Bicameral Assembly

A Relic of the Past
By Steven J. Grisafi, PhD.

In my previous post, Chaos, I explored one possibility for partitioning all of the member nations wishing to become part of the European Union in a manner such that all national identities are subsumed beneath the sovereignty of a Federal Republic of Europe. In this blog post we shall examine the motivations for the need to choose the most appropriate partition size for the regional provinces that are to become our federal states. The desire to construct a Federal Republic of Europe, composed of equal population size states, springs from recognition of the successes and failures observed from the establishment of the governmental structure of the United States of America. Nowadays there is much discussion within the United States concerning the operation of its Electoral College. The peculiar development of the United States into that of a two political party system, and the equally peculiar distribution of the segments of the population favoring each political party, motivates the members of the political party disadvantaged by this particular fashion to rail against the Electoral College. However, the fault lay much deeper within the governmental structure than at the level of the electoral process.

The need to create an alliance of colonies of significantly disparate population and wealth led to the awkward construct of a bicameral legislature that sought to balance both the notion of distinct classes within the population as well as the disparities among the colonies. For example, the distribution of representation within the legislature was a difficult issue for the thirteen colonies. Undoubtedly, it was the historical precedent of partition of society into plebians and patricians that led to the creation of a bicameral legislature. Attributing authority to both chambers in equal fashion while simultaneously addressing the disparaties amongst the colonies led to certain peculiarities such as the Electoral College. Representation within the lower chamber is proportional to the population. The establishment of the United States Senate, in which all federal states retain equal representation regardless of their population, required an enhancement of the authority of the plebian chamber of the legislature, the House of Representatives, to possess the privilege that all fiscal legislation must originate there. When devising our structure for the federal government of the European Union we best recognize that a bicameral legislature serves no purpose in a classless society. We seek to construct a single chamber legislature that serves the people of all federal states equally.

While one might think that the differences in population size and wealth of the member nations of the European Union presents a similar difficulty that confronted the thirteen British colonies, which became the United States of America, the situation confronting the Europeans is much more difficult. The thirteen colonies never enjoyed international recognition of any sort. There was no League of Nations nor the United Nations. There was no North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The colonists knew that they had to stand together or they would hang together. This is a powerful motivation and it enabled them to reach compromises that are seemingly impossible today. For example, the Southern Colonies, in which slavery was employed, sought to have all human beings counted within the population census. The Northerners, for which such methods of agriculture were not possible due to geography and climate, did not employ slavery and sought not to have slaves counted within the population census. A compromise was reached. Today it would have been considered abhorrent. Because, remember, even though women and children did not have the right to vote, they were still counted as whole human beings.

Accepting the desire, if not the reality, of a classless society, we seek a single chamber legislature that can balance the rights of all peoples of the member nations who seek to join the Federal Republic of Europe. Thus we must address the method through which we partition all member nations such that all sacrifice, and benefit, equally. Previously, I mentioned that one evident partition size would be that of the smallest member nation within the union. However, I am of a frame of mind that indicates that this is not wholly satisfactory. It does compensate the smallest nations, with the maintenance of their former sovereign identity as that of a distinct federal state, for the loss of their ability to veto any federal decision they dislike. It also precludes any possibility for a bicameral legislature since the entire federal republic is fragmented into the smallest size possible. While do I conceive of a single chamber legislature as more advantageous, and more consistent with our notions of fraternity and equality than a bicameral legislature, the sacrifice that must be borne upon the larger member nations I feel is too great because of the extreme disparity in size of the member nations. It would be preferable if the smaller member nations sought to achieve liaison amongst themselves such that they join the federal republic in defined groups. For example, the nations known as the Benelux countries, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg ought unite themselves such that they may then partition their unity into the appropriate number of federal states required by their total population and the partition size. Together the three nations have a population of approximately thirty million people. If we were to contemplate a partition size of approximately ten million souls for each federal state, then we would expect to partition Benelux into three federal states that are congruous, but not co-linear, with the original boundaries of the three nations. Their advantage to be gained by allowing this procedure occurs when future census taking shows that their total population has grown to the size of four federal states. The three Benelux states would then partition themselves once again after the new census such that they become four federal states.

Similarly, the federal states formed from the partitioning of the larger member nations can enjoy an increase in the number of their federal states when future census taking shows that their population has grown. In this fashion all former member nations of the European Union enjoy equal status in the new Federal Republic of Europe. All are guaranteed equal justice under the law!