Maschenen leadership has traditionally been provided by a combination of Nischali priests, acting as spiritual advisors negotiating with spirits, and leaders of warbands, acting as firsts-among-equals, providing structure to the tribal bands which dominated Maschenen life before their arrival into Maschenya. When the tribes arrived and began accumulating land for themselves, however, it became very clear that unified action between the Maschenen tribes would be necessary to combat both Dushanlev raids from the east, and attacks from the near-Anapalyan people who resided in Western Maschenya. To unify the Maschenens, 17 warband leaders met at what would become Lanecyu and began governance, establishing first vocally, and later in writing, the First Pact, a constitution for the Grand Council, and Maschenen Governance as a whole. While originally leadership of a warband was required, among other things, the requirements have changed over time as Maschenya has detribalized.
Despite bowing to the Gwenithen Empire in the Oath of Iron, the Grand Council was given near-total control to govern Maschenya how they wished, provided they complied with basic Imperial laws. They, furthermore, were given permission to act as governors over both their former territories (the Maschenen Territories) as well as a few other regions and provinces, creating the Lanecyu Dominion, the region of the Empire governed from Lanecyu, or, to be more specific, the Grand Council.
Requirements of Membership
The standards to become a Grand Councilor have changed over time, though, by the First Pact, they are allowed to, provided the "spirit of the office remains the same." Most notably, any requirement for leadership of a warband was removed as Maschenen tribes faded into obscurity. Later, membership was opened up to residents of anywhere in the Lanecyu Dominion.
For an individual to become a Grand Council, they must be nominated by the assembled council of one of the five Regions of Maschenya, or the assembled council of any Lanecyu Dominion territory, as well as receive the approval of a major religious figure. While the religion of said figure has never been defined, they have universally been Nischali priests in the past. Following this step, the candidate would be presented to the Grand Council for a vote, and, with majority approval, would become a Grand Councilor of Maschenya.
While the Grand Council is considered to comprise 17 members, equal in status, action is sometimes necessary to direct and govern the flow of debate on issues. This role falls to the Presiding Councilor, who is appointed by consensus of the entirety of the Council. They are responsible for introducing matters to be discussed, recognizing various speakers, and acting as the voice of the council for any visitors to the body. The Presiding Councilor presides only with the continual consent of the Council, and the role changes frequently, with a given Presiding Councilor only serving for a few meetings at a time. Of course, due to the small size of the body, and that some Councilors are uninterested in the role, a specific Councilor may serve as Presiding Councilor several times in a given year. If, for whatever reason, there is no Presiding Councilor, the powers of the Presiding Councilor falls to whoever is ranked first in the Order of Precedence.
In addition to the Presiding Councilor, the Councilors are ranked by seniority in the Order of Precedence. While a councilor's place in the order generally means little, it does effect who speaks when an issue is presented to the Council. Before interactive and involved debate can begin, each councilor is given an opportunity to speak, in Order of Precedence.
While proper Political Parties do not exist within the Grand Council, most Grand Councilors belong to one of three Factions, which generally maintain the same vote and same influence within the council.
Cosmopolitans are typically the most influential of the three factions within the Grand Council, and are considered to be the "Perpetual Majority." They hold a pro-imperial position, believing that imperialization of Maschenya and the Lanecyu are best for the territories, though none would go as far as to actively denounce Nischalism.
If the Cosmopolitans are the "Perpetual Majority," the Conservatives serve as the "Perpetual Opposition." They believe strongly in Maschenen tradition, and believe any attempt to adopt Imperial traditions more fully will weaken the territories.
The Progressives are the third and smallest faction within the Grand Council, typically counting only a small handful of members. They have no unified position on the Imperial-Maschenen axis, believing that, regardless, Maschenya must be modernized. Many Progressives, as such, have flirted with Vitalism, and more than a few Progressive affiliates have denounced both Maschenya and the Empire as a whole as being horribly, and almost impossibly archaic.
Current Membership of the Grand Council