Aurora. When the government of Aurora was first set up it was intended that the executive officer fulfil only ceremonial duties. He was to greet dignitaries from other worlds, open all meetings of the Legislature, preside over its deliberations and vote only to break a tie. After the River Controversy, however, there was a general determination never to allow controversy to endanger Auroran society again. It became customary, therefore, to settle disputes in a private and peaceable manner outside the Legislature. When the legislators finally voted, it was in an agreed-upon fashion, so that there was always a large majority on one side or the other.
The key figure in the settlement of disputes was the Chairman of the Legislature. He was held to be above the struggle and his power - which, although nil in theory, was considerable in practice - only held as long as he was seen to be so. The chairmen therefore jealously guarded their objectivity and, as long as they succeeded in this, it was they who usually made the decisions that settled any controversy in one direction or the other.
The Chairman's term of office was ordinarily thirty years, with the opportunity for reelection by the Legislature for another thirty years. If, however, a vote were to go against a Chairman's recommendation, the Chairman would be forced to resign forthwith and there would be a governmental crisis while the Legislature tried to find another Chairman under conditions of bitter dispute. Few legislators would be willing to risk that and the chance of getting a majority to vote against the Chairman, when that was the consequence, was almost nil.
1. The River Controversy. A dull episode in Auroran history in which impenetrable arguments over the proper division of hydro-electric powers led to the nearest approach to civil war the planet had ever seen.
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