1 Central Government Institutions
The Constitution is built on a standard presidential system with a bicameral legislature (a House of Representatives and a Senate) and a supreme court. The President, however, has been given more flexible and powerful veto powers than those granted the President of the United States of America. This blending of the executive and legislative functions is justified by the President's often being more representative of the will of the people as a whole than the legislature, viz 1.
Table Legislative decisions as representative of the will of the people
The table is based on the following assumptions: Representatives, Senators and the President is assumed to be elected by majority voting. The composition in the two houses of Congress is assumed to be equal, so that a measure which passes in the House also passes in the Senate. (In effect, Congress, for reasons of simplicity is assumed to act like a unicameral legislature.) The percentages apply to participating electors, i.e. excluding abstentions. The calculation is as follows: A congressional majority is assumed to require the assent of 50 % of the legislators (+ 1 representative and +1 senator). The election of this half of the legislature is assumed to require the assent of 50 % of the electors in their respective districts (+ 1 elector for each district). The minimum % popular support behind each majority decision then equals one half of one half, which is one quarter, or 25 %.
The table also shows the range of legislative mechanisms employed by the proposed Constitution. A nearly continuous range of different mechanisms lessens the opportunities for legislative arbitrage (attempts to put legislative decisions into different categories in order to justify usurped powers, e.g. making a constitutional decision appear as a legislative decision).
The higher percentages required for constitutional amendments are justified by the desire to distinguish between rules for decision-making and particular applications of those rules, i.e. ordinary legislative decisions. Rules for decision making are collected in the Constitution, while particular legislation is decided by ordinary non-constitutional statutes.
The confederate institutions together hold the sovereign powers of the Confederation as defined in Chapter 3, but they do not hold any more powers than that chapter gives them. This is contrary to the Constitution of the United States and most other federations where that part of the constitution that defines the federal powers are intertwined with the description of the federal institutions. Textual and logical separation improves clarity and allows for easier, clearer and better defined amendments.
With the proposed system it would, for instance, be possible to introduce a parliamentary system by making changes to part two of the Constitution, but without changing the powers of the Confederation as defined in part one. This is not a recommended change.
The advantages of a presidential system are twofold: a) Governmental powers pose less of a threat to individual liberty when they are divided between several independent branches, and b) the President may act as a proxy for the whole people in the legislative process.
1.2 Bill of Rights and General provisions of part two
The Bill of Rights, chapter 9, contains as indicated, a bill of rights modeled on the U.S. constitution. These rights have, however, been modernized due to social and technological changes. The section on Freedom of speech, for instance, has been amended to take into account broadcasting and cable networks. Likewise the section on privacy has been expanded to expressly include wiretapping (interception of communications).
The last chapter of the proposed Constitution, Chapter 10. General provisions of part two, may be subdivided into 2 parts:
A) sections defining procedures for the operations of confederate institutions, e.g., the requirement that at least one day every year shall be designated confederate election day, and B) temporary clauses relating to ratification and the saving of existing legislation. These latter sections may be adopted according to the circumstances.
The Bill of Rights is binding on all confederate institutions, including the courts. The provisions are likewise binding on state institutions and courts, unless of course, a particular state enacts specific legislation to the contrary. If a state wants to infringe on these rights, it is free to do so, but since conflicts with out-of-state citizens are handled by the confederate system, it is not able to enforce such infringement on anyone but its own citizens.
The confederate institutions consist of a presidential system with a standard bicameral legislature. The President has been given extensive powers in order to counteract the legislature's natural tendency to spend money and run deficits. Separation of powers have been enhanced compared with other constitutions.
The size of the legislature has deliberately been kept smaller than what is common in large federations in order to make it more nimble and more likely to act as an initiator.
The limited coercive powers of the Confederation means that it will have to rely on a more aggressive style in promoting its policies in competition with those of the states. The streamlining especially of the presidency and the legislature supports this function.
The Constitution contains a Bill of rights modeled on that of the American Constitution, but significantly enhanced and modernized. The Bill of rights is binding on confederate institutions, and will extend also to the individual states, unless superseded by state legislation. The introduction of the Bill of Rights in part two of the Constitution, allows it to contain provisions that would be inappropriate or unnecessary at the state level.Revised: 2004-07-02
Copyright © 1991-2003 John F. Knutsen
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