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Topic Started: Apr 22 2009, 01:44 PM (440 Views)
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A guide to the Constitution of NS Canada.

I would recommend that all citizens read our Constitution, particularly those who intend to stand for office. It can seem a bit daunting at first, so I have prepared this outline in the hope that it will encourage a few more of you to take the plunge. I hope it will also give a bit of insight into the reasoning behind some of the provisions, and how they differ from other NS regions.

List of abbreviations.
NS - NationStates
PM - Prime Minister
VoC - Vote of Confidence
WA - World Assembly

Overall Structure

The Constitution is divided into several Articles (7 as of April 2009), which each cover a distinct area. I will discuss each separately later.

In order they cover...

  1. Elections (schedule and procedure), eligibility for citizenship, delegacy (part).

  2. Cabinet duties (portfolios).

  3. Deputy Ministers - appointment, VoC, duties.

  4. Recall procedures.

  5. Delegacy, including ejection procedures.

  6. Amendment procedures

  7. Additional Administrators.
The Constitution is supported by several pieces of legislation which serve to implement its provisions, and provide further detail. Legislation is inherently subordinate to the Constitution, in other words: where there is a conflict, the Constitution prevails.

Article I

This Article is in many ways the core of the Constitution, and contains many of the key differences between NS Canada and other regions. In particular, it aims to keep a strong link between the NS region and the community on the Forum. How?

  1. The delegate is selected purely by means of the ongoing WA endorsement mechanism in Nation States. The delegate becomes PM (and thus gains admin rights) by a VoC on the forum; but in any case chairs the Cabinet.

  2. In order to run for delegate, a candidate must register as a citizen on the forum, and acknowledge the Constitution.

  3. All nations (WA or not) residing in NS Canada are eligible to vote, but must register on the forum, and then claim citizenship in order to access that vote. Those with multiple nations may only claim one vote.

  4. Only forum members who have registered as Citizens (and thus have a nation in NS Canada) may stand for office.
This keeps both the forum and the region open to all, but ensures that participation in both is relevant.

Unlike many other regions, we do NOT

  • restrict citizenship to WA members

  • restrict citizenship to 'established' forum members

  • insist on citizens endorsing the delegate

  • elect delegates on the forum and manipulate the WA votes to endorse them.

Article II

This is a long, but relatively straight-forward Article. It defines the (currently 5 + PM) Ministerial positions within the Cabinet, and sets out their key duties (portfolios). It also specifies the powers of the Cabinet as a whole. In particular, it grants Cabinet the power to pass (and repeal or amend) legislation for the Region, subject to two important safeguards.

  1. Any proposed legislation must be published for comment prior to enactment.

  2. Legislation may not override the Constitution.

Article III

This requires Ministers to each appoint a deputy. The deputy must then pass a Vote of Confidence, since they may be called upon at any time to take over the duties of the Minister. During their time as deputy, they will be able to monitor cabinet discussions and make comments back to their Minister. This allows for a quick hand-over in times of need.

The deputies are appointed rather than elected, since this allows the Minister to select a candidate who they feel would best carry on the job in line with their plans.

Article IV

This Article gives any Citizen the important right to be able to challenge an inactive or otherwise unsatisfactory Minister, and petition the region for their recall. In order to succeed, the petition must gather more votes than the winning margin which appointed the Minister.

This is key provision which is overlooked in may other regions. To date it has only been invoked for inactivity.

Article V

This Article attempts to balance two important aspects of gameplay. On one hand, nations should be free to seek WA endorsements. On the other hand, if endorsements were totally unrestricted the region would be vulnerable to invasion.

This Article requires all those who intend to run for delegate to state their intentions and acknowledge the Constitutional role prescribed for the delegate. It sets out limits on the number of endorsements which may be gained otherwise, and what procedures should be followed if these are exceeded. It then allows for nations to be ejected if they remain in violation.

Article VI

Obviously, the Constitution may need to be revised over time. This Article recognises two types of amendment.

  1. Where there is no change to the intent of the document. This covers spelling and grammatical errors, or changes of name for external references (e,g, when the UN became the WA).

  2. All other changes.
In the first instance, provided they are all in agreement, cabinet may directly amend the the document. In any case where there is disagreement, or the intent of the document would be changed, then the proposal must go to a regional vote.

Article VII

Since the usual basis for electing officials is their political programme, it may be that the relevant Ministers do not feel they have the technical skills necessary to carry out all of the site administration for the forum. There may also be a need for an additional administrator if significant changes were required.
This Article allows for the appointment of extra technical staff, subject to the same safeguards as the election of a Minister. It restates an important principle: that any position carrying admin rights must be subject to approval and recall by the citizens.

Some final thoughts.

I firmly believe that the overall intent of this Constitution is excellent. In particular the balance of powers, and the link between NS region and Forum community (as I outlined in my discussion of Article I) are in my view among the best in NS. In other areas there may well be scope for improvement, and it will doubtless evolve over time.

I hope this document has proved interesting or useful to you. I would like to see more people take an active interest in this, both as a working document for our own community and as an interesting example of the set-up for a micro-government in specific circumstances.
You use a mirror to see your face. You use works of art to see your soul. ~ G. B. Shaw

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