[OtE] Institutions of the Democratic Republic of Al Amarja - Democratic Commons

The "Institutions of the Democratic Republic of Al Amarja" articles series aim at presenting detailed data and non-player characters for the Over the Edge setting.

I have already posted most of the text of this series of articles on the Over the Edge mailing list. However, I'm well aware that not all Over the Edge Game Moderators have subscribed to it. Therefore, I'll repost these texts in completed and expanded versions, in several installments. Each installment will aim at presenting a specific institution of our beloved Democratic Republic of Al Amarja.

Legislative Power -- The Democratic Commons

The Democratic Commons function just like the "Ekklesia" Assembly of Ancient Greece did: there is no election necessary for seating at the Al Amarjan Democratic Chamber of Commons. All representatives of Al Amarja's population can come and go at any time from the sessions of the Commons, which are permanent. There are no less than 3000 seats available in the Commons, though rarely more than 2000 are occupied at any time.

The Chamber itself seems like a great amphitheater, a half circle equipped with large marble benches. The carpeted stone ground is usually littered with various rubbish, such as ash, torn papers, used condoms, empty syringes, and mouldering food.

The inner amphitheater itself is surrounded by great cracked and crumbling marble, granite, and sometimes plaster columns, often but not always fluted, the capitals of which are either in the corithian style or, less frequently, in the doric style. The outer stone walls of the amphitheater are pierced with colossal yet cracked archways, carved with ornamental bas-relief, usually friezes picturing mythic figures and situations where not completely eroded.

Natural light emanates from a large glass and steel dome in the center of the eighteen meters-high ceiling, whereas artificial light comes from chandeliers suspended at regular intervals. Most of the archways are sealed with concrete in order to house the offices of the clerks, but some of them offer various services to the members of the Commons, such as restrooms, bar, fast-food restaurant, cigarlounge, drug lounge, pet shop, music shop, etc.

All offices housed in the archways are exactly identical in furniture : desks and chairs bolted to the floor, 5 year-old desktop computers and printers bolted to the desks (in order to avoid thefts), and a small toilet with faucet. Clerks of the Democratic Commons and clerks in the service of senators are all assigned a specific desk on their first day.

Directly opposite the inner half-circle of the benches, a half-dozen meters removed from the lowest point of the anphitheater, stands a great marble platform, a dais covered by velvety drapes of a dark, indeterminate colour, which was probably originally red (or green, or maybe blue ?) but is now totally unfathomable due to the heavy traces of dirt and dust ingrained in it. The platform itself has three levels, each one meter behind and two meters higher than the lower level.

On the lowest level, three pulpits allow the members of the Commons to express themselves publicly on the Act under discussion. However, most of the time, the topic spoken upon by the orators has absolutely no relationship whatsoever with Parliament Law. Since the pulpits are not equipped with any amplification system, the speakers need a sound chest if they want to make themselves heard through the constant noise reigning in the huge amphitheater. This usually involves drowning out the voices of the two other eventual orators as well as the clerks currently shouting at the tops of their lungs. One notable orator is Rigor Kwasek, who usually comes read one of his epic, nihilistic poems twice a week.

On the medium level, three very long wooden desks with wooden benches allow clerks, between communications by their Senator to the members of the Commons and trips to the restrooms, to rest, play cards, do drugs, eat, sleep, write, study, boldly stack, clumsily drop, inexpertly swap, randomly (re)organize, systematically disorganize, inadvertenly order, file, destroy, merge or uncoordinate various sheets, folders, forms or documents of varying importance and legality.

The highest level is occupied by a desk, behind which seats the session president in a continuous manner (no restrooms for him). The session president is the person whose function consists in organizing the discussions and guiding the debate in the Commons. Theoretically, the function is voluntary. In practice, when the seat is vacant, the session president is randomly designed among the members present in the Commons, by whatever means catch the member's fancy: Dice, straws, snail races, rat fights, etc. The session president must seat at the very least four hours, but may not seat more than twenty-four hours.

A constant flurry of activity (utter confusion? total befuddlement?) reigns, as 504 clerks, two of each being attached to one Senator, register, pass notes, take and cancel appointments, shout at each other, wave arms and various forms in the air, inform or disinform the Members of Parliament. The Members of Parliament themselves either engage in comparable activities, or eat, drink, sleep, head for or come back from the restrooms, and participate in the various plots, lobbies and conspiracies gravitating around the next Parliament Act scheduled for discussion. A lot of low-lives can be seen lying on the marble benches, taking advantage of the heated atmosphere. Burger often attend as well, as the sessions of the Al Amarjan Democratic Commons are sooo colorful (some say "picturesque")...

For an outsider, this all seems to be either absolute chaos, or a complete waste of time. Periodically, as various amendments to various laws are voted, a majority of the Commons Members rises up in outrage, acclamation, both, or neither (difficult to be sure).

The Commons are not located in Freedom City as could reasonably be expected, but in The Edge. The exact adress of the Al Amarjan Democratic Commons is 13, Peace Cul-de-sac, Justice Barrio.

Notable GMCs

Hamir "Twitch" Harlin Obnoxious Diplobrat

Edouard Xvii Psychotic Orator