Francillian Constitutional Convention 2011

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Francillian Constitutional Convention
Francisville wiki map.png
Native name Sechsemount Conventioun (frv)
English nameJune Convention
DateJune 10, 2011 – August 14, 2012 (2011-06-10 – 2012-08-14)
Duration13 months
LocationFrancisville
TypeConstitutional convention
Cause"Declaration of the Republic" issued by Grand Duke James I
First reporterThe Francillian
Organised byChamber of Deputies
ParticipantsSebastian Linden, James Stewart, James von Puchow
OutcomeEstablishment of the Federal Republic of Francisville

The Francillian Constitutional Convention, also known as the June Convention or Constitutional Assembly, was a constitution convention established in order to draft the constitution of the Federal Republic of Francisville following the disestablishment of the Democratic Duchy of Francisville in June 2011. Although predominantly led by members of the Duchy's government, the convention was a deliberative assembly of all citizens with all proposals being ratified by referendum. The constitution of the Federal Republic was adopted on 16 August 2012.

Background

The Democratic Duchy of Francisville was founded on 28 November 2008. The early years of the Duchy's existence were marked by piecemeal constitutional reforms which developed the country into a modern state with a stable system of government. At the time of its dissolution, the Supreme Law of the Duchy was the Fourth Constitution of Francisville, enacted on 15 May 2009. Francisville was a parliamentary representative democracy under a constitutional monarchy where the Grand Duke served as a largely figurehead head of state.

A constitutional crisis emerged in May 2011 general election when a scheduled election for Chamber of Deputies was delayed. The delay in calling the election raised concerns over the future practicality of the constitution, with one deputy calling for either the greater empowerment of the Crown or the replacement of the constitutional monarchy with a Presidential system, reforming the Duchy into a republic. In refutation, James I broke with constitutional protocol to argue that the political stagnation had been caused by the de facto centralization of political power in the hands of the Grand Duke through his prerogative over foreign affairs. On 3 June 2011, James I issued a declaration calling for the dissolution of the Fourth Constitution and the transition to an alternative model of government. The declaration was endorsed by the Chamber and later became known as the Declaration of the Republic.[1]

The declaration called for the reforms to be decided by the process of a citizens' assembly directed by a Convention Council comprised of the incumbent Deputies. The assembly became known as the June Convention after its first assembly, held between 13 and 17 June 2011.

Procedure

Although predominantly led by members of the Duchy's government, the convention was a deliberative assembly of all citizens with all proposals being ratified by referendum. The convention was convened by James Stewart as Grand Duke and speaker of the Chamber of Deputies. The Grand Duke's constitutional reform proposals were accepted by the population in a referendum held on 10 June 2011. The referendum result returned 100% in favour of constitutional reform but with a voter turnout of only 45%. A further five national surveys and three referendums were conducted during the convention.

The majority of the drafting of the constitution was carried out by James Stewart and Sebastian Linden. Each survey gauged the opinions of Francillian citizens on a select number of issues relevant to particular chapters of the constitution. Participants had the ability to comment on national surveys to provide input into the drafting process. Referendums were held to confirm popular consent for finally written chapters as well as weight issues such as membership in international organisations and the structure of the cantons.

Key issues

Cantonal rights

In accordance with the Declaration of the Republic, the convention aimed to create a more decentralised system with powerful administrative divisions. The 1st national survey gauged popular opinion between three options; a unitary state with strong devolution (British model), a federation with defined division of powers between the federation and the states (German model), or a federation where the cantons remained fundamentally autonomous except where the constitution explicitly limited their sovereignty by reserving powers to the federal government (Swiss model). The result was a tie between the two forms of federalism with the unitary state option receiving no votes.

The convention guaranteed the cantons as permanent constitutional status and a high degree of political independence. The cantons received the right to determine their own political systems with the stipulation that this should be in the form of a secular, democratic republic. The cantons were considered autonomous entities in their own right and they maintained jurisdiction over all matters which were not explicitly delegated to the federation by the constitution or federal law. Whilst the balance of powers favoured the cantons over the federation through the principles of cantonal sovereignty and subsidiarity, responsibilities were broadly divided between federal competencies (foreign affairs, defense, monetary policy, criminal and civil law), cantonal competencies (courts, law enforcement, infrastructure, social security, general education), and shared competencies (higher education, culture, environmental protection).

Form of government

An early consensus was reached against implementing an executive presidency or any system which would similarly concentrate federal political authority into a single office. As the June Convention operated on a consensus model with multiple representatives forming a Convention Council, delegates were sympathetic to models of a plural executive or directorial system. Discussions led to the establishment of the Federal Council as the federal executive and collective head of state.

The Convention had tacitly accepted that the federation would operate as a direct democracy but the question of how legislation would be introduced to the Federal Community and amended at committee stage remained unresolved. Voters accepted the principle of full direct democracy by rejecting the proposal for a federal legislature in the fifth national survey in March 2012. This outcome led the Convention to consider an alternative non-legislative assembly tasked only with drafting legislation and scrutinising the Federal Council. The proposal to establish the Federal Chamber was subsequently accepted in the April 2012 constitutional referendum.

Foreign relations

Francisville had been an influential MicroWiki nation primarily due to its role as a prominent member state of the Grand Unified Micronational during its early years. By March 2011, Francisville had become largely isolated from the MicroWiki community in response to the Lethler controversy and the growing influence of the Organisation of Active Micronations. Title 3 of the constitutional continued to preserve Francisville's status as a neutral country as had already been established by the constitution of the Democratic Duchy.

International relations were considered by the 5th national survey in which voters supported provisions which prohibited membership in military alliances and supranational unions. The survey also considered Francisville's membership in the Grand Unified Micronational. Francisville had been given permanent observership in the GUM alongside St. Charlie and Bokonton, a status given to original members of the GUM at its so-called "dissolution" in September 2010 but who did not take part when it returned to activity in August 2011. Voters rejected a proposal to apply for full membership in the organisation. A second proposal to remain a permanent observer returned different results between the first and second ballots, the only question to do so[2]. Although the second ballot was ultimately considered to be the legitimate vote, the convention representatives decided to submit the question to a final referendum in order to clarify public opinion.

Convention surveys and referendums

Constitutional referendum, June 2011

Results of the constitutional referendum, 10 June 2011.
Proposal Yes (%) No (%)
On the proposal to revise the constitution: 5 100 0 0
Voter turnout 45%
Electorate 11

The convention followed from a referendum held on 10 June 2011. The referendum proposed a full revision of the constitution based on what was called for in the Declaration of the Republic:

I propose that the current system be rejected, and that the citizens of Francisville come together to establish a new political order through common consensus. On public consent, new elections ought to be put off, and a national forum on political change created in their place, headed by the incumbent deputies

— Grand Duke James I - 3 June 2011

The ballot paper for the referendum was entitled "On the proposal to revise the constitution":

1st National survey, June 2011

Results of the 1st National Survey, 5 - 7 June 2011
Question Options Votes Total Votes % Outcome
Name of the state 1 Federal Republic of Francisville, The 3 75% Federal Republic of Francisville was chosen as the name of the future state.
2 Francillian Republic, The 1 25%
3 Francillian Federation, The 0 0.0%
Name of the Regions 1 Cantons of Francisville 2 50% Cantons of Francisville was adopted in future proposals without protest in spite of the tie in the initial vote
2 States of Francisville 2 50%
Nature of the State 1 British system: Unitary state with de facto federalisation through devolution 0 0 Federalism accepted as an essential principle of the state. Future proposals moved in the direction of the Swiss system.
2 German system: Federalism with defined division of powers between the federation and the cantons 2 50%
3 Swiss system: Federalism with fundamentally autonomous cantons and limited federal authority. 2 50%
Turnout 4 36.4%

The first national survey took place on 5–7 June 2011. The survey aimed to determine the basic structure of the state in line with James Stewart's proposals to reform the state into a more decentralised, republican system. The name of the state was a principal consideration and the poll initially proposed three options for the state's official name. The option of the Federal Republic of Francisville was chosen with 75% of the vote. The survey also addressed the title of the federal entities to be included within the state and the nature of their sovereign relationship with the federal government. The survey proposed a choice between "states" or "cantons" resulting in a tie. As cantons had formed administrative divisions within the Democratic Duchy of Francisville, this title was selected following further discussion and received no objections or revision during subsequent proposals.

To determine the fundamental constitutional relationship between the state and the cantons, the poll proposed a choice between a unitary state with strong devolution along the British model, a federation with defined division of powers between the federation and the states (German model), or a federation where the catnons remained fundamentally autonomous except where the constitution explicitly limited their sovereignty by reserving powers to the federal government (Swiss model). The result was a tie between the two forms of federalism with the unitary state option receiving no votes.

The constitutional proposals put forward following the survey defined the cantons as sovereign insofar as their autonomy was not limited by the federation but delegated a number of tasks to the federal government. The result was that tasks were, in practice, divided between the federal and cantonal governments but the self-determination of the cantons was guaranteed with their authorities remaining fundamentally autonomous from the federal authorities on most issues.

2nd National survey, November 2011

Results of the 2nd national survey, 13 November 2011.
Proposal Yes (%) No (%)
To approve of the structure and content of Title 1- General Provisions 4 100 0 0
To adopt the traditional flag of the Democratic Duchy of Francisville as the flag of the Federal Republic. 4 100 0 0
Voter turnout 36.4%
Electorate 11
The flag of the Democratic Duchy was retained as the flag of the Federal Republic

Following the 1st national survey which established the name and essential nature of the state, the task of drafting the constitution was entrusted to the key representatives of the June Convention, comprising former Grand Duke James Stewart and the elect members of the Chamber of Deputies. The initial text proposals for the new constitution were published in early November 2011. A series of further national surveys were organised to obtain the views of the electorate on the proposed articles. The 2nd national survey was held on 13 November 2011 to consult on Title 1 of the proposed federal constitution.

This section outlined the nature of the state, the basis of its sovereignty, and its essential form of government as a democratic, secular, federal republic in the form of a union of cantons. English was recognised as the official language of the federation whilst the right of the cantons to determine their own official languages was guaranteed. Consideration was also given to the national symbols of the federation. Whilst it had been broadly accepted that the national flag of the Democratic Duchy of Francisville would be retained, discussions had emerged with regards to whether a replacement flag should be chosen. The survey confirmed support for retaining the traditional flag which was established by Article 7 of the constitution. The same article did not specify any further national symbols but empowered the Federal Council to make such provisions. Voters unanimously accepted the provisions of Title 1.

3rd National survey, December 2011

Results of the 3rd national survey, 4 December 2011.
Proposal Yes (%) No (%)
To approve the structure and content of Title 2, Chapter 1- General Provisions. 4 100 0 0
To approve the structure and content of Title 2, Chapter 2: Section 1- Fundamental Human Rights 3 75 1 25
To approve the structure and content of Title 2, Chapter 2: Section 2: Political Rights 4 100 0 0
To approve the structure and content of Title 2, Chapter 2: Section 3: Economic Rights and Social Aims 3 75 1 25
Voter turnout 36.4%
Electorate 11

A 3rd national survey was held on 4 December 2011 to consult voters on Title 2 of the proposed federal constitution. This section comprised a bill of rights establishing the fundamental individual liberties and economic, social, and cultural rights of the people. Title 2 was the longest title level section of the constitution with 58 articles divided between sections covering general provisions, fundamental human rights, political rights, and economic rights and social aims. Many of the rights guaranteed by Title 2 had previously been established by the constitution of the Democratic Duchy of Francisville but the federal constitution greatly expanded their provisions.

Whilst voters approved of the provisions of Title 2, some raised concerns over the federation's perceived right to limit or amend rights by law. The section was subsequently amended so that no restrictions on constitutional rights could be introduced except where the relevant article made explicit provision for such limitations under law. The introduction of explicit economic rights including the rights to housing, health, and workplace protections recognised the state as having a fundamental duty to protect the economic and material welfare of its citizens. Whilst Article 66 stated that such rights neither eliminated the importance of individual responsibility nor entitled citizens to direct financial subsidy from the state, they obligated social policy to aim towards them where possible. A subsequent amendment limiting the definition of legal personality was added in March 2012.

Constitutional referendum, January 2012

Results of the 2nd constitutional referendum, 13 – 16 January 2012.
Proposal Yes (%) No (%)
On the proposal to divide the Democratic Duchy of Francisville into the Canton of Wasserbrueck and the Canton of New Scireland 5 100 0 0
On the proposal to incorporate the Canton of North Llabdey 5 100 0 0
On the proposal to incorporate the Canton of Rudno 5 100 0 0
On the proposal for Francisville to be provisionally involved in the Micronational German Language Society 4 80 1 20
Voter turnout 45%
Electorate 11

The constituent Cantons of Francisville were determined by a consultative referendum held on 13–16 January 2012. The referendum addressed the question of what was to be done about the pre-existing territory claims and local authorities of the Democratic Duchy of Francisville. Federalism abolished the original distinction between territorial and non-territorial entities to be replaced by a system of cantons with both territorial residents and non-territorial citizens. It was proposed that the territory and population of the Democratic Duchy of Francisville be divided into two cantons; Wasserbrueck and New Scireland. The latter had existed as an independent state since January 2011 but had become inactive. Given that most of New Scireland's citizens were also citizens of Francisville, the division proposal would revive New Scireland by incorporating it as a canton. Citizens holding dual citizenship would thereby become citizens of the Canton of New Scireland.

Locations of the Cantons of Francisville

As New Scireland had an existing territorial base, Francisville's pre-existing land claims and remaining citizens would form a single new canton. Suggestions for the name of this canton included "Greater Francisville", reflecting its history as the territorial base of the nation, or "Kirkburgh", after its existing constituent town of the same name. The Convention worried that the former risked the new canton dominating the politics and culture of the federation whilst residents of Kirkburgh felt that the latter would cause confusion between the town itself and the canton as a whole. James Stewart responded that the canton required a new name with neither association and proposed Wasserbrueck, meaning "Water-Bridge" in Francillian. The proposed division was unanimously supported in the survey results. Additionally, citizens approved the requests of North Llabdey and Rudno to be integrated into the Federal Republic. All three proposals were accepted unanimously. The survey thereby established the four cantons of New Scireland, North Llabdey, Rudno, and Wasserbrueck.

A further question was included on the proposal for Francisville to provisionally accept membership in Germanophony. This was the first decision taken on foreign relations since the disestablishment of the Democracy Duchy and the first to be subject to a referendum. The proposal was accepted by the majority of voters.

4th National survey, February 2012

Results of the 4th national survey, 11 - 15 February 2012.
Proposal Yes (%) No (%)
To approve the structure and content of Title 3- Federation, Cantons, and the People. 5 100 0 0
Voter turnout 38.5%
Electorate 13

A 4th national survey was held on 11–15 February 2012 to consult voters on on Title 3 of the proposed federal constitution which outlined the relationship between the federation and the cantons, the political structure of the cantons, and the powers of the federation. The cantons were responsible for their own internal affairs and entitled to form their own systems of government within the constraints of a secular republic in the form of either a direct or representative democracy. Important provisions of Title 3 included recognising Francisville as a neutral country, establishing the process of the federal budget, and requiring a minimum humanitarian aid contribution of 3% of federal spending. The division of powers between the federation and cantons received extensive attention in its articles. Whilst the balance of powers favoured the cantons over the federation through the principles of cantonal sovereignty and subsidiarity, responsibilities were broadly divided between federal competencies (foreign affairs, defense, monetary policy, criminal and civil law), cantonal competencies (courts, law enforcement, infrastructure, social security, general education), and shared competencies (higher education, culture, environmental protection). This was the first survey where citizens of North Llabdey and Rudno were included in the electorate.

5th National survey, March 2012

Results of the 5th national survey, 15 - 16 March 2012 [First Ballot].
Proposal Yes (%) No (%)
I think that there should be a Federal legislative assembly 2 40 3 60
I think that the voting age in Francisville should be 14 4 80 1 20
I think that legal personality should only be granted to mutual organisations 5 100 0 0
I think that membership in international organisations should require a federal referendum 4 80 1 20
I think that membership in military alliances should be prohibited 4 80 1 20
I think that membership in supranational unions should be prohibited 3 60 2 40
I think that Francisville should remain a permanent observer member of the Grand Unified Micronational 3 60 2 40
I think that Francisville should apply for full membership in the Grand Unified Micronational 1 20 4 80
Voter turnout 38%
Electorate 13
Results of the 5th national survey, 26 - 28 March 2012 [Second Ballot].
Proposal Yes (%) No (%)
I think that there should be a Federal legislative assembly 3 50 3 50
I think that the voting age in Francisville should be 14 4 66.67 2 33.33
I think that legal personality should only be granted to mutual organisations 6 100 0 0
I think that membership in international organisations should require a federal referendum 4 66.67 2 33.33
I think that membership in military alliances should be prohibited 5 83.30 1 16.70
I think that membership in supranational unions should be prohibited 4 66.67 2 33.33
I think that Francisville should remain a permanent observer member of the Grand Unified Micronational 2 33.33 4 66.67
I think that Francisville should apply for full membership in the Grand Unified Micronational 1 16.70 5 83.30
Voter turnout 46%
Electorate 13

A 5th national survey was held on 15-16 March 2012. Unlike the previous four surveys, this poll did not address any particular section of the constitution but included a list of questions relevant to points of discussion across the entire document. It was the most extensive survey conducted during the June Convention, containing eight questions. The survey was subject to controversy when a technical failure resulted in some voters not receiving their ballot papers. Due to the system not allowing the administration to see who had or had not been affected, the Convention decided to re-run the survey on 26-28 March. This resulted in a contradictory vote on one question which had to be considered for a third time in April 2012.

The key issues addressed in the survey were the principles guiding Francisville's international relations[3] and the role of the federal legislature. Voters supported the addition of provisions which prohibited membership in military alliances and supranational unions. Whilst the constitution recognised the conduct of foreign affairs to be the responsibility of the Federal Council with the consent of the Federal Chamber, voters accepted James Stewart's proposal that this should not extend to membership in international organisations. Through the June Convention, membership in international organisations had already been subject to consultative referendum and this principle was thereby enshrined permanently in the federal constitution.

Pursuant to this provision, the survey also considered Francisville's membership in the Grand Unified Micronational. Francisville had been given permanent observership in the GUM alongside St. Charlie and Bokonton, a status given to original members of the GUM at its so-called "dissolution" in September 2010 but who did not take part when it returned to activity in August 2011. Voters rejected a proposal to apply for full membership in the organisation. A second proposal to remain a permanent observer returned different results between the first and second ballots, the only question to do so[4]. Although the second ballot was ultimately considered to be the legitimate vote, the convention representatives decided to submit the question to a final referendum in order to clarify public opinion.

A further issue was whether or not the federation should have its own legislative assembly. The Convention had tacitly accepted that the federation would operate as a direct democracy but the question of how legislation would be introduced to the Federal Community and amended at committee stage remained unresolved. Voters accepted the principle of full direct democracy by rejecting the proposal for a federal legislature.[5] This outcome led the Convention to consider an alternative non-legislative assembly tasked only with drafting legislation and scrutinising the Federal Council. Voters also unanimously accepted a proposal to limit legal personality to mutual organisations, thereby abolishing the concept of the private corporation under Francillian law.

Constitutional referendum, April 2012

Results of the constitutional referendum, 25 – 27 April 2012.
Proposal Yes (%) No (%)
Do you approve of the establishment of a non-legislative federal assembly? 5 62.5 3 37.5
Do you think that Francisville should remain an observer member of the GUM? 3 37.5 5 62.5
Voter turnout 62%
Electorate 13

A consultative referendum was held on 25–27 April 2012 with two questions addressing outstanding issues raised by the 5th national survey[6]. Following the rejection of a proposal for a federal legislative assembly, James Stewart and Sebastian Linden proposed a deliberative legislative assembly instead. Under this model, ultimately legislative sovereignty would be exercised in a directly democratic assembly of the people and cantons, known as the Federal Community, but an elected assembly would be required to successfully propose and draft all legislative bills. This aimed to ensure the quality and consistency of the legislative process without undermining the legislative sovereignty of the people. The proposal was accepted by a majority of voters and the constitution subsequently made provision for the establishment of the Federal Chamber. The Federal Chamber was also given some additional roles such as approving the federal budget and all international treaties.

Voters also asked to confirm whether or not Francisville should retain its observer status of the Grand Unified Micronational. This question was posed due to different results being obtained across the two ballots of the 5th national survey, a problem caused by a technical fault which resulted in a re-run of the original ballot. Although the Convention accepted the second ballot to be authoritative, the question was put to the people for a third time in order to confirm public opinion. Voters rejected the proposal to remain an observer and Francisville consequently withdraw entirely from the organisation on 16 January.

Constitutional referendum, August 2012

Results of the constitutional referendum, 14 - 16 August 2012.
Proposal Yes (%) No (%)
To adopt the proposed Federal Constitution, drafted August 2012. 8 100 0 0
Voter turnout 57%
Electorate 13

The constitution was unanimously adopted by referendum on 14-16 August 2012. Unlike the remainder of the constitution, Title 5 and Title 6 were not subject to a national survey. These sections outlined the structure of the federal government and the process for amending the constitution, provisions which the Convention considered to have been already guided by previous input during the process. By the time of its enactment, the provisions of the federal constitution had already become well-known. This was partly due to Francisville's participation in Polination 2012 where James Stewart delivered a presentation outlining the constitutional reforms[7] After the conference, Stewart stayed with James von Puchow with whom he toured North Llabdey. Both statesmen participated in an official tour of Austenasia and the Carshalton Nations organised by then Crown Prince Jonathan[8], further establishing the international reputation of the Federal Republic. The first institutions of the federal government were chosen in September 2012 with James von Puchow being elected as the inaugural President of Francisville on 7 October.

Representatives

New Scireland

  • Cameron Falby

North Llabdey

Rudno

Wasserbrueck

References

  1. Declaration of the Republic Accessed 22/01/17
  2. Stewart, James. "Survey revote yields new results". The Francillian. 28 March 2012. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  3. Stewart, James. "Survey includes G.U.M. membership vote". The Francillian. 15 March 2012. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  4. Stewart, James. "Survey revote yields new results". The Francillian. 28 March 2012. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  5. Stewart, James. "Latest survey results published". The Francillian. 19 March 2012. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  6. Stewart, James. "New Federal Chamber and GUM withdrawal following latest results". The Francillian. 28 April 2012. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  7. Caesar, Nihilus. "Report from the 2012 PoliNation International Conference on Micronations". Imperial News Network. 18 July 2012. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  8. Augustus, Jonathan. "Polination 2012 Weekend". Austenasian Times. 15 August 2012. Retrieved 30 May 2020.

See also