Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Part I, Chapter 13

The Eternal Fight: A parliamentary session in the 20th century

The parliament building is described first. It houses both the lower and upper house of parliament. The latter on the top level, gaining its light via a glass roof.

The lower house being below, gains its light via Drummond-style "lime[-based?]lighting" that also provides heat. As a result, in the summer time ice-making machines are employed to temper the heat. In addition, it also has two chemical machines that are constantly at work. One that produces oxygen, and the other that takes in carbonic gas (presumably carbon dioxide) to produce from the exhalations of the speeches "sodawater" (carbonated [i.e.: mineral] water).

Furthermore the lower house has no doors or other horizontal entrances. Representatives can only enter vertically via "sinking/lower-machines" at times of their own volition, at other times by the will of the President (i.e.: Speaker) of the House. The latter happens either when at the end of a session, the President of the House initiates the sinking of the chairs out of the assembly, or when, after alerting representatives with a 2 minute warning bell of an imminent vote, the President of the House calls up all chairs whether or not they are presently occupied. Therefore those who are not in their chairs by the time they are raised into the chamber cannot take part in the vote. And after such a vote, of course, the chairs are sunken back after all votes have been cast and counted.

These chairs are also connected to clock mechanisms that keep track of how much time each representative spends in session, and this calculated total is used at the end of the month to determine what share of the monthly Representative's Salary budget goes to each representative, much to the pleasure of conscientious members.

The assembly is premanent, by the way. There are 12 Presidents of the Assembly, each presiding for 2 hours. Six of them are for Hungarian portions of the session, taking place from 8am to 8pm; the rest for German, Serbian, Romanian, Russian, and various latin- or cyrill-lettered southern slavic languages that are all supported by their own stenographists, as neither any President of the House nor any stenographist can rightly be expected to speak the myriad co-official (i.e.: equal) languages of the country.

Speeches are restricted to 30 minutes, and under special circumstances this time may be restricted to only 15 minutes per speaker. Speeches may only be given from a special podium (also a "sinking/lowering-chair") and at the end of the speech or the alloted time the President of the House lowers the chair (making it wise for the speaker to cease his activity and draw close his limbs)--at the bottom, the new speaker is to be given way and is in turn risen by the President of the House to make his speech.

Lastly, it is described that the cost of printing the records of the parliamentary sessions are charged directly to speakers, albeit in the case of the speech relating to party matters, the cost may ultimately be picked up by the political party in question.

A great multiplicity of political parties are described in varying level of detail. Perhaps most significant is the fact that there is a suggestion of considerably greater political freedom (than in Jokai's time) and politicians are claimed to shield themselves of various sort of accusations by offering "Oh, I'm not Xist--I'm merely a Y Party member" apologias.


Since the time when at the end of the last century (referring to the end of the 1800s) the Parliament pronounced the equality of women, at every election a single female representative is elected (though it is not clear whether this is an election by the electorate, or more of a *selection* by the ruling party). She tends to be the most responsible, conscientious, hard-working, and most-often present member of the entire parliament. This (either her election/appointment or her hard-working nature?) protects women's rights.

Jokai also mentions that the reason only one woman is (s)elected is to avoid female representatives disagreeing with each other, and thereby at least among women to avoid the cursed (ideological) party-splits. I am not quite sure whether Jokai intended this as a serious thought or as perhaps an indication that even in the 20th century, women's liberation still has ways to go.

He then mentions that there are both female stenographers and journalists at the parliament, albeit they are as yet the exception and not the rule. Likewise there are female teachers, judges/magistrates of the first degree (the implication being no female judges in the higher courts). Jokai notes that this is not a fully cleared up concept yet, and women's equality will probably require a good 50 years more for it to fully take firm root.

Some further details of lower house parliamentary sessions: the President of the House has electrical connection from his desk's keys to little bells above the heads of all the representatives by which he can call their attention (among other things, to warn them that if they do not cease their interrupted/disruption/quarrel they will be lowered out of the chamber), and, in turn, all the representatives have a similar electronic connection to the President's desk by which they can indicate their wish to speak (when they do so, their name gets added to a large screen). This same mechanism is used for votes: the President first asks all those who vote "Yes" to press their buttons, then after the names have been recorded, all those who vote "No". Altogether therefore a vote can take place and yield definitive results in as little as five minutes, with everything recorded by the stenographers. No chance of errors or misheard votes.

Then Jokai's attention turns to the myriad ways that both sides of the debate relating to "the dissolution of all religious orders in Hungary" are attempting to ensure victory in the coming vote.

Albeit it eventually turns out that most Hungarian religious organizations actually support the motion, as they see their former privileges encroached upon and all but lost to the myriad foreign religious orders that have fled to Hungary in the past decades. In effect, they hope some return to normalcy and expect a revival of concern toward their (i.e.: Hungarian religious organizations') interest once the foreign orders leave (it is suggested probably to America) for having lost their privileges.

Eventually the vote is taken and is successful, thereby moving the vote to the upper house of parliament.

The many struggles of the upper parliament's factions to either gather more voting representatives for the coming vote or render as many of their opponents unable to attend are detailed at some length. Eventually the vote motion is accepted by one vote... a mistaken vote due entirely to a representative who intended to oppose the motion being distracted. Despite this, the President of the Upper House (which lacks all the modernities of the lower house, being staunchly married to tradition) happily declares the motion carried, glad that a stalemate (equal votes both for and against) did not force him to also cast his vote, as doing so would almost certainly would have destroyed his carefully guarded non-partisanism and ultimately would have likely led him out of his post as President of the Upper House.

The motion now awaits only the King's consent or rejection.

1 comment:

  1. Was this the end of the novel or did you abandon the project? In any case, thanks for your efforts. This is valuable for my research,