Space settlements and capital cities

The government of Indonesia announced that it will move its capital city away from the current one, Jakarta. This would not be the first time a country moved its capital, Brazil did the same in the 1960s. This raises the question of the capital of a space based nation consisting of multiple habitats*.

One proposal could be to establish a special settlement as the nation’s capital. This would be similar to the US and Australian capitals, where the government is located in a special purpose territory.

However, we could also follow the South African example. In South Africa the different branches of government are located in different cities: the executive in Pretoria, parliament in Cape Town and the judiciary in Bloemfontein.

We could even split “the capital” in more functions and for instance we could locate the following branches in separate settlements:

  • the executive
  • the legislature**
  • the constitutional court
  • the federal court of justice
  • the central bank
  • the general staff of the armed forces

Spreading the government across different settlements will have several benefits:

  • treating different parts of the country more equally
  • making it more difficult for people to stage a coup
  • in case of a calamity, such as a meteorite impact, it will be unlikely that the entire government will be taken down

Multiple “capitals” also have a few draw backs. For instance, communication between the different branches of government will be slower. Also ordinary citizens might find it difficult to memorize where which branch is located. Though none of these objections seem to be insurmountable.

*In accordance with the mission of this site, we refer here only to orbital space settlements as opposed to surface based ones.

**If the legislature has multiple chamber, each one could be located in a different settlement. During the French revolution Condorcet proposed that a constitutional convention should meet at least fifty kilometers away of the ordinary legislature.

3 thoughts on “Space settlements and capital cities”

    1. Like most things political, this could be or not the case. Civil war is usually the result of unequal distribution of wealth and power across the country.

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