The Council of the United Federation of Planets, more commonly known as the Federation Council, is the highest legislative body of the Federation government.
The Federation Council is housed in a fifteen-story building in Paris called the Palais de la Concorde. The Federation Council Chambers are located on the first floor, while the Office of the President is located on the top floor.
The Council is a unicameral body. It is comprised of Federation Councillors who each represent the member-worlds that constitute the Federation. Elevation to the Federation Council is determined by each member-world, and each world can name up to 20 members of the council. Each Councillor is duly elected by his or her government's people for a specific duration. One peculiar aspect of the Federation Council is that the representatives to the council do not necessarily match the number of votes that each world contains, and in some worlds there is a strong convention that members to the council do not vote on with their own views but do so based on instructions from their government.
On plenary issues voting occurs by "qualified majority" meaning that a majority of worlds must approve the measure in addition to a majority of votes.
The Council itself determines who may run for the office of the presidency, and is divided into a number of "sub councils," the equivalent of a legislative committee, to which the president appoints members with the full Council's approval. Some of the sub-councils, such as the Security and Judiciary Councils, are permanent, while others are created on an as-needed basis; the councillors from the five founding Member States are automatically appointed to the permanent sub-councils. During sub-council sessions, members of the sub-council may speak without having to be recognized by the sub-council chair; sub-council sessions are usually presided over by the chair of the sub-council rather than the President, though the President does retain that option. The President is generally expected to solicit the active participation of the appropriate sub-council in determining executive policies; as such, there is far less separation of powers between the Council and the Presidency than in many traditional Earth governments.
The Judiciary Sub-Council effectively serves as the Supreme Court of the Federation and can issue authoritative interpretations of Federation Law. While the full Council can theoretically overrule the Judiciary Sub-Council, it has only done so in two (perhaps three) cases in the history of the Federation. The appointment of
Sessions of the whole Council are presided over by the Federation President, except during special circumstances, who stands at a podium near the north wall while the councillors sit on seats arranged in rising rows of twenty. The podium determines who may speak to the Council for the record, and recognized speakers may only address the Council from the speaker's floor, located at the center of the room between two sets of seats for the councillors. Councillors have computer terminals at their work stations so that they may use to silently contact one-another or those outside the chambers, and lights on each terminal to indicate a desire to address the Council. No one may speak who has not been recognized by the podium.
The Council conducts its business during sessions that convene once every six months, with three-week intervals. All Federation Councillors must be present at the beginning of a session in order to participate in future meetings of the Council; those that are not present must wait until the next session convenes in six months.