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Mama Deb
mamadeb
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Rowling

Now for the Rowling stuff. And maybe this should be on hp_britglish, and maybe I'll put it there, but I want to talk about it here. I got a sort of heads-up about something I'd never actually considered seriously, and when I did, I got it wrong. I think.



Basically, how are Ministers for Magic chosen? How did Fudge get his position, and how was Dumbledore competition? How will Fudge be replaced (and we all agree he must be replaced)?

I'm an American, and have American cultural references. I've learned to say "leaving" instead of "graduating," and "trousers" instead of "pants," and "biscuits" instead of "cookies" - I've learned some British vocabulary, basically and some cultural stuff because that goes along with it. I've even, well, not learned to not use "gotten", but to do a search and replace to get rid of it.

But I'm still an American, and so, with *no* evidence at all, I assumed that Minister for Magic was an elected office. And it's not just me. While I haven't seen stories, I *have* seen political threads in rpgs, especially last fall (I mean autumn) during the US presidential election. And all of them, whether they chose Arthur Weasley or Lucius Malfoy or an original character to replace Fudge, did so with a popular vote, and that seemed perfectly reasonable to me.

Which makes no sense for a couple of reasons. One I should have figured out - in Britain, the prime minister is not popularly elected. He or she is the leader (I'm not sure how that is determined) of the party that gets either the majority or the largest plurality of seats in Parliament. The only people who actually vote for this person are the peoople in his or her home district. It's conceivable that British wizards and witches vote in their country's election, but they'd be voting for local members of Parliament.

The second, though, is something zsero pointed out. "Minister" is not an elected office at all - it's an appointed position. Apppointed by the Prime Minister. It doesn't even need Parliamentary approval (unlike the analogous position in the US government, cabinet secretary, who must get Senate approval.) He runs a department, not the government itself, even if it's a huge and varied department that pretty much resembles a shadow government - *is* a shadow government of which the Muggle government is fully aware, as we know from PoA. The Minister for Magic would be the primary liaison between the two.

(We also discussed where the Department of Magic would be in the US government. It should be cabinet level, but there's that senate confirmation thing and that's too many Muggles in one place to be comfortable. So it would be under either Defense, because of the partially hidden budget, or Interior because Interior makes sense.)

So, any thoughts?

Comments

I hadn't given it much thought - I suppose I considered it an appointed office, rather than an elected one, now that you mention it.

It does raise the question of what the political parties are in the Wizard world... does it ever say in the books? Death eaters and such aside, I mean?

Harry's only concern right now is Deatheater/status quo vs.Order.

They don't seem to teach civics at all, and he wouldn't think to care on his own.

That's what I thought, but I haven't re-read enough to say for sure.

See, I figured the Minister of Magic is the Magical equivalent of the Prime Minister, so must be appointed/elected by, probably, the Wizzengemot (sp.), not by a Muggle.

That's sort of what I figured, but maybe then the Minister would have a different title. I don't know.

I had always assumed that the Minister of Magic was appointed, though no clue as to who would do the appointing. And I'd assume that any liaising with the Muggle government would definitely be buried in some appropriate department.

Well, Muggle Liaison is a career option, and one that doesn't require too many OWLs, either.

(Maybe that's where the Terribly Earnest Young People who visit the Muggleborns come from.)

I don't know. I've been wondering about this since the discussion of Fudge vs. Crouch in GoF ("Crouch was shunted away and Fudge got the top job"). This does seem to have to do with popular opinion, since it's associated with Crouch losing his popular base of support after his son's trial, but it doesn't seem to be a question of having elected Fudge. But Fudge behaves like an elected politician in OotP, trying to spin the news coverage because he's afraid that Dumbledore will move in on him.

Harry is is singularly uninterested in politics, which probably explains why we hear nothing, but it's a bit frustrating not to know how it works, isn't it?

If I were to make a guess, I'd say that the magical community may be treated as a single district with shared interests, rather than having witches and wizards as citizens of their geographical districts. (I'd guess that wizarding properties in villages other than Hogsmeade have some way of being hidden from Muggle view, and their taxes would be paid to the wizarding authority.) Maybe Fudge, Dumbledore, and Crouch all represent different parties within the wizarding "district," and Fudge's party became the majority party after Crouch screwed up, and he was therefore the head of the "shadow government," and maybe the process of the PM appointing a Minister of Magic is just rubber-stamping this, since the Muggle PM wouldn't have much knowledge going in. This would be supported by Fudge's OotP behavior--if his party is power because of people getting a bit more soft-hearted once they were secure in the idea of the war being over, then above all other things, he has to keep the people convinced that the war is over, otherwise, they might vote for a rival party, whose leader would end up as the rubber-stamped liaison.

You've thought about this a lot more than I have.

I did think, in writing this post, that it was possible that Wizards were a district unto themselves (and always had witch suffrage, too.)

I don't think Harry's lack of interest is singular. I think that Hermione should know and talk about a lot more, since politics seems to be her thing anyway, but he's a teenager who has more life-or-death things to worry about. He *should* be concerned, but it's very in character that he isn't.

in Britain, the prime minister is not popularly elected. He or she is the leader (I'm not sure how that is determined) of the party that gets either the majority or the largest plurality of seats in Parliament

It's the same in Australia, where I am, and the leader of the party is determined in-house. People tend to vote for the party they want rather than a single individual as Prime Minsietr (although the individual can sway some votes).

I tend to think that the Minister for Magic would be selected within the wizarding world, rather than by the muggle PM. The wizarding world works very separately from the muggle world, so they would need to liase, but not be integrated - no shared budgets, political activities, etc. The wizarding world also seems to be quite small, and quite insular. All of which makes me think that they would appoint their own Minister without reference to the muggles, perhaps by way of a small group or panel - Fudge appears to be very much under the thumb of the Board of Governors (from memory!), for example. But what of the wizarding populations elsewhere in the world?

Given how small Harry's wizarding world seems to be, I doubt they have a full parliamentary system, also.

Wizard population

Well, retro-figgerin' from the size of Hogwarts: the normal size seems to be about 1000 students, or that's the impression I get from the Snape flashbacks in OOtP. That covers 7 grades. Now, the NYC public school system is about 1 million kids in 12 grades, vs. 7.5 million people total. So, at 80,000 kids per grade, about, that's 560,000 kids in grades 6-12, vs. 7.5 million total. So the total population should be 7.5E6/5.6E5, or 13.4 x the school population. So the wizarding community should be about 13-15,000 people all told in all of Britain. Presumably Muggle-borns and squibs cancel out.

I doubt that would cross the level of a single seat in Parliament. Or are the districts still not linked to population (cf. Rotten Boroughs)?