Café Riche: Better late than never
Finally radical reform of the state is being discussed
On Wednesday, President of Kozuc Riley Small took a courageous step forward. In the General Assembly, he laid out a clear and detailed blueprint for a major overhaul of the St.Charlian state. Here is a brief summary of his proposals:
- Turn Permanent Territories into “Member States” and give them much more independence
- Pack up the AC and replace it with a Foreign Office
- Changing to a Presidential system, “streamlining” government and raising the requirement for a MP seat to 20%
- New Legal Code and Constitution
- Limit the courts to the Supreme Court
- Pack up the SCAF aside from the Police
- Federal Constitutions must be approved by the GA
- Rewrite all past laws
It is an incredibly important step that such radical changes are actually being discussed. While most proposals are aimed in the right direction, some are unlikely to be helpful.
Changing Permanent Territories to “Member States” is a good idea. Semantics are important after all and the latter has a better ring to it. The current Commonwealth Charter is ambiguous about which should be used; it should therefore be made clear that “member state” is preferred. Giving PTs more independence is a non-issue: they already have total control over internal affairs such as policing and the courts. Any armed units form a distinct regiment within the Commonwealth Armed Forces. With regards to currency independence, I disagree: monetary union is a path to more integration and is the founding stone of a common economic system, which I still hope will be developed. Finally, the St.Charlian President will be a ceremonial Head of State, allowing for “acting” Heads of State to exist as Governors.
I have never been particularly kind to the AC because of it’s sloth-paced workings, but completely removing it seems extreme. It is not a bad idea to have a semi-detached diplomatic organism, but a few things must be addressed. Firstly, the AC must be linked back up with Parliament, as I envisaged in my Constitution draft. Secondly, its numbers must be reduced – three should suffice. Thirdly, bureaucracy must be eliminated: the President should be allowed to open Commissions without votes. Finally, the Commonwealth Assembly has to get a move-on in electing its Speaker and creating a functioning system for Commonwealth Admissions. It’s no good to complain about the AC dealing with these and then leaving Pristinia in a limbo for weeks on end.
The question of shifting from a Parliamentary to a Presidential system deserves most discussion. The objective is to reduce bureaucracy and streamline government. Personally I feel this is a terrible idea. Having studied and compared the US and UK political systems at university, I can say with utmost certainty that the most effective system of government is the UK’s. That is why St.Charlie should stick with its current system, including the 15% threshold, which works just fine.
Presidential systems tend to result in two things. Firstly, a division of government, friction between executive and legislative branches, gridlock and inaction. This is because the President and Parliament are elected separately: they may be controlled by different parties and even if this isn’t the case MPs owe nothing to the President – their collaboration in passing government legislation is not assured. On the other hand, when a PM is drawn from Parliament, he can count on a strong Parliamentary majority to pass government legislation as well as party unity. Secondly, there is unquestionable evidence (Bush Jr.) that presidential systems lead to overbearing executive branches and the steady increase of Presidential power at the expenses of the legislative. In contrast, a parliamentary system ensures the executive is held to account.
Overall, this is probably the worst suggestion. A parliamentary system offers the best chance of strong government without concentration of power with an individual executive. The current system is in fact effective on paper – it even allows the equivalent of “executive orders” for ministers. It is simply inactivity and foot-dragging that make it appear monolithic. It his case I must agree with Edmund Burke: preservation is to be preferred to radical change for its own sake.
Both the Constitution and the Legal Code need rewriting. I’ve already done more than any politician on the first count, while on the second an obvious change must be made. We must get the Justice Ministry out of the judicial system, clearly separating executive and judicial branches. There is no question there should be local courts as well as a Supreme Court: the right to appeal is one of the fundamentals of modern law. A system could be devised with local courts for every Federation presided over by a judge appointed by the Federation President and the Supreme Court as an appeals court. The Supreme Judge would be elected by all local judges.
Reform of the SCAF is a tricky subject, as I’ve found out in the past. Currently the Army is the only branch (the Navy is a regiment), although PM Reinhardt has confusingly appointed a head of the defunct Border Troops. The best idea is to simply have a police force as the only branch of the SCAF. Call it gendarmerie, military police, federal police or Territorial Division (as at present). That’s all you need a military for in micronationalism.
I wholeheartedly agree with Small’s proposals regarding local constitutions and governments as well as on the rewriting of laws. We need to create an up-to-date, unified set of laws and store them properly all in one place.
This wave of proposals represents a huge opportunity for St.Charlie to improve itself and kickstart a renaissance in our micronation. My Constitution draft provides a strong framework for all this, and it is as always free for any politician to adopt. Let’s make sure we don’t let this great moment slip by.