Orion Digest №36 — ESF Structure: Division of Parliament

Central to the idea of an eco-socialist federation is how power can be chiefly balanced between the people’s interests and long term interests of survival and development. It must be efficient in pursuing progress according to its set goals, but must also be capable of catering to short-term needs and desires. It must be capable of changing to fit the times, but not so easily corruptible to allow the rise of a tyrannical minority of elites, or a tyrannical majority of crowds swayed by demagogues. It must be a government as far from human error and greed as we can get, yet still possessing a human element to allow for change and empathy.

Over the next three issues of the Digest, we shall go over a more detailed model for eco-socialist federal government, which shall encompass the nation states of the world. This structure has two primary branches — the Parliament, and the Judiciary, and below their combined authority is a bureaucratic structure of executive departments and agencies to be used and directed as needed. The design of the two primary branches and the bureaucracy below is done so in mind with the qualifications presented above.

Let us first imagine our hypothetical world government, the United World Federation. Power is derived from the people, so the obvious beginning of the federal process is the Parliament, which is to be composed of three houses. Previously, we had spoken on the necessity for both national representation and population-based representation, similar to the modern ideas for a UN Parliamentary Assembly (population) and the current UN General Assembly (with national representatives). This would continue to be the case — the interests of both the majority of the population would be represented, as well as the interests of regions that may have a population minority.

However, as we have stated, nations can be prone to elitism within government, and people can be swayed by elites to form factions contradictory to their interests, or at the very least, harmful to the security of minority groups. So, as a counterbalance, there exists a third house within this structure — that of elected scholars and professionals who have devoted their career to the study of both the written law of the federation and the social and environmental circumstances of the time. (This idea borrows largely from a much older and researched form of federal constitution, and it would be disrespectful not to mention such — the Earth Constitution Institute’s own Constitution for the Federation of Earth. It was this organization that, after decades of study and design, put forth the idea of a structure including three houses of Parliament, one with people, one with nations, and one with educated counsellors, and much of the structure laid out here is inspired, if not directly borrowed, from their design. The Earth Constitution Institute deserves credit and attention for the idea, and to date, their structure is one of the foremost and most developed iterations of a world federal constitution.)

Members of this third house of government, however, wouldn’t simply be subject to nomination from national and arbitrary institutions, given the purpose is to create a third opinion unaffected by national nor party interest. As part of the federal government’s structure, two international institutions would be created for legal and scientific study, funded and available for public study by application, and graduates of each university would be put up for direct election by vote of citizens, administered through national state governments. The first institution would be for election into the third house of Parliament; the second for the Judiciary, which we shall cover in the next issue. All graduates of the respective institution, having studied and become qualified to speak on behalf of current issues and interpret how the situation at hand is best covered by the UWF Constitution. The first institution would have more of a focus on current affairs (social, economic, and environmental) more so than legal procedure, but there would exist some overlap.

Election to Parliament would thus be two thirds according to international direct election by the people, and one third appointment by the national state governments, once more putting the power of the UWF in the hands of its citizens, while providing two houses that have educated and vested interests at heart, that can balance out the short-term concerns of certain groups within the population. Election to the population-based house of Parliament would have candidacy open to anyone who met certain minimal constitutional requirements (legal age, residence within region they represent), while election to the institutional house of Parliament would have stricter requirements based on study and academics.

With the three houses of the UWF’s Parliament established, the question would be how laws and decisions get made. In Digest №11, a two house system of Parliament where the UNGA and UNPA brought forth proposals for laws and policies, but the UNPA was the house that voted to approve or veto them. To revise that system for a three-house structure, each house would continue to be able to design laws and policies for proposal, but the approval and denial system would necessarily become more complex.

There would be three stages to a proposition’s approval process. Firstly, it would need to be passed by the house it was introduced in — a simple majority would suffice to see if it was fit for full Parliamentary review. A committee would exist between the houses, consisting of a rotating staff of elected members from each of the parties, in equal number — the second round of approval would involve them reviewing and modifying details for submission to all three houses. This committee, despite being composed of members of all three houses, would not have a say in whether to reject or approve the proposition — they would simply modify and review to a point of majority consensus, and pass it along to each of the houses. The final round, then, would be another majority vote, this time tested in each house, and if there was a majority in two houses and at least 40% approval in a third, it would be passed along to the Judiciary and bureaucracy.

If the proposition was unable to acquire enough votes for approval, the house that introduced it could vote once again to appeal for further review by the committee — this would involve a more thorough process and likely editing to allow for concessions to the houses that voted primarily against. If it failed a second round of voting, however, the proposition would be discarded. This form of voting balances out power between the three houses, but also allows for the interests of two houses to get through even if one house is in dissent, which would prevent a single house from blocking legislation and putting Parliament into gridlock. For example, if national state governments were acting against the interest of their people, both the people themselves and studied advocates for social justice could pass policy even without their majority approval.

Parliament would be the engine of policy and legislation within an eco-socialist federation, and arguably, every other branch of the federal government would simply extend from or be accountable to the functions of the world’s houses. It is important to our future that we build a structure that allows all people to have a say in their government, and one that also acts in their best interest.