|National Assembly of Disparu|
Assemblée nationale du Disparu
|Chancellor||Paul Berlitz, L|
since 11 June 2012
|Speaker||Davet Latourelle, SD|
since 25 June 2012
|Maylene Pikachurin, SD|
since 25 June 2012
|Ignace Mailloux, C|
since 25 June 2012
|Political groups||Social Democrats (82) Liberals (75) Centrist Coalition (8) Christian Democrats (37) Conservatives (46) Independent (2)|
|Voting system||Schulze STV|
|Last election||10 June 2012|
|Chamber of Deputies|
National Assembly House
This article is part of the series:
The National Assembly (French: Assemblée nationale) is the unicameral legislature of Disparu. The National Assembly meets at the National Assembly House in the capital, Férin. The National Assembly is the successor to the original bicameral Parliament, which was dissolved following the fall of Disparu.
The National Assembly is composed of 250 members known as deputies (députés). These deputies are elected from each department via the Schulze STV method, thus maintaining proportional representation within the assembly. Each department is allocated a number of seats (and deputies) within the assembly that is proportional to its population. Deputies are elected into five-year terms; this may be cut short if a majority of deputies pass a motion of no confidence against the Government. The last election for seats within the National Assembly was on 10 June 2012.
The National Assembly introduces and enacts legislation affecting the entire Federation. The Assembly generally enjoys supremacy over the executive branch of the Government, though legislation that is enacts must be in line with the Basic Laws, as determined by the judiciary.
Legislation introduced into the assembly prior to being enacted are known as bills. These bills can be classified into two categories: Government bills, or bills introduced by executive officials (such as Ministers), and private member's bills, or bills introduced by an individual deputy.
A bill must go through the legislative process before becoming an Act of the Assembly (a bill passed in the assembly that has become law). This process involves the First Reading, the Second Reading, the Committee Stage, and the Third Reading.
In the First Reading, the name and full text of the bill, as well as any information relevant to the bill, is read to the National Assembly.
Following this, the Second Reading begins: the general principles behind the bill are debated. A vote is then taken; the bill passes into the next stage if a majority of deputies agree with the bill, otherwise the bill is removed from the assembly's agenda.
In the Committee Stage, the bill is passed into an all-party committee that would analyze and make amendments, if necessary, to each section of the bill.
Once this is done, the bill goes into Third Reading: the final bill is debated by the assembly, and a vote is taken. If it passes, the bill is taken to the Administrator (who may choose to veto the bill); otherwise, it is returned to the Committee Stage. In general, the bill can only return to the Committee Stage three times before it is removed from the assembly's agenda.
Other than passing legislation, the National Assembly is also responsible for providing oversight to the executive branch. This is done in three ways.
The first is Question Period, which is when deputies may ask the Ministers, who can be summoned into the chamber at the request of at least three deputies, questions about the programs and budgets being pursued by their ministries. The Ministers are required to justify their Ministry's actions, and are also required to accept recommendations made by a majority of the assembly.
The second is through standing committees, where groups of up to twenty deputies study and scrutinize the activities of each individual Ministry. Each committee is managed by a Chairman (or Chairwoman), who coordinates the work of his or her committee. Other standing committees can be formed by the National Assembly on topics that affect more than one Ministry or the nation as a whole. These standing committees are tasked with making recommendations to the policies of each Ministry. Standing committees within the assembly generally invites outside experts into their debates and discussions in order to provide more insight into their work.
The third and most important way is that the executive branch must maintain the confidence of the assembly in order to continue serving. If a motion of no confidence is successfully passed, the current Government must resign, the assembly is dissolved, and elections are called. Alternatively, another party may form the Government (and thus bypass elections) if it is able to gain the support of the assembly (possibly through a coalition). This is further cemented by how the Chancellor is selected: the leader of the largest party in the assembly (or one of the leaders in a governing coalition) is appointed as the Chancellor.
Representation and partiesEdit
The National Assembly's 250 seats are distributed among the 19 departments according to their population. Seat distribution is based on data from the latest census (compiled by the Ministry of Statistics and Registration), and is calculated using the following formula:
P represents the department's total population, N represents Disparu's total population, and S represents the number of seats allocated to that department, rounded. As all departments are guaranteed at least 1 seat, S is always rounded up to 1 if it was originally less than 0.5 (as is the case for the three departments of the Nunavik region). If the sum of all S values is greater than 250, the seats in excess are removed from the department with the most seats (currently Ville de Férin).
Each department acts as an electoral district; all seats assigned to a department are filled by voters using the Schulze STV method. This not only ensures proportional representation, it also ensures that deputies elected into the National Assembly are preferred by a majority of voters (the "Condorcet winner"). The seat distribution for the departments is as follows:
|Ville de Férin||2,800,000||67|
|Ville de Montréal||1,873,971||47|
|Ville de Québec||671,468||17|
The proportional distribution of the National Assembly's seats has been criticized by lobby groups from less-populated departments of Disparu. They argue that the distribution favours highly-populated cities over more rural areas (for instance, the seat counts of the cities of Férin, Montréal and Québec combined comprise more than half of the National Assembly), thus creating an unbalance in the distribution of power between the departments. Supporters have argued that seat distribution does not matter in the long run as the assembly's members will be split between party lines rather than departmental lines.
Five parties, each representing a different area of the political spectrum, are currently represented within the National Assembly. Non-partisan deputies are present as well. In order to prevent extremist political parties from being represented in the assembly (and possibly gaining more support), the Basic Laws mandates that a party must at least have 5% of the popular vote before being represented in the National Assembly.
Until recently, the Supreme Court has generally barred parties identifying itself with a religion from running for seats in the assembly, on the account that they violate the separation of church and state mandated by the Basic Laws (and, previously, the Constitution). Since then, the Supreme Court has partially overturned their decision; more "moderate" parties are allowed to contest seats in the assembly, while overtly zealous parties remain banned.
The parties currently represented in the National Assembly, along with the number of seats that they have, are as follows:
The highest-ranking officer in the National Assembly is the Chancellor, who is the head of government. The Chancellor is the leader of the largest party in the assembly, or a leader of a party that comprises a governing coalition within the assembly. The Chancellor leads the ministers of the Executive Council during question period, and introduces the executive branch's initiatives during sessions of the assembly. The Chancellor and the Executive Council must maintain the confidence of the assembly in order to remain in power. Other than these functions, the Chancellor remains a normal deputy and has no special responsibilities or powers within the assembly. The current Chancellor is Paul Berlitz (Liberal).
A more important officer is the Speaker of the Assembly. The Speaker is elected by secret ballot at the first session of a newly-elected assembly by its deputies, and serves until he or she is incapacitated or forced to resign by the assembly's deputies. The Speaker moderates debates within the assembly, ensures that deputies follow the rules and procedures of debate, and maintains order within the assembly. The Speaker may choose to evict anyone who is intentionally unruly within the assembly's debating chambers. If a deputy believes that a rule or procedure has been broken, he or she may raise a point of order, and the Speaker will issue his or her ruling on that matter. The Speaker also ensures that a quorum is present within the assembly. A Speaker, while also being a deputy within the assembly, must remain non-partisan and impartial while presiding over debates. The current Speaker is Davet Latourelle (Social Democrats).
The Government House Leader is elected by deputies of the ruling party or coalition, rather than the assembly as a whole. The Government House Leader sets the Government's agenda within the assembly, and persuades opposition parties to support the Government's agenda. The current Government House Leader is Maylene Pikachurin (Social Democrats).
Likewise, the Opposition House Leader is elected by the second-largest party in the assembly (or the largest party not in Government in the case of a coalition), and leads opposition deputies in analyzing and criticizing the Government's agenda. The Opposition House Leader is often the leader of the aforementioned party, though this is not required. The current Opposition House Leader is Ignace Mailloux (Conservative).
An unelected, but nevertheless important, officer of the National Assembly is the House Clerk. The House Clerk is appointed by the Speaker, and must not be a deputy within the assembly or an official within another branch of government. The House Clerk leads the assembly's record-keepers and maintains the official records of the assembly's (and the house committees') sessions and meetings. The House Clerk also manages pages that work within the assembly. The current House Clerk is Shinku Cinquette, who had previously served as Royal Clerk for the Monarchy.
Deputies are grouped by their party in the National Assembly. Party arrangements are based on each party's ideology. Left-leaning parties sit at the left (from the perspective of the Speaker), and right-leaning parties sit at the right. Smaller parties and independents are grouped towards the front seats. Prominent officials (such as party leaders and government critics) are also seated in the front row.
The House Clerk, other clerks and pages sit at a table in front of the assembly, where they record the assembly's meetings. The Speaker sits at the front of the assembly's debating chambers; the Administrator, if he or she chooses to observe the assembly's procedures, has a seat next to the Speaker. On either side of these chairs are seats for the Chancellor and the Ministers.
The deputies of the National Assembly meet from Monday to Friday from mid-January to late June and late September to mid-December. In the event of emergencies, however, the Administrator (at the advice of the Chancellor) may summon the deputies when the assembly is out of session. Deputies are generally given a week every month to return to their departments in order to work with their constituents.
Debates of the assembly are open to the public; they are also streamed live or recorded over the Internet, or broadcast on the public affairs channel. Records of the debates are published online on the National Assembly's website; print copies can also be requested free of charge.
A quorum of at least thirty deputies is required in order to continue the assembly's debates. A deputy may ask the Speaker to determine if a quorum is currently present within the assembly. When the Speaker accepts, a count is made: if a quorum is not found, the absent deputies are called into the chamber. If a quorum is still not established after half an hour, the assembly is adjourned for a day. Deputies that repeatedly ask the Speaker to confirm if a quorum exists, when one clearly exists, can be temporarily removed from the debate chambers.
During debates, deputies are only allowed to speak once the Speaker recognizes them. Time limits are placed on speeches in order to prevent filibustering, although a party could still accomplish this by making all of its deputies use the maximum time limit when addressing the assembly. Deputies and government officials address each other in third person, using titles (e.g. "le député de la Ville de Férin", "the deputy from the Ville de Férin") rather than personal names (e.g "M. Dupont", "Mr. Dupont").
Voting can be done in two ways: either electronically or by ballot. Generally, during the voting period after Third Reading, voting is done electronically. Deputies may choose to answer "Oui" ("Yes") or "Non" ("No") via a control panel on their desk. They can abstain from voting by pressing neither button. The votes submitted by deputies are displayed live on a voting board at the front of the debating chamber. Voting by ballot may be done instead in cases where votes must be anonymous, or if a simple majority of deputies choose to use this method instead of the electronic method.
The writers of the Basic Laws wanted deputies to follow their constituents rather than their parties when debating and voting for bills. As such, what is termed as "conscience voting" in other parliaments is often followed within the assembly, and as such whips do not exist within the assembly. However, deputies who wish to gain promotions within their party must generally follow the party line, especially in important issues such as the budget.