Senate Revitalization - Possible Paths

Senate Revitalization - Possible Paths
By: Guess and Check, Editor-in-Chief

It’s pretty clear that the Union’s Senate is not doing well as of right now, institutionally speaking. It does not have much activity legislatively-speaking, and for good reason considering our laws are pretty much fleshed out. It isn’t enticing to new-comers anyways, seeing as we haven’t had many newcomers run for office even though we have more than enough seats.

Some people may wonder why this is an issue - the simple answer is that the legislative branch of the Union (or indeed any region with an elected legislature) is meant to serve as an engagement-point for newer nations, giving them a way to help the region and contribute back to it from almost the get-go. With the Senate inactive and with very few newcomers running for Senate elections which occur every two months, it is very clear the Senate is failing at this purpose.

So, let’s explore some ideas we’ve got to give the Senate some purpose. Keep in mind - these ideas aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive, I’m just discussing each separately! (And also note these are just the ideas I can brainstorm or heard of - obviously there are others!)

Idea #1 - Allow Justices to serve as Senators

Honestly, this is probably the simplest idea here. Remove the checks and balances here, allowing Justices to serve as Senators. Simple idea, simple solution to increase the number of Senators we have, even if just by one as currently only one Justice has given interest in serving again.

The issue with this idea is that it doesn’t really solve anything else - it’s just mostly a small stopgap to increase the number of Senators we have. We need more solutions than this, but this is a good idea as a stopgap.

Idea #2 - Politicize the Senate

What does this mean? Essentially, make the Senate political again! As it currently is, the Senate is almost an a-political entity that just reviews whatever legislation we have. What needs to happen is that Senator candidates need to start being encouraged to bring forth more radical ideas, and focus less on compromise. It probably isn’t surprising that one of the most contentious points the Senate has faced this year was when one Senator refused to compromise on their principles.

Now, fact is this is a very difficult idea to implement because this is essentially proposing a culture shift - and not just any shift, but one the Union has tried implementing multiple times in its history. In my opinion, the key to this is pretty simple (if still hard): the Senate and the region as a whole needs to start caring about its laws a lot more. If someone violates the law? Take them to court - don’t let them get away with it. Someone proposes something you think doesn’t work for the Union? Don’t compromise, fight them on it. Is there an issue that could reasonably be legislated by the law? Legislate on it - don’t stop just because the law isn’t exactly necessary. Think the current Justice/Delegate isn’t performing well enough? Vote against their reconfirmation. In short, this idea could potentially work, we just need to build up a more serious respect for our law and go after violations of it.

The problem with this idea… is that I don’t personally like it. This kind of culture tends to also foster a culture that, eventually and inevitably, leads to partisanship, burnout, and ultimately less fun for individuals who are tired of politics or just don’t like them in the first place. It is not really a culture I personally enjoy within a region, and one I think can be harmful in the long-term in many ways. But, it may also be necessary - who knows?

#3 - Executive oversight

This idea is pretty simple - give the Senate Executive Oversight powers. Bring back Minister confirmations, publicly question the President in the Senate, even create Committees that seek to oversee the work of Ministers and question them (like Europeia does). In effect, make the Senate the overseer of what the Executive does.

This idea shares similar issues with #2 - in that it does require a culture shift, albeit one less extensive. The Senate will have to actively be more critical and more intrusive of the Executive. Yet this culture may make it less fun to work in the Executive. However, one issue with this idea is it may be necessary to prevent Ministers from serving as Senators - because it can be quite difficult/weird to question an entity you heavily work in. This can clearly be detrimental to us considering how few Senators we currently get.

#4 - Roleplay Legislature

Another pretty interesting idea is to make the Senate responsible for roleplay bills, somewhat like the General Assembly. The idea here is that beyond our legal laws, the Senate would also make laws that would theoretically affect all nations in the Union - similar to how General Assembly resolutions affect all World Assembly members.

There are a couple of issues with this, though. The first is activity - this is not the first time roleplay legislations or laws have been introduced in a region, but these initiatives always tend to flop. But it may still be worth a try irregardless. Some other issues involved also may be recruitment (by convincing nations not to join us by implying we will mess with them via RP law).

All that being said, this can be a very interesting prospect if we decide to chase it.

(Yes, I’m aware Kron brought this up in the #campaign channel in our main Discord, but I had this written a week before that! D:<)

#5 - Give the Senate overly specific powers in a specific Executive area

Instead of giving the Senate general oversight abilities, it may be a good idea to try giving it more of a specific purview over a specific set of powers. Namely, what I was thinking about was Foreign Affairs and prohibitions - at least make the Senate give confirmation votes on embassies and prohibitions perhaps, but also maybe there are other ways to do this?

The reason I suggest this is that it may give the Senate a bit more of a prestigious role - it no longer just crafts legislation, but also controls a substantial and effective direction for the region to take.

#6 - Make the Senate an advisory body

This is something I’ve seen from our friends over at The League, and I think it is an interesting idea that may be worth emulating.

In effect, make the Senate something of an advisory body to the Executive, alongside its legislative duties. This does mean having votes on embassies and prohibitions perhaps, although not necessarily something structurally mandated but something the Executive is encouraged to accomplish. In this effect, the Executive would also be encouraged to bring public and private discussion to the Senate to seek their input for various matters - thereby making being a Senator an interesting way to be involved within the region.

The main problem with this is twofold. The first issue is that it’s a cultural change from the side of the Executive, and as all cultural changes it would be difficult. The second issue is that if done incorrectly, this could dissuade getting input from the general Citizenry - which can obviously be detrimental as people who have no wish to run for Senate or participate in government can still very much have valuable opinions and feedback to give.

Idea #7 - Parliamentary system

This idea is pretty basic and has been proposed by other Unionists - have it so that the President, Vice-President, and Ministers are Senators. Or in other words, have the Senate elect Executive leadership from amongst its ranks.

While this idea is intriguing, it is primarily just another suggestion (similar to idea #1) to fill up the Senate’s numbers. It does not really address the issues with the Senate not being that interesting to new-comers, as it really just forces anyone in the Executive to become a Senator and doesn’t really encourage newbies to join the Senate for Senate-only reasons.

Idea #8 - Change how we choose Senators

Yet another idea from the uber-based League, this time one focused on how we actually select Senators than the Senate’s duties.

In The League, the Council (TL’s legislature) is basically chosen in a nomination-then-confirmation process. Any Citizen can nominate another Citizen to be a Councillor, which must be seconded by two other Citizens. Anyone who reaches this quorum is then placed in an in-game confirmation poll, where the entire proposed Council is voted upon - there is no seat limit.

The reason I find this system so intriguing is that it automatically allows people to nominate newer players, thereby helping them reconsider their chances for Senate. It’s very plausible newcomers may not be running simply because they don’t think they’re up for the job, they feel like they’d lose an election, or just don’t really know what to campaign. By having the Senate election process be shifted to nomination-then-confirmation, it can help loosen expectations and also allow us to signal out worthy individuals.

We also don’t necessarily have to do this exactly like the League - for example, we can hold a vote on each individual proposed Senator.

The problem with this is primarily that it relies on us being able to sight and nominate people as appropriate. Which we may or may not be able to do - we’d have to see.

#9 - Abolish it


If worse comes to worse, it may be more beneficial for us to get rid of the Senate. The fact is, if we cannot get citizens to run for Senate, and if the Senate remains inactive… then there is really no point to it. A Citizen’s assembly can quite easily complete any of the purely legislative duties the Senate has, and on the plus side we waste less time with elections and by-elections.

The issue with this approach is that it means we’re essentially giving up on the Senate and resigning ourselves to our current status quo. We should do this only if we truly think there is no other option - but from what I see from our Discord, we aren’t there yet. But this option is always on the table.


So I’m aware this is quite the long article. But mostly I just want us to start discussing this in earnest - what can we do to fix our Senate and make it useful again? Because I, at least, firmly believe we need to start re-considering our legislative branch. It simply is no longer working anymore.

… or at least I wanted to, but then I got too late with this and the Union’s Discord began having these discussions again. Which is great of course, but makes this article a tad-bit outdated. But might as well throw these ideas into the pot anyhow!

In the spirit of discussion, let us know your thoughts! What ideas sound interesting? Which ones sound dumb? And do you, le epic reader, have another idea not mentioned above? Let us know wherever you’re reading this!