Constitutional law in J.K. Rowlings' wizard world

Perhaps it’s unfair to ask these sorts of questions of kids’ books, but … :

(1) If the Minister of Magic can be sacked, and a new one appointed, who does the sacking and the appointing? Is there a wizard sovereign and/or a wizard parliament in J.K. Rowlings’ world? Is it a constitutional monarchy, with regular elections, or is it some kind of oligarchy?

(2) How are government services paid for, like salaries of people in the Ministry of Magic and or teachers at Hogwarts? Even if there are school fees, I doubt if they are high enough to pay the costs of Hogwarts, given that a lot of students like Harry Potter get a free education. And wizard money is not in unlimited supply, since if it was, you would not need Gringotts Bank. So is there some sort of tax system in the wizard world? And (given that he is relatively wealthy in that world), does Harry Potter pay taxes?

(3) Who exactly decided that top-level dealings between the wizard world would be between the Muggle Prime Minister and the Minister of Magic? And was it the same 400 years ago, when the Muggle PM was less important, and the Muggle King/Queen of England was far more important? If there has been such a change, how did the change take place? And what happens in other countries? Does the Minister of Magic in the US deal with the President of the US, or with someone else?

I know a lot of these questins aren’t answered by the HP series, but it’s interesting to spoeculate.

One more issue in Wizard society is the position of other races/species of sentient beings, such as elves, goblins, dementors and centaurs. Do they have a role in civil society? Or are they slaves (as seems to be the case with house elves), or just inhabitants of a parallel society (as seems to be the case with centaurs)? Since goblins run the banking system, one would expect them to have some impact on the political system.

(I’m keeping this thread alive, even though there’s a parallel thread on the wizard educational system, because I feel than these issues are distinct from just education. And I realise that even J.K. Rowlings may not have all the answers, though she does raise some of the issues, such as the slave-like status of the house elves.)

  1. Perhaps the Wizengamot appoints the Minister?

  2. According the The Quibbler, money is raised by herding goblins into concentration camps and seizing their assets. Besides that…I’ve got nothing. Maybe there’s some form of taxation that JKR has never bothered to tell us about.

  3. Presumably the Minister of Magic at some point in the distant past selected the PM as the appropriate contact person in the Muggle world. Since the books are Britain-centric almost to the point of not acknowledging the existence of other countries, it’s difficult to say much of anything about the wizarding world outside of the UK.

This is an area that Rowling has almost entirely ignored, simply because it’s not integral to her story. The books are bloody long enough without giving us a treatise on wizarding constitutional law. If you really think about it, even after suspending your disbelief about a parallel wizard society living among us, the Ministry of Magic and what little we know about wizarding governance makes very little sense indeed.

I’m more than happy to suspend my disbelief while I’m reading the story for the pure action. However, J.K. Rowling has built such a large complex world, and raised some of the issues herself (e.g., the enslavement of the house elves), that it’s fun to at least ask the questions. Like the philosophers who asked Deep Thought for the answer to the ultimate question in Adams’ Hitchiker’s guide, I suspect that (if she wants it), she can spend the rest of her life making a living by asking these questions about her universe.

A wizard did it.

I said it in the other thread, and I’ll say it here. Rowling needs to write the equivalent of the Similarion (hopefully not nearly as boring, however.) And blast you, Finagle for beating me to the joke.

Given that J.K. Rowling has written such readable works as Quidditch through the ages and Fantastic beasts and where to find them, I have no doubt that she could create other guides to the Harry Potter universe that would be equally entertaining, once she’s finished HP7. Meanwhile, I find it fun to speculate.

Well, it’s possible that, as in our world, taxes are extracted under anesthesia, so there’s no reason for teenagers to think much about them and everybody else gripes only at tax time, whenever that is. Maybe when Harry buys something at a shop in Hogsmeade or Diagon Alley there’s sales tax, but we rarely take notice of that when we make a purchase. And he has no earned income so he’s never had to pay income tax. (His assets being held in the equivalent of a safety deposit box at Gringott’s, presumably they earn no interest.)

My Raincoast Editions of the books identified Fudge as the Minister for Magic, which prompted Vernon Dursley to respond, “You lot are in Government? That explains a lot.” So I had the impression that the Muggle PM was somehow involved in choosing Fudge.

Of course, I was disabused of that notion in the first chapter of Book 6.

That is what I thought as well. I just assumed the highest-ups in Brittian’s government were well aware of the magic world and that ultimately the Minister of Magic reported (albeit secretly) to the Prime Minister.

As was I.

It seems to be that perhaps there is a hugh sales tax which is the greatest form of taxation in the magical world. It seems to me that aside from the small shopkeepers most people work for the Ministry and there seem to be plenty who seem to just come from wealthy families and don’t work (the Malfoys for instance).

I remember that Hermione’s family changed their pounds for galleons in one of the books. What would stop Lucius Malfoy from finding a wealthy man, using the Imperius curse to make that man award him a fat consulting contract as a spritual advisor, and then converting his muggle money to wizard money?

What’s stopping any of them from doing so?

Or, with the books being set in the UK, the wizarding tax system could be rather like the muggle one; you have an income tax that’s taken directly out of your paycheque, so you never even have to worry about income tax. Stuff like sales tax, what we call value added tax, could well be included in the price of things (as it is in real life), so even that becomes a non-issue.

There’s probably a law about using magic on muggles for personal gain. You can risk it, but you’ll wind up in Azkaban :wink:

That makes me wonder. If you are a Muggle-born wizard and are comfortable with the stock market, would any capital gains be taxable to the magicial version of the IRS (what’s the name of the actual authority in the UK anyway?) Can you easily convert money back and forth from pounds to galleons and who sets the exchange rate, or is it pegged at 1:1? Are there any actual investments in the wizarding world?

Who says he hasn’t?