30 June 2012

The form of the parliamentary body

In this post, I proceed to state institutions of the European federation. For if the European federation shall be a common state, it has to have common state institutions as every other state. I will suggest no mere reform of any institution of the present intergovernmental European Union in any my future suggestion of this part of the European federation's constitution because a functional federal state must have other and otherwise working institutions than an international organization even if it were hundred times “sui generis”. First I will deal with the form of the legislative body of the European federation.
There are many questions that the federal constitution must respond in reference to its legislative body, I will deal with three of them for the present: how great it should be, how many chambers it shall have and what its name shall be.
The most important of these is the second one. In principle, it is a choice between a unicameral and bicameral parliament. The current European parliament is unicameral but it cannot be taken as a pattern because it is not a typical parliament, it is still more a consultative assembly, in spite of its (somewhat misleading) denomination. It is more profitable to look at the form of parliaments of real federations. The facts are that most parliaments of world's federations are bicameral, only a few federations have a unicameral parliament – they are Venezuela, Comoros, The Federated States of Micronesia and The United Arab Emirates (if it is possible to speak about a true parliament in this case). So practice shows that federal arrangement prefers the bicameral parliament. For two principles are expressed by two chambers: 1) people are citizens both of their member states and of the federation, 2) the difference between size of the member states and their equal position in the federation. The same reasons suggest that also the parliament of the European federation has two chambers, the first in which the states are represented according to the number of their inhabitants, the second in which every state has the same number of representatives. Naturalness of this view at the matter is confirmed also by various proposals for adding the second chamber to the present EU Parliament.
The second question is size of both of these chambers. I have total number of representatives of every chamber, namely of the “lower” one (where states are represented according to the number of their inhabitants) in mind. It is mathematically challenging task to balance representation of every state with appropriate number of representatives and also to maintain such total number of representatives so that the chamber is able to work. Excessive number of representatives is a problem of the present European parliament – it has 754 representatives and is so the greatest democratically elected parliamentary body of the world but unlike many other much lesser parliamentary bodies in the world, it has only very restricted competencies (the less competencies the greater body – one of many absurd paradoxes of the present intergovernmental European Union). The present parliament of the EU is in my opinion too great body to be a unicameral parliament which in addition should be enlarged by the second chamber. I believe that the “lower” chamber of the parliament of the European federation should be lesser than size of the present European parliament; nobody surely is so foolish to believe the equation “greater parliament = more democracy”. I suggest 567 representatives as an upper limit of size of the “lower” chamber of the European federal parliament – it was size of the European parliament in the year 1995. I cannot somehow mathematically or politologically ground this number, it is only my subjective choice. But every other number will be a subjective choice as well, it is however better to choice lesser than greater numbers so that the chamber can meaningfully work (let us compare the suggested number 567 with the number 552 of representatives of the lower chamber of the parliament of India that represents a milliard citizens, much more that more numerous (754 today) representatives of the present EU parliament represent).
As for the “higher” chamber of the European federation's parliament I cannot determine any upper limit of the number of the representatives (it would be useless), the question is how many parliament members should represent every individual state. We do not know how many states will be part of the European federation but one representative for every state would be an insufficient number because in that case the upper chamber would be inadequately small with respect to the lower chamber although their position should be (in my opinion) completely equal (I will discuss it in another post). If the European federation should comprise all or almost all Europe in the end, I would consider as the best the number of three (in the case of very big federation two) representatives for one state.
The European federation will certainly comprise only a few states in its beginning and in the case would be insane to allot so many representatives to every state that the upper limit 567 or around 300 would be exhausted in either respective chamber. The numbers should then be determined otherwise and the specific numbers should be located in transitional provisions; so I will deal with them when I will write about the transitional provisions.
The last, least important question is what shall be the name of the parliament of the European federation and its two chambers. Of course, a simple descriptive name “The Parliament of the European Union” or something similar can be used. But I prefer some more “elegant” name, so I decided to suggest the name “The Assembly of the Union” (or “... of the European Union”, but I like more the first option). By the way, very alike is the name of the parliament of Comoros (“The Assembly of the Union of the Comoros”) but it is only a coincidence, in fact I was inspired not by this but by the name of the Swiss parliament („The Federal Assembly“). As for denomination of both chambers of the European federal parliament: I want stay away from words “upper” and “lower” because I have already mentioned that both chambers shall be equal in my concept, not one superior to the other. I was inspired again by the Swiss parliament and I suggest according to its function the name “The House of States” for the “upper” chamber, “The House of the People” then analogically for the “lower” chamber.