In the Golden Empire, a Consul was the governor of a planet or system. Consuls were initially appointed directly by the Sovereign to serve indefinitely at her pleasure, and acted as political, judicial, and military leaders on the system or systems in their charge. As part of the 65 Reforms, Procurators were given authority to appoint Consuls in their sectors.
Existing solely in the Unknown Regions until 137 ABY, the Golden Empire acquired many systems which had not developed hyperspace capability, and some whose inhabited planets had not yet formed a single government binding on all citizens of the world. When such a fragmented system was absorbed into the Empire, Rin Sakaros would usually appoint it a Royal Consul to help smooth the transition for the newly-united citizens and introduce the Empire's culture. In addition, Consuls served to catalogue a system's resources and streamline their use for the Empire. In these circumstances, Consuls worked closely with the Royal Integration Corps and the Resource Council.
In the case of systems which had already united under a single government by the time they were acquired by the Golden Empire, most would initially be assigned Consuls. In the event of a system already led by a single individual, once the Empire's culture had had time to permeate the society, Rin would sometimes simply install that individual as a Royal Consul, keeping the entire existing governmental structure in place with another name. An example of the latter was Syr'ei, Regent and Consul of Daispin.
Consuls were the representatives of the Sovereign, and as such carried some of her powers. They could enact laws binding on their own systems or veto those enacted by the legislatures of their systems; consular veto was not subject to override, except by the Sovereign, a Royal Executor, or the sector's Procurator. Consuls could also pardon those convicted of crimes on their worlds.
Consuls served as commanders-in-chief for any system defense forces on their systems, and could "nationalize" law enforcement as needed.
Consuls were formally charged with the collection of all taxes owed to the Royal government, though in practice the vast majority delegated this responsibility to the treasury of their systems, simply checking the final product to ensure its correctness.
Many paths to a Consulship existed in the Empire. As noted, on systems with a long-standing single government, Rin Sakaros would sometimes create hereditary leaders as Consuls, or even confirm the election of the citizens of a Consul. However, all Consuls were created solely by the authority of the Sovereign until 151 ABY, and by Procurators after that year; the position was never attached to any lesser office on a member system of the Empire, and could not be inherited in a system with a monarchy.
Additionally, career bureaucrats and diplomats in the Royal government were sometimes chosen as Consuls, especially if they had extensive experience with the system in question. Further, seasoned and politically experienced Centurions of the Order of Keltrayu were sometimes installed as Royal Consuls by the Sovereign, and Procurators occasionally requested permission to name Centurions as Consuls in their sectors.
In theory, a Consulship was at the pleasure of the Procurator, but most lasted several years; with each sector composed of 100 inhabited worlds and various numbers of uninhabited resource systems, Procurators could not be focused on replacing Consuls on a regular basis. Among many government officers, service as a Royal Consul was considered an extreme honor and the summit of a successful career in public service.
Checks and limitations
Though possessing extensive authority on their own systems, Consuls had no power outside their specific areas of governance. Consuls were required to report to the Sovereign whenever she desired, and met once annually as a group in the Consular Assembly. In addition, all Consuls of a sector were required to report together to their Procurator annually, separate from the Consular Assembly.
Rin held her Consuls to an exacting standard of personal conduct, and expected them to embody the virtues of the Empire. She also had absolutely no tolerance for corruption. Any Consul found to be using his position to exploit, harass, or extort the people in his care was subject to harsh penalty, always at least life imprisonment and usually death. The only victim of the even worse penalty of Kasshralhyot, which could only be ordered by the Sovereign, was the treacherous Royal Consul Vessyk. Though she felt the punishment was justified, Rin also believed making such a merciless example of Vessyk would help instill a healthy fear in the rest of the Consuls.
Following Vessyk's extermination, Rin created the position of Tribune on every system in the Empire, even those which shared a Consul with other systems. Tribunes, elected by the citizens of a system for two-year terms, were to serve as the representatives of the people, and could appeal any action of the Consul to the Procurator (except a pardon; Mintishiad v. Cord ruled this power was exempted). Tribunes also reported to the Sovereign, separately from their Consuls, and attended the annual Consular Assembly to report to the Sovereign in person.