Conversely: People's Assembly and the People's assent

Pichtonia

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JANUARY 19, 2023
AUTHOR: PICHTONIA

PEOPLE'S ASSEMBLY AND THE PEOPLE'S ASSENT


Europeia is headed towards a referendum on the People's Assembly, after President Icarus stated that she "cannot, in good conscience, come to a fair decision on this topic [...] without neglecting either side". The decision was met with strong criticism in the media. Deepest House argued in the EBC that the President was punting their responsibility; Klatonia's headline in The Think Tank said "You are wrong, madam President". Conversely, I think this decision was a fair one to make.

A major argument for those critical of a referendum is the last Senate election, where our citizens - with an overwhelming majority, as has to be admitted - elected a Senate that was in favour of the People's Assembly. Only one candidate, Lloenflys, was not initially for the People's Assembly (though also not strictly against it). Critics of the referendum argue that this was a mission for the Senate and a representation of the People's will.

It's a straight-forward argument, but I think there's more nuance to the situation than there is truth to the argument.

Whether by choice or circumstance, opponents of the People’s Assembly met the election with apathy. This much is clear. I find it hard to say then, however, that the election was an active choice for or against the People's Assembly. Instead, the lack of an active and organized opposition to the bill more likely contributed to this election being about the candidates themselves, their character and CV, not their stance on the People's Assembly.

If it was otherwise, how would the critics of the referendum interpret the fact that the only candidate not explicitly for the People’s Assembly topped the vote? That the initial proponent of the People’s Assembly bill, despite his overwhelming effort on behalf of that bill, was not re-elected?

You could even get a little silly, and say that indeed, the people chose to only reject candidates that were in favour of a People's Assembly, or in the case of John Laurens, the City of Arnhelm, which in its intention and structure would have been an alternative to rather than a rejection of the People's Assembly.

Now, is it the fault of the supporters of a People’s Assembly that their opposition wasn’t more active?

Of course not. That falls solely on the opponents of the bill.

But conversely, one could ask why, if the majority of the region was supposedly overwhelmingly in favour of the People's Assembly, the two and only candidates dominating the regional discourse in this Presidential election are both against the People's Assembly.

It would be silly to see someone run solely for the purpose of signing the People's Assembly bill, to be clear, but at the very least one has to wonder whether the field is representative of the people or whether it is not.

The situation more strongly indicates that a majority of the people support the bill. Between a Senate majority for the People's Assembly and the fact that supporters of the People's Assembly remain more vocal, it looks like the bill will find a majority in the referendum, too. So signing the bill would be the easiest and most politically convenient route to take. But between the lack of choice during the Senate election, and the field in the Presidential election now, President Icarus may not have felt fully comfortable in assuming, for a majority of our population, that they would actively like to grant assent to the bill. However, if it wants to be successful, the People's Assembly can't only rest on those vocally supporting it now. It will also need to be supported by a our wider region. With the referendum, President Icarus is breaking through the regional apathy and giving those a voice and choice who have previously not had the time, energy or will to engage.

I think that's a respectable decision. And I can only assume that it won't have been an easy one.
 
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HEM

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I agree that the argument that the Senate elections gave a mandate to the Assembly is a little weak. At the end of the day, there is a LONG tradition in the region of voting for candidates you like despite their policies — we tend to like strong, active, Senators who bring interesting ideas to the table.

I think my opinion of why I would've preferred an up or down from President Icarus is that...that's the President's intended job to make these decisions to veto or sign. The people's assent option has been leaned on more and more over the last couple of years, and sometimes I feel like it slows things down. It's an interesting tool in the toolchest, but I would like to see it reserved for issues where there truly is regional uproar or truly consequential decisions like Frontier/Stronghold (though even then, we elect Presidents to do this -- so sending even those things to referendum isn't required!)

I guess I would prefer the people's assent option to be used when there truly is value in continuing the conversation on an issue. I don't think there is here.

Ultimately, I doubt this reflects on Icarus' legacy at all. It's interesting to read all the thinkpieces on this and it's an intriguing regional discussion, but I doubt anyone will go down in the history books poorly for throwing it to the people -- and maybe that's why so many recent Presidents have done so :p
 

PhDre

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Whether by choice or circumstance, opponents of the People’s Assembly met the election with apathy. This much is clear. I find it hard to say then, however, that the election was an active choice for or against the People's Assembly. Instead, the lack of an active and organized opposition to the bill more likely contributed to this election being about the candidates themselves, their character and CV, not their stance on the People's Assembly.

If Presidents were less willing (or able) to send acts to referendum, the composition of Senates and therefore the elections themselves would be more important. I think that raising the stakes and importance of our elections is a positive thing.

The lack of an active and organized opposition to the bill, and the lack of what opposition does exist running for political office and offering an alternative option to the Europeian people, is why we arrived at this point. I think our politics is more interesting when we pitch our viewpoints at elections, then make compromises within our elected bodies, and then our institutions determine the outcome. In other words, I think it's more interesting (in the moment and consequentially for future elections) when the viewpoints and platforms of our politicians determine outcomes.

Along those line, perhaps raising the signature bar for referendum or retaining referendum for Constitutional amendments would allow for our political institutions to squabble amongst themselves (which I think is fun, but your mileage may vary).
 

Pichtonia

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I think my opinion of why I would've preferred an up or down from President Icarus is that...that's the President's intended job to make these decisions to veto or sign. The people's assent option has been leaned on more and more over the last couple of years, and sometimes I feel like it slows things down. [...]

Ultimately, I doubt this reflects on Icarus' legacy at all. It's interesting to read all the thinkpieces on this and it's an intriguing regional discussion, but I doubt anyone will go down in the history books poorly for throwing it to the people -- and maybe that's why so many recent Presidents have done so :p

If Presidents were less willing (or able) to send acts to referendum, the composition of Senates and therefore the elections themselves would be more important. I think that raising the stakes and importance of our elections is a positive thing.

Admittedly I've been living under a bit of a rock, a pebble if you will, but I wasn't under the impression that we're having an abundance of government-initiated referendums.

The lack of an active and organized opposition to the bill, and the lack of what opposition does exist running for political office and offering an alternative option to the Europeian people, is why we arrived at this point. I think our politics is more interesting when we pitch our viewpoints at elections, then make compromises within our elected bodies, and then our institutions determine the outcome. In other words, I think it's more interesting (in the moment and consequentially for future elections) when the viewpoints and platforms of our politicians determine outcomes.

That's true, but how do we change that? I honestly like your ideas of raising the signature bar or retaining referendum for constitutional amendments, but if we don't have "opposition" just generally in our races and institutions, then I'd fear it's putting the cart before the horse.
 

Darcness

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Ultimately, I doubt this reflects on Icarus' legacy at all. It's interesting to read all the thinkpieces on this and it's an intriguing regional discussion, but I doubt anyone will go down in the history books poorly for throwing it to the people -- and maybe that's why so many recent Presidents have done so :p
In a way both countering and supporting your comments here... my first Presidency was bemoaned for the exact same thing: sending legislation to referendum (IIRC, by you among others, in fact!). I certainly remember it, although I don't know how many others do, so it's difficult for me to comment on its reflection upon my 'legacy'.
 

Rand

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The Constitution clearly calls for a representative model of government. It makes it very easy for a referendum to be triggered, indicating that if there is any doubt about the popular consensus on a bill, it should be taken to a vote. The Senate and President seem to have power to pass uncontroversial legislation as a matter of convenience.
 

Comfed

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The Constitution clearly calls for a representative model of government. It makes it very easy for a referendum to be triggered, indicating that if there is any doubt about the popular consensus on a bill, it should be taken to a vote. The Senate and President seem to have power to pass uncontroversial legislation as a matter of convenience.
You say that the Constitution calls for a representative democracy but you also say that the intent of the Constitution is that anything with a hint of controversy should be sent to a vote? What do we elect the Senate for, then?
 

Rand

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The Constitution clearly calls for a representative model of government. It makes it very easy for a referendum to be triggered, indicating that if there is any doubt about the popular consensus on a bill, it should be taken to a vote. The Senate and President seem to have power to pass uncontroversial legislation as a matter of convenience.
You say that the Constitution calls for a representative democracy but you also say that the intent of the Constitution is that anything with a hint of controversy should be sent to a vote? What do we elect the Senate for, then?
Representative model of government, as opposed to a delegate model. The Senate exists to represent the will of the populace, and the Constitution has strong guardrails in place to prevent them from straying from that mission. The Senate can pass legislation without the People's direct assent because having a referendum on every bill would result in a very cumbersome legislative process. The People have delegated the drafting and smaller details, but overall policy remains a representative duty.
 

Comfed

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The Constitution clearly calls for a representative model of government. It makes it very easy for a referendum to be triggered, indicating that if there is any doubt about the popular consensus on a bill, it should be taken to a vote. The Senate and President seem to have power to pass uncontroversial legislation as a matter of convenience.
You say that the Constitution calls for a representative democracy but you also say that the intent of the Constitution is that anything with a hint of controversy should be sent to a vote? What do we elect the Senate for, then?
Representative model of government, as opposed to a delegate model. The Senate exists to represent the will of the populace, and the Constitution has strong guardrails in place to prevent them from straying from that mission. The Senate can pass legislation without the People's direct assent because having a referendum on every bill would result in a very cumbersome legislative process. The People have delegated the drafting and smaller details, but overall policy remains a representative duty.
If the Senate is only supposed to do what has popular support it would function better as a committee of a unicameral all-citizen legislature than what it actually is, which is a legislative body with the power to pass laws by themselves by virtue of their election as representatives of the Europeian people.
 

Rand

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The Constitution clearly calls for a representative model of government. It makes it very easy for a referendum to be triggered, indicating that if there is any doubt about the popular consensus on a bill, it should be taken to a vote. The Senate and President seem to have power to pass uncontroversial legislation as a matter of convenience.
You say that the Constitution calls for a representative democracy but you also say that the intent of the Constitution is that anything with a hint of controversy should be sent to a vote? What do we elect the Senate for, then?
Representative model of government, as opposed to a delegate model. The Senate exists to represent the will of the populace, and the Constitution has strong guardrails in place to prevent them from straying from that mission. The Senate can pass legislation without the People's direct assent because having a referendum on every bill would result in a very cumbersome legislative process. The People have delegated the drafting and smaller details, but overall policy remains a representative duty.
If the Senate is only supposed to do what has popular support it would function better as a committee of a unicameral all-citizen legislature than what it actually is, which is a legislative body with the power to pass laws by themselves by virtue of their election as representatives of the Europeian people.
It would not function better that way because everything would take much longer. The Senate can pass laws by themselves, yes, but if their popular support is in question they can easily be brought to a referendum. They're expected to use their power as representatives not delegates. Compare this to the US Congress, a delegate model of government, where their decisions are basically unchecked by the people until the next election.
 

Rand

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Basically what you're saying Comfed is that if a majority of Senators and the President are the ONLY people in the entire region to agree with a bill, it should become law.
 

Comfed

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Basically what you're saying Comfed is that if a majority of Senators and the President are the ONLY people in the entire region to agree with a bill, it should become law.
They would be within their rights to do that if they wished. Not sure why they would do that considering that we have elections and this part of the Constitution:
GI2. (2) It shall be lawful for the People to reserve their Assent by referendum on any bill having passed the Senate by presenting a petition to the President, within 7 days of having passed the Senate, with the support of a number of citizens of Europeia numbering no less than a fifth the number of votes in the last Presidential election rounded down to the nearest integer.
 

Darcness

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The Constitution clearly calls for a representative model of government. It makes it very easy for a referendum to be triggered, indicating that if there is any doubt about the popular consensus on a bill, it should be taken to a vote. The Senate and President seem to have power to pass uncontroversial legislation as a matter of convenience.
I disagree that it is a 'clear call' for our leaders to essentially not think for themselves. Rather, I see series of backstops in the case of poorly written legislation, considering that we're all a bunch of enthusiasts at best and utter novices at worst. I would be interested to see the President's power to pass legislation be modified to appropriately befit an elected leader; something like Constitutional additions/amendments must be sent to referendum but other law must be either signed or vetoed (with a provision for inaction) by the President.

The Constitution is the foundation of our region, and everyone should have a say, if nothing else to act as a failsafe against Constitutional additions/amendments that might grant a particular leader absolute power. On the other hand, we do elect leaders (rather than just mouthpieces), and that should involve a certain level of trust beyond our own judgment. If a piece of legislation is so bad that everyone hates it, there is always a No Confidence referendum to remove the President.
 
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