First Minister of Francisville

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First Minister of Francisville
Städtsminister Frankestädt
Francisville crest.png
Coat of Arms of Francisville
Incumbent
Office Abolished
StyleThe Honourable
AppointerChamber of Deputies
as Legislature
Term lengthSix Months
Inaugural holderJames Stewart
Formation15 May 2009
Last holderAndrew Newton
Term end3 June 2011
DeputyDeputy First Minister

The First Minister of Francisville (French: Premier ministre de la Francisville; Francillian: Städtsminister Frankestädt, official translation Minister of State) was the head of government of the Democratic Duchy of Francisville. In combination with members of the Council of Ministers, the First Minister formed the executive branch of the government, answerable to the Chamber of Deputies and exercising their powers in collaboration with the Grand Duke as laid down by the Constitution.

History

The office of First Minister was established as the result of a process of constitutional changes adopted within the first two years of Francisville's history. The First Constitution, adopted on 28 November 2008[1] established a powerful elective monarchy whereby the roles of head of state and nominal head of government were merged into the office of the Archduke who acted as an executive prince-president. The constitutional structure was based on a modified semi-presidential system. Executive power rested primarily with the Archduke but it was partly shared with a Prime Minister elected by the House of Representatives, the lower house of parliament. The founding political system had been intended to provide a basic model of stable government during the founding months of the Democratic Duchy. Early criticism of this model was the lack of purpose or principle it gave to the nation during this foundational period. James I, serving as the both first Archduke of Francisville and de facto Prime Minister, pursued policies which focused primarily on establishing the nation within the international community and the gradual transition to a functioning parliamentary democracy.

Following the First Constitutional Assembly on 16 January, the Second Constitution was adopted and the political system transitioned towards a model of constitutional monarchy in the form of a Grand Duchy whereby the Grand Duke served as head of state and a more powerful Prime Minister was elected to serve as the head of government. However, Emergency Article I.vii. of the constitution granted the Archduke executive authority over all non-consitutional affairs in circumstances of war, political disfunction, or low citizenship. Such a state of affairs remained throughout this period thus rendering the Prime Ministership a defunct office. This remained the case throughout th establishment of the Third Constitution which was adopted on 5 March 2009.[2] Following the recommendations of a Second Constitutional Assembly (sometimes referred to as the April Convention) organised by the Grand Duke, the Fourth Constitution was adopted on 15 May 2009. The Emergency powers of the Grand Duke were thereby abolished in favour of a democratic cabinet government. The Prime Ministership was replaced by the office of First Minister of Francisville.

Qualifications and selection

The First Minister, along with other members of the Cabinet of Ministers, was elected by the Chamber of Deputies. Unusually for a Constitutional Monarchy, the selection of the office was not subject to the approval of the Grand Duke, the approval of parliament being sufficient for the appointment. An individual was legally required to be a member of the Chamber to be elected to the Cabinet. The qualifications for holding the office were therefore corresponding to those for Deputies. The two relevant qualifications were (i) holding Francillian citizenship and (ii) enjoyment of full political rights, removable only for criminal offences or mental incapacity as laid down by law. First Ministers served for terms of six months without any legally mandated term limits.

Role and authority

The 4th Constitution of Francisville established the First Minister as the presiding member of the Cabinet of Ministers and thereby Head of Government according to the customary principles of a parliamentary system of government. Executive authority was invested in the Council of Ministers as a collegiate body under the doctrine of cabinet collective responsibility. The principle duties of the First Minister were to chair meetings of the Cabinet and act as the public spokesperson for the program of government laid out by any particular administration. Constitutionally, the First Minister was therefore recognized as the first among equals with authority continuous with their Cabinet colleagues.

Despite this arrangement, the First Minister often assumed de facto individual executive authority on several matters. Following the principles of constitutional monarchy, the advice of the First Minister was the principle guiding policy in the exercising of the Grand Ducal prerogative. It was therefore considered constitutionally mandatory for the monarch to act upon the advice of the First Minister. The exception to this doctrine was foreign affairs for which the Grand Duke assumed absolutely authority, albeit with significant deference being given to the policies of the incumbent elected government. Cabinet Ministers were officially elected by the Chamber but in practice this duty was carried out the the First Minister personally following their election. The Constitution also assigned the First Minister some direct personal responsibilities. The co-signatures of the Grand Duke and the First Minister were required for the appointment of members of the judiciary and the diplomatic service.

The authority of the First Minister was checked by numerous institutions including the Grand Duke, through the counter-signature of executive prerogative, the Cabinet of Ministers, through collective decision making, the Chamber of Deputies, through impeachment by super-majority vote, and the judicial review of the High Court of Justice. Appointments made by the First Minister were only available through consultation with statutorily establishment appointments' commissions. Francisville was noted for its largely independent political culture free from the role of political parties. The First Minister therefore found it difficult to galvanize their executive authority through the use of internal party discipline. It was common for governments to be formed through cross-party consensus with a Deputy First Minister being elected from a different political group than that represented by the First Minister. Francisville therefore did not sufer significantly from the development of an overreaching Premiership, a problem observed in many contemporary cabinet systems.[3]

Style of address

Francisville made use of the Westminster tradition of using the title First Minister when addressing the office holder directly. The style of using Mr/Mrs First Minister was considered improper. In deference to the principles of cabinet collective responsibility and parliamentary rule, the First Minister was assigned the honorific 'The Honorable', the same as used by all Deputies and Ministers. The full style of address of the office holder was therefore The Honorable [Full Name], First Minister of Francisville.

List of First Ministers

Office Holder Deputy First Minister Term of office Political affiliation
1 James Stewart
(Serving as Grand Duke)
Vacant 28 November 2008 3 June 2009 Independent
Considered Liberal
The office was held by the Grand Duke under emergency powers granted by the First, Second, and Third Constitutions. The policies pursued during James I's administration focused on increasing Francisville's internal presence and transitioning to a functioning parliamentary democracy. Policies adopted included membership of the Grand Unified Micronational under principles of neutrality and the adoption of the Fourth Constitution which ended Grand Ducal rule.
2 Jeremy Abrahams Kalvin Koolidge 3 June 2009 3 December 2009 National Liberal
The inaugural First Minister of Francisville selected following the first General Election, 28 May 2009. As a candidate for the National Liberal Party, Abrahams supported broadly social liberal policies including commitments to environmental protection, powerful local government, and international neutrality. The administration was criticized for its limited activity leading to Abrahams standing down at the end of his first six-month term.
3 Andrew Newton
First Administration
Vacant 3 December 2009 3 June 2010 Independent
Considered Democratic Socialist
The second administration formed during the First Assembly of the Chamber of Deputies. Newton sought to prevent further development of party politics and pursued social and economic policies to the left of the previous government. The Grand Duke's involvement in GUM politics was questioned but his support for the Treaty of Universal Non-Aggression was praised. The Ducal Defense Forces were abolished in favour of a smaller Militia and preliminary discussions on a national education system were held. The administration signaled the end of party politics within the Duchy.
4 Cameron Falby Andrew Newton 3 June 2010 3 December 2010 Independent
Considered Liberal
Elected following the second General Election, 28 May 2010. The Second Assembly was elected with no party representation. Falby's election represented growing discontent for international treaties and government centralization, corresponding to the 'Isolation Era' in Francisville's political history. The administration advised the Grand Duke against executive involvement in the Grand Unified Micronational and focused the government's efforts on cultural development. The First Minister did not seek re-election.
4 Andrew Newton
Second Administration
Vacant 3 December 2010 3 June 2011 Independent
Considered Democratic Socialist
Newton's second administration was formed to represent the growing voice for political change expressed by the Grand Duke and Chamber of Deputies. The administration formed several informal commissions to investigate proposals to increase local democracy, reform the executive branch of government, and realign the nation's foreign policy. This approach culminated in the Declaration of the Republic and the June Convention. This ultimately led to the abolition of the First Ministership and the establishment of the Federal Republic of Francisville.

See also


References