The Council is the governing institution that made executive decisions for the Ark and possibly Arkadia. It is headed by the Chancellor. Below the Council are the general Officers who make up the Ark's bureaucracy and the Guard who maintain security and law enforcement.
Through Project Exodus, the Council planned for the eventual return of the Sky People to Earth via Exodus ships. They also created the Exodus Charter which contains the new laws for governing once the Sky People returned to the Ground.
After decades aboard the Ark, the Council still makes decisions for the public. Traditionally, each Council member is appointed by the Chancellor and approved by the other Council members, as in the case of Diana Sydney. Those who are on the Council are acknowledged as leaders and often possess classified information. Information from the Council is disseminated to the rest of the Sky People via "Station Representatives."
The Council also decided the fate of people accused of wrongdoing on The Ark. Due to the resource scarcity on the Ark, adult criminals were punished with death and juvenile offenders were imprisoned until they turned 18 when they were either freed or executed. Certain matters, like The Culling, are put forth by a 4-vote majority. If it is a tie, then the Chancellor acts as the tie-breaker. If the Chancellor abstains, then the matter is put to a re-vote in ten days.
- Main article: Sky People/Crime and Punishment
The Ark's laws were strict and harsh. In the extreme conditions of space, with limited resources and the continued survival of humanity at stake, these laws were deemed necessary.
Many of the laws were implemented due to the dwindling resources. Rigid population laws restricted couples to having only one child. Food, medicine, and supplies were strictly rationed. Medical staff were not allowed to continue treatment for patients whose prognosis were deemed too grim to be worth the resources.
The punishment for committing all crimes, regardless of their nature or severity, was the same. The adults were executed immediately upon conviction. Minors were confined until they turned eighteen and then given one final chance to make their case.
Project Exodus was the plan to send the people on the Ark to the ground in approximately three more generations. Originally, there were eight Exodus ships, which weren't enough to carry everyone from the Ark safely to the ground. This was a flaw to be fixed in the next 100 years but they ran out of time.
One of the dropships was used to send the Delinquents to Earth to find out if it was inhabitable. After Diana Sydney's mutiny that left The Ark crippled and the remaining dropships unusable, they ended up using the Ark itself to bring everyone to Earth.
The Exodus Charter was created by the Council on the Ark in preparation for the eventual return of the Sky People to Earth since the vastly different environments required different rules and regulations.
Under these rules and regulations, unauthorized use of firearms was to be punishable as a felony with 10 shock lashes and only the Ark Guard was allowed firearms. The punishment for high treason was execution. After Abigail Griffin became chancellor, the Exodus Charter is repealed, but however, a newly elected Chancellor Charles Pike has restored the Exodus Charter and placed Arkadia under martial law. So far the only person to be executed under this law was Lincoln. After Pike's death, the Exodus Charter was repealed again.
Chancellors are elected to multi-year terms by popular vote. The Chancellor is the final authority on the Ark, able to make executive decisions in time of need, but on a day-to-day basis, all decisions are voted on by the Council, with the Chancellor acting as tie-breaker as necessary.
The Council is headed by the Chancellor. Certain matters, like The Culling, are put forth by a 4-vote majority. If it is a tie, then the Chancellor acts as the tie-breaker. If the Chancellor abstains, then the matter is put to a re-vote in ten days.
Chancellors may step down at any time, and one of the Council is always named as their designated successor in case they do step down, are incapacitated, or die in office.
While Diana Sydney was Chancellor, she worked on the Exodus Charter and Project Exodus. She was voted out in favor of Thelonious Jaha but maintained quite a few supporters. Prior to the Delinquents being sent to Earth, she began her attempt regain power by initially trying to have Chancellor Thelonious Jaha assassinated. When that failed, she had a bomb set off during the Unity Day celebrations, killing four Council members in the process, and stole an Exodus ship with her followers, leaving the Ark crippled. Mount Weather caused the Exodus ship to crash, killing all on board, including Sydney.
Thelonious Jaha was the last Chancellor aboard The Ark. He was Chancellor when the discovery of the flaw in the life support systems occurred in 2148 and subsequently he ordered the 100 to Earth to see if it was survivable. He was also responsible for The Culling. Following the disastrous results of Diana's mutiny, he managed to bring most of the people in the Ark to Earth but needed to remain behind to launch the Ark to Earth and passed the Chancellorship to Marcus Kane.
Councilor Kane was Chancellor Jaha's second in command and briefly the acting Chancellor when Jaha was incapacitated after being shot by Bellamy Blake in an assassination attempt. After the Exodus from the Ark, he became the first Chancellor on Earth, Kane established Camp Jaha and began enforcing the rules set forth in the Exodus Charter. After less than a week in office, Kane resigned in order to lead a diplomatic mission to make peace with the Grounders, passing Abby the Chancellor's pin.
Kane became Chancellor again after Pike's death.
Under Abigail Griffin's chancellorship, a tentative peace with the Grounders was established and the war with Mount Weather was ended and won with the remaining Delinquents being brought back to Camp Jaha, which was soon renamed to Arkadia. At Arkadia, Chancellor Griffin helped establish a working community, complete with stables, a hangar bay, and a medical facility. After four months as chancellor and head doctor for the Sky People, Chancellor Griffin tried to pass the chancellorship pin back to Kane, however, he refused and suggested an election instead.
Charles Pike was the first elected Chancellor on Earth. The Mount Weather bombing raised anti-Grounder sentiments within Arkadia. While Kane favored closer ties with Grounders, Pike felt they were already at war against them. With support from Bellamy Blake and survivors from Farm Station, Pike won the election. His first acts as Chancellor were to free himself from prison, declare the Skaikru membership into the Coalition as invalid, and order a preemptive action against the 300 Coalition warriors outside Arkadia, sent from Trikru with stated goal to protect them from further aggression from another Coalition member, the Ice Nation. He was overthrown by Kane's insurgents and handed over to the Grounders in exchange for lifting the blockade. After he was stabbed to death by Octavia Blake, Kane became the de facto Chancellor again.
In the fourth season, Clarke Griffin is the acting Chancellor for the short period during which Kane is away in Polis. Using radio, she is able to coordinate actions with Kane and other people away from Arkadia. During this time, she leads the Sky People to begin fortifying Alpha Station to shield them from the looming death wave. After an attempt to retrieve a hydro generator from the wrecked Farm Station is unsuccessful, Raven estimates that Alpha Station will only support 100 people. In preparation, Raven forces Clarke to make a list of the 100 people to be saved. The list is outed by Monty Green and many people get upset about being excluded. Jaha diffuses the argument by telling the people that they will hold a lottery instead, while handing the list back to Clarke and telling her that it is pragmatic. Later, Alpha Station is partially destroyed by Ilian and Kane returns to Arkadia.
There are six seats on the Council. Whenever there is a vacancy in the Council, the Chancellor nominates someone to fill the post; that nomination must then be confirmed by the other members of the Council. Decisions on the Ark are made by simple majority vote, with the Chancellor serving as the tie-breaker. Most Councilors are officers or station representatives before they join the Council, but sometimes one of the "masses" is raised up to the position.
Traditionally, each Council member is appointed by the Chancellor and approved by the other Council members. Those who are on the Council are acknowledged as leaders and often possess classified information.
Known Council members on the Ark included:
It is unclear if there was a formal Council on the ground, but top advisers to the Chancellor have included:
An Officer is a high rank in the bureaucracy of the Ark. Above the general officers is the Ark's governing Council which is led by the current Chancellor. The Ark's officers have information not accessible to most of the Ark's residents. Certain key knowledge is further restricted to just the Council itself.
Notes and Trivia
- In "Contents Under Pressure", it is revealed that Project Exodus only had enough dropships to bring 700 people to earth.
- Under the Exodus Charter, unauthorized use of firearms was to be punishable as a felony with 10 shock lashes.
- Clarke and Jasper have both been leaders of the Delinquents, who are Sky People but were not Chancellors or Council members.
- In the novels, the Chancellor is in charge of the well-being and safety of everyone in the Colony, thus responsible for the future of the human race. His primary duty was ensuring that the species survived long enough to make it back to Earth.