Quorum of Twelve (TOS)

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This article explains the legislative body in the Original Series. For information on its Re-imagined Series counterpart, see Quorum of Twelve (TRS). For information on this and other facets of the government of the Original Series, see Government of the Twelve Colonies (TOS).

Sire Uri addresses the Quorum (Saga of a Star World).

The Quorum of Twelve, also known as "The Council of Twelve" or "The Council", is a group of politicians who gather together to make up the laws and practices for the people of The Twelve Colonies.

The Quorum consists of one representative from each colony and is presided over by the President. Each representative, as well as the President, is elected to their position.

The Quorum members were usually given a Seal of the Lords as a symbol of their position in the Colonial Government. But the Seals were apparently lost over time, and Commander Adama of battlestar Galactica and Lord Baltar possessed the last two Seals (TOS: "Lost Planet of the Gods, Part I").

After the destruction of the Twelve Colonies and the death of President Adar, Commander Adama, of the planet Caprica, is installed as interim leader of The Council, operating under martial law. The council can still make laws and practices but Adama controls the overall actions of the Council.

The council does try to take control again when The Eastern Alliance prisoners are taken into custody aboard Galactica. But when the Alliance prisoners, along with Baltar and three Borellian Nomen try to escape and use the council as hostages, the council gives control back to Adama (TOS: "Baltar's Escape").

Known Members during the destruction of the Colonies

President Adar
Count Baltar
Commander Adama

Known Members after the destruction of the Colonies

Commander Adama
Sire Uri
Sire Anton
Sire Domra
Sire Geller
Siress Tinia

Before the discovery of earth:
Xavier (from Galactica 1980)


  • The name, "Quorum of Twelve", comes from the ruling body of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka Mormons). Glen A. Larson was raised Mormon and used several ideas and terms from that church in creating Battlestar Galactica. The primary difference between the two groups is that the Twelve in Battlestar Galactica have a mostly political role (with only ceremonial religious duties) whereas the Mormon leadership is unelected and primarily religious in character.
  • (Like the original pilot corps) the original Quorum was dominated by male members indicating that the most Colonies favoured a rather patriachal political (and social) system. (One major factor for the failing of the original "battlestar" series was that women did not watch it)
  • One reason for the rule of the Quorum of Twelve in the original story is probably that in many ancient or fantasy stories the rule is excecuted by a group of elders (e.g. the Roman Senate). Those ruling groups of elders usually consist of 9, 11 or 12 members.
  • Technically a small council is also a very easy way to avoid the rule of a king or dictator both in stories and in reality.
  • A council is also a bit like a small parliament. One gets the currently favored legislation system into a story; And 'council' is also a term that sounds a bit fancy and fantastic (unless you think of communism).
  • Another reason for the Quorum of Twelve in the original show is that a parliament (its manning and clothing) would have been much too expensive for the show.
  • An additional reason for the Quorum in the original story might be that it could have worked fine as a mini-parliament after the destruction of the Colonies (if the scripts wouldn't have been so anti-council and pro military).
  • Although in reality a Council of Twelve couldn't have worked for the colonies (see below), the Quorum of Twelve was an attempt to show the fading Colonial state as some kind of democracy. (In the saga script the council could only have been replaced by a assembly of 12 tribe governors, a board of cabinet ministers or even some kind of Colonial general staff. The Council of Twelve feels more democratic than those alternatives.)

Open Questions

  • How is the president elected? How was the president elected before the destruction (by all people / by the council members) ?
  • Are all members of the council elected at the same date? Or is the election date tribe-specific?
  • Is the that time someone can stay member of the Quorum limited?
  • Did the Quorum only meet occasionally or did it stay together all the time?
  • What about those who are of tribe A but live in a world of tribe B? For which candidate can they vote? Can a citizen switch the tribe in which (s)he's in; or is this prohibited? What about children of mixed origins?
  • How reasonable was the one-member-per-tribe-system after the destruction of the Colonies? Did those tribes with a larger number of survivors question it? Did those with smaller survival rate insist on the one-member-per-tribe-system as some kind of small compensation for the higher losses?
  • Did the one-member-per-tribe-system stay in use after the fall of the Colonies?
  • How civil were the Colonies after a thousand yahrens of war? (How powerful was the Council against the military? Was Adar the big exception who was strong enough to promote peace? Or was the military always under full civil control?)
  • Did the president reside on a war ship since the begin of the 1000 yahrens Cylon War? How much time did the president spend on his battlestar Atlantia? Did he use the Atlantia only as a lift from planet to planet? Or spent he most of his time on the Atlantia even if he was in the orbit around a homeworld? Was the president transportation the only task of the Atlantia?
  • Was the Atlantia the flag ship of Adar's tribe or was it the flag ship of all 12 colonies (on what battlestar resided the other presidents of the Colonies)?
  • Where did the Quorum reside (before the destruction of the Colonies)? A fix government planet would probably have been mentioned (especially by those who felt underrepresented). A Quorum ship would have been seen in the pilot episode (the 12-headed-council took 5 battlestars as ride to the Cylon capital). If we keep in mind that the battlestar Atlantia was the ship of the president then the idea of one battlestar per council member sounds nice; However isn't it a bit a waste of resources to use battlestars as council member transports (And why didn't they go with twelve battlestars to the armistance conference?).

Constitutional Guessing

The basic problem with the Quorum-of-Twelve-system is that it cannot come up with the needs of a multi planetary organisation (particularly not in time of war):

  • There seems to have been no mankind-wide parliament that made common decisions for all tribes and colonies. Can we consider the Quorum as a kind of parliament? When yes why is it so small? How chould twelve people have the expertise to decide what is good or bad for a system of at least 12 worlds?
  • Are there no institutions (except the Quorum) that are common for all tribes and colonies of mankind? If there were many or some powerful institutions of a national scope then there would have been the need for someone who controls them (some kind of a defence minister for the national defence, in war some kind of armament and production minister or manager to supply the national space force, a national police force requires some kind of interior minister, common relations with other anti-Cylon races some kind of foreign minister, trade between the colony planets must be organized by an institution to limit smuggling, trafficking, arms trade etc., ...). I mean when there was a common Colonial military then there had to be a Colonial minister of Defence. As the Colonies were only ruled by the Quorum do we have to consider the Quorum as some kind of a board of ministers? Then one member would have been responsible for one or more issues. Who was responsible for what? Except of Adama's military abilities there has been no sign indicating that the Quorum was organized in such a manner.
    Of course one might argue that there is the possibility that there were no mentionable mankind-wide instituations. If so there wouldn't be a need for a national ministers. But how could such a Conferderation of human planets have survived the Cylon war for thousand yahrens. (Why do all battlestars and vipers in the original series look the same if there hasn't been a common organisation on war production?)
  • I think it is therefore obvious that a large interplanetary state requires at least a council that sets general rules that apply everywhere - on any planet - within the state (=some kind of parliament) and at least some state-wide institution like a federal police that imposes federal law, a central military instituation that at least coordinates the defence efforts of the planets, ... Such institutions must all be led by someone (some kind of a minister). The Council is too small for a parliament and it is not a board of ministers. We also never here from a parliament or from Colonial ministers. The Quorum falls short of the needs of the Colonies.

There is also a residental problem:

  • What power had a Quorum member over his homeworld? Was he the president of his homeworld? (If a council member had considerable power on his/her homeworld (s)he had to spend a lot of time at home and the Council cannot have been permament.)
  • Don't we have to believe that a Quorum members were the presidental rulers over his/her tribe and home colony? We never hear about other tribal leaders except the council; if there were not only the council member but also a president/governor for each homeworld there would be a steady conflict between the two; This would have been worth mentioning (It wouldn't have been a big problem, as there is for instance a Governor and two Senators in each U.S. state).
  • My point here is: How can this work during war: At any given date either the 12 leaders are assembled as Council of Twelve somewhere in space or on a rather arbitrarily chosen colony; Or the central government Council of Twelve is disassembled while its members are ruling their home planets.
    What if the Cylons launch an attack on one of the twelve homeworlds? Either the president/governor of the attacked planet is away in the Council and therefore unable to lead and organize the defence at home; Or the Council is disassembled and not able to decide about common counter-meassures on a national and mankind-wide scale.
    (One might argue that the military is responsible for the direct fight against the Cylons and should have authority over the tactics it uses to assure the best possible outcome in such a situation. But I disagree with this argumentation as the absence of a elected and accepted planetary ruler will considerably limit the military's possibilities (The military can only make military decisions unless in states that are some kind of military dictatorships).