Opinion: Senate Seeks to Shift Oversight Responsibility to new Peoples’ Assembly
Written by Deepest House
(Europiea - December 1, 2022) In October, Senator Izzy, following a discussion in the Grand Hall, proposed to create a new lower legislative chamber in Europeia, similar in style and substance to the previous Citizens' Assembly, which operated in Europeia until it went defunct and was officially closed. The signature feature of the newly proposed Peoples’ Assembly is for the Senate give it oversight responsibility over the executive branch. Once again, the Senate appears to be obsessed with contemplating executive oversight instead of actually performing it.
First, let’s be clear: there is no need for any additional executive oversight mechanism in Euroepia. Period. There is no legitimate argument that the tools the Senate currently possesses are insufficient to complete its oversight duty. Indeed, the Senate already has all the mechanisms it requires to conduct executive oversight, and over the past several years added (unnecessarily) to its oversight tool belt. The Senate can already compel testimony from ministers, not just the president, at its pleasure. The Senate can already remove a minister from office for insufficient performance. The Senate should busy itself legislating issues of need, not occupying itself with legislative redundancy.
Why would the Senate seek to shift oversight responsibility to the new Peoples’ Assembly when it already has all the tools it needs? Given the track record of the Senate actually implementing its oversight responsibilities and duties, a reasonable conclusion is that perhaps the region’s sole legislative chamber has no interest in actually doing it, and sees the new Peoples’ Assembly as an opportunity to outsource this mundane duty to another body. Outsourcing this responsibility would require the Senate to act and perform its oversight duty only in the most egregious of cases, where the problem is so large that it filters first through the Peoples’ Assembly. We have seen time and time again how the Senate invents new oversight mechanisms rather than actually performing meaningful oversight. Here we are once more. At some point, it is reasonable to conclude that the chamber simply does not have much interest in that part of its duty. That they’ve now proposed outsourcing this responsibility to a junior legislative chamber may be indicative of the importance the Senate places on oversight: not much.
There will be those that say something along the lines of 'the Senate will of course still conduct oversight.' But why would it? Why would it create a new legislative chamber to filter oversight issues and elevate only the most egregious and then undercut the specific and signature 'feature' of the currently proposed legislation by doing what it created the Peoples' Assembly to do? That's not logical. The most logical outcome is that the Senate simply does nothing, and waits for the Peoples' Assembly to elevate something. After all, why create something if you don't intend to use it?
While I was clear on the fact that the Senate needs no additional oversight tools, let’s be clear on another fact: nobody in the populace believes we have a rogue executive that requires additional oversight. There is no demand from the population to create a legislative body that will increase oversight of the executive branch. The Senate, and the region, would be better served if the chamber focused on priority issues rather than creating a redundant system of oversight that will only create additional busy work.
If the Senate is actually serious about executive oversight, it should just do its job and perform that oversight. The Senate should not outsource that responsibility to another legislative body in a move that will create absolutely zero additional value for anyone in the region. If a citizen wants to raise an issue of executive branch performance, there are avenues in place that exist to support that. Namely, a Senate which possesses oversight authority! If a citizen approaches the Senate and the legislative chamber remains unresponsive to the outreach, a citizen may also begin a debate in the Grand Hall. Heck, a concerned citizen can even run for Senate themselves. Bottom line: there are plenty of oversight mechanisms already in place, both for the Senate and the general populace that render this part of the proposed legislation unnecessary.
If the Senate decides to push ahead and pass this legislation, the president of Euroepia should quickly veto the bill without hesitation. The executive branch cannot allow the Senate to continue to degrade its ability to perform meaningful work on behalf of the Europeian population by creating more oversight games which will do nothing but create busy work for the president, vice president, and ministers. The additional oversight conducted by the Peoples’ Assembly will add zero value to the overall oversight function or balance of power in the region.
It feels like the Senate has finally given up on its oversight duty and is seeking a way out. That’s the only logical explanation I can come up with for why a lower legislative chamber would require oversight responsibility. The Senate should immediately drop this provision from the proposed legislation. If the Senate is truly done with conducting executive oversight and wants to create a meaningful role for the proposed Peoples' Assembly, then it should just go whole hog: pass ministerial confirmations and authority for removal to the lower legislative chamber as well. Otherwise, we're just playing games.