Fruit Society member
JANUARY 19, 2023
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.