Senators Punt on Basic Duty, Sparking Public Condemnation
Written by Deepest House
(Europeia, February 1, 2021) - Senators Baobab, UPC, and Xecrio abstained from voting on the Honoured Expansion Amendment (2021), resulting in the bill failing to pass by a vote of 2-2-3. The bill proposed allowing the region to bestow Europeia’s highest honors to non-citizens.
In the aftermath of the vote, citizens took to the Grand Hall and Discord to register their objections to the abstentions.
“I will try to avoid making crass accusations, but it seems to me that those voting Abstain are only trying to save political points for potential reelection,” said JayDee, an experienced senator and legislator. “I hope this is not the case, but it is unfortunate that the debate has been so heated and yet the outcome is rather uninspiring.”
Ervald joined JayDee in questioning the result. “I thought I was disappointed in this bill failing but now I am even more disappointed in the senators voting Abstain. We had extensive discussions on this bill with both sides drawing up compelling arguments,” he said after the vote. “You couldn't decide if you supported it or not? I may have disagreed with the senators voting Nay but at least they made their line of thought clear on the issue.”
On the region’s Discord server, immediate constituent feedback was similarly harsh for the elected representatives.
“I personally am not a fan of the honored citizen expansion for reasons laid out on the forum by others, but I do think abstains are a bit of a cop-out,” said Prim, another veteran of the legislative chamber. “I know it’s a big ask, but I wish Senators voted their conscience instead of catering to public or peer pressure.”
With public displeasure mounting, Senator UPC offered an explanation after the vote. “I abstained because I was ambivalent,” the senator said. “If people abstained on EVERY piece of legislation ok that’s a problem.”
The potential for an additional abstention surfaced after the vote as public discussion continued, with Senator Monkey admitting that an abstain vote was a real possibility.
“Actually, I was going to vote abstain but as I was about to I was like, I’ve been talking about this issue for 3 days, it would be bad if the final conclusion I came up with at that point was I can’t make a choice,” Monkey admitted.
The bill generated substantial public debate, with supporters and detractors making their cases in the Grand Hall. Indeed, public debate on the bill was so engaging that Darcness, perhaps in a confused stupor from all the activity, unintentionally wandered onto the Senate floor itself to share his thoughts. He later apologized for his indiscretion and made his way to the Grand Hall.
Proponents of the bill argued that it would allow the region to correct oversights, or to recognize individuals when the lens of time allows greater appreciation of their accomplishments. Detractors argued that potential honorees should be present to win, similar to a raffle of some kind.
As the fate of the vote was becoming clear on the Senate floor, Calvin Coolidge took to the Grand Hall to share remarks on what would become a failed vote.
“It seems it was not in the cards with this Senate, and that's a shame,” the senator said. “Hopefully, we can make this change in the future.”
With the vote now closed and the issue off the immediate agenda, the question turns to the political future of the senators who abstained. With clear public objection to the abstentions, it remains to be seen how this vote will impact future electoral prospects. It is possible the electorate will understand these abstentions as an abdication of duty; however also possible is that the public could quickly move on to other issues it deems more important, without future consequences for the legislators. Only time will tell.