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Great questions bring great answers... and also more questions. This one is a follow-up on Emperor that nominates a council that nominates the next emperor by Timst.

I suggest, before answering, reading the answers of Tim B II and Separatrix.

In the setting, an Emperor appoint a council whose responsibilities include the nomination of the next emperor when the current one dies.

Tim highlighted that this system would greatly correlate the interests of the state and those of the council members.

A later edit from Timst added that the council couldn't choose a member of the council.

At this point, I thought it would be perfect to disable a powerful suitor to the throne. By appointing this person to the council, he/she would be removed from the competition. Separatrix furthered this reasoning, stating it was no minor modification, as it would greatly impact the dynamic of the council (basically, passing the title around the council or scheming to get a majority and becoming emperor is out of question).

You could circumvent this difficulty, as a member, by ensuring your inheritor to be elected as new emperor.

But in the case of a member of the council coveting the throne but not being able to access it (directly or indirectly) due to the no-council rule, what means the emperor/the system could put in place to maintain the status quo?

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    $\begingroup$ What's wrong with the system used by the Holy Roman Empire for many centuries, where the position of an imperial prince-elector was very highly prestigious in its own right? "The dignity of Elector carried great prestige and was considered to be second only to that of King or Emperor. The Electors had exclusive privileges that were not shared with the other princes of the Empire, and they continued to hold their original titles alongside that of Elector." (Wikipedia) $\endgroup$ – AlexP Jan 31 at 14:36
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    $\begingroup$ AlexP is exactly right. Don't assume that members of the council would even want the throne at all. If they're clever (and they likely are if they managed to get on the council), they'll quickly realize that they can get more (yes really!) benefits from being a council member rather than being the emperor. $\endgroup$ – AngelPray Jan 31 at 14:46
  • $\begingroup$ @AngelPray I realize a skilled manipulator can probaly accomplish more in the council than sitting on the emperor throne. I'm asking for the exact case when a powerful but not-as-brilliant-as-he thinks member is gonna be appointed and is gonna want more. Don't assume everybody is clever. $\endgroup$ – Nyakouai Jan 31 at 14:51
  • $\begingroup$ One reason the HRE worked is because the Emperor couldn't add or remove Electors, which created a balance of power. This system has a stronger Emperor who can add or remove them arbitrarily. Much instability will ensue! It's pretty much never in your own best interests to let someone who is not a close ally become Emperor. $\endgroup$ – Mark Olson Jan 31 at 15:10
  • $\begingroup$ @MarkOlson: The Emperor could create new Prince-Electors, with the approval of the Imperial Diet, in certain special situations, much like the Autocrator of the United States of America can appoint Supreme Judges with the approval of the Senate. For example, Duke Maximilian I of Bavaria was created Elector in 1623; Charles I Louis was (re-)created Elector Palatine in 1648; and the Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg was created Elector of Hanover in 1687. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Jan 31 at 16:48
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For one thing, lifetime appointments to the Council. For another, invitation to the council excludes you from candidacy for Emperor.

If you don't do this, then you're going to have two principal problems when your emperor starts going grey;

1) You won't be able to fill vacancies on the Council because people will assume the invitation is to block you from becoming Emperor, and they'll infer that they have a chance by virtue of the offer being made

2) Upon the death of the Emperor, you'll have mass resignations from the Council, right when you need them the most (functioning at full strength and rationally).

Ultimately, Council membership in this model should be similar to, say, Supreme Court Bench membership in the United States. It's a lifetime appointment to a position of extreme influence, whose power is fundamentally independent to that of the emperor, who makes the laws that the Council enact or interpret. This not only provides limits on the power of the Council, but it also provides limits on the power of the Emperor in such a way that creates a clear demarcation between the two.

Therefore, the answer is that no-one who has experience with (or was even considered capable of) interpretation and implementation of the law can have the responsibility of making law as it is seen as too much power; one could easily make law that is worded in such a way that can only be interpreted a very specific way and doesn't allow for the different circumstances to influence how it is applied.

In practice, the Emperor can do exactly that anyway, but for the sake of appearances, this is as good a cover story as you really need.

So; your Emperors have the bulk of the power, but in a manner that's shaped and tempered (where needed) by the Council. In that sense, you preserve the status quo by segmentation of power and ensuring that Councillors are seen as having too much experience and connections in one side of government to make them balanced on the other side.

This of course could easily cut both ways, insofar as specific personal aides of the Emperor, who work to guide and shape the laws he makes, could also be excluded from ever serving on the Council.

This would mean that people interested in a political career have to pick early on which stream they wish to pursue and stick with it for their entire career.

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Being elected councilman is an honor, not a duty. If the emperor bestows on you the honor of being councilman, you can refuse. In this way, the refusal implies that perhaps this person may one day attempt to be emperor himself.

This isn't without a certain strategy on the emperor's behalf. Should the emperor suspect someone of wanting to overthrow him, a test of this would be to approach him and offer him a position on the council. If he accepts it, then he is also accepting that he can never be emperor. If he refuses, then likely it would be a major offense, but perhaps still a move that someone of great power or following might still do to declare his intentions.

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If a noble wants to become emperor, but is appointed member of the Council, I think he would try to gain influence on many members of the Council: in such case, he could easily succeed in placing his heir (or a puppet) to the throne.
Otherwise, his only possibility would be to force the issue, by claiming himself emperor in spite of the law. But this scenario would prove to be problematic, since there is a strong chance that the majority of the other electors would decide that it is not possible (remember that if he could have gained the trust of the majority of the Council would have more likely influenced the election in order to have somebody he could control as emperor), and create a coalition against the self nominated emperor, or decide to secede from the empire.
Since there would be too many unknowns for somebody who tried to force the issue, I think the system could somehow be able to self balance itself.
Probably in case of extraordinary events or emergency situations (e.g. invasions from powerful empires) a particularly charismatic noble could be able to persuade the majority of the Council to break this rule and appoint him emperor, but it wouldn't necessarily led to a long term cancellation of the "no council member as emperor" rule

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So my solution are two fold" First, maintain the council with an even number of members (the total number of councilors can be divided evenly into a whole number). Second, give the Emperor an vote so the total votes in the council of X members equals X+1 but then limit the Emperor to tie breaking votes only. Thus, in a council of 6, there are 7 votes, but the seventh vote only comes into play if the first 6 are evenly split.

This allows the emperor to have a say and potentially punish the political actor he finds more corrupt by taking away his seat. This can be done with an odd council where the 7th vote breaks a tie of the first six only.

One of my favorite book series, the Animorphs actually had the bad guys (the Yeerks) work a system like this to prevent a tyrant Emperor. The ruling body was the Council of 13 which was made with the 12 most powerful members of their society (I don't recall how Yeerks selected the 12 but, pick a method) and the Emperor. The Emperor was empowered to be the tie breaker when such situation occurred, but otherwise had no power. The Council of 13 were the only group who knew the true identity of the emperor (though one Yeerk did express that non-council members considered the identity just shy of an open secret and she suspected the Emperor did subtly tell her his/her identity). The general population is kept in the dark and although the figure is revered, he or she has no power other than being the tie breaker and is not treated as special by the council to hide the true identity. Obstensiously this is for security purposes, but the real reason was to avoid the Emperor getting too powerful for his/her own good (and yes, the title was always "The Emperor" even if the position was held by a "woman"... though this was less about sexism and more about the fact that gender and sex were weird... the species itself had three parents that procreated/suicide to make a bunch of offspring, were parasite brain slugs that had only encountered species with two sexes, and seemed to have male and female personalities and were referred individually as he or she only...).

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    $\begingroup$ Mostly irrelevant to the question. The emperor can hardly break a tie regarding his succession after his death. Also, the main question define the range of power of the council and the emperor. So removing the power emperor is, in the way stated in your answer, off-topic. $\endgroup$ – Nyakouai Jan 31 at 17:22

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