Rethinking citizenship & the legislature

The primary reason we called the Great Council was to address inactivity among a large portion of our legislator population. Assembly debates usually only have a few participants but many voters. I’m not 100% certain we can resolve this through changing laws, but it highlights a kind of contradiction we’ve built in to our Charter for many years, even before previous rewrites. We tie overall membership in the offsite community to being a member of the legislature, even when (as abundantly evident) many members of the community have no real interest in legislating. That’s what I aim to address here.

Part of this phenomenon is that it’s easy to maintain membership in the legislature without actually being a productive member of it. We tie voting rights and at least part of the identity of being a “TSPer” to Assembly membership, so in order to maximize the franchise we lessen the obligations of being in the legislature. This was the same story when we used citizenship, and it’s the same thing that other regions deal with too.

But this isn’t a mandatory framework we have to use. I’ve been thinking of a way to satisfy all three goals:

  1. Easy-to-attain enfranchisement for Cabinet and Delegate elections
  2. Easy-to-attain membership in the legislature
  3. Meaningful activity and productive participation in the legislature

3 is incompatible with 1 & 2, so long as 1 & 2 are tied together. So we should stop tying them together.

What I’m envisioning is treating the Assembly far more like a real-world legislature. Not in terms of electing people to it, that’s too exclusive for our community. But in the real world, legislatures don’t sit 24/7/365. You don’t need to be a Representative to vote for the President. I’d like us to explore the following framework for citizenship and our legislative branch.

  1. At the broadest level, we have citizens. Being a citizen grants the right to vote in Cabinet & Delegate elections and optionally join the legislative branch. LegComm would handle citizenship applications the same way we handle legislator apps today.
  2. Citizens can apply to join the Assembly, provided they accept the requirements of membership. Those requirements are that you actively participate in debates during legislative sessions and vote on the bills that reach the floor.
  3. The Assembly is transformed from an always-alive body to one that operates under legislative sessions. Any member can motion to begin session, which would require X seconds. Sessions are called for specific reasons. Like our Great Council rules here, the Assembly ends its session once it determines its business is done. Opening a session is advertised, but it’s incumbent on members to ensure they’re paying attention and keeping up to date with the region enough to know what session is open. Sessions would start right away, not waiting a week or whatever for people to show up.
  4. If a member failed to actively participate and vote in the session, they are removed from the legislature and ineligible to participate in the next session. After that, they can reapply, possibly with some sort of sponsorship requirement (but not married to that). The idea here is that there are consequences for being a non-productive backbencher, but not ones that can’t be overcome.
  5. The Chair of the Assembly still presides over legislative sessions. Instead of a defined X-month terms, we could do X sessions before a new election is held.

This can be paired with @HumanSanity’s committees idea. This is slightly similar to previous “voter registration” ideas, but in my opinion none of those really addressed how we incentivize meaningful participation. Some just expanded the legislator population by decreasing participation requirements. Others just bypassed the Assembly for voting in elections. The framework above would satisfy all of our goals, instead. We would maintain a broad franchise for executive elections. Meanwhile, we’d have a legislative branch with true participation requirements that’s not also overly punitive for failing to meet them. And we can afford to enforce more real, meaningful participation exactly because membership in the legislature isn’t required to vote in executive branch elections.

By moving to a session-driven structure for the Assembly, it makes the legislature more of an “event” that you can miss out on. My hope here is that FOMO, in addition to the participation requirements to be able to not “miss out”, creates incentive to join the Assembly and participate in it.

Thoughts? I have not worked on any legislative text for this, that will require a major rewrite of portions of the Charter and our laws. But I want to open debate on the framework itself while I work on the legislative drafts.


I’m certainly not opposed to this - I think it’s an interesting idea and premise.

I do wonder if there wouldn’t be much difference between this and our existing de facto way of doing things - i.e. someone notices a minor issue, 2-3 threads get put up with different ideas to fix it, one gets selected, we move along. I worry we’d just add a road block to doing what we already do anyways without actually changing anything. That said, there might be ways we could write the “convening the Assembly” law/provision in order to make it seem more distinct and momentous of an occasion.

I wonder how the existing Executive Order function would be tied into this? Perhaps, if a very small change needs to happen outside of Assembly session, the Cabinet (or whatever executive) could use an “Executive Order”, and then the Assembly gives it an up or down vote. If the Assembly wants to put together its own full legislative process because the solution to the matter isn’t straight forward, it needs to come up with the political will power to fully convene.

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So, the issue is that a vast majority of legislators are back-benchers, if I understood correctly.
Your solution would be to introduce complete voting rights tied to (a redefined) ‘citizen’ status. To this I’m not opposed as we now have an issue with voting participation as well (measured by the amount of votes cast in the previous Chair election).
I am very opposed to ‘temporary sessions’ of Assembly convening. By IRL standards, the legislature convenes regularly 1 to 6 days a week (varying between countries) but that’s not why I’m opposed to it. It’s the motioning aspect.
Adding an additional step to bringing up a question - - having to motion for an issue with support of (n#) “secondings” (I’ve already voiced issues with seconding motions being a process at all multiple times).
The result I can see a decrease in participation and activity. Essentially you end up with a lobbying group which sets topics beforehand. At best, it’s 1 gatekeeping group; at worst, you end up with ideology-oriented groups each setting their own agendas in the topic-setting itself.
However, I do still agree that you might see an actual legislature if you divided it between ‘citizen voters’ and active participants.

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Why not make the full leap to an elected legislature, with the citizens being able to choose the size of the incoming Assembly based on the number of candidates available? It can also lead to some pretty interesting agenda-pushing scenarios in the Assembly, with the citizens electing Representatives based on their stated views and goals in the campaign, rather than going on with anyone registering to it.

Overall, I quite like this idea. That said, there are certainly times where Assembly sessions are easily perceived as important events to participate in. But there are also much more trivial matters (such as this, this, or this, for example) where I worry the idea of sessions would quickly just appear cumbersome.

What’s the issue here exactly? In our current system, just because we don’t have motions and seconds to raise a topic doesn’t mean that every topic automatically sees discussion. If people wouldn’t be interested enough to second a motion for debate on a topic, they wouldn’t be interested enough to debate that issue now either.

How so? What’s stopping people outside this hypothetical group from making their own motions? They wouldn’t need anywhere need a majority behind their particular views to initiate debate — just enough seconds to demonstrate there’s actually interest in discussing the topic.


I definitely think that this idea has merit. When I reformed the Balder legislature, I, among other things, made it bicameral, introduced sessions (which were motioned and seconded), and reformed the membership requirements and privileges.

I totally think a bicameral legislature should be considered further.

The way sessions worked (and I envision them working here) is that the Assembly went on “breaks” for the holiday seasons (a week for Thanksgiving/Christmas, a week for spring/summer break, etc.). A member can call the Assembly to order with a motion if needed. I can elaborate more if needed, but I do think this would be a neat and exciting idea.

You could make the number of members proportional to the number of wa nations in the region based on a quarterly census.

What is the argument for making the legislature bicameral? What’s the value-add?

Not sure what the necessity is, but the value added is that it makes the region more flavorful!

Perhaps a native-WA lower house and a legislator Assembly upper house.


An upper house for all 2+ year legislators and a lower house for the rest.


All legislators in the lower house and an upper house of (say 1/4) randomly picked legislators for a term.

The issue is that creating discussions only through the medium of ‘lobbying groups’ will have he opposite effect of raising participation and activity.
“If people aren’t interested on debating on a topic then they shouldn’t debate it” Wrong attitude there. If people aren’t interested on a topic maybe they should question their position as an MP.
If the issue you’re displaying at the end is the lack of coordination when a topic is put forward, then working groups would be a better solution. However, you form them after providing the topic, not before.
Topic manipulation is already an indiscrete form of political discourse for which people fall for way too often already because the moment you engage it is the moment you betray yourself by accepting the terms by which that discussion is set.
Extreme example: “Discussion on installing a dictatorship” (5 seconds) - so now it has the illusion of approval. You’re engaging in a pre-setting where that is even a viable option. Now you’re the one who has to use the presets to defend the position on why we should not debate this at all, you’re the one having to defend against that.

And also more convoluted…

Oh, so we are supposed to be interested in a discussion on installing a dictatorship?

And what would you propose? In our current system, anyone can propose the installation of a dictatorship to the Assembly. In a session-based system, if the vast majority of legislators are simply not interested in dictatorship, they can just not motion or second for debate on that topic.

By asking this you should’ve seen why lobby group procedures are unfavorable. When an individual works o a proposal like that, let’s say for even a full year, at best he would still be seen as having an error of judgement. The post gets ignored and people move on.
When group proposals are the only way to formulate policy, such a post gets disproportionally more attention because legislators are starved for content. Two more aspects - the proposal is already partially validated inn other people’s minds because “it came from more than 1 person so it must have some value to it” and since it’s a group, no one is really held responsible.

Literally none of what you’re saying is unique to a session-driven structure so I’m not sure what your point is.

Back on topic, I was thinking if this kind of structure…

…might be a good place to start.

In hindsight, I don’t think making a motion to begin debate and getting enough people to second that motion is that convoluted, even for small amendments. But I do think that if we overuse that structure, we lose the sense of Assembly sessions being an “event” that one can miss out on.

Instead, I do think it would be good to have an alternative track for issues where the Assembly may not feel the need for in-depth debate around a particular topic. Sessions are very well suited to debates around an overall idea: should the Cabinet be elected or appointed? should MoRA be split? should we adopt a defender alignment? But they’re less well-suited to simpler, yes-and-no questions: should this nomination from the Cabinet be confirmed? should this executive order be approved? is it more logical to put this part of the law in another piece of legislation?

The Cabinet could be one source of these yes-or-no matters. Or perhaps, more generally, we could just enable any legislator to introduce a proposal directly to the floor and follow debating and voting procedures similar to what we have currently. But if others feel that it’s not a simple yes-or-no question but rather merits more thoughtful debate on a topic, with a motion and enough seconds, they can just start a session instead.

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That could be interesting! Alternatively, maybe the requirements to be in the lower legislative chamber is to either have your WA in the region or to be an active-duty member of the SPSF (and to pass a LegComm check obviously). We can choose/elect the members of the upper legislative chamber from the members of the lower chamber every X sessions or so.

We can have the ‘simple’ topics be debated and voted by the citizens, instead of convening a session. And like you said, if others feel like that any topic deserves a more thorough discussion, they can petition the Assembly to start a session instead.

Digression of the proposal but if the point you two are raising is that we should have an alternative procedure for topics which are just accepted and where debate is ignored (example you gave: SPSF promotions), I agree.
You can still offer a shorter/more efficient procedure for those types of proposals without introducing “sessions”.
I might have misunderstood, but topics such as “should we just bring back MoRA?” are definitely not a yes/no question and warrant a wide discussion.

That’s what Pronoun’s literally saying;

Alright, I still don’t see why there’s the need for sessions though. Do we think that people would be better prepared if they knew the topics ahead of time - if the Assembly had a set agenda list?
I mean, okay it makes sense and I have proposed that the Assembly operate on an Agenda-list basis before…but tied to the elected PM’s platform itself. (Is this being reached, why-why not, can it be done better, why has there been no progress in this area, etc.)

I don’t view the advantages so much in terms of preparation and instead as… well, pretty much what Glen said:

I really do not see any benefits from the “sessions” idea, but otherwise I like this idea. I can’t see bicameralism being a good idea, though.

I think you’re kind of already creating a Bicameral structure where citizens can vote while legislators can vote and participate.
Weighing the vote wherein the legislators’ vote is valued slightly more than the citizens’ vote might be an enough of an incentive for increasing participation.