Ensuring the quality of legislature instead of the logistics

By Fabrice Luijten

Home Forums 04. Article II – Organization of the Legislative Branch Ensuring the quality of legislature instead of the logistics

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    AvatarFabrice Luijten

    Although we (Koen van Bremen and myself) know the request to comment with specific textual amendments on the article itself, we will share some more general comments below to see how the rest of the convention feels.

    Looking at all the procedural clauses, we start to feel that this constitution is falling in the pitfall of micro-managing on some issues, while missing the bigger picture on others.

    Less logistics within the constitution

    Let us give an example of what we feel is very specific and where it focuses more on logistics only:
    – “The election of the members of the House of the Citizens always takes place in the month of May, and for the first time in the year 20XX.” (art. II, section 2, part 1)
    – “to be paid monthly” (art. II, section 6, part 1)
    – Other specifics that has been mentioned already in this forum include the location of parliament, the (dynamic) size of the houses

    In other parts of this article the reader is referred to rules of proceedings or other documents to regulate those specifics. We feel this reference can be done more often. So the constitution can focus more on guarding the values of the preamble, and the day-to-day operation of it can be left to a more managerial document.

    Another reason for this is that we want the constitution to stand the test of time. In our current governmental system we sometimes feel stuck by lawmaking that seemed fit for another place and time. Like the fact that a bunch of (mostly) guys in a suit talk all day in a room and we call this game ‘politics’. Which carries the risk of becoming burdensome and obsolete, and losing relevance to the people. Which we see happening right now almost everywhere in Europe.

    We firmly believe that this constitution can really make a difference in this general sentiment and attitude towards politics, but only if we succeed in doing something really worthwhile. For that, we believe we have to go a bit further than we do now.

    More focus on high quality law-making

    Where we feel the bigger picture is lost, is that no section addresses the constitutional boundaries to ensure the quality of lawmaking. Other than the requirements of suitability and competence, there are no checks and balances as to ensure that the laws that are made will be in line with the values of the preamble. We fear that in practice, the requirements of suitability and competence will result in the development of some sort of crash course that members of the houses will have to follow in order to take office. Which at worse will lead to more trained monkeys in service of their parties, rather than more wise people leading the federation with high quality laws.

    To ensure high quality political decision making based on the mentioned values, we suggest a section dedicated to the process of law making. With elements of for instance the deep democracy philosophy and methodology (see for instance: http://www.aamindell.net/worldwork or https://www.lewisdeepdemocracy.com), ensuring the voice of the minority is included in the decisions being made. In this constitution we still have the rather binary system of majorities, which to us seems democratic only from an historical perspective, not within the 21st century.

    This comment also goes for the focus on numerical representation. Rather than looking for a formula to decide how many members will be proportional to the federational population, we would focus on how to make decisions and laws that truly represent the common interest. With elements of direct democracy (though not per se referenda), where citizens are consulted in a manner (with the current digital possibilities we can see many exciting ways in which this can be done) before a law is drafted, including ‘comply or explain’ clauses to enhance the transparency of the laws that are made. In this way we truly enhance representation in lawmaking, instead of dealing with the question of how many guys and girls in suits are to decide on a law.

    We feel both excited and anxious proposing these bold suggestions, and are happy to hear where our thinking is flawed or what you think about this line of reasoning in general.

    Kind regards,

    Koen van Bremen
    Fabrice Luijten

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