|Detapa Council (de jure)
Central Command (de facto)
|Cardassian Supreme Tribunal
The Cardassian Union (also referred to as the Cardassian Empire and colloquially often simply called Cardassia) is the official governing body of the Cardassian people.
The capitol world is Cardassia Prime.
The Cardassian Union was formed under a treaty that established a power-sharing agreement between the Cardassian Central Command and the Obsidian Order. Friction has always existed between the two organizations as the Central Command worked to expand the reaches of the Union and the Obsidian Order worked to suppress it. The civilian Detapa Council was established to serve as the chief governing body between the two branches, however, in practice, the Council was virtually powerless.
In late-2371 or early-2372, following the fall of the Obsidian Order at the Battle of the Omarion Nebula, the Detapa Council and the Cardassian dissident movement overthrew the Central Command, establishing control over the government.
In 2373, Gul Dukat secretly negotiated with the Dominion for the Cardassian Union to become its newest members. The Detapa Council was overthrown and Gul Dukat established himself as ruler of the Cardassian Union. This arrangement was later revealed to be inaccurate as Dukat (and his successors Legate Damar and Legate Broca) were actually subservient to the Vorta and the Founders. As the Cardassians switched allegiance to Damar's eventually resistance movement and joined the Federation/Klingon/Romulan Alliance, the Founders enacted a genocidal strike on Cardassian Prime, which was only stopped by a strike team that convinced the Founder Leader to call an end to the conflict.
Following the end of the Dominion War, the Cardassian Union received critical aid from the Federation to rebuild their homeworld, which also helped to strengthen the civilian Detapa Council, making it a true democratic government for the first time in their history. However, as Admiral Picard's efforts to relocate the Romulans from their core territories ate up more and more attention and more supplies, the much-needed aid to Cardassia waned and then failed utterly. As hungry began to stalk the streets of Cardassia Prime again, people - and votes - turned to more hard-line and traditionalist candidates, before finally, as the Romulan star went nova, a coup placed the Central Command back into power.
Despite their rhetoric, the Cardassians have only slowly been able to rebuild their strength, and have kept a wary eye on the Federation, particularly after the founding of Pioneer Station on their far border. In 2401, they declared war on the Talarian Republic and swiftly conquered the less technologically advanced power. Federation observers have not been allowed into the conquered territory to verify their status, though the Talarian government still nominally exists and has wholeheartedly embraced the Cardassian Union.
During the 24th century, the Cardassians maintained trade alliances with the Valerians and Klaestrons. They also were known to use the Xepolites and Lissepians as trade intermediaries in arrangements that may otherwise be considered illegal outside of the Union.
Many of the primary worlds in the Cardassian Union lacked an abundance of natural resources. For this reason, the Union relied heavily on strip mining resources from neighboring planets which were not part of other Alpha Quadrant powers, such as Bajor. As opposed to making trade alliances with them, the Cardassian Central Command would often instill occupations on worlds and use the populations as forced laborers.
The lek is the common form of currency within the Union.