Brainstorm to see if article II could be streamlined any further

By Fabrice Luijten

Home Forums 04. Article II – Organization of the Legislative Branch Brainstorm to see if article II could be streamlined any further

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    AvatarFabrice Luijten

    A few weeks ago, the board asked a couple of members of the 55+ group to see if they could further streamline the second article of the constitution. The question was asked whether there was a more elegant way to combine certain trade offs between size vs. manageability of the house of citizens, as well as an possible trade off between minimum age to be eligible for office versus the guarantee to have politicians worth of the office in terms of experience, knowledge, values, diversity and virtues. Thus hoping the design of the second article to contribute to high quality decision making that is beneficial to all citizens of the federation to be.

    The request by the board was then translated into a brainstorm, that took place last Friday. We would like to share the outcome of the brainstorm with the members of the convention.

    Outcome of the brainstorm:
    We took the document Fabrice made (see attachment) as a starting point for our discussion. The general feeling was that the current version of article II does a good job already at balancing the different trade-offs between size, diversity, quality and age of the House of Citizens.

    One specific suggestion was mentioned concerning the dynamic sizing. The suggestion was to keep the current framework, but instead work with smaller steps. Instead of adding 100 delegates with every 100 million citizens in population growth, it was suggested to add 25 delegates with every 25.000.000 citizens in population growth. An interesting idea that adds dynamism, without growing to big. This could mean however, that if a country decides to join or leave the federation, you will have a change in size of the house of citizens. This raises the question is if it remains wise to work with the 10 year census as a right frequency for adjusting the size of the House of Citizens. Another idea would be to adjust the number of delegates every election cycle.

    Furthermore, general remarks have been made on what is necessary to properly translate the constitution into sound functioning institutions:

    1. Implementation of the articles ‘in the spirit of’ the constitution is important. With this we mean, that it is possible to translate the second article of the constitution into very traditional and even old fashioned laws, rules of proceedings, policy, etc. The same is true for a translation of what is being meant by the article into laws and policy that live and breathe the values of the preamble. This does not however ask for a different formulation of the article itself. There is simply no way of formulation such that we can be assured of proper translation. We can try to prevent improper translation as much as we can, and during the brainstorm we felt this was done sufficiently.
    o For instance,
     if we have a wise and fitting constitution with our current times but we maintain very traditional Rules of proceedings, than much of the leverage of the new constitution will be lost.
     The manner in which the selection procedure is designed by political parties will define whether this will result in the wise, experienced and diverse candidates we would wish to see
    o This point might be explicitly made in the explanatory memorandum to ensure this will have the right attention when the constitution comes into being

    2. The constitution hopes to contribute to high quality decision making leading to a prosperous federation, beneficial to all citizens. The outcome of our brainstorm should amount to exactly this.
    o Again, this is not something that can be easily ensured through paper / meticulous phrasing of words. History as well as the current situation prove to us that policy making often is led by interests (in stead of ‘the common interest’), and translated into red tape procedures and often become very detailed in the process. Which seems to reveal a kind of mutual mistrust at the basis of law- and policy making. More/better paperwork does not always entail more wisdom.
     One important thing the constitution can do is to limit the possibilities to misuse of power and authority by good checks and balances, but this is not the same as ensuring high quality decision making. Just like to prevent a bad thing from happening isn’t the same as a guarantee for the right things to happen. But we felt this is a limitation we had to accept rather than to ignore.
     The present version of article II does a good job at limiting the possibilities of power-abuse.

    o Rather, it seems, it is a question of rightly equipping the members of the house of citizens to do their jobs properly. A number of possible ways of facilitating this:
     Make the rules of proceedings such that we include all the scientific insights on decision-making processes thus adapting the way of operating of the house to the demands of the 21st century
     Reserving means in the form of expertise, personnel and facilities to continually acquire wisdom and develop as a professional in your role as politician. We should not fall in the pitfall that wisdom is a static condition that, once acquired, is a given. A wise politician is not created by passing a specific exam.
    • Again, the solution here is not to organize this trough adding more paragraphs to the constitution, but by focusing on a good and thorough implementation of its spirit and intent

    3. Another interesting line of reasoning addressed in our brainstorm is that the approach of rebalancing the trias politica. If we want to strengthen the legislative branch we can also look at limiting the powers of the executive branch. This makes it important to look at the coming articles integrally so as to see if the three powers keep each other in balance.

    So we could conclude that the result of our brainstorm was disappointing in the sense that we did not come up with any fundamental textual improvement of the current article II. On the other hand, this could also be seen as a compliment to the work that has been done so far.


    Thank you for the brainstorm and the very good roundup, Fabrice.

    I think Article II is good enough now (pending consequential corrections if we change names of institutions or similar) in the sense that it provides a good framework for the legislative power.

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