The Senate of Ironforge (Azregahn Angor-Kost) is a key political institution of the Kingdom of Ironforge. It's dwarvish name, Azregahn, literally means Lawmoot. Its members, often referred to as senators, are also called lawfathers (othgahn).
During the first times of the Kingdom of Khaz Modan, under the reign of Ironforge Clan, the dwarves were still a young race, slowly developing their legal institutions through customs and consensus. This is how the dwarven lawws of honor and clan loyalty emerged. After a time, a hierarchy was formed, with every clan ruled by the eldest male, the thane; and every thane subject to another thane. The chain ended in the High King, who would have absolute discretion to dictate the law of the land, as long as he respected clan bonds. With time, the kingdom expanded, the population grew too large and too sparsely separated, so the High King authorized those thanes who were directly subject to him to exercise a judicial capacity not only for matters relating to clan law (always a domain of the thanes), but to criminal offenses, civil and commercial disputes, and other legal business. The lawfathers would seat on his clanhold as the lower court, and their decision could be appealed before a meeting of the "nearest fathers" (that is, the five, later ten, and then twenty lawfathers with the nearest seat). A dwarve could chose to take a civil case before any of the four courts nearest to his domicile, and criminal cases would be tried before the nearest court as long as it wasn't held by the thane of one of the parties.
With time, it was made costumary that the kings would announce new laws by delivering a speech before a gathering of the lawfathers, so that they knew which rules to enforce and use as the base of their decisions. Sometimes the king would find it hard to convene a meeting of all thanes at once with the desired frequency, so hewould send letters signed with his royal seal and carried by a royal emissary to the lawfathers, and these would in turn verify that said law was put in place by consulting with the five (later ten, and then twenty) nearest lawfathers if they had received the same letter. Both procedures were widely used and regularized.
With the Anvilmar Clan, the realm's society became too divided for this system to work, for giving too much power to the majority of thanes would cause upheaval in the other two factions. The royal authority was needed to mediate, so high king Kazdun launched a legislative project of reformation. The Kazdian Reforms gave the High King the power to enact new laws via a Law Council, made up of forty individuals chosen by the king, that would act as a chancery, conffirming the royal orders by placing their official seal on them, so giving faith that the came from the king himself. The decision of the nearest fathers would be appellable before this council. And the council would take the reins of the kingdom on the period between the death or abdication of one king and the coronation of his successor, as five councillors designated by the king would assume as an Interregnum, charged with the between-kings administration, confirming the heir and presiding over his coronation. Kazdun also decreed that the king could appoint new lawfathers, without the need of them being thanes, who could seat on their own domicile (often a royal grant of land).
It wasn't until the reign of Madoran Bronzebeard and the delivering of the Five Orations that the Senate would take its current form: a meeting of all lawfathers, with both legislative and judicial functions, which would become the main policy-maker of Ironforge.
To control the excesive power of both king and senate, every five years the senators choose among their ranks a commission of forty censors, the Censorial Assembly. For a time of ten months, the censors are prohibited to participate in any other senatorial debate or committee.
Their main goal is to establish a five-year plan, including the budget and a series of institutional and economic restrictions and guidelines to the Senate's capacities, specially its hability to raise taxes and approriate money from the public funds. They also write the new code of procedure and etiquette for the Senate.
The assembly also watches the strict dwarven system of honour and morality, by ratifying dishonours, granting pardons and analysing the performance of public employees and institutional leaders (like clergymen, clan leaders, and the hierarchs of independent state institutions such as public universities and the public bank). The censors draft the rolls of the Senate, in which lawfathers appear in and order of precedence according to their honour. The list is presented to the High Priest of the Titans, who then strikes the names he thinks to be undeserving, and hands the rolls to the new Convenor of the Senate. By this method the censors and high priest together may remove those lawfathers thought to be unworthy and appoint new and more fitting lawfathers.
Senatorial Appointments Edit
Whenever a senator steps down (usually to undertake a military, religious, diplomatic or executive office), his place in the censorial roll must be filled with a replacement until his return or until the next Censorial Assembly convenes. The replacement is appointed by the outgoing senator, with the blessing of the High Priest; or, if the senator is forced to step down for dishonour or judicial decision, a special senatorial committee advises the King to make the appointment, with the High Priest's consent.
The Convenor of the Senate is the chief officer of the Senate, in charg of enforcing the code of procedure and etiquette and leading debates, with the power to break ties and with oversight over individual committees. He is the first lawfather mentioned in the censorial roll. He is required to hold his court on Ironforge.
Senators often join alliances with each other after common interests. Most senators identify themselves as part of one of two factions: The Diggers (equivalent to the theramoreese Tory Party and Labour Party) and the Levellers (the Whig Party).
Legislative procedure Edit
There are two main procedures to pass laws and other important resolutions in the Senate of Ironforge:
The Oratory Process is an oral debate among the senators over a motion presented by a particular senator or by the king, followed by an oral Aye-or-Nay vote. By this method, senators are able todiscuss each clause of a particular bill and introduce reforms. These process also includes a committee discusion stage. If passed, proposals by the King (Orations of the Allfather) always override individual senators' proposals (Orations of the Lawfathers). Some of these proposals come from senatorial standing committees.
The Epistolary Process consists of a written letter which the King sends to all lawfathers to their seats while the Senate is not convened, to make a provisional decision or law (although he cannot appropriate money or raise taxes). A lawfather confirm that such letter is authentic by making sure it has all proper seals ans signatures, and then consulting his twenty nearest seating lawfathers. These letters are voted on undiscussed on the Senate floor the first day it convenes. Some of these Epistle's are handled to committees to reform them and present them as oratory bills.
Laws, policies and appointments of high officials are made by Senate resolution.