm’s Chief Prognosticator is made by a three-member Special Committee consisting of the Federal Council President, as well as the Realm’s Principal Historian and the Realm’s Chief Scientist.

Photo from the 2012 coronation of YMK Brickburger, which occurred shortly after both his election as Mayor of the City of Bricklyn, and the election of Hilma Plater-Zybrick as Federal Council President (back left with orange hair). Also visible in photo: Chamber of Council President Thomas Brickorti; Chief Magistrate Ruth Plater Kinsburg; and a member of the Realm of Bricklyn Guard.

The Constitution also gives the Federal Council President the power to appoint the Chief Counsels for Inland and Outland Affairs, as well as the position of Chief Magistrate and several other key federal positions.

However, the Constitution does provide that these and other appointments are subject to consent of a majority of the Council (in other words, four Councilors, including the President as Councilor, must vote to consent.

Each member of the Council is also assigned to head one of the Realm’s departments. Assignments (or reassignments) are made by the Federal Chancellor in consultation with Council members:

  • ➤The Department of Outland Affairs (headed by the President)
  • ➤The Department of Inland Affairs (headed by a Council member)
  • ➤The Department of the Environment (headed by a Council member)
  • ➤The Department of Transportation (headed by a Council member)
  • ➤The Department of Commerce (headed by a Council member)
  • ➤The Department of Environmental Protection (headed by a Council member)
  • ➤The Department of Justice (headed by a Council member)
    • ➤ note: The Department of Mediation is headed by the Federal Chancellor in his/her capacity as Chief Mediator.

Is Malter Thurnbrick the Real Decision Maker?

Federal Chancellor Malter Thurnbrick in the Federal Council chambers (which also serves as the Royal Hall when needed for the King’s ceremonial duties).

You probably haven’t heard much of Malter Thurnbrick. After all he’s only a “humble civil servant” (as he calls himself) who directs the Federal Council’s staff of seven.

Yet his position as Federal Chancellor is often extremely influential in developing federal policy positions for the Realm, especially in its dealings with Burlington as well as other Outland and Inland cities.

The Federal Chancellor is a position set out in Bricklyn’s Constitution:

Article I, Sec. 5. “The Federal Chancellor shall be appointed by the President of the Council for a three-year term, subject to the consent of a majority of the full Council. The Federal Chancellor shall: (a) provide staff support to the Federal Council; (b) have the right to table motions of the Federal Council for up to 30 days; (c) be responsible, after consulting with Councilors, for assigning or reassigning Councilors as Department Directors; (d) serve as the Chief Mediator of the Realm; and (e) have such other duties and responsibilities as the Council sees fit as specified by majority vote of the Council.”

Some savvy, well-traveled readers may already have noted several similarities between Bricklyn’s Federal Council and the Federal Council of Switzerland. One such parallel is in the role of the Federal Chancellor. As Federal Chancellor Malter Thurnbrick told us: “Yes, for sure there are lessons Bricklyn’s founders took in drafting our Constitution. They drew not just on their Danish heritage, but also looked at Outland countries such as Switzerland, and, of course, took heed of their new homeland within the State of Vermont.”📍

📍Vermont’s influence can more deeply be seen at the local level, and in particular, in the practice of town meeting. More on that in a future post.

Walter Thurnherr, Federal Chancellor of Switzerland. Photo from Chancellery web site. Of course, his lack of a beard clearly distinguishes him from Bricklyn’s Malter Thurnbrick.

As Malter Thurnbrick continues: “The Bricklyn Federal Council certainly draws on aspects of Switzerland’s Federal Council, as does my position as Federal Chancellor. My ‘counterpart’ in Switzerland, the curiously named Walter Thurnherr, nicely described his role as Federal Chancellor with these words: ‘I don’t see myself as the eighth federal councillor, but rather as the most senior civil servant. My power is limited, but I do have a certain influence. My role is to mediate, offer guidance and coordinate, and I can make proposals.’ … I couldn’t have said it better myself!”📍

📍See “The Federal Chancellery” on the Swiss Federal Chancellery FCh website.

… and What Role Does Bricklyn’s King Play?

Yes, Bricklyn does have a King. Today, that is YMK Spiro Brickburger. However, his role is primarily ceremonial, and to serve as a “goodwill ambassador” to other Inland and Outland communities. Let’s quickly take a look at how Bricklyn’s Constitution defines the role.

Article II, Sec. 1: The King or Queen of the Realm of Bricklyn shall be the then elected Mayor of the City of Bricklyn, that City being the capital city of the Realm, unless such Mayor declines to accept the appointment as Queen or King, in which event the Queen or King shall be appointed by majority vote of the Federal Council for a term of three years. 📍

YMK Brickburger after being crowned KIng of the Realm of Bricklyn

📍By traditional Bricklyn practices of modesty, most past Mayors of the City of Bricklyn have declined being simultaneously appointed King. However, YMK Brickburger chose to accept the Kingly role, saying it would “strengthen the impregnable bonds of comity throughout the Realm.” Political analysts have still been trying to understand the meaning of Brickburger’s remark.

Photo of YMK Brickburger after being crowned; holding the sacred foundation tile of Bricklyn.

Article II, Sec. 2: The King or Queen’s principal responsibility is to promote the values of unity, conciliation, honesty, and kindness in the Realm of Bricklyn, and to represent these values in dealings with other Inland and Outland communities.

If Necessary, as a Last Resort

The King, as well as all elected officials in the Realm, whether serving at the federal or local level, are subject to removal from office. As the Constitution provides:

Article II, Sec. 3: “All elected officials, whether at the federal or local level, as well as the King, can be removed from office before the end of their term if a majority of voters of their jurisdiction so vote at a special election. Such special election shall be take place within 45 days of the receipt and verification by the Chief Clerk of the appropriate jurisdiction of a petition signed by at least 20 percent of the registered voters of said jurisdiction.”

We’ll soon be turning our attention to some heated developments related to the current King, WMK Brickburger, including a recently initiated petition effort to simultaneously oust him as King of the Realm and as Mayor of the City of Bricklyn.

Key Council Rulings

The Bricklyn Eagle has already provided you with information on two key FCRB rulings: the recent ruling finding Facebrick guilty of antitrust and privacy law violations; and the Council’s landmark 1992 ruling limiting network access within the Realm. Given the central role that the FCRB plays in Bricklyn, you’re sure to be hearing more about their decisions in future posts.✥

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