A professional association (also sometimes called professional society or professional order) is a political organization in Varnia, which is central to conferring certain rights to citizens, such as suffrage in Varnian federal politics and in many states.
The earliest professional associations were formed by functionaries in the Varnian Royal Administration during the lead-up to the Varnian Revolution as trade unions seeking to eliminate the elitism that allowed the nobility to advance in the civil service and other professions faster. Initially the associations were simply forums for debate and mutual support, but as the meritocratic movement became more and more radical some associations began taking active measures such as pamphleteering, remonstrances and strike actions to further their goals. During the most violent, middle stages of the revolution, the associations' influence was reduced as partisans began rioting in the streets and sought to forcibly depose the absolute monarchy. In the later stages and immediate aftermath of the revolution, the associations were successful in ushering in a republican government in the First Varnian Republic, with significant political power falling to the associations.
In the early days of the First Republic, only four associations were afforded political rights: the Order of Legal Societies (for lawyers and judges), the Society of Functionaries (for those working in the civil service), the Association of Printers and Editors (for journalists, editors and printing presses) and the Most Honorable Society of Financiers (for bankers), representing their importance in starting the revolution and ushering in the First Republic. This was quickly expanded during the Revolutionary Wars to include medical doctors, judges, engineers and military officers, and today there are over 200 federally recognized professional associations.