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The Wizengamot and membership

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Download, Oct 9, 2018.

  1. Download

    Download Supreme Mugwump DLP Supporter

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    I did a search and was surprised there have been very few threads on this topic. I'm curious what others think about how it works, specifically how its membership is selected.

    So the most common fanon idea seems to be the hereditary "Lords and Ladies" Wizengamot, where selected by some process (usually age and/or wealth), families gain a seat on it which is passed through the family some how.

    While I used to be ambivalent to the concept, I now feel the need to specifically reject it. In the magical world, what really matters is the power you possess, and not money or the power your ancestors had. For example there is no evidence Dumbledore comes from a long line of distinguished wizards or that he is wealthy, yet he is Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, which presumably is second only to the Minister of Magic for power (a position he refused). How did he get it? While he does seem politically quite capable, he never had much luck out-manoeuvring Malfoy when it came to Fudge. I can therefore only believe his power comes from his defeat of Grindelwald and his general mastery of several magical arts.

    Which comes to how I suspect the Wizengamot is chosen; lifelong/indefinite-length elected appointments. Baring death, resignation or forced removal you're on the Wizengamot as long as you like. If magical prowess is how you get elected and your prowess doesn't ordinarily wane with age (in fact, it becomes greater as you gain more knowledge), why wouldn't you stick around? There's definitely a process for removal though, as evidenced by Dumbledore's sacking. Presumably to deal with witches and wizards who are losing their minds due to age and such.

    Of course, in addition to this, it is clear there are voting Ministerial appointments to the Wizengamot as well as evidenced by Fudge, Umbridge and Bones voting at Harry's trial.

    Ideas? Tell me I'm horribly wrong and should leave?
     
  2. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast Prestige DLP Supporter

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    I'm not sure that Chief Warlock is intended to be a powerful position. I generally assume it to be a kind of equivalent to the Speaker of the House of Commons - a position of prestige, but without a lot of power... you can no longer participate in debates or vote as you are supposed to be the neutral arbitrator. This suits Dumbledore's aversion to holding political power quite nicely.

    Incidentally I'm not sure if we know whether Fudge was able to remove Dumbledore entirely from the Wizengamot, or just remove him as Chief Warlock.

    As for membership, I generally take the position that the Wizengamot chooses its own members. You're appointed for life, and when a person dies or resigns, Warlocks will put forward suggestions for their replacement, which the Wizengamot votes on until someone has majority support. In practice I imagine a lot of quid pro quo occuring between political factions, where they agree to support each other's appointments in order to break a deadlock. This would make it an extremely conservative body, but also a fairly independent one.

    Regarding the role of the Minister, I generally just have him able to appoint and dismiss the Chief Warlock.

    Alternative compositions I am okay with:

    - Ministerial appointments for life, as described by Download. This would make the Wizengamot significantly less independent, with (disfunctional) dynamics similar to the contemporary House of Lords. The biggest issue is a constantly expanding membership as each Minister would stuff the house with their own appointments (or get what they want by threatening to do so). We know that the Minister can be forced out of his position and the Wizengamot is really the only possible mechanism in canon for doing so, so this system does need to include some checks on the Minister's ability to sway the Wizengamot.

    - Democratic election as a Parliamentary chamber. Works best in an overtly political fic with adult characters. We know that wizarding Britain holds an election every 7 years. It would not be hard at all to make it a Parliamentary system, with the Minister being a member of the Wizengamot who had the support of a majority. The problem with this is that it's difficult to see someone like Dumbledore standing for election every 7 years... campaigning feels below his dignity. Perhaps it is a composite chamber with some elected members and some appointments-for-life.

    - Membership upon application. Essentially the Wizengamot would have no fixed or maximum number of members. Any person could apply to join, and the Wizengamot would vote on their joining.

    - Combinations of the above, such as a person applying, having to be approved by the Minister, and then having to also be approved by the Wizengamot. Or Ministerial appointments subject to Wizengamot approval.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2018
  3. Sataniel

    Sataniel Professor

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    Only two members of the family, with varying date range. The one who was against the Minister being for a shorter time.

    I would say that most of the seats are elected (possibly in popular election loke MfM, possibly in other way), don't have a limited term of office, but probably can also be from inside. Some seats also seem to come from Ministerial functions.
     
  4. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast Prestige DLP Supporter

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    Somewhat awkward that the two date ranges given are not divisible by 7, ruling out the possibility that they are elected in the same vote as the Minister in a Parliamentary system. Unless they both resigned before the end of their term (or unless there were early elections in those years).
     
  5. Sataniel

    Sataniel Professor

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    That's why I assumed no term of office.
     
  6. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast Prestige DLP Supporter

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    Incidentally, if Chief Warlock is a Speaker-like position, then Fudge would actually have been constitutionally correct to dismiss Dumbledore for announcing Voldemort's return. It would not be the role of the Chief Warlock to participate in debates.
     
  7. Download

    Download Supreme Mugwump DLP Supporter

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    Unless there are a fixed number of places meaning Fudge can only insert new people when one dies, resigns or is kicked off by the body.
     
  8. Glimmervoid

    Glimmervoid Groundskeeper

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    In addition to the Minister's ability to appoint people, I also find it significant that a number of senior Ministry members seem to sit in the Wizengamot.

    Three possibility:

    1) Senior Ministry members can only be appointed from the Wizengamot - similar to ministers in a parliamentary government.

    2) Some ministry posts come with an ex-officio Wizengamot seat.

    3) Appointment to the Wizengamot may happen by a unwritten constitutional process similar to the appointment of ministers to the Privy Council.

    I think either 2 or 3 is the most likely.
     
  9. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast Prestige DLP Supporter

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    4) Some influential individuals coincidentally possess both Wizengamot seats and Ministerial positions, but the two are independent of each other.

    I consider this to be the most likely, to be honest. We see two Ministry officials with Wizengamot seats: Madam Bones, who is a Head of Department, and Umbridge, who is the Senior Undersecretary to the Minister. These are two entirely different kinds of position, and on top of that, we don't see Ludo Bagman at Harry's trial (explicitly noted to be before the full Wizengamot), so it's definitely not the case that all Heads of Department get a seat.
     
  10. Glimmervoid

    Glimmervoid Groundskeeper

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    Good point, Taure.

    Also a possible hybrid model

    5) Bishops to the House of Lords. A few Ministerial offices always get a seat (Minister, maybe a few others), with a other important ministry officials getting a seat from a limited pool in order of seniority. So not every Department head would get a seat, just the most senior.
     
  11. Download

    Download Supreme Mugwump DLP Supporter

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    Games and Sports certainly doesn't deserve a seat.
     
  12. Methos

    Methos Groundskeeper DLP Supporter

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    why not base the Wizengamot on more ancient practices ? Roman senate?

    Who are the eligible voters ? any over 17 years old adult British wizard/witch ?
    Or there are other requirements ?
    Maybe use the ceremonial counties of Britain (or some other old division) ? and each country send X amount of representatives ?
     
  13. darklordmike

    darklordmike Auror

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    It's also worth noting that Lucius Malfoy wasn't present at Harry's trial, and that it took place in front of the entire Wizengamot, as Taure said.

    If the seats were hereditary, Malfoy no doubt would have been there, as the family 'emigrated' in 1066 and are part of the Sacred Twenty Eight. I guess you could argue that he got kicked out after the first war, but that's doubtful if they bought his imperius defense.

    But even if the seats are appointed/elected, it's odd that Malfoy isn't on it. He's extremely well-connected: he's rich, knows everybody, advises the Minister, and sits on the Hogwarts Board of Governors. If that doesn't get you an appointment to the Wizengamot, what does? Maybe he prefers to be the power behind the throne, but a Wizengamot seat seems like the sort of respectable veneer he would pursue.
     
  14. Methos

    Methos Groundskeeper DLP Supporter

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    maybe he is too young ? there is also the consequences of second year?

    Lucius if I remember right was busy gaining entrance to DoM?
     
  15. Blorcyn

    Blorcyn High Inquisitor DLP Supporter DLP Silver Supporter

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    As always, Taure has given a wonderful, precise and comprehensive categorisation of possible Wizengamot models.

    In my one fic that had a scene with a Wizengamot, I covered mainly a judicial role although I now prefer a permutation of one of the ideas Taure discussed above.

    So, as we saw Harry tried before the minister and the Wizengamot in OotP, and we found out that they are the remains of the governing body prior to the Ministry, I feel they should offer both a legislative role and a judicial role.

    To both serve as the Supreme Court, and offer a sober thought and rubberstamp on ministry legislature. In that role, the ministry would understandably try and fill it with Ministry folk, and for moral authority its other members would be from normal society to represent the society it serves.

    I quite like a mix between appointment and application.

    Dumbledore is both Supreme Mugwump of the ICW and Chief Warlock.

    The mugwump and ICW feel to me like a UN analogue, mugwump meaning something like aloof, and in this would be a much more diplomatic role without many formal powers. Chief Warlock feels to me more like Chief Justiciar - an old English great officer of state, previously similar in role to the Prime minister.

    Therefore, I don't think Chief Warlock (the magical equivalent) should be necessarily an apolitical role. I think it should be nominally similar to the minister for magic in the wizengamot but with no real executive power anymore, to have almost completely atrophied.

    I think it should have deciding vote for even assemblies, and then I also think both the minister and the warlock should be in agreement for an appointment on application to the Wizengamot.

    I think applications can be from the wizard themselves, nominated by an institution of good renown (banks, hogwarts, etc.) or by a Wizengamot member (the most common).

    This would allow some jockeying for position between the Warlock and the Minister, at least historically (in the way that in olden times the House of Lords leader and the House of Commons leader were roughly similar in standing). If the warlock's stamp was a formality, however, then it would just be an advisory thing for the minister and that would be quite canon compliant for Dumbledore and Fudge's early book relationship.

    I think either warlock or minister should be overthrowable by vote of no confidence from the full Wizengamot.

    For the Minister, I really like Taure's MP for Hogsmeade method of appointment.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2018
  16. Sesc

    Sesc Slytherin at Heart Moderator

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    I mean ... did we ever even collect the facts? From the hearing chapter:

    I'm not sure this implies that Fudge, Bones (left) and Umbridge (right) are part of the Wizengamot, for instance. Especially as:
    They are specially named for their purpose there, and that there are people not in the Wizengamot on the bench, despite the prior general description of "all ... wearing ... robes with an ... 'W'" is obvious because Percy surely isn't a Wizengamot member.

    Unless (and this is possible, I guess), anyone who sits there gets such a robe simply by that very virtue, and "member of the wizengamot" is not (only) something fix, but you may become part of it as there is need, just for a single instance. Their sitting place is also called "the judge's balcony":
    Ordinarily, the wizengamot would be the jury, I think, but then again, they are called "judges" later.

    Moving on, this doesn't really make sense either:
    Harry has this right under the Wizengamot Charter of Rights. Then what has the policy of the DMLE to do with it? Only one should be applicable. Either it's a hearing in DMLE terms, or it's a Wizengamot trial. But Dumbledore essentially asks Bones if the CoR is Department policy there, which is nonsense. Those two are entirely unrelated.


    Of course, if you do accept that Bones, Fudge and Umbridge aren't part of the Wizengamot, what's strange is that Fudge is 1) Minister, 2) Chair, 3) Interrogator but 4) -- votes in the trial, but that always was strange, that's not a new problem. I'm actually inclined to say he doesn't really have a vote, but just raises his hand to show his opinion, and ditto for Umbridge (Madam Bones isn't mentioned to vote) -- and that actually, he has no business taking on all those roles in the first place, but like actual English law, a lot is not specifically codified, but based on precedent, so Fudge's leeway to do whatever he wants is exactly as large as his position is secure. Essentially, he's not breaking any rules as long as people think he isn't. He can get away with whatever people allow him to get away with, and, clearly, he has enough political cover to push through this obviously biased trial with the sole purpose of removing Harry from the Wizarding world (and public).
     
  17. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast Prestige DLP Supporter

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    I think he's simply asking Bones if it is still the DMLE's policy to obey the law.

    I think the closest comparison are the old House of Lords trials, where a noble could only be tried by his peers. (While the "House of Lords" continued to be the highest court of appeal until 2009, this was not the House of Lords sitting as a chamber, but rather the the much smaller judicial sub-committee of the House of Lords. A full trial before the Lords was much rarer, with the last one taking place in 1935).

    With respect to Fudge, Bones and Umbridge, while they are expressed to be interrogators, as you say they do appear to vote (it would be odd for Fudge and Umbridge to do so, but not Bones). For me that is fairly conclusive that they are members -- whether in an individual capcity or by virtue of their position is unknown.
     
  18. Sesc

    Sesc Slytherin at Heart Moderator

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    In which case I'd want to discuss my second theory.

    So the "Wizengamot" is actually a not precisely defined gathering, and what happened with that hearing turned trial is that ordinarily, Bones would be responsible and they'd be sitting in her office, but Fudge overrode that, called in the Wizengamot, and appointed himself, Umbridge and Bones as interrogators and judges for this particular instance (although, as I said, Bones isn't explicitly said to vote). And he can do that because no one stands up and says he can't -- he just made up a new rule and they didn't disagree.

    All the same, I don't think every minister and every undersecretary is a member of the Wizengamot, and quite possibly, Fudge and Umbridge were only members of the Wizengamot this one time.


    More helpful to determine usual practices would be the GoF trials, though those are called "Council of Magical Law". There we only have Crouch (in Bones' position as the head of the DMLE) chairing the session and interrogating, and the jury then votes:
    Excluding Dumbledore, by the way, he's sitting at the front, next to Crouch. So either he's not a member of the Council, not yet a member of the Wizengamot, or like you said, the Chief Warlock is a neutral role.

    Two further relevant points: People like Marchbanks are called Wizengamot "Elders", so if that is a title of whatever kind, formally or informally, possibly that is the distinction with regards to Fudge, and for the Magical Council, a number of some 200 people in the chamber is thrown around. Apparently, only the right-hand side is the jury, so simply quartering this would lead to the 50 from Harry's hearing, though it then remains unclear what the left hand side is for. Crouch's benches have to do with the DMLE, and the one opposite to this are mentioned to hold spectators.

    (As a side note, you gotta love the wiki -- again --: "The Council is hierarchically inferior to the Wizengamot, which is the Wizard High Court." Source: Well, what source?)
     
  19. Tasoli

    Tasoli Headmaster

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    Generally speaking in parlematery systems representives can/does join subcomitees. That 50 could be subcomitee of justice with rest being wizargamot members that is not part of justice subcomitee. They are probably part of some other comitee but since they are members of the wizargamot they can observe which they do since that specific example is a high profile case.

    I mean here is a list of the comitees of EU Parlemant. That might give you some ideas about what that 150 other members do in their on time;
    Foreign Affairs
    Human Rights
    Security and Defence
    Development
    International Trade
    Budgets
    Budgetary Control
    Economic and Monetary Affairs
    Employment and Social Affairs
    Environment, Public Health and Food Safety
    Industry, Research and Energy
    Internal Market and Consumer Protection
    Transport and Tourism
    Regional Development
    Agriculture and Rural Development
    Fisheries
    Culture and Education
    Legal Affairs
    Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs
    Constitutional Affairs
    Women's Rights and Gender Equality
    Petitions
     
  20. Methos

    Methos Groundskeeper DLP Supporter

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    Think how many wizards and witches are in the British isles, do they really need 150 people parliament ?
     
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