Also See:

Constitutions of the Nations of the World, (the real ones).

The Constitution

of the Democratic Commonwealth of Bergonia

See provisions concerning: Free Speech, Religion, Privacy Rights, Fundamental Liberty,

Articles of the Constitution:


  Establishment of the Fourth Commonwealth  (A Preamble)

2   Territory, Emblems and Capital of the Commonwealth
3   Fundamental Principles
4   Federalism

  Citizenship, Rights and Duties 

6   Congress
6A   Peoples Assembly  (added in the 1990 reenactment)
7   The Executive Council
8   The President
9   The Officers
10   Language
11   The Economy
12   Corporations (Cooperatives)
13   Money and Taxation
14   The Courts and Procedure
15   Amendments


The original revolutionary constitution came into effect after 78% of the electorate cast yes votes in a nationwide referendum held on 7 October 1935.  The provisional revolutionary government organized the first elections in 1936 under Articles of Transition, and the constitution took full force and effect with the installation of its first government on 4 September 1936.

Article 15 of the Constitution mandated a new constitutional convention in "the first election after the fiftieth year," which everyone understood to mean 1988.  Therefore Congress organized the election of a constitutional convention contemporaneously with the regular 1988 elections. 

In late 1988 the convention, consisting of 888 delegates, convened in Ceiolai (away from the politicians in Lefitoni).  It concluded its work by recommending that the 1936 Constitution be reenacted in toto, with a number of amendments.  88% of the people voted to approve the recommendation in a referendum held during the regular election in 1990.

Bergonians generally refer to the "1936 constitution" and the "1990 constitution" or "1990 revision," referring to the years each one went into effect.

The constitution was written in the Minidun language.  Both constitutional conventions did their primary work in Minidun, with simultaneous translations into the other five main languages.  The constitution establishes Minidun as the primary language for government and law. which means that in any doubt about which shade of meaning in which translation may ever control, everyone must defer to the Minidun.  Minidun was so chosen because of the great compromise that moved the capital from Ceiolai to Lefitoni.  Moreover,



Section One:

Establishment of the Commonwealth:

(A Preamble:)

Over the turbulent course of years, the many peoples of the island-continent of Bergonia have struggled to establish laws and institutions that would promote peace and liberty.  The three preceding Commonwealths tried various schemes and systems, but each of them ended with civil war.  

Yet with each of the three Commonwealths these diverse peoples made great strides toward becoming a solitary nation, uniting by a common cultivation of civility and an evolving dedication to democracy. 

Though the peoples of Bergonia escaped despotism, their march toward democracy became retarded by the fetish of money and the industrial slavery of wage employment.   Yet, in the cities and across the countryside, working people defied their estrangement and opened their eyes to a vision of strong sovereign communities and cooperative enterprise.   They rose up against the oppression of greed, bosses and property, and wrought great change with revolutionary anger and tragic blood. 

No matter which uniform they wore during the revolutionary conflicts, all fought with honor and valor.  Many brothers and sisters of stout heart died in combat, and too many civilians gave their lives in the turn of history, so to all the fallen we dedicate our new effort.  The time has come for all Bergonians to repent and forgive all ill-will suffered during our revolution in appropriate measure.  

With the rule of money broken, it becomes our present duty to restore civility and law, enshrine liberty and equality,  nurture free communities and build the common welfare.  By these means we resolve to build a society where all citizens have both leave and means to pursue beauty, art, and spiritual things.  In faith, fraternity and hope we establish this Fourth Commonwealth, and resolve to be democratic in every endeavor.

Note:   This preamble was written in the original 1936 constitution and preserved in the 1990 revision.  Written of course in Minidun, the style involves the standard Minidun device of somewhat redundant couplets, e.g. "honor & valor," for emphasis' sake, or two counterbalancing, complimentary things paired to define a single idea, like "anger and... blood," "repent and forgive," "nurture free communities and build the common good.  It is something pervasive like the Nahuatl expressive & poetic device called difrasismo, e.g. "eagles and tigers" = warriors; "flowers & song" = poetry.

Section Two:

Reaffirmation of the Commonwealth:

In the year 1988 we the people of Bergonia come together to reestablish the Democratic Commonwealth, reenact this fundamental law for its organization, and rededicate ourselves to its eight principles of liberty, equality, democracy, socialism and worker control, decentralization and local control, education and science, faith, and public control of the nation's land and resources.  However we admit and accept that all human activity, however beneficial, must be tempered by nature's right and need, and therefore to our eight principles we add the principled priority of ecological concern.  Thus we recognize that all our undertakings must promote the preservation of all species and life in its various forms as an organic whole, worthy of respect.    

Note:  This section was added in the 1990 revision, and represented one of the Harmony Party's greatest achievements to date.  Harmony lost power in the1988 elections that also elected the constitutional convention, but Harmony was still able to exert enough power to get this language, as well as expanded powers for substantial environmental protection.  Politicians and journalists of all stripes predicted that this "animal rights" language would become the most controversial in the referendum campaign to ratify the revised constitution, but they were all confounded by the popular acceptance.  Other revisions turned out to be much more contentious in the referendum campaign.




Section One:

Territory of the Commonwealth:

The Commonwealth shall consist of the continental island of Bergonia and all the smaller islands which lie on its continental shelf, including the islands of Calpia.

Section Two:

The Flag

Commonwealth authorities shall display a flag which shall consist of a (navy) blue field in a ration of 5:3 or longer.   A canton in a ration of 3:2 shall consist of a tricolor of (navy) blue, gold and red.    In the (navy) blue field may appear eight gold stars of four points arranged in a diamond-shaped constellation. 

Different organs and agencies of the commonwealth may fly flags bearing such emblems in the (navy) blue field that Congress authorizes them to use, instead of the eight stars.

Note:   The constitution specifically states that the stars must have four points.   The Bergonians have always associated the five pointed star with Europe and America, and the four pointed star with native traditions.  Indeed the Pre-Columbian Bergonians employed the four pointed star in art and graphics.  During the Revolution, the Communists used eight five pointed stars on all their flags and, soon enough, most of those who participated in the Radical Regime used the five pointed stars.  The Mistralistas, who fought bitterly against  the Radical Regime, dominated the Constitutional Convention of 1934 and had no trouble inserting this requirement.  

The blue used on the flag has been further regulated-- the exact hue is C-100, M-100, Y-30, K-10.

Section Three:

The Seal

Congress shall designate a seal for display and for authentication of documents.  Such seal shall consist of a preba-cat reclining on a rock, with a spread of flowering laurel in the foreground and the outline of Gablaru in the background, and the sun in the sky.

A second seal for informal use shall consist of  a diamond arrangement of four-pointed stars, gold in color and eight in number, situated on a disk of blue, placed on a lozenge of red.  

Note:  The motto on the seal is Minidun, meaning "In this land we live as one," from the Declaration of Independence from British rule written by Michel Peislei and proclaimed on 30 April 1780.

Section Four:

The Capital

          The Congress, President, Officers and ministers of the Commonwealth shall conduct their affairs in the cities of Ceiolai or Lefitoni, according to such laws as Congress enacts. 



Section One:

Constitutional and Legal Authority

(a)  This constitution shall serve as the blueprint for the organization of the Commonwealth and the source of all law.  The commonwealth shall comprise a society of equitable laws under this constitution, and all social, political and economic authority within its boundaries shall transpire only by virtue of its provisions and the laws enacted pursuant hereto, and no authority shall exist otherwise. 

(b)  It is the privilege and duty of the courts and of all other authority to annul any act that in substance violates any provision of this constitution.  Notwithstanding any law or regulation to the contrary, a full citizen may resist and refuse any authority that flagrantly violates the provisions of this article.


This section establishes constitutional supremacy.  The courts cite this section when striking down onerous laws passed by authoritarian legislative bodies and executives.   

This section, hence this entire article, very much unlike any constitution in a capitalist country, applies to the nation's economic enterprises just as much as it applies to the government.  The courts have evoked this section to annul the actions of corporate & cooperative leadership as often as it has annulled the actions of government.  This language, in a sense that an American lawyer would understand, is the "due process" clause for the entire economy and society.  

Subsection (b) contains the "annulment clause," that gives the courts the power to annul unconstitutional acts, and the ever-controversial "right of revolt."

Section Two:


(a)  State and society shall guarantee the fundamental liberty of citizens to think, speak, publish,  demonstrate, travel, and work as they choose, live in peace and privacy in their homes with their families, and associate with others of their own choosing.

Note:  This section incorporates what is now commonly called the "liberty guarantee," relating to Principle 1 of the Eight Principles.

(b)  State and society shall guarantee the fundamental liberty of citizens to associate with others of their own choosing, so that any group of individuals may combine in free association under the protection of this constitution, pursuant to its provisions, as they choose, and any groups so formed may freely federate and associate with each other.

Note:  This section incorporates what is now commonly called the "free association guarantee," also relating to Principle 1 of the Eight Principles.

Section Three:


          The commonwealth shall always strive to follow democratic socialist principles, so that citizens and workers can establish and limit all authority, including authority over labor and resources, and live free of the folly and pain of both private capitalist ownership and dictatorial government control. Therefore: 

(a)  All authority exercised pursuant to this constitution shall be either directly democratic or under the supervision of elected representatives,

Note:  This section incorporates what is now commonly called the "democracy guarantee," relating to Principle 3 of the Eight Principles. 

(b)  All authority shall function prudently and openly, with decisions being rendered and published in written form.  Citizens may petition any government officer or minister for access to information held on hand, except for military and police information, information of a personal nature, or technological secrets.

Note:  This section incorporates what is now commonly called the "openness guarantee," also relating to Principle 3 of the Eight Principles.  The 1988 convention added the sentence in subsection (e) regarding access to information.

(c)  No authority shall impose sanctions without adjudicated or mediated proceedings, with proper advance notice, where every affected person may speak and defend himself, and no person shall be imprisoned or placed into state custody.  


This section functions as the "justice guarantee."  

The courts have refused to apply this section to the Catholic Church and other hierarchical churches.  See Art 5 Sect. 6(e)

Section Four:


State and society shall guarantee the right of citizens and workers to organize cooperatives, collectives, private associations and partnerships for economic endeavors, and neither state nor society shall sanction or allow capitalist ownership of resources or employment of labor.

Note:  This section incorporates what is now commonly called the "socialism guarantee," relating to Principle 4 of the Eight Principles




Section One:


The commonwealth is a federation of states, counties, autonomous counties and communes, in which all authority shall be devolved to the extent practicable.  Every citizen must remain vigilant against the unnecessary concentration of power.  The courts are empowered and bound to void any laws of the commonwealth or the states that improperly exercise authority belonging to a subdivision.

Note:   The federalism of most republics is between the national government and the various states.  Sovereignty is shared between these two levels, and either the national government or the states .  Bergonian sovereignty resides with the people themselves, so federalism is explicitly nothing more than a democratic device to advance the will of the people, and therefore the partners in Bergonian federalism include the local organs of government as well as the national, state, and local  levels-- three levels of federalism.

Section Two:

States and Subdivisions

(a)  Except for national wilderlands, the territory of the commonwealth shall be divided into various states [called lesre in Minidun], which shall in turn be divided into various subdivisions.

(b)  The state subdivisions shall include counties (bunec), autonomous counties (zhubon), and cities (tunec). 

(c)  Each subdivision shall consist of local communes, including villages, towns and city neighborhoods.  Each commune shall have the right to govern themselves by either establishing assemblies and councils or through direct democracy.  The states and subdivisions shall promote and enable communal self-government, and no law shall be passed that unreasonably restricts communal self-government.

Notes:  Bergonia is a land of many ethnic groups.  The founders of the Fourth Commonwealth tore a page out of the Stalinist Constitution for the Soviet Union (1932), which created autonomous republics and oblasts.  This Stalinist creation was just window dressing for a vicious dictatorship, but even so it formed the basis for all the post-Soviet states.  The Bergonians put the model to a more serious test.  Small areas exist, particularly near the coasts, where the descendants of European settlers live.  Wherever there are concentrations of a minority ethnic group living on the midst of a larger group, a zhubon may be created.

The zhubon (autonomous counties) control education and communications, including radio and television, the primary repositories of modern culture.  The zhubon also have control over the police.  But they lack control over the land, this power remaining with the States per Art. 13, Sect. 2.  This reservation stirs as much controversy as any other section of the constitution.

Frankly, a lot of people regard the zhubon as a failed experiment, and liken it to a distinction without a difference.

Section Three:

Constitutions of States and Subdivisions

Each state and every subdivision shall establish for itself a constitution or charter which the voters must approve and may amend by referendum.  Each such constitution or charter shall establish  either (i) an elected congress or assembly with authority to approve all budgets, taxes, charges and fees, and remove all officials, or (ii) a method for direct democracy by the citizens of the subdivision with an elected and recallable executive council.  Each such constitution and charter shall conform to the various requirements stated elsewhere in this constitution.  Otherwise the various states and subdivisions may create such structures and systems of government as the peoples therein wish.  

Note:  All 50 states in the United States have an identical system of government, a miniature version of the federal government.  Likewise, in most other Western democracies the federal government more or less prescribes the form of state or provincial government.  There is a woefully similar lack of variety in local governments.  In the United States it is only among municipal government that any variety is permitted.

As this section allows, states and local government in Bergonia assumes many different forms. 

Section Four:

Boundaries of States and Subdivisions

All boundaries shall be drawn to protect the social and cultural interests of all the various nationalities and races of the commonwealth.  

Congress may change the borders of the various states and autonomous counties therein, but no change shall occur without a plebiscite of the affected populations.   The congresses of the various states shall set the boundaries of the counties and cities, but no changes shall occur without a plebiscite of the affected populations.  Both Congress and the congresses of the various states shall enact laws allowing for plebiscites on border changes upon the receipt of petitions signed by one eighth of the voters of a defined region. 

Section Five:

War and Foreign Affairs

The Congress alone has the right to declare or authorize war and make peace, as well as to conclude alliances and treaties with foreign states.  Otherwise the president shall conduct the foreign affairs of the commonwealth.

Section Six:

Armed Force, Police and Weapons

(a)  The commonwealth shall maintain a standing armed force, to consist of land, sea and air forces, and  intelligence and espionage capacities.  Without the consent of Congress, no state or subdivision may maintain standing armed forces, including militias.

(b)  However, each subdivision shall establish a police force to enforce the laws created by the commonwealth, the states or the subdivisions pursuant to this constitution.  States may also establish police forces to assist the subdivision police and augment their work, but the states may not take control of the subdivision police.  Every state shall establish citizens councils to audit and investigate the work of the various police forces.

(c)  Congress may establish a national police force, but only to (i) enforce the commercial laws and the laws against misuse and corruption of public offices that Congress and the various States may enact, (ii) police the ports, coasts, seas and commonwealth borders, the wilderness zones and other areas under direct control of commonwealth officers and (iii) enforce the environmental laws passed either by Congress or the various states, including laws concerning energy production and use, environmental protection and pollution, and (iv) laws limiting the possession, transportation and treatment of animals and products made from animals, and the mistreatment of animals.

Note: (iii) and (iv) under subsection (c) was added by the 1988 Convention, approved in the 1990 referendum. 

            (d)  Full citizens shall have the right to own and use weapons for hunting, sport and self-protection, and they may associate to form gun clubs.  To protect public safety and environmental health, states and subdivisions may enact laws that reasonably limit possession and use of weapons in public places, regulate hunting and sport shooting , license the distribution and sale of weapons, limit the activities of gun clubs, and allocate available land for their use.  Congress may enact laws that license the manufacture of weapons and the national distribution of weapons, and that prohibit or limit possession, use and availability of automatic, military, explosive or surreptitious weapons and weapons of random or mass effect.

Note:  (d) was also tweaked in 1988, so as to drop a provision about militias, give local govs the power to restrict the sometimes very obnoxious gun clubs, and add the provision giving Congress its limited powers to regulate firearms.  The addition of "surreptitious weapons" and "weapons of random or mass effect" was intended to include all "weapons of terror."   Fortunately the incidence of terror in Bergonia has been minor and few.

The provision "...and allocate available land for their use..." was added by national referendum in 1952.  The best way to get the gun clubs ( the former militias ) out of public places was to give them locations for shooting ranges, marching grounds and other toy soldier games.  several million people belong to these clubs, and they remain popular because of their civic programs, sponsorship of teams, and colorful addition to local parades. 

Ironically, while the gun enthusiasts in the US typically adopt far right, hyper-individualist politics, the Bergonian gun club enthusiasts tend to be far-left individualist anarchists, or members of the newly emerging "hyper-left" tendency in the NDP, as well as whatever repressed Kilitan tendencies remain in Bergonian society..

Section Seven:

Criminal Justice

The states shall have primary authority to define criminal offenses and their punishments, by which individuals may be restrained in their liberty.  Local governments may not enact laws imposing punishments of imprisonment without leave of state law.  

Congress may define (i) crimes of treason, (ii) crimes against national or military security, (iii) crimes concerning the integrity of the borders, coasts, open waters and wilderness zones and all other places under commonwealth administration, (iv) crimes involving the misuse of commonwealth funds or the funds or resources of any income or pension fund, health care system or bank, (v) crimes relating to the taxes imposed by Congress pursuant to Article 13, (vi) crimes concerning energy production and use, environmental protection and pollution, and (vii) laws limiting the possession, transportation and treatment of animals and products made from animals, and the mistreatment of animals.

Note:  (vi) and (vii) in the second paragraph was added by the 1988 Convention, and approved in the 1990 referendum.  This legitimized the controversial Environmental Enforcement Agency, the federal police agency created in 1985 by the Harmony-dominated government.

For the punishment of crimes and the rehabilitation of offenders, each state shall establish a system of prisons, jails and detention centers, work camps and work houses, and systems for house arrest, work release and probation.  Such systems shall receive defendants found guilty of violating any criminal offense defined by either by Congress or by the individual states. 

No person in police or prison custody shall be subject to beatings or torture, forced to answer questions or give statements against their will, exposed to unhealthy conditions of confinement, or prevented from communicating with family or attorneys.

Section Eight:

Land Use

            (a)  The counties, autonomous counties and cities shall control land and allocate land for various uses by individuals and corporations, appropriate to priorities of environmental protection, need, use and availability, subject to approval of the affected communes.

(b)  The counties, autonomous counties and cities shall regulate all use of land and buildings by publication and enforcement of a land use code and plan, subject to principles established by the state congresses.

Section Nine:

Public Works

(a)  The states and their subdivisions may construct roads, canals, public utilities and other public works at their own expense or encourage such works by granting subsidies.

(b)  For this purpose, the states and subdivisions may, against full compensation, expropriate leaseholds of land.

Section Ten:


The commonwealth shall establish and administer a system of electrical energy generation and transmission.  The commonwealth shall also supervise and regulate the pipelines for the transport of liquid or gaseous fuels.

The commonwealth shall establish a national energy policy under which it shall supervise the importation of oil and other needed energy, the extraction of oil, coal and natural gas from the territory of the commonwealth, and the management of atomic power, all in a manner consistent with environmental protection and reclamation.

Note:   The second paragraph was added by the 1988 Convention, and approved in the 1990 referendum.

Section Eleven:

Environmental and Animal Protection

a) The states shall have the primary authority to protect nature and landscapes.  The states shall acquire or conserve nature reserves, historical sites and monuments of national importance on a contractual basis or by means of expropriation.  The state shall provide each subdivision with the authority and means to establish protected nature reserves and parks, and each county and autonomous county shall set aside at least ten percent of its land as wilderness, fallow or park land.

b)  The commonwealth shall have the primary power to protect animal and plant species and their habitats, so that no specie becomes extinct.  The commonwealth shall establish and police the National Wilderness Zones, wherein no person may reside or conduct permanent economic activity except as completely compatible with the preservation  of wilderness.  Such zones shall not be part of any State and shall be under the direct authority of the commonwealth. Congress may adjust and contact boundaries of states in order to establish or expand such zones, but only after consulting with the legislative bodies of the affected states and counties.

c)  The commonwealth shall legislate for the protection of human health and the natural environment against air and water pollutants, toxic and all other carbon, chemical, mineral and industrial waste, emissions and effluents.

d)  The states shall have the power to legislate for the protection of animals, including prohibitions against animal neglect and abuse, and live experimentation on animals, and regulation of the use of animals, the slaughter at abattoirs and other methods of killing animals, and the sale, trade or transfer of animals and animal products.  Congress shall have the power to prohibit and limit the importation and exportation of animals and animal products, or use of any electronic media or communication in aid of any commerce in animals or animal products or in aid of violations of commonwealth or state laws enacted under this subsection.

Note:   This section was completely rewritten by the 1988 Convention, and approved in the 1990 referendum.  Before this section was titled "Conservation and Land Management" and contained provisions appropriate to the 1930s. 

Section Twelve:

Education, Science and the Arts

a)  The commonwealth shall supervise the academies of the nation, with one academy for each field of science, arts and letters.  Each academy shall enjoy scientific and academic autonomy, and shall coordinate scientific research within its particular branch.  The commonwealth shall have primary responsibility for funding and enabling scientific and technical research.

b)  Each state and each autonomous county shall establish at least one university, and may establish other institutions for higher education or subsidize such institutions.

c)  The subdivisions shall provide for adequate primary education, providing for twelve years of schooling. Such education shall be compulsory and, in public schools, free of charge.

            d)  Primary responsibility for the establishment of museums, theaters, orchestras, gymnasiums and sport facilities shall belong to the subdivisions.

e)  Any provision of law or regulation and any administrative act which impedes scientific objectivity or which denies or grants remuneration or promotions within educational and research institutions based upon any consideration besides scientific merit may be declared invalid by a court of competent jurisdiction.

Section Thirteen:

Regulation of Trade and Industry

a)  No authority shall place tariffs, tolls or fees upon the transportation or trading of goods or services within the borders of the commonwealth. 

b)  The commonwealth shall have exclusive power to regulate trade with foreign states and with individuals or entities located outside the commonwealth. The commonwealth shall have exclusive authority to maintain and police the borders of the commonwealth, and provide for a customs service for all entry into the commonwealth. The commonwealth shall have the exclusive authority to levy import and export duties.

c)  The commonwealth shall have exclusive power to establish and regulate weights, measures, and industry standards.

d)  The commonwealth shall have the exclusive power to set or limit prices and minimum wages.

e)   The states shall have the exclusive authority to regulate the professions, trades and crafts.

Section Fourteen:


The commonwealth shall have primary responsibility to regulate transport in the air, on the waterways, over the seas, and by rail, and for the development of a national plan of transportation in cooperation with the states.

The states shall have primary authority to plan, build and maintain thoroughfares and autoroutes.  The subdivisions shall have authority to maintain common roads and streets, and to regulate motor traffic.

Section Fifteen:


            The commonwealth shall have the authority to allocate bandwidth and establish standards for communication technologies.

Within the bounds of such plans established by the commonwealth for bandwidth allocation, the states shall have the primary authority to license television and radio stations, except that each state shall assign this authority to any autonomous counties within its boundaries.

Section Sixteen:

General Welfare and Economic Security

a)  Both the commonwealth and the states shall have concurrent authority to promote the general welfare and the economic security of the citizens and communities, consistent with the limitations imposed by this constitution.

b)  The commonwealth, the states and the subdivisions shall act to:

(i)  maintain a prosperous rural population and ensure agricultural productivity.

(ii)  direct new enterprises and investment to subdivisions and communes with relatively poor economies,

(iii)  prevent economically or socially harmful effects of federated cooperatives, cartels, syndicates and similar groupings;

(iv)  take precautionary measures for the economic protection of their populations, and also measures to ensure that the people are supplied with vital goods and services in the event of severe shortages which the economy itself cannot remedy.

Section Seventeen:

Currency and Banking

a)  The commonwealth shall have the exclusive authority to establish and mint currency for use by all citizens in the commonwealth, and it shall maintain a central bank to assure currency stability and currency reserve.  The commonwealth shall also have exclusive authority to regulate convertibility of the currency with the currencies of other nations, procedures for currency transactions, banking, lending and negotiable instruments.

b)  The states and subdivisions shall have the authority to create banks and development authorities for the purposes of promoting savings and investment.

Note:   Here is one area where Bergonia is more centralized than the United States, where the various states have the right to adopt their own commercial codes.  Bergonia historically has suffered from regionalism at least as much as the U.S., and much of that manifested as fierce economic competition during the 1800s.  The various states also had widely disparate commercial codes, reflecting frustrating capitalist development.  So, at the urging of his new capitalist friends, dictator John Rarsa imposed a uniform commercial code for the entire nation, thus setting the precedent.

Section Eighteen:

Health and Support

The commonwealth shall set medical standards, and regulate the production and distribution of pharmaceuticals.  The commonwealth shall also establish a system of funding health care for all the people, pensions for all working people, and support for all aged, dependent and disabled people.

The subdivisions, subject to the coordination of the states, shall have primary authority for constructing hospitals, clinics and other needed healthcare facilities, establishing systems for clean drinking water, sewage and waste disposal, and otherwise insure proper public hygiene and sanitation.

Each subdivision shall provide housing for its people.

Section Nineteen:

Family and Public Mores

            Each state and autonomous county shall have the authority to regulate matters of family life, including marriage, divorce, support and protection of children and dependents, declarations of incompetence, and abortion.

Each subdivision shall have the authority to regulate alcohol, marijuana, gambling, sale of pornography, prostitution, and all other appropriate matters of public morals.

Section Twenty:

Conflicts of Authority

In any matter of concurrent authority, whenever any law of a state conflicts with the law of either the commonwealth or any subdivision, the law of the state shall prevail.

Note:   This section gives great power to the lesre (states) in areas of concurrent jurisdiction.   In contrast, Art. VI, Sect. 2 of the USA Constitution provides that "the laws of the United States... shall be the supreme law of the land."  The constitutions of all federal republics have to settle this issue of primacy in concurrent jurisdiction, and most solve it in the same manner as the USA.  Thus most federal systems tend towards becoming unitary states, while Bergonian wants to err on the side of con-federation.

Section Twenty-One:

Residual Powers

The commonwealth shall have only the authority conferred specifically herein, and all other or unspecified power and authority shall belong to the States(not emphasized in the real text)

Except where this article specifically empowers the commonwealth to act, the governments of the counties, autonomous counties and cities may exercise the powers of state governments where the state government has specifically failed to act.


This clause is similar to the 10th Amendment of the USA Constitution, which is all but ignored in American jurisprudence.    In Bergonia, however, it is understood that the Lesre will have the general power, while the National government has only those powers given it explicitly under the constitution.  Similar clauses have existed in Bergonia's three preceding constitutions.  Of the four constitutions, the Third Commonwealth promoted the most powerful national government.   It came on the heels of dictator John Rarsa's rule, who sought to create a strong central state. 

This clause reflects an ongoing struggle throughout the history of the Bergonian federation, namely the relative powers of the national and the provincial governments.  In modern times the Mistrala, now the SFP, defend the interests of the Lesre, while the NDP tends to reinforce national power.  Since independence from Britain in 1780, some party or another has tended toward the strengthening national power, while another has tended in favor of the provinces.  This has meant different things in different times.  When the local bosses and iregemi and their unregulated militias oppressed peasants, the national government stepped in to protect the peasants.  In later years the national government was the more oppressive. 

It is at least the perception that American history is the story of growth of the federal government at the expense of state government.  There has never been such a pronounced trend in Bergonian history; at times the trend has gone toward the commonwealth government and at others it has favored provincial power.

The federal government in the United States has in recent decades successfully subverted the power of the states by making the states dependent on federal money and then by hanging conditions on the money.  The Bergonian commonwealth tried the same ploy, but the courts have held that this clause forbids it.

The anarchists and the most radical of the decentralizers (mainly in the radical wing of the SFP) want to amend this to assign all residual powers to the subdivisions, rather than to the states.  During the constitutional convention in 1987, this issue prompted a fierce debate.  The radical decentralization proposal was defeated on the floor by a vote of 415-422.



Section One:


            The commonwealth consists of free citizens.  Each citizen shall have a right to support from the commonwealth  in case of disability or old age.

Each citizen shall have a surname in the European style [surname following individual name, rather than preceding it as in the atrei style.).  Unless a mother determines otherwise, newborn males shall take their fathers' surnames, and newborn females shall take their mothers' surnames.  Each citizen may take up to three additional names.  Any full citizen may change his name, providing that he registers such change with a local clerk or records.

          There shall be two classes of citizenship: (a) limited citizenship and (b) full citizenship.

Note:   The "European" style of naming puts the surname after the individual name, while the atrei style, prevalent in Bergonia when Columbus arrived, places the surname at the front, as in the Chinese style.

Section Two:

Limited Citizenship

         Limited citizenship is open to:

a)    Persons eligible for full citizenship by birthright who have not yet reached the age of eighteen.

b)   Full citizens whom the courts have either convicted of serious crimes or declared incompetent.

c)   People from abroad who by law are allowed to reside in the commonwealth either as refugees or as productive workers.

Such provisional citizens shall enjoy all rights to judicial process, but Congress may place reasonable restrictions upon their liberty and their privileges to obtain education and work, join corporations and associations, receive government benefits, or hold land.  They may neither vote in any election for political office, although they may join and participate in collectives, professional associations, syndicals and other economic entities as the law allows.

Section Three:

Full Citizenship

           Any person born of at least one parent of full citizenship shall become a full citizen on his or her eighteenth birthday.  Congress may confer basic citizenship upon any immigrant who has lived in the commonwealth for four years or more without committing any serious crimes.

Full citizens may vote in all elections.  They may seek and hold all elected offices except as this constitution and state constitutions may otherwise allow.  Every full citizen shall have equal rights to obtain education, work and support, join cooperatives and associations, receive social benefits, and hold leaseholds as Congress and the states may reasonably regulate.

Section Four:

Exalted Citizenship

           By votes of at least sixty percent of its members, Congress may every year exalt as many as fifty citizens who have served the nation, humanity or the earth in heroic ways or with unique artistic, spiritual, or scientific endeavor.  Congress shall confer upon them public recognition and a prize not more than 10,000 times the minimum pay per hour, and commission a portrait or statue for permanent display in a place of honor.  Such exalted citizens shall enjoy the use of such titles as Congress may grant them.  No privilege extended hereunder shall inure to the benefit of any spouse, relative or heir.  

Note:   This section reflects an old Tan Era custom of the popular assembly of a city-state conferring honors upon people with proven accomplishment.  Like the crown of laurels in Classical time, the honored ones of this Tan Era practice wore garlands of flowers, and like the Oscars today, they were given statuettes of the God .  This harmless practice is somewhat like the British Monarch conferring honors and peerages, and it has at times become enormously controversial and exciting grist for public debate and gossip.

If the "minimum wage" is $10 an hour, then Congress can grant a cash prize to each exalted citizen of up to $100,000.

Section Five:


            a)  All citizens stand as equals before the law. 

b)  Men and women have equal rights under this constitution and all law promulgated hereunder.  The law shall provide for their equal treatment as regards family, education and work.  Men and women are entitled to equal pay for equal work.

c)  No person or group shall suffer discrimination by any entity by account of political affiliation, occupation, race, genetic characteristic, disability or handicap, language, ethnicity, religion, sex, or sexual orientation. Any person or group so aggrieved may petition the courts and the legislative bodies.

Note:  "Sexual orientation" was added as a result of an amendment approved by national referendum in 2002.  There is no lack of evidence of discrimination against homosexuals in Bergonia, since people even in utopias tend to prejudiced.  As the Christian doctrine of Original Sin rather fancifully tries to explain, people are inherently assholes.

While the Christians churches resisted the amendment, the Miradi majority had no problem with outlawing all facile, unnecessary discrimination, which they understand is nothing more than a stupid waste of human capacity and life.  The same proposal was offered during the constitutional convention of 1988, but since the time was not quite then right, it was defeated.

Section Six:


a)   Every citizen shall be free in his or her religious and philosophical beliefs and practices.  No law may prohibit or limit the practice of religion except that animals may not be killed or used in religious services whatsoever.

b)   Churches may exist without limitation, and may hold leaseholds and own property as do corporations. However, Congress and the states may reasonably require all churches to organize as corporations, as defined herein.

c)   The [personal] property of churches is not subject to taxation.  The income of churches derived from gifts, tithes and fees charged for services directly rendered by priests, ministers and religious orders is not subject to taxation.  Church organizations shall not be subject to any special taxation.  

d)   Churches and religious groups shall enjoy a reasonable right to privacy. Churches have the right to self-government, including the authority to define membership and to give work to only its own members.  The provisions contained herein concerning the governing authority and the charter of corporations shall not apply to churches.  Neither Congress nor the states not any other authority may interfere with the internal governance of a church, except that courts may hear disputes within their equitable jurisdiction concerning internal governance.

            e)    Individuals, churches and religious groups shall have the right to proselytize and proclaim their faith.  For this purpose, individuals and groups shall have reasonable access to all public media for religious purposes, and reasonable access to public places for meetings, processions and displays.

f)   Churches may run nurseries, schools, colleges, libraries, newspapers and broadcast media, residential services and other services, subject to reasonable regulation and taxation.

            g)   No authority established under this constitution may either endorse or discriminate against a particular religion or church.  Allocation of leaseholds, establishment of schools and services, and access to public media and places shall be allowed to the various religions and churches on a proportionate and consistent basis, so that all religions and churches enjoy equal treatment.

            h)   Any body or group that organizes as a church to obtain the privileges accorded hereunder may either be regulated as a non-religious corporation or disbanded and outlawed if a court finds that the group or its leaders have engaged in a pattern of law-breaking, operated at the behest of a foreign power, made economic activity its primary activity, committed treason against Bergonia, or advocated racism or a return to capitalism.  


This section goes to considerable detail to describe the role of religion in national life.  To an American some very alien concepts appear.  Obviously this article embraces a  far different view of separation of church and state. 

Two ideas about church and state exist in the USA.  On one hand the radical religious right inherits the old Protestant tradition of rectitude in public life.  They still want a society in which Christian values have a monopoly on law and public mores.  In reaction to this, secular liberals (including a great many among the capitalist class) in America have declared war on religion, often in the name of the First Amendment, which was intended originally to protect religious life, in order to banish all religion and mention of God from public life, including the media.  To quote Stephen Carter in The Culture of  Disbelief (1993), these elements want to relegate religion to the status of  "private hobby."  The corrupt religious right, and many good people of faith, have grown alarmed at the liberal assault, but react ineffectively. 

Bergonians believe that the threat which the State poses to religion outweighs any threat that religion poses to democratic society.  Therefore, the separation exists primarily if not exclusively to protect religion from the government and from antireligious elements who would use state power to smother religious faith.  Bergonians saw this happen when the communist-inspired  Radical Regime in 1933 tried to crush all the churches.  Bergonians also have taken note of  how Marxist Communists the world over tried to do this (and still do in China). 

The eight stars of the original Democratic Movement in the 1920's and '30's represented the eight guiding principles for a new organization of society, and one of these was  that religion plays a beneficial role in society.  Nothing less was recognized by Alexis de Tocqueville who said religion provides a moral voice, independent of the state.  As Carter wrote, "religion is a way of denying the authority of the rest of the world" �which includes the State.  Thus good religion can generate a powerful impulse to oppose tyranny.  On the other hand, religion also gives people a mechanism for disciplining and centering themselves, thus promoting values and rectitude in social relationships, which in turn predisposes people towards lawfulness.

Bergonians reacting to modern culture of the past 100 years would add that religion provides a moral mainstay separate from the fickle tides and propaganda of popular culture.  Modern popular culture is plainly unreligious, if not explicitly anti-religious,  and  many  Bergonians would argue that subsection (e) provides  a  necessary  counterweight.

The only part of this section added by the 1988 Convention was the provision concerning animals.  It reflects something perhaps uniquely Bergonian.  It grew out of atrei revulsion  to the practices of Santaria, Vodun (Voodoo), and Shora, all three African based  religions that employ animal sacrifice.  Small numbers of Blacks in Bergonia practice these, the first two by immigrants from the Caribbean.  Shora is an indigenous stew of beliefs evolved by the descendants of Blacks brought to Bergonia in the 1700's by the English as slaves.  

One of the seven basic commandments  of the ancient Bergonian Shufrantei religion, upon which nearly all  Bergonian  culture rests, requires kindness to animals.  This commandment has walked through the centuries hand in  hand with the Bergonian Clan System and the general devout love of nature.  The Subanei military expansions after the death of the Prophet in 250 BC insured the end of all surviving practice of animal sacrifice anywhere in Bergonia.  Imagine how the animal loving Bergonians  reacted to chopping off the heads of chickens and goats.  A certain barefaced hypocrisy is at work here-- while every political tradition at work in Bergonia seeks  tolerance of different religions, here  a  major religion plainly outlaws another, just as Protestant America forbade  the Mormons from engaging  in polygamy.  It goes to show the limits to which a social culture can stretch to accommodate minority "outlier" religions.

Section Seven:

Protected Speech and Activity

            a)   Each citizen, collective and political association shall enjoy the freedom of speech and press, assembly and travel, and to organize and associate.   However, Congress and the states have the reasonable authority to define and limit capitalist, racist and anti-religious propaganda, fraudulent or false commercial propaganda, and pornography. 

b)    Citizens may organize social, fraternal and political clubs and associations.  However, Congress and the states may reasonably require all associations to organize as corporations, as defined herein.

c)   Citizens and parties may organize to oppose the government, change government policy and otherwise express opinion.  To this end they may publish and distribute propaganda, demonstrate in public, and enter buildings where authorities have their offices.


The language in the second sentence of Subsection (a) about capitalist and racist propaganda was in the original constitution.  Originally "capitalist propaganda" was intended to describe advocacy of a restoration of capitalism in Bergonia.  In its most extreme application, it was held to include any discussion of the merits of capitalism and even capitalist theory (e.g. Adam Smith).  The courts have since the 1960s restricted its meaning, fortunately, to the original meaning.   Note that the exceptional grant of power is only to "define and limit," and not ban.  This has been held by courts to allow prohibitions on public distribution of such material by public media, but not in private writings, letters, and discussion.

People once argued that the term "capitalist propaganda" also included commercial propaganda, which is to say commercial advertising.  But the courts rejected this argument as early as 1942.  As a result, Congress in 1948 amended the section to include commercial propaganda.  This allows Congress and other bodies to severely restrict advertising.

The antireligious propaganda section was added in a referendum in 1956.  This language has deep roots in Bergonian history.  It relates to the Covenant of 1840 that ended the horrible civil war of the 1830's.  The Covenant established a general rule that neither government nor private groups could oppress religious groups.  Furthermore, during the Radical Regime of 1933-34 the Communists attempted to suppress and close churches.  There is a great sensitivity among most Bergonians about their churches and temples.  They have seen that atheism is often as militant as any church, and every bit as intolerant, and that atheistic propaganda is often used to excuse attacks on churches. 

The pornography section was added in 1981, a sharp reaction to the flood of pornography in the 1970's.   Both religious groups and feminist groups battled for the amendment.  In the same election a proposed constitutional ban on abortion failed.  This clause has not resulted in the elimination of pornography, and adults do indeed obtain pornography in specialized shops, as well as specialized television channels.  But Congressional delegates have often threatened to use this section to clamp down on the television and movie producers.  As a result, Bergonian mainline television don�t contain as much graphic sexual material as American or European cinema.  Notwithstanding Congress' general reluctance to ban pornography, this clause at least takes the debate out of the realm of constitutional law and allows the legislative bodies to determine the question.  Local governments however do regulate porn shops and consign them to the back streets.           

Section Eight:


(a)  The person, homes and offices of citizens, corporations, associations and churches shall be secure from any search or seizure not supported by a warrant stating probable cause.   Property taken from searches cannot be kept unless it is evidence in a criminal prosecution or it is contraband.

(b)  Every full citizen is guaranteed privacy of mail, telephone conversations, telegraph and other correspondence.  No searches or third-party monitoring thereof shall occur without a warrant.

            (c)  Congress and the states shall establish procedures for searches, intercepts and monitoring whereby no search, intercept or monitoring may occur without a warrant, only detached magistrates shall issue warrants, and no warrant shall issue except on the sworn affidavit of an officer or witness.

(d)   The organs of government and corporations may not release the information they collect about the affairs of individual citizens, corporations, associations and churches without necessity recognized by law or consent.  Congress and the states may pass laws reasonably controlling the release of such information.

            (e)   No person can be made under any circumstances to give evidence against themselves.  No person shall be made to speak or give information, other than their identity, to law enforcement agencies or other authorities, or give any testimony whatsoever, unless under subpoena to testify on relevant subjects in a court of record with a right to have counsel present. 

Note:   Section (e) provides far greater protection than the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  In the US courts and prosecutors can give immunity on someone and then make them admit to all their crimes.  Moreover, there are no grand juries in Bergonia, where prosecutors can force people to give testimony under the most unprotected circumstances.  All involuntary testimony of any sort has to be before a judge.  Additionally, while in the US it is sometimes a crime not to disclose information to law enforcement officers, in Bergonia a person s the right to refuse to talk to a cop.



Section One:

Law Making Authority

The authority to make laws and policy for the internal governance of the Commonwealth ultimately belongs to the elected Congress of the peoples of the various lesre (states). 

Congress may assign its authority to legislative councils as it deems necessary for efficient government, but it may recall such assignments at any time.

Section Two:

Allocation and election of Delegates

a)   Congress shall consist of delegates, whom the citizens of the various states shall elect, as follows: every state, no matter how small, shall elect two delegates, and shall elect an additional delegate for every 400,000 people.

Note:  Under these rules for allocation of delegates, the population of the states divided by 400,000 yields 427 delegates, plus two delegates per each of the 31 states yields an additional 62, for a total of 489 delegates, a very large legislative body.  See map showing apportionment of delegates among the various states.

b)   The voters of each state shall elect their delegates to Congress at large on one ballot according to a system of proportional representation that Congress shall establish by law. 

c)   Elections of delegations shall occur every two years, in even numbered years, on the second Saturday of June.  Any run-off elections shall occur on the second Saturday in July.   The newly elected shall assume their seats on the second Saturday in September.


This section, along with the provisions under Art. 10, Sect 4 which sets forth the electoral procedures for the President, insure that the Congress and the President are elected together.   

The cycles of elections in Bergonia are very similar to those of the United States.   Congressional elections are held every two years and Presidential election occur every four years, which occur simultaneously with the Congressional.  Many similarities exist between the Bergonian and American systems, even to the point where the Bergonian President may serve no more than two terms.  This is so because the drafters of this constitution borrowed these features from the American constitution.  The Bergonian constitution was written in 1935, and its provision for a two term limitation was later borrowed by the Americans after the death of four term President Franklin Roosevelt.   The Bergonians on the other hand had in mind the informal American practice whereby no President served longer than two terms.  Moreover, Bergonians also considered the constitutions of many Latin American nations which limited their presidents to but one term.

The text of this section in the 1936 Constitution read:

(The voters within a state or an autonomous county (zhubon) shall elect their delegations according to the laws of the Congress or other governing body of the constituency.  The congress of each state shall determine how the delegates are to be apportioned and by what method, except that the voters of each autonomous county shall elect their own delegates.  A state may elect it delegates by multiple delegate districts, single delegate districts or at large.  If a seat is not filled in election under the laws of the particular state, the candidates with the two highest numbers of votes shall compete in a run-off election.

(Elections of delegations shall occur every two years, in even numbered years.  Elections shall occur on the second Saturday of June.  Run-off elections shall occur on the second Saturday in July.   The newly elected shall assume their seats on  the second Saturday  in September.)


This section, like Art. 10, Sect. 3, required run-off elections for those districts where one or two delegates were running.  This insured that the winner is approved by a majority of the voters.  Run-off elections of this sort are used in many other nations and in a number of American states, such as Louisiana. 

This section allowed the states to produce some real different schemes for the selection of delegates.   The section essentially allows the state Congress to carve up the territory into single delegate districts or create huge multi-delegate districts.  The temptation in days of old was for a majority to discriminate against ethnic minorities by establishing gerrymandered single delegate  districts, which didn't leave the minority with any chance of electing any delegates. 

The trend in the larger states favored proportional representation in a state-wide election for all the delegates.  For example, the constitution in 1980 allowed Rarsecin 44 delegates.  The entire state of Rarsecin as one single constituency voted for the parties who field lists of candidates.   

Section Three:


          Each delegate may appoint an alternate.  The alternate may vote on the floor of Congress in the stead of the appointing delegate and may also serve on such legislative councils and committees of which the appointing delegate is a member.  However, alternates may not cast votes in elections for Speaker, Officers, or Executive Council members or in consideration of removing any person from office.  Alternates may not introduce or sponsor legislation in Congress.  No citizen may concurrently serve as the alternate for more than one delegate, and no delegate may serves as an alternate for another delegate.  Alternates shall serve at the will and pleasure of his appointing delegate. 

Section Four:

Powers of Congress

a)  With bills approved by a majority of those delegates present and voting, Congress shall exercise all the authority this constitution assigns to the Commonwealth, unless specifically designated to an office or another body. 

Note:  The requirement for majority votes require coalition government in Bergonia, since the current three-party configuration precludes any single party from getting a majority.

b)  Congress by a majority of its members shall appoint or approve such officers as defined elsewhere herein.

Note:  "A majority of its members" is a slightly higher hurdle than subsection (a)'s requirement of  "a majority of those delegates present and voting."

c)   Congress may ratify, repeal or amend any act of the Executive Council, or any act of an Officer except the military commander.  

Note:  This section delineates the essential relationship between Congress and the Executive Council.  Congress is slow, deliberative (hopefully), and often clogged up with legislation, but the EC is quick.  Thus the EC often initiates action by handing down an edict, which has the force of law, and then proposes ratifying legislation to Congress, forcing Congress to deal with the issue.  The temporary law handed down by the EC dissolves when Congress finally acts.  

In this respect one might say that the EC functions as a second legislative house from which legislation originates, or that Congress exercises a veto power over the executive.

d)  Congress may delegate any of its powers to such legislative councils (bushenre, in Minidun) as it may create, providing that at least one fourth of the members of all such councils, and no more than half, are delegates elected to Congress who are elected thereto by Congress.  Any such council may enact legislation within its subject-matter jurisdiction that shall have the force of law, except as such legislation conflicts with laws enacted by Congress.  Congress may at any time ratify, repeal or amend such legislation.  Legislative councils may also submit bills to Congress for consideration.

Note:  Congress employs this power of delegation quite often.  The councils which it creates are usually called Bushenre (Nac.).  These Bushenre perform the functions in Bergonia that the various agencies and commissions-- such as the ICC, the FTC, and the EEOC-- do in America, except that these bodies may formally present legislative proposals. 

The inclusion of Congressional delegates is to insure that the councils operate in concord with Congress' sentiment and allows a good mixing of opinion.  This avoids sharp conflicts in policies. 

But the constitution says nothing about the remaining members of the councils, leaving the matter up to Congress, which as a practical matter of applied democracy has assigned the seats to syndicals or representatives of professions or important groups.  More about this under national government.  Other members include outstanding specialists in fields such as medicine, physical & environmental sciences, anthropology & trade.

This provision however enables the government to employ a scheme that is prohibited in the United States, the appointment of legislators and administrative appointees to a single body.  This was attempted in the 1970's when the Federal Election Commission was created.   It included appointees of Congress and appointees of the president, but it was stupidly ruled an unconstitutional violation of the "separation of powers" by the Supreme Court.  There is no rigid separation of powers in Bergonia.  This scheme here allows the Bergonian Congress a much more direct involvement in administrative law.

In practice, a Bushenre exists for virtually all the functions of  government.  Additionally Art. 13, Sect. 6. establishes the authority of Congress to create such councils for regulation of the economy.  One fourth of the members of the councils authorized by Art. 13, Sect. 6 are members of Congress,  but one third of their members are to be representatives of the groups affected by them.  

e)   Congress may by a two-thirds vote submit any bill within its authority to a national referendum.  Any law established by such referendum may be modified or repealed only by another referendum or by a sixty percent vote of Congress's members.

f)   Congress may compel any of the officers or ministers to appear before committees or full sessions to answer questions.

Note:    Britain's prime minister must routinely appear before Parliament for "question hour," one half hour once a week.  The second paragraph permits something similar.  Once a month the Prime Minister and the Treasurer appear for several hours, usually in the evening, live on television.

g)   Congress may remove from office the President, an Officer, any minister, any member of a legislative council, or any of its own members for acts that would constitute felonies under federal or state law or that were intended to subvert the powers and procedures established under this constitution, but only if (1) Congress, by a vote of a majority of all its members, first approves a bill of charges, whereupon (2) the Supreme Court, rather than dismissing the charges as fatuous, inadequate on their face, or lacking a full statement of supporting fact, organizes and convenes a tribunal of three trial judges chosen at random from a nationwide panel to hear the charges, and if then (3) at such tribunal a jury of 15 trial judges, chosen at random from a nationwide panel, upon hearing clearly convincing evidence as presented by prosecutors appointed by the Congress, votes to convict upon any charge, and finally if (4) Congress, by votes of sixty percent of all its members, accepts the tribunal's conviction and then approves a finding that the acts supporting the convictions deserve removal from office, whereupon (5) such removal becomes effective at such date specified by Congress.

Section Five:

Sessions and Meetings

a)   Congress shall convene once a year on the first day of October.  The President may chose to open the session by leading the elected members of Congress into their hall and then calling them to order and addressing them. 

b)   Thereafter Congress shall continue in session, scheduling such times to reconvene at the call of the Speaker or another other congressional officer by such rules and schedules as it adopts.  Other than to schedule a time and place to reconvene later, Congress may not exercise any of its authority without a quorum of a majority of its members.

c)   Congress may adjourn its sessions at any time, and before adjourning may vote to schedule a time and place to reconvene.

Section Six:

The Speaker and other Officers

a)   Every year in the first week of September, Congress shall on a single ballot elect from its members a Speaker, who shall chair Congress, set its agenda, and act as its administrative officer until the following year's election. 

b)   Congress may also elect such other officers as it deems necessary for the administration of its business, records and premises, including a Clerk who shall record and make available to the pubic all the bills, votes and enactments of Congress, a Sergeant-at-Arms who may raise a force to enforce the orders of Congress, and a Librarian who shall keep on file all laws and official acts of Congress and all other commonwealth authorities.

c)   All such officers, including the Speaker,  shall exercise such powers as the Congress assigns them.  Congress may veto, repeal or amend the actions of any officer, and by a majority vote of its members Congress may remove and replace any officer, including the Speaker, at any time.

Section Seven:


a)   Congress shall exercise its authority under this constitution only by a vote of its members.  Unless otherwise specified, all questions and bills shall be decided by a majority of those delegates voting. 

b)   Congress shall conduct no votes in secret.

c)   All sessions of Congress and its committees shall be open to the public, except that Congress or its committees may go into secret session for debate and the dissemination of information, but only by a three-fourths vote.  

d)   Congress shall conduct its business by such rules as it may adopt by a majority of all its members.

e)  Delegates may introduce bills, but only in a written form signed by at least twenty delegates from at least eight different states.  The President and the Executive Council, as provided elsewhere, and the legislative councils may also introduce bills.

f)  No bill may concern more than one matter, and any law promulgated by Congress that violates this provision shall be entirely voided by the Supreme Court upon the joint motion of any ten aggrieved citizens.  

Note:   The prohibition against more than more subject matter avoids a real evil that tempt legislatures the world over-- burying unpopular or questionable provisions in big complex bills.  The American Congress has for decades mocked its constituents by hiding gravy for special interests inside bulky legislation.  (This writer knows that the Constitution of West Virginia places such a limitation on all legislation, and that the limitation works very well.)

g)  The floor may challenge and overrule the chair by a majority of those voting.

Note:   This provision offers assurance against Congress becoming a dictatorship of the speaker and his leadership.  This is generally interpreted as a requirement for Congress to adopt rules that allow procedural challenges from the floor and appeals to the full voting body.



Note:   This article, inserted into the regular numbering of the articles, was part of the revisions made in the 1988 constitutional convention.  Almost half the fighting was about where to insert and how to number the article.  This article was the most dramatic change made by the convention.

Section One


a)   Congress shall establish laws to create a national Peoples Assembly, which shall consist of assemblymen from the various states, as follows: every state, no matter how small, shall have twelve delegates, and shall have an additional delegate for every 60,000 people.  

b)   The assemblymen shall be selected by a lottery from among all citizens of the various states who volunteer and pay a fee of five dhumin [money], in numbers proportional to the population of each state, and further proportional to the divisions of each state's population by language and sex.  The apportionment of membership among the states and according to internal language and sex divisions shall be based on the census of the population, and shall not be based on the numbers of those citizens who volunteer to participate.  Congress shall enact a law providing procedures for any full citizen to volunteer in writing to participate in the lottery and serve in the Peoples Assembly, to provide for the selection of members from among the volunteering citizens by a random drawing of numbers, to provide salaries and housing allowances to members during the time of their service, and to guarantee return to their work when their service concludes.  

Note:  Under these rules for allocation of delegates, there are almost 2,400 assemblymen. 

c)   Each member shall serve for two years, and every year a lottery shall be conducted to select half the Assembly's membership.  No person may serve more than once in their lifetime.

Section Two

Organization and Procedure

a)   The Executive Council shall elect a prominent citizen to serve as the chairman of the Assembly, who shall conduct the meetings of the full body.  The chairman shall convene the Assembly on the thirtieth day after each annual lottery selection, and swear in and seat the new members. 

b)   The Assembly shall by majority vote determine its own rules of procedure, and also rules for the selection and conduct of its committees and officers, but in lieu of any established rule concerning necessary procedure the chairman may adopt provisional procedures.

c)   The membership shall elect a steering committee of 32 members, according to the Assembly's rules of procedures.  The steering committee shall meet with the chairman to set the Assembly's agenda, form the Assembly's committees, and make other decisions pertaining to the administration of the Assembly's business.  

d)   Any action of the chairman or the steering committee may be appealed to a vote of the full Assembly by the steering committee, the chairman, or any established committee, by a petition signed by twenty percent of the membership, or by a privileged motion on the floor to permit the voting of at least twenty percent of members then assembled.  

e)   Any disputes within the People's Assembly that requires neutral mediation, resolution and judgment, appeals, or temporary leadership shall be submitted to the Supreme Court by petition signed by no less than twenty percent of the membership.  The Supreme Court shall review all bills passed by the Assembly and make such technical, diction and stylistic changes as it deems necessary, subject to the Assembly's approval, to integrate the bill into the body of exiting law. 

f)   The Executive Committee shall appoint a secretary general for the Assembly who shall oversee a secretariat to serve the Assembly's administrative and research needs.  Subject to the budget of funds provided by Congress, the Assembly shall direct the secretary general and the secretariat, and it may in its discretion dismiss the secretary general or any senior officer within the secretariat. 

g)   All decisions of the Assembly shall be made by majority of those casting votes, and the Assembly may adopt technical systems to allow remote voting.  All proceedings of the Assembly or its committees shall be public and subject to live broadcast.

Section Three


a)   The Peoples Assembly may submit bills to Congress or the Executive Council for consideration. 

b)   By a 60% vote it may submit bills once a year to the people by referendum according to such procedures as Congress may adopt, and any such bills approved by a majority of those voting shall become superceding law and may be modified or repealed only by another referendum or by a sixty percent vote of Congress.  The Assembly shall have no authority to legislate taxation or expenditures of public money. 

c)   The Assembly may expressive its collective opinion by declaratory resolutions.



Note:   In the Minidun language, the Executive Council is called the Conjut Vreshnet, which means roughly,  "Council of Authority."  This name is ancient, predating Columbus' arrival by at least thirteen hundred years.  Throughout Berg history, powerful councils have used this name, and this is now the executive council's official name.

Section One:


The Executive Council shall consist of (a) the President and his First Deputy, (b) the four officers established under Article 9, (c) the Speaker of Congress and (d) ten Councilors elected by Congress.

Section Two:

Election of the Councilors

a)   Congress shall elect the ten Councilors from among its own members.  Congress shall hold the election for these Councilors during September after Congress has convened.  The Councilors shall serve until after the next election.

b)   Congress shall elect the ten Councilors from a list of candidates of delegates nominated by written petitions signed by individual delegates.  A number of delegates equal to one tenth of the total [Note: 46]  from at least eight different states must sign a candidate's petition in order to nominate him.

c)   The ten candidates with the most votes shall be elected Councilors, but each delegate may cast only six votes.


The limitation on the number of votes that each delegate has insures that the Executive Council will include representatives of all the major parties.  If, for example, all the delegates had ten votes each, then the majority party could pool all its delegates' votes and elect all ten Councilors.  But, if the majority party has 51% of the delegates, then with six votes per delegate, they may elect six of the ten Councilors.

Since this insures that the Executive Council will reflect divided opinion, the Executive Council is a place of debate and friction, but also a place where decisions hopeful involve consensus.  If the President is of a different party than the majority of Congress, then the Executive Council may become somewhat paralyzed.  This possibility  tends to reduce the ability of the Executive Council to exert much power, which it would do at the expense of both Congress and the President.  The Executive Council arguably serves little purpose, but it does insure an instant forum for national unity and it does bind the President and the Congress closer together by compelling the former to meet regularly with the latter.

It is obvious here that Bergonians reject the American idea of strict tripartite separation of power.  Bergonians prefer a more integrated yet more dispersed allocation of power.  This is in keeping with Tan concepts of government. 

Section Three:


a)    The Executive Council shall have the general supervision of the commonwealth's affairs between sessions of Congress.  It may enact such decrees and laws as it deems necessary for general welfare, within the jurisdiction of Congress itself, whether Congress is in session or not, which Congress may later ratify, veto or amend, provided that the Executive Council may not enact any laws that impose or adjust any taxes, or revoke or change any individual's income.

b)    The Executive Council may call special sessions of Congress.

c)    The Executive Council shall submit to Congress an annual budget for the expenditure of all the taxes collected by the Commonwealth.

d)   The Executive Council may submit bills to Congress for consideration.         

Notes:  To most foreign, particularly American and European, observers, the Executive Council probably appears functionally redundant.  However, it achieves several purposes.

First, subsection (a) allows it to enact emergency legislation.  If Congress is adjourned or deadlocked or just simply slow, the  Council can rush in and fill the void.  This has perhaps been the country's salvation when war broke out against England in 1936, when assorted disasters (e.g. hurricanes) have occurred, and when the Arab oil boycott in 1974 upset the economy.  

Second, since Bergonians do not expect their Congress to stay in session perpetually, some organ of government should exist to mind the store.  The language "whether Congress is in session or not" was added in the 1988 Constitutional Convention to avoid ambiguity-- previously there was a dispute during times of divided government whether the Exec Council could use this power when Congress was in session.

Third, subsection (c) means that the initial formulation of the budget involves representatives of both Congress and the Executive. Therefore, if the Council agrees on a budget to submit, it means that the hard compromises have probably already been made, so that its approval by Congress usually becomes a foregone conclusion. 

The Executive Council defies Montesque's classic formulation of separation of powers that Americans take for granted�here we have a blended body, part executive and part legislative, very much like the Israeli Cabinet, which goes in line with the Tanic idea of collective, integrated government.

Section Four:


A quorum of the Executive Council shall consist of one third of its chosen members.  However, it may not convene without the President except with his prior consent or during his disability.

Notes:  The drafters carefully chose the word "chosen."  The constitution of the Second Commonwealth provided for an Executive Council.  One time a spiteful congress refused to elect the councilors, the leadership thinking that this move would effectively terminate the Council by making a quorum impossible.  This language insures that if a modern congress ever attempts the same trick again, the president could simply convene with the members he had chosen and exert all the powers assigned to the Council. 

The word "convene" makes it clear that once it does convene and then the president becomes absent, the EC can continue in session.

Section Five:


a)   The Executive Council shall meet at least once a month.  Either the President or the Speaker of Congress may call special meetings of the Council. 

b)   The President shall chair meetings of the Executive Council, but he may designate another member of the council to so serve.  In the absence of the President or his designee, the Prime Minister shall serve as chair.

c)   By a vote of its members or at the direction of the President or the Speaker of Congress, the Executive Council shall meet behind closed doors.

d)   The Executive Council shall act upon a majority vote of its members.  No act of the Executive Council shall have any force or effect unless it is issued in writing over the signatures of those members voting in favor.  Each member of the Executive Council may cast one vote, but in case of a tie the President shall cast a second vote. 

e)   No matter how the Executive Council is convened, it may not be adjourned except by a majority vote of the members present.  In case of tie votes on adjournment motions the President may not cast a second vote.




The English, French & Portuguese versions of the constitution uses the term "president" for the name of the chief executive officer.  However, the Minidun and Nacateca versions employ the term "pacunot," which really translates more correctly as "emperor" than even "king," much less "president."  "Pacunot" was the name used for the sovereigns of the ancient Ceiolaian & Necruruean empires.

In Pre-Columbian times the big empires were ruled by men called Pacunots who wore no crowns but who had as their insignia a staff and a sun disk.  For the most part, the Pacunots functioned as dictators constrained only by the traditional law of Shufrantei society.  In later Medieval times most Pacunots had councils which assisted them and which approved their appointments of their successors, since the Pacunot was not a necessarily hereditary office.  These councils, where they did exist, played important roles in government.  In most states they were called "Conjut Vreshnet."  The Pacunot chaired this body, just as he chairs the Executive Council now, which also goes by the name of  "Conjut Vreshnet" in native renderings. 

Today's traditions require the Pacunot to don a traditional cape at the time of his inauguration and at the opening of the Congress each year, which he wears over his suit.  His rich regal blue robe is held up by a gold chain he wears over his shoulder. joined at the front by a presidential medallion.  He carries a staff and a disk in imitation of the ancient monarchs.  In a similar vein, the presidents of most Latin American nations don ceremonial sashes, signet of the office, and also wear medallions.

Section One:


a)  The president shall conduct the foreign affairs of the commonwealth.  He shall appoint all ambassadors and emissaries.  He alone may receive the ambassadors of other nations, and no other official, save for members of Congress, may communicate with foreign governments without his permission.

b)  The president shall appoint the military commander and shall direct all the affairs of the armed forces of the commonwealth, subject to the budget approved by Congress.

c)  The  president may summon special sessions of Congress, and he may present proposed legislation to Congress by delivering it to the office of the Speaker.  If Congress does not in full session vote upon the president's proposed legislation within sixty days after its delivery, then the proposed legislation shall become law, subject to review by the supreme court for form and compliance with this constitution.  Congress may within the sixty days vote to approve or reject the propose legislation, or it may vote to amend the legislation.  However if the Congress amends the legislation and approves it, then the president may cast a veto and annul it.

d)  The President shall preside over the convening of the Congress at every session and address the floor.  At such times he shall bear the traditional emblems of the ancient office.


Other provisions affirm the President's power to introduce legislation in Congress and to address sessions of Congress.  See Art. 8, Sect. 12 and 13.  The President also appoints the Prime Minister and three other officers.  See Art. 11.  This power to appoint-- and remove�the officers provides him with his real power.

However his power to propose legislation to Congress is also significant.  This power was expanded in the 1990 constitution with the addition of the sixty-day requirement; previously there was no mechanism to force Congress to vote on his legislation.  This produces a legislative process almost the reverse of the American-- here the President proposes legislation that Congress effectively accepts or vetoes.  the 1936 constitution did not include the provision requiring the President to approve Congressional amendments to his legislation.  This was the greatest expansion of his power in the 1988 constitution.

Essentially, then, the President works with the Congressional leadership on the Executive Council to make broad policy, while the Prime Minister, his cabinet of ministers and the other officers carry out that policy within the bounds set by the laws of Congress.

Section Two:


No one may serve as President other than citizens over the age of thirty-five.

Note:   The constitutions of the three previous commonwealths, all required that no person could serve as President unless he had previously served as a member of Congress, as a constitutional officer, a minister of government, an executive officer of a state, or a general-rank position within the armed forces.

Section Three:

Term of Office 

The President shall serve a term of four years, to coincide with two consecutive terms of Congress.  No person shall serve more than two terms as President. 

Note:   There is perpetual debate about whether anyone should ever be able to run for reelection.  All throughout Berg history, presidents have been able to succeed themselves, but not without controversy.  The Latin American tradition of constitutional law has always hedged against Caudillo-type leaders by restricting presidents to single terms.  Many U.S. state constitutions written in the 1800s contained this safeguard, though most of them were changed in the late 1900s to allow two-term governors, thus radically changing their political landscapes.  Only Harmony and the Communists among the current political parties favor restricting the president to one term, but it has always been a popular idea, and on the floor of the 1988 constitutional convention an amendment failed in a narrow vote.

Section Four:


On the first day of April of every fourth year, beginning with 1936, the Secretariat of the Supreme Court shall open to receive nominations for the office of President.  Any ten delegates to Congress may make a nomination to him in writing no later than the 15th day of  April, except that no delegate shall nominate more than one candidate.  Additionally, any three percent of all registered voters who sign petitions or write letters to the Secretariat may nominate a single candidate, providing that all petitions and letters are received by the last day of April.  On the first day of June the Secretariat shall certify all candidates so nominated and place their names on the ballot for the national election of President, which shall occur on the second Saturday in July, along with Congressional elections.  The two candidates with the highest vote totals from throughout the nation shall then be placed on the ballot in a run-off election that shall occur on the second Saturday in August.  That one from among the two who obtains the greatest number of votes shall be inaugurated to serve as President on the second Saturday in September.

Note:   This section was completely rewritten by the 1988 constitutional convention.  Previously it read  

On the first day of April of every fourth year, beginning with 1936, the Speaker shall open his office to receive nominations for the office of President.  Any ten delegates may make a nomination to him in writing no later than the last day of  April, except that no delegate shall nominate more than one candidate.  All persons so nominated shall have their names placed on the ballot for the national election of President, which shall occur on the second Saturday in July.  The two candidates with the highest vote totals from throughout the nation shall then be placed on the ballot in a run-off election that shall occur on the second Saturday in August.  That one from among the two who obtains the greatest number of votes shall be inaugurated to serve as President on the second Saturday in September.

The allowance of nominations by petitions signed by 3% of the voters was new.  3% is right around 3 million voters.

Section Five:

First Deputy 

The President shall appoint a First Deputy, who shall assist him in the performance of his duties and may substitute for him in any capacity as he may designate.  The President may dismiss and replace the First Deputy as he pleases.

Section Six:


In the event that the President either dies in office, becomes incapacitated, resigns or is removed, the First Deputy shall fill the vacancy.  If the First Deputy  is not available to serve, then the Prime Minister shall fill the vacancy.


This continues the tradition of ancient princes (tieri) and emperors (pacunot), who formally designated their heirs by proclamation.  Though usually a son, it was often a nephew, brother or cousin, or in later times a faithful servant, ally or subordinate.  

In ancient Bergonia title passed from individual to individual, as in Eurasian civilizations, but only within the context of the noble �House,� the dynastic family.  They were slavishly devoted to their families, so tieri and pacunots identified with the family as the essential unit, and felt obliged to name an heir who had the best capacity to lead and defend the family, and who would have the respect of the other male members of the family.  In fact, this regard for the opinions of the other relations has always been regarded as an excellent trait for a ruler, and it tempered the ruler�s raw power.  Thus, while European kings were bound by primogeniture, and while Oriental emperors nearly always passed power to a son, the tieris and the pacunots always enacted a �designation� which named the heir.  There was all sorts of tradition and law concerning how the ruler should write up and sign the designation, who should witness it, who should keep the manuscript, and how the proclamation would be broadcast in the city plaza. 

The President's designated successor has no office as such, unlike a Vice-President.  But since the president may designate anyone as his successor, he always finds it wise to name the successor to a high post in the government, sometimes prime minister or foreign minister.   



Section One:

The Prime Minister and the Ministries

The President shall nominate a person to serve as Prime Minister.  Congress shall vote either to approve or reject the nomination.  If Congress rejects the nomination, the President must submit additional names, either singly or on a list until Congress approves one by a majority vote according to its own procedures. 

Either the President or Congress may withdraw support for the Prime Minister at any time, whereupon the President shall nominate a new one to replace him.  Whenever support is withdrawn from the prime minister, he shall continue to serve until his replacement is chosen.  Any time the office becomes vacant, the President's nominee shall assume it.

The Prime Minister shall direct and supervise the affairs of the various ministries, departments and agencies established by Congress to execute its laws.  With the approval of Congress he shall appoint the ministers and chiefs of the various departments of government, and he may remove them as he sees fit.


Here lies the dynamic of the Bergonian system of government, essentially a hybrid between a presidential and a parliamentary system of government. 

The president must appoint for his Prime Minister someone who can attract the votes of a majority of Congress.  This means that the President must look to the party with the largest number of delegates in Congress.  This usually involves a meeting between the President and the Speaker, since the Speaker comes from the largest party in Congress.  The Prime Minister and his government must keep the confidence of both the President and the Congress, and he loses his office if he loses the confidence of either.  

In the 1936 Constitution, this section required the Prime Minister to be a delegate to Congress, as required in nearly all purely parliamentary systems of government.  The 1988 convention amended this section so that the President can select anyone to be prime minister.  The prior restriction seemed rather arbitrary, and seemed to defy the common sense idea that any qualified person should be considered for the job.  It has resulted in some peculiar possibilities-- the NDP-Harmony coalition resulted in Amon Cuolamei, the successful NDP presidential candidate in 2000, appointing Jean-Paul Kiaseca, the unsuccessful Harmony candidate for president, to the post of prime minister-- a true example of an equal-sided coalition.

Section Two:

The Treasurer

The President shall nominate a person to serve as Treasurer, and Congress shall vote to approve or reject the nomination. If Congress rejects the nomination, the President must submit additional names, either singly or on a list until Congress approves one.   The Treasurer shall serve a term of two years.

The Treasurer shall oversee the collection of all taxes and revenues for the commonwealth.  He shall disburse the collected funds in accordance with the budget passed by Congress.  He shall report annually to the public on the status of the commonwealth's fiscal health. 

He shall have access to all financial records of the commonwealth, including the armed forces, the military, the various departments and agencies, the states and all the sub-divisions.

Note:   Congress can approve the appointment, but neither Congress nor  the President can remove the treasurer once he is chosen.  Thus he holds a little independent power.  The framers intended this to assure that some independent integrity would prevail in the management of the commonwealth's money.

Section Three:

The Foreign Minister

The President shall nominate a qualified individual to serve as Foreign Minister.  Congress shall vote either to approve or reject the nomination.  If Congress rejects the nomination, the President must submit additional names, either singly or on a list until Congress approves one.   The President may unseat the Foreign Minister at any time, whereupon the President shall nominate a new one.  

The Foreign Minister shall represent the commonwealth in its relations with other countries and international organizations.  He shall supervise the activities of the commonwealth's ambassadors and diplomats.  He shall discharge these duties under the supervision of the President.  

Section Four:

The Military Commander

The military commander shall direct all the affairs of the navy, the army, the air force and all the other armed forces of the commonwealth.  He shall serve at the will and pleasure of the President.  

Note:  Congress has no role in selecting or removing this potentate, because the President is commander in chief�this commander is just his surrogate in that role.  Note that there is no requirement that this personage be a military man.  He may be a civilian.



Section One:

The Commonwealth

Congress and the other constitutional officers of the commonwealth shall conduct official business in the Minidun language.  The speeches of all delegates and visitors and the official enactments of Congress shall be translated into Minidun, Nacateca, Pasan, English, French and Portuguese.

Note:   The Bergonian Republic after independence in 1780 used French as the official language.  During the mid-1800s Nacateca and Minidun atrei populations in Bergonia�s interior grew and asserted themselves politically, and the country tried a system of four official languages.  This produced a mess.  During the Third Commonwealth virtually everyone agreed in principle that the country should unify around a single language, at least for administrative and legal purposes, but no one could agree on which one. 

After the Revolution the revolutionaries made a great compromise that resulted in Minidun becoming the "primary official language."  Minidun won the contest largely by virtue of being the language with a plurality�having more speakers than any other.  But the fact is that the Nacatecas got the capital moved from Ceiolai to Lefitioni in exchange for giving the Minidun linguistic superiority.  This means that in Nacateca-speaking Lefitioni the Capitol does business in Minidun.

Section Two:

The States

Each state shall designate two languages for official purposes, public debate, voting ballots and public signs.  At least one of the languages must be Minidun, Nacateca, English or French. 

Section Three:

Local Governments

Each county and city shall conduct its business in one of the two languages designated by the state.

Each autonomous county (zhubon) may conduct its official business in whatever language its voters chose in referendum.  However, each autonomous county (zhubon) must maintain traffic and other public signs and issue voting ballots and essential bulletins, notices and pronouncements in two or more designated languages, one of which must be either Minidun, Nacateca, English or French, and one of which must also be one of the two languages designated by the state.

Note:   Here we see a chief function of the autonomous county, to provide protections for linguistic minorities that have a majority on small patches of turf.  These are primarily the Europeans and the Faroi.

  Click here to continue to Article Eleven


Rev. 1 Nov 05 


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