|Capital:||Cardassia City, Cardassia|
|Principal City:||Lakarian City, Cardassia|
|Sovereignty:||prior to 1871|
|System of government:||Representative Democracy|
|Head of state:||Castellan (Alon Ghemor, 2379)|
|Head of government:||Castellan (Alon Ghemor, 2379)|
The Cardassian Union, also referred to as the Cardassian Empire, is an interstellar political entity in the Alpha Quadrant, headed by the civilian Detapa Council and the military Central Command, based on planet Cardassia Prime.
The balance of political power between the Detapa Council and Central Command has shifted numerous time through history, influenced at times by the Obsidian Order, Cardassia's secretive intelligence organization. In 2372, the Detapa Council took control of the government, sparking suspicions of a Dominion-influenced coup and leading to a Klingon invasion. (DS9 episode: "The Way of the Warrior") In 2373, Gul Skrain Dukat, then military advisor to the Detapa Council, secretly negotiated an alliance with the Dominion, making himself the nominal head of the Cardassian Union. (DS9 episode: "By Inferno's Light")
Through their entire expansionist period, the Cardassian government was a military dictatorship called the Central Command. Although traditionally under the control of the Detapa Council, the civilian ruling body, both the Central Command and the Obsidian Order intelligence angecy often operated with virtual autonomy. The two agencies often vied wth each other over governmental control and policies. (ST reference: Aliens) A special military liason office was present that served to link the Central Command to that of the Obsidian Order. It was effectively considered a neutral position though it had little power over the direction of the Order. (TLE novel: Dawn of the Eagles)
A civilian uprising to overthrow the Central Command restored power to the Detapa Council, but it remained influential in politics and society. When the Cardassians concluded their alliance with the Dominion, Cardassia became a virtual dictatorship, with Gul Dukat in command. (ST reference: Aliens) Following the Dominion War the Cardassian Union became a representative democracy. However, previously (2375) it was a military dictatorship. The Detapa Council acts as the legislature of the Union.
There were a number of different political factions within the government which included the Directorate that sought to maintain the power of the military and the democratic Reunion Project. In addition, there were the Revanche that sought to control the wormhole in the Bajor system and Dja Bajora Karass which aimed for the reconquest of Bajor itself.
Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.
In 2381 following the creation of the Typhon Pact the Cardassian Union received an invitation to attend a summit to discuss an expansion of the Khitomer Accords.
The primary space force of the Cardassian Union is the Cardassian Guard, which is administrated by Central Command. The Obsidian Order served as the primary intelligence organization for the Union, but no longer. A common award given by the Cardassian Union is the Legate's Crest of Valor. (VOY: Nothing Human) Though the Proficient Service Medallion was also a prestigious award. (DS9 episode Duet) The head of the military and of Central Command was a Cardassian who held the rank of [[Gul-Tar]. (DS9 novel: Objective: Bajor)
In 2367, the military made use of transporters with active feed pattern buffers, despite the Federation having more advanced transporter technology. The Guard also made use of high energy subspace fields on ships to jam enemy sensors. The Cardassian Union also possessed inferior replicator technology to that of the Federation, as of 2369. (TNG episode: "The Wounded", DS9 episode: "Emissary")
Cardassian colonies tend to have a Re-education Center present on the planet in order to ensure the loyalty of the population. (TNG video game: Birth of the Federation) The Oralian Way is a repressed religious group in the Cardassian Union. (DS9 novel: A Stitch in Time) The Lek was the unit of currency present within the Union.
The Union Territories were noted to have borders with the Talarian Republic, Breen Confederacy and the Tzenkethi Coalition. (TLE novel: Day of the Vipers) In addition the Ferengi Alliance and the [[United Federation of Planets shared a border with the Cardassian Union. In the 2330s, the Union was also adjacent to territory belonging to the Ubarrak Primacy; the two powers both maintained a presence in the "Oblivion" sector. (STA novel: Oblivion)
In 2368, territories near the borders of the Union included the Federation worlds Minos Korva and Solarion IV, the neutral planets Torman V and Tohvun III, and the Valo system, located approximately 13,000 kilometers from the border in neutral territory. Federation facilities near the border at this time included Starbase 211, Lya Station Alpha, and the Argus Array. (TNG episodes: "The Wounded", "Ensign Ro", "Chain of Command", "Parallels")
Cardassian territory was at least partially re-defined in 2369, as the Cardassians withdrew from Bajor. In 2371, Prophet's Landing was the Bajoran colony closest to the new Cardassian border. (DS9 episodes: "Emissary", "Heart of Stone")
In a parallel universe visited by Worf in 2370, the Cardassian Empire was overthrown by the Bajorans. In this same universe, a Cardassian served as the conn officer of the USS Enterprise, suggesting an alliance between the Empire and the Federation. (TNG episode: "Parallels")
In an alternate continuity caused by the death of Benjamin Sisko in 2372, the Cardassians entered into a mutual defense pact with the Bajorans, to defend against the Klingon Empire. (DS9 episode: "The Visitor")
In one alterate timeline set after 2375 which was created by the formation of the Red Wormhole and the star of the War of the Prophets; the Cardassian Union and its people would be destroyed by the Grigari and the Bajoran Ascendancy. The Hub worlds and the Union Territories would be destroyed and by the year 2400 there was nothing left of the Union beyond scattered groups of mercenaries, refugees and madmen. (DS9 novel: Millennium The War of the Prophets)
|Major States in Local Space|
|Khitomer Accords alliance||Ferengi Alliance • Imperial Romulan State • Klingon Empire • United Federation of Planets|
|Typhon Pact members||Breen Confederacy • Gorn Hegemony • Holy Order of the Kinshaya • Romulan Star Empire • Tholian Assembly • Tzenkethi Coalition|
|Non-aligned states||Cardassian Union • Danteri Empire • First Federation • The Patriarchy • Sheliak Corporate • Tezwa • Thallonian Protectorate • Talarian Republic • Ubarrak Primacy • Regnancy of the Carnelian Throne • Daa'Vit Confederacy • Metron Consortium|
The Cardassian Union, also known at times as the Cardassian Empire or simply as Cardassia, was the main political entity of the Cardassian people. Its primary seat of power is Cardassia Prime. The Cardassian Union has a troubled five-hundred year history marked by privation, repression, and war. While not as insular as the Romulan Star Empire, until recent years, the Cardassian Union has been one of the most oppressive, all-controlling governments in the entire Alpha Quadrant.
The Cardassian Union was approximately five hundred years old at the time of the Dominion War, putting its founding sometime during Earth's nineteenth century. (DS9: "Defiant") When the resource-poor Cardassia Prime fell on hard times, it turned to militaristic ideals, replacing the society of the First Hebitians, a peaceful and devout people, followers of the Oralian Way. This was when the two main governing forces, Central Command and the Obsidian Order, and the diminishing third, the Detapa Council, were founded. (TNG: "Chain of Command"; A Stitch in Time)
How militaristic and repressive the Union was in its early days is unknown, due to references to a so-called First Republic, a government that ruled during the time of poet Iloja of Prim.
After that, the Union adopted an expansionist policy, spreading its sphere of influence in the Alpha Quadrant through a combination of alliance, colonization, and conquest--though it would be known most of all for the atrocities committed during its conquests, particularly the Occupation of Bajor. The brutality of the Union also extended to its treatment of its own people, subjecting them to harsh indoctrination, constant surveillance, and brutal "justice" by kangaroo court if they dared to step out of line.
The Occupation of Bajor, however, became Cardassia's tipping point--in many ways, a bridge too far. After depleting most of Bajor's resources, the Detapa Council flexed its muscle in an unusual display of strength and forced Cardassian forces to withdraw from the planet in 2369. (DS9: "Emissary")
This set into motion a chain of events that rocked the seemingly ironclad Union--political and religious dissidents grew emboldened. A brief coup engineered by military officials in support of the True Way occurred in 2369 in reaction to the Cardassian failure to locate the Bajoran Wormhole, though this was quickly overthrown. (Betrayal; Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--"A Stone's Throw Away"). Other dissidents, some inspired by Legate Tekeny Ghemor rose up following the destruction of most of the Obsidian Order in the disastrous Omarion Nebula campaign in the Gamma Quadrant and returned the Detapa Council to a much stronger position versus Central Command. (DS9: "The Way of the Warrior")
This did not last long, however. Klingon suspicions of Dominion involvement in the uprising--which were in fact goaded on by a Founder in the form of General Martok--led to a pre-emptive strike against the Union. (DS9: "The Way of the Warrior") In retaliation, Gul Dukat unilaterally negotiated Cardassia's alliance--in the end, absorption--into the Dominion. (DS9: "By Inferno's Light") Though he viewed this as his way of "protecting" his people, in reality the Dominion absorbed the Union and drew it into their war against the other Alpha Quadrant powers, all the more so following his mental breakdown and a procession of weaker and weaker leaders.
In 2375, however, the Cardassian people, under Legate Damar, rose up against Dominion rule, turning the course of the war and eventually leading to an Allied victory. This came at a heavy price, though: before the Founder was convinced to surrender, she ordered the genocide of the Cardassian people. Though she called off her forces upon surrender, the death toll across the Union was staggering. (DS9: "What You Leave Behind")
The Cardassian Union was governed for most of its history by the tense joint rule of the military--Central Command--and the Obsidian Order, its intelligence apparatus. On paper, the civilian Detapa Council was supposed to oversee the actions of the military and intelligence agencies, but they grew so powerful that the Detapa Council instead lived in fear of them and did nothing but give its rubber stamp to their actions after the fact. The Cardassian government became so omnipresent and so sure of itself that it even developed the custom of subjecting its citizens to show trials in which the verdict was announced at the start, and the point was simply to extract a confession from the "guilty."
The Cardassian Union was founded in Earth year 1876 in the wake of a massive climatological disaster known as the Cataclysm by an individual known as Tret Akleen. It can be said that the rise of the Union began after Akleen killed an Oralian Guide, Yavenn Pretam: while this was largely a symbolic act, for the people it represented the overturning of the old order and emboldened other actions. Akleen's armies swept the planet, deposed the Castellan, and shattered the remnants of the Hebitian society and turned disfavor upon the Oralian Way--eventually bringing it to the brink of destruction. It was Akleen who founded Central Command and the Adopting the name "Cardassian" for themselves, they began their era of expansion. Formal first contact with the Federation did not occur until sometime in the 24th century due to a trade embargo established during the 23rd in protest of the repressive ways of the Cardassian government. (Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--"Point of Divergence", "Cardassian Sunrise")
In the Narada-affected version of the Star Trek: Sigils and Unions timeline, rather than refusing contact with the Cardassian Union until such became inevitable, due to the events surrounding the destruction of the Kelvin no trade embargo was ever put into place, and an under-the-table diplomatic envoy was sent to Cardassia Prime. Included in the delegation was Ensign Christopher Pike. One year after the Vulcan Genocide, official ties began between the Federation and the Cardassian Union, with the intent of combating the simultaneous Klingon-Romulan threat. (Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--"Cardassian Sunrise")
In the Star Trek: Sigils and Unions Catacombs of Oralius continuity, the sequence of events leading to the birth of the Cardassian Union was averted when the young Tret Akleen--who would become known in this timeline as Rhirzum Akleen--refused to murder Guide Yavenn Pretam. Instead, Pretam became a major political figure as Guide to the Castellan, with Akleen as a close friend. Cardassia continued as a democracy, with added rights such as the "Right of Worship," which guaranteed religious freedom, to include the practice of no religion, to all of Cardassian blood, or who lived legally in Cardassian territory. Cardassian history in this universe is not marked by conquest as it was in the prime universe--rather, by alliances and colonization of uninhabited worlds. Prior to the Bajoran invasion, the interstellar space controlled by Cardassia is officially known as the Cardassian Theonomy, though it is most commonly referred to by its inhabitants as the "worlds of Cardassia." (Star Trek: Sigils and Unions Catacombs of Oralius--"Point of Divergence", "The Desolate Vigil")