Category Archives: Organic Law

Opinion: When changing the OrgLaw, check it twice

The frankly confusing twin proposals clarked by the Secretary of State relating to the term of office of the Cosa, coupled with the unfortunate last-minute discovery of a drafting error in the OLSC’s latest hunt for OrgLaw deadwood, highlight the need for a more detailed scrutiny of OrgLaw changes by the Ziu.

Firstly, the well-intenioned privilege given to the Chancery, that allows a non-MZ direct access to the legislative Clark, should be withdrawn.

A non-member of the legislature can have the right to suggest action, by placing bills in the Hopper. They should not however be permitted to dictate the agenda for elected representatives. This is particularly true when he or she is unsure of the appropriate course of action themselves. That two mutually contradictory amendments proposed by the same person can land on the desks of MZs demonstrates that the current system is broken.

Secondly, no change to the Organic Law should appear on the Clark without the sponsorship of at least two MZs.

By obliging proposals to seek the approval of at least one other MZ before they can be Clarked, MZs will at least have to allow one other individual to scrutinise their text. This may make for improved bills in the Hopper, and better quality law overall.

Thirdly, no change to the Organic Law should be presented at referendum without having been considered twice by the Ziu. This might take the form of two “readings” on two separate Clarks, or by separate consecutive consideration by both houses of the Ziu- the latter would itself be an actualisation of our otherwise fictional bicameralism.

Even the most conscientous among our MZs can make mistakes, and extended scrutiny seems to ferret out these errors, as has been demonstrated by the abandonment of the OLSC amendments.

Either way, since amendments cannot take force until they have been approved by voters, at the next election, the Ziu has the opportunity to take more time to study in detail the consequences of each amendment. It should take it.

Opinion: When changing the OrgLaw, check it twice

The frankly confusing twin proposals clarked by the Secretary of State relating to the term of office of the Cosa, coupled with the unfortunate last-minute discovery of a drafting error in the OLSC’s latest hunt for OrgLaw deadwood, highlight the need for a more detailed scrutiny of OrgLaw changes by the Ziu.

Firstly, the well-intentioned privilege given to the Chancery, that allows a non-MZ direct access to the legislative Clark, should be withdrawn.

A non-member of the legislature can have the right to suggest action, by placing bills in the Hopper. They should not however be permitted to dictate the agenda for elected representatives. This is particularly true when he or she is unsure of the appropriate course of action themselves. That two mutually contradictory amendments proposed by the same person can land on the desks of MZs demonstrates that the current system is broken.

Secondly, no change to the Organic Law should appear on the Clark without the sponsorship of at least two MZs.

By obliging proposals to seek the approval of at least one other MZ before they can be Clarked, MZs will at least have to allow one other individual to scrutinise their text. This may make for improved bills in the Hopper, and better quality law overall.

Thirdly, no change to the Organic Law should be presented at referendum without having been considered twice by the Ziu. This might take the form of two “readings” on two separate Clarks, or by separate consecutive consideration by both houses of the Ziu- the latter would itself be an actualisation of our otherwise fictional bicameralism.

Even the most conscientous among our MZs can make mistakes, and extended scrutiny seems to ferret out these errors, as has been demonstrated by the abandonment of the OLSC amendments.

Either way, since amendments cannot take force until they have been approved by voters, at the next election, the Ziu has the opportunity to take more time to study in detail the consequences of each amendment. It should take it.

SoS opens discussion on 12-month Cosa term

Secretary of State Marti-Pair Furxheir has introduced a proposal to alter the present 6-month term of office of the Cosa. 

The head of the Chancery is not a Member of the Ziu but has the Organic Law right to introduce bills for discussion into the legislative Hopper. While stating that he himself is “not sure it is a good idea”, he has decided to advance the debate around fixed election cycles, which was a major source of conflict berween the Crown and the then government during the 48th Cosa.

S:reu Furxheir outlined two proposals in his Bill. The first would reduce the term of the Cosa from “roughly” six months to five, and fix the election dates in December and June of each year. The second proposal would fix the general election date in January of each year, with a four-month “session” every six months, with a recess in July and August. 

Seneschal Sir Cresti Siervicül stated that as he appreciates the “tradition” of both the six clark term and the possibility of early dissolution, he would have to weigh the proposals carefully. However he also stated that in contemplating an annual Cosa he would have suggested a similar schema. 

ModRad Senator Epic da Lhiun also welcomed the discussion, in particular the recess proposal, stating that during the Summer months governments are “burdened” by public apathy. 

While expressing reservations about the timing of the election in the proposals, and promising more details about his own thoughts on a 12-month Cosa, ModRad MC Glüc da Dhi also welcomed the proposal.

Seneschal pledges amendment to scrap Tuischac’h elections

Seneschal Sir Cresti Siervicül has told ETT that he intends to “propose an OrgLaw amendment to put things back the way they were” with respect to the selection of the Lord Speaker of the Cosa, the Tuischac’h.

The Seneschal’s comments came as the Cosa finds itself without a presiding officer following the resignation of Miestrâ Schivâ in June. According to the Organic Law, a “conclave” of MCs to elect a new Tuischac’h is assembled either by the outgoing Tuischac’h or by the oldest MC, if the former is not available.

Prior to 2014, the Speaker was appointed by the King on the nomination of the Seneschal. Subsequently, the Cosa was granted the power to elect its own presiding officer. The new process has however been plagued with difficulties, with the first election challenged in el Cort Inalt for irregularities in its organisation. 

Sir Cresti, who opposed the abandonment of royal appointment, told ETT that “before [the reform] I would simply have advised the King to appoint a replacement. But my hands are kind of tied.” He therefore advocates a return to the historic system.

Sir Cresti has asked the current most senior MC, FreeDem acting leader Txec dal Nordselva, to proceed with the organisation of the election. However this has not yet been started at the time of writing. Dr dal Nordselvă has not replied to a request for comment. 

ModRad leader Senator Lüc da Schir told ETT that “electing the Tuischac’h is still a good idea, even though back when the bill was passed most of us surely hoped for some more enthusiasm on the Cosa’s side when it came to actually holding such an election”.

MZs to vote on RCOR deadline extension

Seneschal Sir Cresti Siervicül has proposed a bill to amend the deadline of the Royal Commission on Organic Law Reform. The RCOR Extension Bill allows for the report to be published “no later than 1st August 2016, with the expectation that the Commission will continue to endeavour to complete its report by the 1st of July”.

The RCOR, a cross-party review of the entire constitution chaired by Justice Txec dal Nordselvă, is currently due to deliver its final report on 1 July, following two extensions of its original statuatory deadline by Prime Dictate. The pace of the RCOR’s work, and the reasons for its repeated breach if its deadline, have been the subject of controversy in the Ziu in recent weeks.

The original legislation establishing the RCOR, which was proposed by then Senator Miestrâ Schivâ in October 2015, foresaw that all members would be appointed by November 1 2015, and that the Commission would complete its review of the Organic Law on 1 February. The Royal representative was not in the end appointed until 29 November, and the report deadline was later extended twice by Prime Dictate, firstly to 1 April 2016, and then later to 1 July 2016.

This latest extension has raised disquiet among MZs, particularly as the FreeDems have publicly stated that they will oppose any constitutional anendments proposed until the Commission has completed its report. The opposition claim that this is in order to avoid contradictory or confusing changes to the existing Law that would cut across the RCOR’s eventual recommendations. As a united FreeDem caucus has a blocking minority in the Cosa this renders any proposed amendments moot.

According to FreeDem leader Miestrâ Schivâ, the responsibility for the delays falls squarely on the conservative party. The leader of the opposition has accused the RUMP, and its leader Sir Alexandreu Davinescu, of engaging in a pattern of “sabotage” in collusion with the King in order to frustrate efforts for reform. Speaking to ETT, Dama Schivâ claimed that she had expected the RUMP leader to “make a good faith effort to make it work…I was wrong”. The Chief of Staff had criticised the composition and remit of the RCOR, and had proposed a parallel, perpetual “Organic Law Standing Committee” of the Ziu to examine similar issues, and declined to become a member.

Sir Alexandreu told ETT that in his view the original conception of the RCOR was “flawed”, and that “I’m not sure that nine years would be enough for them, at this rate”, based on the “gargantuan” size of the task and the method adopted to work through the text. He claimed that despite the “radical nature” of some of the proposals that have emerged “there’s barely been any serious discussion or attempt to work through different ideas”. He stated that he did not understand how he could be held responsible for the delays in the RCOR’s work.

Speaking to ETT, ModRad MC Glüc da Dhi claimed that “if the parties can agree now [on amendments] I don’t think it’s necessary to wait for the commission report”. He also claimed that the Commission was “rushed through” and was “flawed from the beginning”, pointing to the composition of the membership and the requirement of a simple majority, rather than a 2/3 supermajority, to publish a report. The ModRad MC is the author of an as yet unClarked Sense of the Ziu calling on the Seneschal to refuse further extensions to the deadline. He claimed that criticism of RUMP “sandbagging”, with respect to the work of Sir Cresti on the RCOR, “hurts my brain”‘.

The Seneschal himself, who is a member of the RCOR and was proposed as chair until he had to decline due to other commitments, told ETT that he was sceptical a different remit or composition would have made much difference. He rejected Dama Schivâ’s claims of RUMP “sabotage”, arguing that the delay in the appointment of the Royal representative was a fraction of the extra time allowed by the extensions. He also claimed that the OLSC did not distract RCOR members from their work, and indeed may have helped owing to common members incorporating their work for the former into their submissions to the latter.

MZs call for end to RCOR delays

The Royal Commission on Organic Law Reform, which was established by the last government to examine the reform of the fundamental law of the Kingdom, is coming under increasing criticism for the delay in the submission of its final report.

The RCOR was originally established ny the 48th Cosa in order to remove the discussion of constitutional reform from the “cockpit” of the Ziu. Then-Senator Miestrâ Schivâ proposed the RCOR Act in order to procide a non-partisan forum for discussion on reform of the Law, in particular relocating some sections into ordinary statute law.

The Commission Act ran into immediate controversy, with ModRad MZs criticising what they claimed was the haste with which the bill had been introduced, and the RUMP claiming that it was an attempt to create a false consensus around Organic Law issues. Indeed RUMP leader Sir Alexandreu Davinescu was accused by Dama Miestrâ of attempting to short-circuit the Act by proposing a non-statuatory “Organic Law Standing Committee” to examine technical changes to the constitution, a charge denied by the former.

In the event, and after a certain number of modifications insisted upon by MZs, the legislation to establish the Commission was passed. The Act provided for nomination of Commissioners partly by political parties represented in the Ziu, as well as a royal nominee. The lack of a nominee for latter post became an important source for Dama Miestrâ’s conviction that the conservative party were deliberately delaying the work of the Commission in order to sabotage it.
Part of the difficulty was the date included in the Act for the Commission to submit its final report to the Ziu. Out of a desire to avoid a lingering discussion, the initial deadline for the report was in April, despite criticism that it was unrealistic to expect the Commission to examine the whole Organic Law in that time. Due to the abortive start of the Commission’s work thanks to the lack of royal and party political nominees, the RCOR had to have its deadline extended twice.

Organic Law: Cort closes “proclamation” loophole

In a decision announced on 18th April, a five-justice panel of el Cort pu Inalt has rejected the King’s assertion of a power to block Organic Law changes by refusing to proclaim them after they had been duly ratified. The King claimed that by “explicitly refusing” to proclaim 47RZ28, which curtailed his discretion in appointing provincial representatives, he was able to prevent its inclusion in the Organic Law. The subsequent controversy has become known as the Proclamation Crisis.

Four of the Justices of the Uppermost Cort, with one Justice abstaining, upheld the appeal launched by the last government to a previous decision of the Cort delivered in November 2015. At that time a three-Justice panel decided 2-1 that the King’s action was Organic, and that 47RZ28 could not be incorporated in the Organic Law.

However following an appeal launched by the outgoing government prior to the general election, the Cort has now determined that such a power was “undemocratic and not in keeping with the body of law upon which the Kingdom was founded. The Cort has thus ordered that all amendments certified as having been ratified by referendum are to be incorporated in the Organic Law, regardless of whether they are proclaimed or not.

This means in practice that both 47RZ28 and the more recently ratified 48RZ16, the so-called “3/4 Majority Amendment”, are now the law of the land, despite the King’s rejection of the first and controversial reticence on the second. The latter measure, intended as a solution to the Crisis, grants the King a veto over bills amending the constitution, which will be possible for the Ziu to override with a supermajority, or by re-enacting the same amendment following a general election.

In a public statement FreeDem leader and former Attorney-General Miestrâ Schivâ described the decision as both “gratifying” and “vexing”. She declared that the decision vindicated her legal strategy and provided a “legal, political road” to political reform, even over the monarchs objections. However she regretted that the Cort had not suspended the holding of the referendum on 48RZ16, as she had requested. She stated that her party’s attitude of cautious support towards the proposal would have been different had the Cort been able to reach a decision before the vote was taken, and that the amendment had “made things worse”. She accused 48RZ16’s RUMP supporters of deliberately obstructing her case in order to “win whichever way the Cort ruled”.

Reaction from other MZs was swift. ModRad Senator Epic da Lhiun welcomed the decision and bluntly reiterated his lack of confidence in the King. His party colleague and fellow sponsor of 48RZ16 Ian Plätschisch MC took issue with D:na Schivâ’s criticism of the amendment, calling it a “landmark compromise” and denying it would have negative consequences. The Minister of Stuff later told ETT that in his opinion 48RZ16 was most in line with moderate principles and that he believed that the Proclamation Crisis was over, “but you never know what could happen”.

Speaking to ETT Minister of Finance and Cabinet Chief of Staff Sir Alexandreu Davinescu stated that he welcomed the “practical effect” of the ruling, even as he criticised its legal basis. He noted that the two Justices in the majority in the November 2015 decision, Justices dal Nordselvă and Cjantscheir, had now reversed themselves in what he claimed was defiance of the principles of precedent. He also stated that as far as he was concerned the Cort’s ruling and 48RZ16 had closed the issue, expressing a desire to “move on” from the controversy.

There has been no official statement from the Royal Household at the time of writing.

Repost: Crowned Radicals and Conservative Democrats

Your humble correspondent is away on vacation until next Monday. Follow ETT on Twitter for breaking news @ElTamlalt

In the meantime, I am republishing my take in the failure of the Democratic Amendment in July 2015. The first, and certainly not the last, attempt to resolve the Proclamation Crisis.

The Democratic Amendment has gone down to failure. While 123 seats in the Cosa and 6 of 8 Senators supported the Amendment, this was not enough to overcome the opposition of the RUMP, which narrowly retained a blocking minority in the Cosa after the general election, even while losing 11 seats in the process.

One of the ironies of the situation we now find ourselves in is that the most conservative measure yet proposed is the Democratic Amendment itself. It was a direct solution to the crisis, in that it removed the legal ambiguities exploited by the King to radically assert a power to block duly authorised constitutional amendments that was dramatically at odds with the customary way our constitution has worked. The Amendment would have brought the letter of the Organic Law into line with decades of precedent that even the unlamented King Robert never dared to challenge. No Talossan, including it seems not even the King, would want any but the people to have the final word on an issue like this, but here we are.

Unlike the Balanced Government Amendment proposed by Sir Alexandreu Davinescu, the Democratic Amendment would not have created new supermajority requirements triggered entirely at the King’s discretion that would make any change to the Organic Law unacceptably slow, if not impossible, without virtual unanimity in the Ziu. Sir Alexandreu’s proposal was eloquently made and undoubtedly well-meant, but it unfortunately smacks of special pleading for a minority and has been marginalised as a result.

And unlike Ian Plätschisch’s Court Ordered Pontification proposal, the Democratic Amendment would not have created an unprecedented situation where the Uppermost Cort would in effect be asked to pronounce on the comparative representivity of the Ziu that voted the law, and the quality of the debate that led up to that vote-an innovation the Chief Justice has himself expressed public reservations about. S:reu Plätschisch’s political courage and honourable desire to bring both sides of the Ziu together should be heartily commended, but in my view he errs in bending too far to accommodate rhetoric about “wave elections” which are almost impossible to satisfactorily define in practice.

The reality is that the King is not a deaf mute, trapped in a gilded cage by crypto-Jacobins. He is a member of the Ziu and has the perfect right to participate in debates, and to propose alternatives in the Hopper to measures he views as unwise or ill-conceived (he has for example already done so with the so-called “Time Bomb Amendment” in the 48th Cosa). This is a privilege that most modern constitutional monarchs do not enjoy. Furthermore the King also has the right to offer his own advice to voters in referenda on Organic Law amendments since he is not bound by any law to remain silent if his conscience moves him. If in his opinion the level of debate or the quality of the proposals are lacking, the King has many tools at his disposal to intervene.

My modest proposal for resolving the Proclamation Crisis is for the Ziu to do…nothing. If the King does not wish to have the power he asserted in strangling 47RZ28 at birth, then he should reverse his explicit inaction on that measure, and state that he will never exercise it again, or at the very least not without seeking the advice of his government. And for the future? Most Members of the Ziu, and I believe most Talossans regardless of their view of hereditary monarchy, would welcome the insight and intelligence of a constitutional scholar of the King’s calibre in what are often highly technical debates. Let him exercise that formidable legal intelligence constructively when laws are made, and leave the final word to the sovereign people.

The best protection a constitutional monarch can have is the respect of his people and the trust of his government (whatever its political stripe). It seems to me that rather than trying to create a paper palisade around the monarchy by legalistic means, the King should seek to rebuild that respect and that trust, for the sake of his own legacy and that of the House of Lupul.

(NB: the above is strictly the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of the publishers)

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FreeDem leader calls for action against “lawless” King

In a hard-hitting speech to the Cosa FreeDem leader Dama Miestrâ Schivâ declared that at the moment majority opinion in her party favours a no vote on confidence, on the basis that the incoming coalition is not prepared to take action to “bring the lawless, unaccountable King to heel”.

According to the speech, delivered to the Cosa today, the FreeDem leader took aim at what she described as the “corrupt” relationship between the RUMP and the Crown, and comparing the other coalition parties to the “satellite” parties of the former Eastern Bloc states. The FreeDem leader declared that in her view her party will withhold confidence in the government, despite the calibre of its individual members, until it demonstrates a commitment to reform of the monarchy.

Dama Miestrâ also said that party sentiment was also against 49RZ3, which would reform the method by which the Cosa is dissolved in order to avoid delays in elections due to royal inaction, as occurred before the 49th Cosa election. She said this was due to her party’s decision to oppose any changes to the Organic Law until the Royal Commission has submitted its report, as well as objections to allowing the King to “fail to do his job with no consequences”.

The FreeDem leader has been a harsh critic of the King’s recent comportment in office, notably his ongoing failure to pronounce himself on 48RZ15, an Organic Law amendment  that would curtail the Crown’s ability to block constitutional changes. The so-called 3/4 Majority Amendment was passed with overwhelming majorities in the Ziu and by popular vote, but its legal status is uncertain until the King either proclaims it law, or “explicitly refuses” to do so, thus nullifying it.

Dama Miestrâ also criticised some of the King’s comments in the aftermath if the Canun Case revelations which she claimed were “insulting” to victims of abuse, as well as recent statements with respect to the law on the appointment of the Tuischac’h, which Dama Miestrâ claimed demonstrate a lack of respect for legal norms.

Reacting to the speech, ModRad deputy leader and Minister of STUFF Ian Plätschisch MC rejected the accusation that the government were not serious about reform of the monarchy. He stated that “it is difficult to make reforms when all OrgLaw amendments are considered an attack on the Royal Commission”. He also pointed to the work of government members in the Commission, including Sir Cresti, and the latter’s willingness to further extend its deadline for submission of its report.

49th Cosa election: FreeDem leader calls for “massive” yes vote on 3/4 Majority Amendment

FreeDEm leader and Attorney-General Miestrâ Schivâ took to the Witteberg Shoutbox on 14th February to call for a “MASSIVE YES” on the 3/4 Majority Amendment, which is before the voters during the 49th Cosa Election. As Attoney-General Senator Schivâ had led an attempt by the government to have the vote postponed, pending an examination of her appeal of a previous Cort judgement which found that the King’s refusal to proclaim an Organic law amendment was constitutional.

In her petition to the full five-Justice Cort, Senator Schivâ claimed that the Amendment was passed by the Ziu “under false pretences”, given that it was her contention that the asserton of a power to block Organic law amendments was not in fact constitutional. She argued that in the interests of avoiding an unintentional expansion of royal power if the Cort eventually ruled in favour of her petition that the Cort should enjoin the Secretary of State from placing the referendum on the ballot. However in a preliminary judgement delivered by Chief Justice Tamoràn, the Cort dismissed the appeal and declared that the vote could go ahead.

Senator Schvâ thanked the Cort for “much-quicker-than-expected decision”. She later said in the Shoutbox that the Cort ruling was “deeply unsatisfactory” in tha the Cort “refused to touch the question of whether an OrgLaw amendment needed to be proclaimed to be enacted”. However gven that all avenues of appeal had now been exhausted her party was now calling for a “MASSIVE YES” on the amendment, claiing that they had “exhausted all legal avenues to bring the monarchy under control”.

Supported by overwhelming majorities in both houses of the Ziu, the 3/4 Majority Amendment would if approved reduce the absolute power asserted by the King during the Proclamation Crisis to a suspensive veto only, which could be overridden by qualified majorities of the Ziu.

The FreedEm leader also expressed satisfaction at the “slapping down” of attempts by RUMP leader Sir Alexandreu Davinescu to intervene in the case. The RUMP leader had attempted to join the suit on the grounds that as a member of the Ziu the Cort should grant standing to hm and any other fellow MZ involved in the passage of the amendment. He also alleged impropriety on the part of Cort Justice and FreeDem Deputy Leader Dr Txec dal Nordselvă, claiming that there was an appearance of bias and that the Justice had been engaged in ex parte communications with fellow FreeDem activists.

Both Justice dal Nordselvă and the Attorney-General emphatically denied the allegations, which were based on an inadvertantly public post on the FreeDem Facebook group. A party member, Shadow Talossaware Commissioner Iason Bitxichë Taiwos, asked for advice after receiving a message for Sir Alexandreu asking for his support in the latter’s attempt to gain standing in the Cort case. Justice dal Nordselva advised S:reu Taiwos “not to fall for it”. Dr dal Nordselva argued that this was a political, and not a legal opinion, and insisted that he at no time participated in discussions of the legal implications of the case privately.

ModRad Senator for Maritiimi-Maxhestic Magniloqueu Épiqeu da Lhiun, who is being challenged by Sir Alexandreu for his Senate seat, called for an investigaton into the RUMP leader’s conduct, claiming that not only were the allegations unfounded but that it was “conduct unbecoming” of a member of the Bar.  FreeDem Shadow Minister of Stuff Admiral T.M. Asmourscu supported the call, adding that in his opinion Sir Alexndreu had “perjured” himself, and that for the Cort to allow him to present the recusal motion meant that “perhaps the next government ought reconsider its composition to restore dignity to the bench”.

Chief Justice Tamoràn announced however that the Cort had “unanimously” found that Justice dal Nordselva had committed no impropriety. Sir Alexandreu himself expressed disappointment in the ruing, stating that based on the preiliminary judgement “the Cort had legalised ex parte communication”.