It has recently occurred to us that embarrassingly little is known in wider circles about Murloc governance. As our blog name clearly indicates, they do enjoy many aspects of democratic representation, but the details of their governance is not known to many outsiders. In the hopes of educating the noble denizens of Azeroth, I will attempt a summary drawing primarily on the distinguished scholarly works presented in most Azerothian Comparative Government classes. Readers should be aware there are many more in depth academic studies on Murloc Politics, and many books on the subject are available at libraries in Stormwind, Dalaran, The Undercity, Dire Maul and Scarlet Monestary (though be warned the last two have severe punishments for overdue books).
Murloc Basic Government Structure
Head of State vs Head of Government
It is well known that the Murlocs are Parliamentary in their self governance. So it is important to remember that the head of the government (The Prime Minister) is different than the head of state (In Britain that would be the Queen, in Portugal it is an elected president). So to simplify matters, think of it like this:
- The Parliament makes laws, and runs all the ministries and departments of the government; and
- The President or Monarch runs the military and shows up at state dinners.
The current president of the Murloc government is populist folk hero and former celebrity chef Cookie. There is a challenge to him as head of state, but we will cover that in a later section.
The Parliament it is divided into two houses making it bicameral in nature. Each region is represented by:
- 1 member for the upper house (known as the House of Whales;) and
- 1 member per 1,000 murlocs in that region for the lower house (known as the House of Minnows).
It is important to realize that the upper house is merely a ratifying body, while the lower house is where most policy initiatives and governance actually takes place assuming no serious objection is mounted from the House of Whales.
Members of Parliment (MPs) and the Prime Minister
Each hamlet or village within the Murloc Nation elects a representative of that hamlet or village to the General assembly, and each MP has a party afilliation. If a single party gains 50%+1 of the overall composition of the House of Minnows, that party leader is now the Prime Minister. However in the event that a party cannot gain that many seats (and historically it has been difficult to do so), the right to form a coalition government is first offered to the party with the most seats. If they cannot form a coalition it is then offered to the next largest party and so on until a government is formed.
Once a government has been formed by a single party, or more likely a coalition, the Prime Minister then assigns various Members of Parliament roles as heads of various ministries. Often in a coalition government, the Prime Minister will appoint members from a coalition partner’s party to be a minister in exchange for coalition support in running the government. Each ministry has particular jurisdiction over certain policy areas, and in policy issues which might involve multiple ministries, the Prime Minister will assign primary jurisdiction to one Ministry with other ministries acting in advisory roles.
The Ethnic Divisions of the Murloc People
It is important to remember that despite their enthusiastic support of democratic traditions, that Murlocs are still very much insular in their ethnic divides. Before we get to the parties, it is important to lay out the Murloc Ethnic and Tribal divisions. There are five main subspecies of Murlocs: Gorlocs, Mur’guls, Mur’ghoul, Mutant Murlocs, and Deep Sea Murlocs. These groups are subsets withing the main Murloc population and have vastly different political aims, and different values which manifest themselves in cultural means. Allow Professor Grimcellar from Forsaken University to explain:
Perhaps the most curious aspect of Murloc culture is the vast differences in composition, and how these heterogeneous aspects manifest themselves in ethnic conflict within the Murloc Nation as a whole. My research of Mur’ghouls for instance shows a strong desire for civil right protections to combat societal discrimination for their undead status. The Gorlocs are supportive of the social aims, while the bulk of the Murloc population views the Mur’ghouls as a suspect race. They cite higher incidence of cannibalism within their ranks, increased rates of crime, and oft quote Mur’ghoul Rotgill’s Fourth Treatise on Scourge relations out of context to support this view. The objections that Gorloc’s raise to these factors are often dismissed due to a perception that the Gorloc are liberal elites who don’t properly understand the world outside of Northrend. This scorn of elitism is most often heaped upon the Oracle tribes of Scholazar Basin, who’s open communications with outsiders is viewed with suspicion and suggestions of treason.
Other ethnic groups are more concerned with issues of cultural identity of the Murloc Nation as a whole. For example the Deep Sea Murlocs have been notoriously vocal opponents of the general trend of Murlocs towards shallow water and even land dwellings. They maintain an Orthodox Stance regarding this trend saying that air, dry land, and association with other species threatens the Murloc way of life. Father Saul Everlook of the Argent Dawn explains in his study of the Deep Sea Murlocs A Study in Murloc Institutions: A Concise Exploration of the Deep Sea Murloc Culture
It is almost impossible to breech the xenophobic nature of the Deep Sea Murlocs. Through a continued and persistent effort of myself and my assistant Darryl, we were able to come to a point of discussion where they allowed us very limited access into their world. Ultimately the Deep Sea Murloc leaders feel that as a whole Murloc Culture has taken a wrong turn, that threatens the very nature of what it means to be a Murloc. Land is the source of problems they plea. There would not exist the unclean (their reference to the Mur’ghoul) had they not been on land. “If those scum had been in deep water where they, we belong, they would not have ended up in their condition.” a Deep Sea Murloc fisherman named Grrglrl told me. And his view was one of the more sympathetic viewpoints. Many simply said the Mur’ghoul should be expelled from the Murloc Nation and left to their own fate. They routinely feel that the Murloc government has been too accommodating to the Mur’ghouls deviant lifestyle and have open resentment for the Gorloc activists who lobby for Mur’ghoul rights. But they also cast an accusatory stance on Murloc society in general for too much apathy towards these “betrayals” of Murloc values. “They get fat up there. They taste new meats, maybe a squirrel, or a deer, and suddenly they forget they came from the sea. They have no business being on dry land. If the Great Whale(a deity) had wanted us to walk on land why give us fins?” Mmrrrglgl a housewife said.
These divisions along ethnic lines have obvious cultural importance as they manifest themselves into particular support to parties and candidates who represent their world view.
All Politics is Mrgrgrlllglgl
The average Murloc only has three national offices they typically vote for: their two MPs(lower and upper house) and the President. Local government structures vary village by village with some adopting a single mayor (typical in Deep Sea Murloc Communities) and other preferring a Village manager and Council approach (popular in the Gorloc communities). There are no true national parties, but rather several regional parties which appeal to voters in parts of Azeroth. Of the five main political parties for the last 20 years, usually two or three are competitive in any given region or village. None of the parties has solid support universally across all ethnic and geographic divides. As Tinkerer Malthus Beepingbox noted in his 28 part study: A Thorough Analysis and Investigation into the Nature, Divisions, Motivations, Coalitions, Tactics and Strategy of the Murloc Election Cycle: With Particular Emphasis on the Economic, Religious, Social, Cultural, Militaristic, Linguistic, and Agricultural Pressures on Voting Patterns
It matters not what policy initiatives nor applications of governmental pressure a candidate or party supplies for consideration to the voter, the diversity and general fragmentation of the Murloc political environment would provide large regions where such a proposal would be controversial to say the least, but absolutely abhorrent in the most extreme locales. This quagmire of political strategy has manifested itself in a series of regional political cooperatives, and a loose alliance among these cooperatives which shift based on political personnel and issues taking a prime position in the political discussion of the Murloc Nation. Though various parties have had historical alliances in the past, it should be noted that every party has at some point been in a coalition with every other party, and at different periods than aforementioned been in the opposition to the same party. That volatility of political superstructure has occurred no less than seven times within the past thirty years, and shows no sign of abating to a antebellum prime [First Great War] status quo. This volatility has also been exacerbated by the influx of Mur’ghoul, the activism of the Gorloc, the resolution towards orthodoxy of the Deep Sea Murloc, and economic pressures against the Mur’gul and Mutant Murlocs.
The main parties within the Murloc Nation cover groups specific issues and all have various stances on the issues of the nation as a whole. The party that has had the most success in achieving a plurality in the last 15 years has been Mrrggkgkll (Commonly known as the Fishheads). They have enjoyed the largest support mostly because of their platform which is summed up with the election slogan “A fish in every mouth, a spear in every hand”.It is a classic Guns and Butter campaign. The promise of fish appeals to the economic insecurity of key groups like Mutant Murlocs and the Mur’guls, especially those who live in Kalimdor. The spears projected a strong on defense message which scored well in Stranglethorn, Darkshore, and Westfall. However for groups like the Gorloc, the appeals to strong defense was a rejection of diplomacy which they prefer as a new world order. Faren Stomphoof explains from his book: The New Murloc Peace Movement
It comes as a pleasant surprise that a seedling of tolerance can be found in the Gorlocs. Their view on the militaristic tendencies of the Mur’guls and Mutant Murlocs is that aggression begets aggression. A cycle of violence will never resolve itself by violent means. At some point a sacrifice must be made for the greater good. Perhaps the most shocking aspect in this movement is the issue alliance with the Deep Sea Murlocs. On social issues they could not be further from each other. On the Mur’ghoul problem particularly they have had much heated rhetoric. But on the use of military means to achieve ultimately poltical goals, they do agree. Militarism isn’t the answer. However that is an uneasy agreement as the Gorlocs are invested heavily in the expansion of communication and trade with the land world, while Deep Sea Murlocs would prefer a more isolationist approach. Abandon the shoreline conflicts and retreat to the comfort and safety of the sea allowing the problems of the world stay away.
Opposing the militarism of the Fishheads is the Grrglrlgrlmmmrl (Commonly known as the Octopus) and the Grglmlrglglmmml (Commonly known as the Cresting Wave). The Octopus is aligned more with the Deep Sea Murloc view on foreign affairs mentioned by Stomphoof, while the Gorlocs support the Cresting Wave. The difference between these parties is largely social in nature. The Cresting Wave has a fair number of Mur’ghoul supporters because of their stance on Mur’ghoul rights. Typically the party has endorsed a peaceful diplomacy based foreign policy, while advocating for fair treatment of Mur’ghouls in social issues. On economic issues they align closely with the Fishheads preferring to make sure no Murloc goes to bed hungry. By contrast the Octopus likes the drawing down of the military, but feels that Mur’ghouls don’t deserve “special rights”, and as for economic programs like a fish in every mouth, they feel Murlocs are born fishermen. A failure to have a fish to eat is merely a matter of being lazy. They advocate strong lines of personal responsibility. Again Father Saul Everlook:
The Deep Sea Murlocs are renown for their work ethic within the Murloc society. Offerings of charity are considered an insult. There is great pride in the ability to provide for one’s self and one’s family. Grlgrlmglrlml explained it like this “If there is a Murloc who is hungry, he should go catch a fish. We are meant to be in the water where fish are everywhere. I don’t understand these lazy murlocs like you find in Elwynn or Redridge, who expect a tribal leader to come by with a reed basket handing out fish while they stand around. It is just degrading. Why can’t they see that? A murloc is meant to fish, if you can’t fish, you aren’t a murloc.” This worldview comes with a strong call from the Murloc ancestors.
Mutant Murlocs are typically social conservatives, though not as extreme as the Deep Sea Murlocs, and have given sizeable support to the Octopus in the past. Usually this is through coalitions with the Grrrlmrglmrgl (commonly known as the Red Sharks). The Red Sharks have historically been a party devoted towards social conservative values and in stark contrast with the Octopus strong military policies. While the Fishheads are strong on defense, the Red Sharks argue that Murlocs ought not just hold the territories they currently reside in, but push for further territory and take aggressive stances against the Horde, alliance, Nagas, Elementals, and anyone else who stands in their way. Again Tinker Beepingbox:
Codes of honor and duty run deep within the Mutant Murloc’s ethnic identity often expressing itself in a desire towards expansion and subjugation upon new frontiers and territories. This highly developed sense of aggression perhaps is rooted in psychological identity issues originating in the common feeling of needing to prove how Murlocian they as an ethnic group are. Peculiar as it may seem, the aggression begets an avenue by which they prove their worth in larger Murloc society. Develop an ethnic identity not merely as the protectorate role which the Mur’gul Fishheads fulfill, but rather that as an elite conqueror capable of exalting the Murloc Nation unto a new golden age if only permitted to exercise its will and power unchecked. This perhaps also explains the dominant, yet not universal ,ethnic preference towards self reliance, as an intrinsic expression of this highly capable subset culture withing the larger scope. As noted this aspect is not a universal ethnic trait helping to explain why the Fishheads are able to enjoy some Mutant Murloc voter support.
The final major party is that of Grglglglmrglmrgl(The Swift Current) which has strong political footholds in Kalimdor rivaling that of the Fishheads. The Swift Current is largely indifferent towards the expansion or contraction debate. They hold no particular stance on the Mur’ghoul question. They’re mostly and primarily concerned with worker rights, safety, and wealth disparity. They are more of an issue party than anything else in the Murloc Political scene. Fishing is the dominant industry in the Murloc economy, yet it remains unsafe in some waters, there is great disparity between the large fish seen in Stranglethorn and the small fish seen in places like Redridge. The Swift Current works to rectify these disparities and provide for safe working conditions for all Murlocs. Noted Blood Elf Scholar Artain Bloodstone has a dedicated study of their role in Murloc society: The Rise of the Murloc Worker State
The Swift Current has staked a very interesting position within the Murloc Political Hierarchy. Withing the past 7 elections they have been in the ruling coalition all but once. It seems that party leadership has basically banked its political viability on the strategy of always being in the majority, vying for Ministry posts (specifically Safety, Labor, and Commerce if they can swing it) in exchange for support of the winning party’s Prime Minister candidate. And the one time they managed to have a strong electoral position to form the government and have a Swift Current Prime Minister, they traded the PM spot for even more Ministry heads. It has been told to me by many Murloc political operatives that the party isn’t concerning itself with most of the political wedge issues, but rather focusing a more stable and continuous control over specific Ministries so as to have their policies be considered institutional norms on their most cared about issues. This strategy seems to be paying off as fewer and fewer candidates rail against Ministry policies in those fields. Labor and Safety seem pretty much locked up to most observers, and the next big Ministry they are targeting is Commerce to work on income inequality.
The Swift Current Party has generally more support in Mur’gul areas, but has notable pockets in all ethnic groups except the Deep Sea Murlocs who pride themselves as noted above with self reliance. Over recent election cycles the main issues dominating the Murloc Political scene have been a series of Village referendums which would restrict Mur’ghoul liberties in their area, electoral reform to reduce influence from money, and a growing fear of Naga aggression in various areas of Azeroth. Finally there has been a controversy brewing in the office of the President.
Le Mrgglrglllrglll est mort! Vive le Mrgglrglllrgll
As mentioned above there is a distinction between Head of State and the Head of Government. The current President is Cookie who has enjoyed a career as a celebrity chef, and is a Murloc Folk hero. He has been seen as a good President, capable of working with three different Prime Ministers at this point, and been generally well liked. But the Head of State has not always been an elected official. Many centuries ago the Murloc Nation was ruled by a King. Through a series of domestic societal upheavals, and a rather violent revolution the King was deposed and the modern Murloc democracy was established. Despite this being the normal political order for 150 years now, there are still some Murlocs who look to the monarchy as being vitally important to Murloc cultural identity.
Enter King Mrgl-Mrgl, an operative of D.E.H.T.A. , who has unintentionally caused a major political scandal within Murloc society. His aim was merely to study the Winterfin Murlocs, and through fate ended up aiding them in time of crisis. They adopted him as their King. As news of this spread there emerged rumors of the return of the Murloc King. Speculation grew wildly about his lineage. There were two lost children of the last Murloc King, so speculation about their fates only fueled the debate within the camp of King Mrgl-Mrgl supporters. King Mrgl-Mrgl for his part has been reluctant to take anything other than a small supervisory role over the Winterfin tribe. But he is clearly in over his head. It has been noted by other D.E.H.T.A. that his Murloc speech is very localized to the Northrend Winterfin Tribe, and that he probably doesn’t fully understand the various dialects of other Murlocs who ask him questions, or make bold proclamations in his name.
With his appearance on the Murloc Political scene a serious campaign has begun to restore the Monarchy to its rightful place as head of state. The more progressive Gorlocs and the Deep Sea Murlocs are strongly opposed to this, though as usual for different reasons. Again Faren Stomphoof from a recent speech to the Explorers League:
It is pretty interesting to see this play out in real time. The Gorlocs are by far the most progressive ethnic group and are rallying behind the President. They claim that political power derives from consent by the governed so allowing a return to the Monarchy would undermine the autonomy and rights of all Murlocs and be a step backwards as a society. So you have those ones over there. And then you talk to the Deep Sea Murlocs, and well Father Saul Everlook points this out quite clearly in recent interviews and panels, he says they just know the guy isn’t legit. They aren’t opposed to the Monarchy in general, and some have been pretty vocal about how democracy is ruining Murlocs, but they are almost all convinced that King Mrgl-Mrgl isn’t legit. It is obvious to all of us that he isn’t. we can see that he isn’t. But the Deep Sea Murlocs, who I must point out are all blind, just say “He doesn’t smell right”. Most take that as a cultural statement, but they mean in literally. It is fascinating stuff.
And there is growing concern from outside Murloc circles about this effect. Malthus Beepingbox at the same event:
Quite frankly I find this whole debacle to be an affront to the core values of research. I mean I appreciate that D.E.H.T.A. wants to help animals, but their interference with Murlocs is just downright wrong, and this has clearly shown how reckless they have been, and endangered serious scholastic efforts as a result. Where was the oversight? Did they not realize that Murlocs are not animals, but rather sentient beings. I mean Faren here, Father Saul, Artain, Grimcellar, myself and many more have been doing societal research on them for years! Murlocs are clearly not the same as badgers or squirrels or whatever. They build structures, tools, have a currency and many other tell tale signs of sophistication. If D.E.H.T.A can’t find a way to unwind this mess safely they will effectively put the entire academic community studying Murlocs at risk because this is a huge breech of trust in Murloc eyes. I don’t know where D.E.H.T.A. is getting their funding, but whoever is funding them needs to have serious review of their protocols and procedures. It is just a mess.
As of now the majority of Murlocs still prefer a President as the head of state, and most have a very favorable view of Cookie’s stewardship, but there is a growing minority who is pushing for a return to the Monarchy.