Parliament of the Kingdom of Sierra

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Parliament of Sierra
Parlamento de Sierra (es)
Parlament du Sierra (fr)
Parlament von Sierra (de)
黃金王國議會 (zh)
Quốc hội Sierra (vn)
시에라의 의회 (kr)
国會的美国 (tn)
シエラの議会 (ja)
66th Parliament of Sierra
Coat of arms or logo
Type
Type
Bicameral
Houses Senate
House of Commons
Leadership
Susan KwonSD
Since May 2, 2020
Gracia ParkerDR
Since October 18, 2017
Ian CalderonSD
Since May 4, 2020
Structure
Seats 401
2021 Sierran Senate.svg
Senate political groups
  Christian Democratic: 15 seats
  Conservative Unionist: 6 seats
  Democratic: 2 seats
  Democratic-Republicans: 45 seats
  Greens: 6 seats
  Hawaiian Sovereignty: 2 seats
  Independent: 2 seats
  Libertarians: 6 seats
  Progressive Democratic: 7 seats
  Royalists: 33 seats
  Social Democrats: 31 seats
2021 Sierran House of Commons.svg
House of Commons political groups
  Christian Democratic: 37 seats
  Conservative Unionist: 14 seats
  Democratic: 10 seats
  Democratic-Republicans: 72 seats
  Greens: 10 seats
  Hawaiian Sovereignty: 2 seats
  Progressive Democratic: 17 seats
  Social Democrats: 76 seats
  Social Unionist: 4 seats
  Libertarians: 7 seats
  Royalists: 76 seats
Senate committees 23 committees
69 subcommittees
House of Commons committees 23 committees
77 subcommittees
Joint committees
7 joint committees
Elections
First-past-the-post
House of Commons voting system
Open party-list proportional representation
Senate last election
May 28, 2021
House of Commons last election
May 28, 2021
Meeting place
Parliament Building of Sierra.jpg
Parliament Building, Porciúncula, GC
Website
parliament.gc.ks

The Parliament of the Kingdom of Sierra, also more commonly known as the Sierran Parliament or the Federal Parliament, is the supreme bicameral legislature of the Kingdom of Sierra and its territories. The Parliament consists of three elements: the Queen-in-Parliament, the Senate and the House of Commons. It possesses legislative supremacy on matters enumerated by the Constitution, but most amendments to the federal Constitution may only be modified or amended by the consent of both Parliament and two-thirds of provinces, states, and areas. The Queen is represented by the Prime Minister of Sierra, who is by constitutional convention, a member of Parliament, and also the president of the Senate. Other government ministries, including those who compose the Cabinet, are also members of Parliament. Headquartered at the Parliament Building, a large complex located in a federally owned section of Downtown Porciúncula, Parliament meets daily to convene on issues and laws relating to Sierra.

At its inception in 1858, Parliament was originally composed of a Senate with 24 members and a House with 50 members. Since then, the number of members has increased in both houses as more PSAs have joined the Kingdom, and Sierra's population approaches nearly 80 million as of 2022. The biggest increase in composition occurred following the promulgation of the 1950 Charter for the Kingdom of Sierra, when 33 more seats were added to the Senate and 30 more to the House in order to accommodate the newly established constituent countries of the Deseret and Hawaii's combined set of 14 administrative subdivisions, and the three new Sierran provinces in New Mexico. Although Sierra became a constituent country as well, it retained the Parliament of Sierra as its "national" parliament, while the Deseret and Hawaii were allowed their own national legislatures in addition to the Parliament. Consequently, Sierra has no devolved legislature comprised solely of its own citizens. The most recent occurred in 2021 following the Reapportionment Act and the ascension of 8 new PSAs including the 5 states of the newest constituent country: Bajaría. While Sierra's federal system of government and its Constitution does not apply to Bajaría, the Deseret or Hawaii, the rules and regulations that control the Parliament remain embedded within the Sierran constitution, with few additional provisions by the Charter. Consequently, the Sierran Constitution's provisions regarding representational allocation apply to Bajaría, the Deseret, and Hawaii.

In the upper house, the Senate, it consists of 155 senators, three from each PSA (consisting of two regularly elected senators and one commissioned senator) and 19 "leveraged" senators serving federal at-large constituencies. In all PSAs except in San Joaquin and Santa Clara, which have abolished it, and the aforementioned Hawaiian states, two of the three senators are directly elected by the constituents using the first-past-the-post voting system. The third seat in the Senate is known as the commissioned senator, and this position is generally appointed by the respective senator's governor or provincial legislature. In San Joaquin and Santa Clara, commissioned senators are democratically elected by the people in the same manner as regular senators. Within the chamber itself, there is no distinction or segregation between the popularly elected or the appointed senators. All senators serve at a maximum term of 6 years, with elections staggered, resulting in about a third of the Senate facing elections every two years or in by-elections tied to a concurrent federal election. Senators normally cannot be removed from office, unless there has been a double dissolution, a physical incapacitation to serve, or other special extenuating conditions. Double dissolution is a rare deadlock-breaking mechanism which may occur when Senate refuses to pass a piece of legislation passed by the House.

In the lower house, the House of Commons, currently consists of 326 members of Parliament (colloquially known as MPs or commoners), with all but 26 seats elected from single-member constituencies, known as parliamentary districts. The single-member constituencies are elected based on the first-past-the-post system. The 26 remaining seats are elected from an at-large proportional party lists. The at-large seats are elected through an open-list party-list proportional representation, using the Jefferson method. Each PSA is given a limited number of seats, which is determined through apportionment based on population conducted by the decennial census. Constituents vote for parties based in their parliamentary district, and may select their preferred vote for any candidate listed on all contesting parties in that same district. General elections are only held whenever Parliament is dissolved (which is usually determined by house conventions and initiated by the Queen, upon request by the Prime Minister) or when a fixed-length has passed (since 1992, every five years after the last election in House, an election must be held).

Composition, powers, and functions[edit | edit source]

Kingdom of Sierra

This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of the
Kingdom of Sierra


Overview[edit | edit source]

Article V of the Constitution of Sierra designates all legislative power to the Parliament. It should be noted that although the Constitution applies only to the country of Sierra (only the Charter applies to the entire Kingdom), the Constitution is still nonetheless the de facto ultimate source of the Parliament's authority. The document features aspects and details concerning legislative power of Parliament, and thus, through the Parliament's authority over Bajaría, the Deseret, and Hawaii, these constitutional provisions are indirectly applied. All legislation requires being reviewed and agreed upon by both houses although there are several exclusive powers conferred to both houses.

All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Parliament of the Kingdom, which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Commons.

Article V, Section I (1858 Constitution of Sierra)

Two calendar years (730–731 days) including leap years are considered one legislative year, while sessions refer to the period of legislative term between federal elections. At the beginning of each legislative year, a parliamentary budget, records, calendar, and regulations for both houses must be made before normal sessions can be conducted. If there has been recent election in the House, House protocol calls for these arrangements to be made within 60 days of election. Party leadership positions and responsibilities are determined during this time and new members are initiated into Parliament as they orient themselves with the environment. At the conclusion of each year, all records are surmised into an official archival report and plans for the next year are forwarded to the prime minister and monarch.

Article V of the Constitution stipulates most of the Parliament's powers and responsibilities including several explicit and implied powers. Additional powers are granted through either amendments or other federally codified laws.

Parliament has the authority to manage the nation's financial and budgetary policy including the collection of taxes (most notably the federal income tax), duties, imposts, and excises; to pay debts; and to provide welfare services to Sierrans. It may also borrow money on the credit of the Kingdom; regulate interprovincial and international commerce; coin and print money; and pass tariffs.

Aside from financial powers, the Parliament is responsible for providing the Kingdom national defense. The Parliament has the exclusive right of declaring war as outlined in Section VIII of Article V of the Constitution as well as the ability to raise, maintain, and regulate the nation's armed forces. Although Parliament is responsible for procuring and providing funds for the armed forces, the forces' actions are ultimately controlled by the Crown and the executive branch. Parliament has never declared war in its entire history–all wars Sierra became involved in were initiated through executive order; through a resolution passed by Parliament that authorized military force; or through a resolution passed by the League of Nations Security Council.

Parliament can also: establish post offices; establish public roads and highways; issue patents and copyrights; fix standards of weights and measures; establish inferior courts for the Supreme Court; regulate commerce with foreign nations, commerce between the provinces, and commerce with Native Sierran reservations; define and punish crimes committed by Sierrans overseas; and "make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by [the] Constitution" (implied powers). Article VIII grants Parliament the power to admit new provinces. Similarly, Parliament plays an equally relevant and important role in relation to the provinces as in the case of secession as provided by in Amendment VI. The amendment declares that one of the requirements for successful and legal move to secession be the two-thirds approval of both houses in Parliament. In addition, the amendment provides Parliament the power to "create and enforce any laws concerning secessions as well to ensure the Safety and Competence of any succeeding seceding Provinces absolving its allegiance to the Kingdom."

Among the other functions of the Parliament is to check the monarchy, the executive, and the judiciary. Parliamentary oversight over specific government agencies and bodies are assigned and delegated to various specialized committees within the legislature. Exercising the right of subpoena, the Parliament may request the presence of any officials including the monarch himself/herself in a testimony. Parliament has the power to impeach or remove officials including the prime minister, federal judges, and other officers. In addition, any dismissals made by the monarch must be approved by Parliament. While the fount of honor rests within the monarch, Parliament may strip any honors, titles, ranks, offices, and privileges from any royal officials (excluding the monarch and his/her consort). As provided in Article III, Parliament has considerable responsibility with the monarchy including: handling abdications or renunciations; determining a successor to the Crown in the event that all eligible inheritors are non-existent; and appointing a regent or guardian whenever no one can normally fulfill that capacity.

Monarch[edit | edit source]

The monarch is the central source of legitimacy and power for the Parliament. The Constitution frames the monarchy as the core apparatus of the legislature, requiring that all legislation receive royal assent before taking effect as law. While the Queen does not actually participate in parliamentary processes or deliberations, her approval of bills passed by the Houses is necessary. By convention, on which bill receives royal assent is dependent on her representative, the Prime Minister. Based on "advice and consent", the Prime Minister can suggest to the Queen on which appropriate course of action is necessary, although in practice, any bill that has received approval by clear majorities in both houses will be guaranteed assent.

Given the natures of the monarchy and the partisan House of Commons, the Queen is not permitted to sit in the House chamber in her capacity as Queen-in-Parliament. She and her viceregal representatives are only allowed in the Senate chamber, and thus, whenever she is involved in parliamentary functions or events, it is always held in the Senate chamber, with members from both houses convening there. As these situations are rare and only held on special occasions, a portrait of the Queen and the Royal Standard is displayed in both chambers, above the Speaker's dais. In addition, the Senate chamber contains a throne, reserved only for the Queen during her ceremony, of which a folded ceremonial robe lies on the seat during her absence.

Senate[edit | edit source]

The smaller of the two houses, the Senate is composed of 155 senators. 92 senators are directly elected from each of the respective provinces, states (both from Hawaii and Bajaría, or regions. 43 senators are appointed by the governors of each PSA, except in two provinces. These two are San Joaquin and Santa Clara, where the third senator is not appointed, but is democratically elected in the same manner as their two colleagues. The remaining 19 senators are appointed by the Prime Minister to serve in at-large seats, and serve at the Prime Minister's pleasure, with no terms or length limits. The prime minister, as the Senate of President by ex officio, is also counted as a member of the Senate.

As the upper house, the Senate oversees the legislative approval of executive actions including acts of royal prerogative. It is often perceived that the Senate is by far the more prestigious of the two chambers as senators represent entire provinces rather than local constituencies and work in a smaller albeit closer environment.

In the Senate, all electable members serve a maximum of six-year terms but only one-third face an election approximately every 2 years, based on class. The first year of a consecutive term of a senator was elected determines which of the three electoral "classes" he/she will be enrolled in. Elections are generally held 2 years with one of the classes cycled in for the requirement and the process completes every 6 years, although they may occur within 6 months of a federal election held in the same calendar year (in recent years, Senate elections have been timed and held concurrently with federal elections). Constitutionally, all Senate seats may face dismissal in the event of a double dissolution. All appointed senators, with the exception of the Prime Minister's leveraged senators, must renew their status with their appointee, the governor of their constituency, every 2 years, and may only serve a maximum of 12 years (as a non-elected senator). They are unaffected by any federal election although they are still dismissed during a double dissolution. There is no restriction preventing formerly appointed senators from running and holding a democratically elected seat in the Senate, and are also able to serve indefinite amounts of terms in that capacity, if allowed to do so.

House of Commons[edit | edit source]

In the House of Commons, the Speaker is, by tradition, the most senior member in the House. The House is considered more partisan than its senatorial counterpart and therefore, places a heavier emphasis on party leadership and caucuses.

History[edit | edit source]

Parliament was established as part of a compromise during the drafting of the Constitution of Sierra between pro-American republicanism and pro-British monarchism. Modeling the legislature after the United States Congress, the Constitution allowed one unique pro-monarchist feature in Parliament which was the prime minister's direct role in Parliament. The prime minister would be a voting member of the Senate as the representative of the monarch and therefore function as both an executive power and a legislator.

During the Parliament's infancy, it found itself divided in an intense political struggle between two major parties: the Royalists and the Democratic-Republicans. The Royalists advocated maintaining the current model of the Sierran monarchy and federalism while the Democratic-Republicans advocated for the further restriction or even abolition of the monarchy and expanded provincial rights. Both houses were marked with high incidences of legislative violence and in one case, a politically-motivated double murder.

As King Charles I's reign waned with the acquisition of numerous overseas territories, both parties sought a conciliatory approach by establishing joint bipartisan committees and "compromise" groups to sort out differences and disputes. Although throughout the early 20th century, the parties had strong, contrasting views and attacked each other fiercely on the political front, Parliament enjoyed a long period of efficiency and cooperation up until the beginning of the Cold War. The organization and ontological concept of the Parliament was redefined in 1950 when the Charter was established, converting the Sierran territories of the Deseret and Hawaii into constituent countries, and Sierra, as one as well. More seats were allocated, and scope of the Parliament was thus enlarged. Since the 1990s, other parties, especially the Libertarian and Green parties have introduced coalition politics and enhanced representation of the diversifying political community of Sierrans.

Relationship with the executive[edit | edit source]

Similar to other Westminster parliamentary systems, there is a fusion of powers between the executive and legislative branches within Parliament. The prime minister and ministers of the Cabinet are, by convention, members of Parliament elected by fellow peers from the House of Commons. The executive government's ability to govern and perform its duties is dependent on maintaining confidence and supply within Parliament. Likewise, Parliament is dependent on the executive to approve and enact legislation. The executive powers of the Crown are vested in the Queen who, in practice, delegates such responsibilities to the prime minister. All legislation passed in both houses of Parliament require royal assent in order to become law. By convention, royal assent is generally granted without controversy as long as the simple majorities of both houses pass the bill or supermajorities of both houses pass the bill where constitutionally required.

Conflict between the houses[edit | edit source]

Structure[edit | edit source]

Seal of the Senate
Seal of the House of Commons

Parliament, a bicameral legislature, is divided into two houses: the upper house Senate and the lower house House of Commons. Both houses are organized similarly–lawmaking and legislative duties is divided and fragmented into various committees and subcommittees responsible for specific issues and are composed of internally elected or appointed specialized members. Much of the procedural work in Parliament happens not on the floor but rather in the committees where members identify issues relevant to Parliament and then draft, discuss, and review bills targeting such issues before sending it to the floor. A committee's functions extend beyond merely housing topic-related bills. Each committee develop its own policy and procedures and are also responsible for informing the entire parliamentary body with their own investigative findings and research on their designated topic and recommending decisions for the executive branch.

Officers[edit | edit source]

Traditionally, every two years, at the beginning of a new legislative year, the House elects a new speaker who is usually the most senior or trusted member of the majority party or senior party of a governing coalition. In recent years, a speaker may be elected following a federal election. In the Senate, the prime minister functions both a voting member (as the nation's senator at-large) and its speaker. Whenever the prime minister is not present at an active session, the President pro tempore, who is elected in a similar fashion as the House Speaker, presides over the meetings. Other important positions including party leaders, whips, and assistants are determined by each parties' respective caucuses. These officials play a crucial role in the partisan nature of Parliament and dictate party agenda within each house. Most committee officers are elected by their fellow peers within such bodies. However, both the head of the Senate and House Committees of the Whole are two examples of committees posts where members are appointed by the respective speaker of each house.

Auxiliary bodies[edit | edit source]

In addition to both of the houses, Parliament includes several bodies that are also within its scope with a wide range of responsibilities.

Library of Parliament[edit | edit source]

Established in 1906, the Library of Parliament serves as Parliament's research library and is the world's 9th largest library housing over 30 million books and multimedia items. Since its founding, the library has expanded with four basement floors, additional on-site and off-site buildings, and a botanical garden. The main library located at the Hiram Johnson Building is accessible to the public 24/7 although all of its books and materials may only be checked out by members of Parliament, top government officials, and other security cleared persons. The library hosts numerous programs promoting literacy and encouraging education nationwide. In addition, the Library is responsible for authorizing, cataloging, processing, and maintaining copyrights, patents, and requests. Several provincial libraries throughout the Kingdom are officially affiliated with the Library of Parliament network and collaborates with both public and private educational institutions.

Parliament Police[edit | edit source]

The Parliament Police is responsible for protecting members and buildings of the Parliament, managing traffic, and investigating any crimes committed on parliamentary grounds. The legislative equivalent to the Secret Service, Parliament Police exercises jurisdiction throughout the Kingdom when accompanying parliament members and fulfilling their duties. Working alongside Porciúncula Police Department officers, Parliament Police exercises concurrent jurisdiction of a ten-mile radius around Parliament Building and exclusive jurisdiction within the grounds. Officers also have jurisdiction throughout the city-county of Porciúncula to take law enforcement action whenever they observe or are called to action of a crime while on active duty. About 2,200 officers are enlisted as of October 2014.

Parliamentary Research Center[edit | edit source]

The Parliamentary Research Center is a public policy think tank that functions within the Library of Parliament as a federal agency. Responsible for researching and analyzing national issues and policies, the Center has in recent years, expanded its reach in reporting and analyzing federal spending (especially that of Parliament's) and promoting government transparency through the monitoring and evaluating Parliament's activities. The Center employs over 3,000 people and releases over 100,000 pages of research information annually.

Lobbying[edit | edit source]

Lobbyists and advocacy groups exert immense influence on Parliament who represent a multitude of varied and often conflicting clients and interests including corporations, lobbyists are usually hired professional lawyers or workers who seek to persuade members of certain committees to draft and pass legislation beneficial for the lobbyist's client. Despite being heavily integrated into the Sierran political culture (a vital component of the "iron triangle"), lobbying is heavily criticized and controversial, with Parliament has taken major steps to control and tighten the extent of lobbying. The lobbying industry is a $6 billion industry and is projected to continue to grow.

Procedure[edit | edit source]

In both houses, motions were traditionally determined by voice vote. This practice was replaced in 2008 with the introduction of an electronic voting system wherein members input their votes through a secure network access and results delivered to the proctor (usually the speaker). Once calculating the votes, the speaker declares whether the motion has passed or failed. Considered the final word, the speaker may, upon his/her own discretion, call for a re-count whereby re-voting must take place to address any contentions to the original result. In committees and subcommittees where the size of the voting body is considerably smaller, the traditional voice vote or roll call voting method is used.

Sessions[edit | edit source]

A legislative year is divided into sessions which coincide with one calendar year. A new session occurs every October 16 following a legislative prorogation where all old bills, motions, and deliberations expire and are expunged and must be proposed again in the new session. Coinciding with newly elected members, the purpose of sessions is to ensure that newer members are able to vote on the most current issues and bills relevant to the new year.

Joint sessions[edit | edit source]

Joint sessions are special circumstantial occasions where both houses convene together on the same floor to vote on a concurrent resolution. Traditionally, a joint session meeting occurs at the House floor. The most prominent joint session meeting is the annual State of the Kingdom speech delivered by the monarch or his/her delegate (usually the prime minister) held around December. Other times when joint sessions are called are when foreign dignitaries are invited to speak before Parliament or when the prime minister delivers his/her inaugural speech. Joint sessions are also held to celebrate or commemorate the passing of particularly significant legislation (i.e., an amendment) following an assent from the monarch.

Bills and resolutions[edit | edit source]

All forms of legislation first begin off as bills and go through the stages of parliamentary review. Contrary to popular belief, anyone may draft a bill so long as they are a citizen of Sierra at age. Most bills are actually devised by executive government officials or lobbyists who forward their ideas to a responsible member in Parliament. These members are called sponsors and send the draft to an accountant who then relays it to the responsible committee within the house. When assigned to a committee, that committee then study, review, and modify the bill as they deem fit. If approved by the committee, the bill is sent to the floor and introduced by a sponsor. There, the bill is openly read, discussed, and debated across the floor before a motion is set.

If the motion passes (usually by simple majority), the bill is sent to the other house where it must begin again at the committee level and go through the same steps. If the bill is passed by both houses, the bill is sent to a joint committee which reviews and revises any differences between both houses' versions of the bill. After the differences have been settled, the bill becomes enrolled and is sent to the monarch who must grant royal assent in order for the bill to pass. If the monarch refuses to give assent (thus, as a veto), the bill must receive approval from two-thirds of both houses to override the monarch's veto. If the monarch gives assent or does not take action within 14 business days, the bill automatically becomes law and is codified.

There are several forms of "bills" that can be proposed in Parliament:

  • Bills: The standard bill is a law in the process of creation. Bills are typically assigned a number usually corresponding with its house, committee, and date. A bill from House of Commons reads "H." while one from Senate reads "S.".
  • Joint resolutions: Although joint resolutions are indistinguishable from bills, it is generally understood and practiced that joint resolutions are bills that authorize minor appropriations, approve temporary government bodies or ad hoc commissions, creating exceptions or exemptions in existing law, and proposing amendments. Joint resolutions' names begin with either "H.J.Res." (from House of Commons) or "S.J.Res" (from Senate).
  • Concurrent resolutions: Bills that concern both houses although do not require the explicit assent of the monarch. Resolutions from House begins with "H.Con.Res." while those from Senate with "S.Con.Res."
  • Simple resolutions: Bills that concern only one house. Resolutions from House begins with "H.Res." while those from Senate with "S.Res."
  • Special resolutions: Bills that are indistinguishable from standard bills or resolutions but which connote the bill's nature of urgency and importance. Bills marked with these are often marked during times of crises and emergency wherein their review is considered top-priority and takes immediate precedence over other bills. Such bills originating from House begin with "H.S.Res." while those from Senate with "S.S.Res.".

Privileges and salary[edit | edit source]

An example of mail that has been franked and used by Prime Minister Susan Kwon.

Members of Parliament enjoy protection with parliamentary privilege including the foremost privilege of absolute freedom of speech under the Speech and Debate Clause, freedom from arrest except in the cases of treason, felony, or breach of the peace (including violent attacks in Parliament). These immunities apply only when a member is attending or traveling to and from a session held in Parliament. While members cannot be sued for slander or libel in court for things they have said while in session, both houses have strict regulatory rules on offensive and libelous speech and have their own means of disciplinary action to reprimand offenders including censuring. Obstruction of the work of Parliament is considered contempt of Parliament and is treated as a crime punishable up to a year in prison.

While in office, members enjoy franking privilege which allows them to send official mail to constituents at the expense of the government. There are restrictions on what the topic of the mail may be; for instance, members may not use their franking privilege to send mail related to elections (this to prevent incumbent members from having a significantly unfair advantage over challenging electoral candidates).

In addition to their privileges, members enjoy free office spaces no more than a walk's reach from Parliament Building, free government-paid staff, and access to various exclusive facilities on parliamentary grounds. Working in Parliament, especially those in the Senate, are almost privileged with the presence of prominent Sierran officials including monarch and prime minister both of whom are constitutionally obligated to appear at Parliament on at least several occasions throughout the year. House members enjoy a salary between $53,000–$120,000 while senators enjoy a much larger salary of $65,000–$145,000. Senior officials and officers receive higher pays which increase based on experience and contributions. Alongside pay, all members are enrolled in the federal healthcare and retirement plan although members must still pay for their insurance in other fields. They also must pay taxes although they receive a substantial amount of tax deduction as workers of civil service. Expenses for travels on official business are also paid for by the government at taxpayers' expense although members may be fined for excessive or gross spending considered irrelevant to their work.

Public image[edit | edit source]

Throughout its history, public view of Parliament has fluctuated based on its performance and the number of meaningful legislation passed in a given legislative year. Issues including partisan politics and aggressive parliamentary tactics such as filibuster have brought forth serious criticisms from the public and media. In contemporary times, activities and actions undertaken by parliament members have been increasingly scrutinized and members caught in scandals often have their careers and images permanently destroyed if found in the wrong. While when polled, the public gave Parliament a rating around a 35% approval rating, the same respondents often gave much more favorable views to their own representatives or senators.

The perception that Parliament is inefficient and does little work gave rise to the fact that fierce partisanship led to severe gridlock during the 1990s when the political sphere went from bipartisan to tripartisan thanks to the Libertarians. Today, seats from both houses are almost evenly distributed between the three main parties: the Democratic-Republicans, the Royalists, and the Libertarians. As of the 56th Parliament, the Royalists have a slight majority in both houses although it has been contended that the Libertarians, while having the least seats in both house, exercise the clear advantage over Parliament because their positions encompass ideals from both Royalists and Democratic-Republicans. When given economic issues, Libertarians often voted with Royalists while on social issues, they voted with Democratic-Republicans demonstrating the power and influence of this once-third party. This fact has at times forced the Democratic-Republicans and Royalists to form a compromise bill that countered or negated the Libertarians' and often delayed action on session through filibusters and other methods.

During election season, members resort to campaigning to win the vote from their constituents. Often times, this includes negative advertising with attack ads and smear campaigning that airs daily on large national broadcast channels and syndicates.

Legislative violence[edit | edit source]

The volatility of campaign elections and partisanship have brought negative perceptions of Parliament and its member who view the site as a political battleground where infighting is frequent. Indeed, on the floor, partisan differences and personal resentment for each other has led to bloody confrontations and brawls. Throughout its years, Parliament has had several incidents where members resorted to open physical contact. In 1947, two representatives, disputing over a public works bill, began brawling and rendered one unconscious who had to be rushed to the hospital. Both were censured and removed from Parliament following the incident. In 1897, Senator William Humphreys from San Francisco brought a pistol to the Senate floor and shot two of his political enemies: John Walker of San Francisco and James Philips of Kings. Humphreys held a private grudge towards the two as well as disagreed heavily with their conflicting views and interests. Humphreys was immediately arrested and later sentenced to death by hanging. There are severe consequences for members who commit violence which almost always include removal from office. In 2012, Terry Mudfield, an MP elected from the Inland Empire, went up and punched House Speaker Aaron Hewitz once before being apprehended by Parliament Police and fellow peers. After revealing that he only sought office on the premise to attack Hewitz among others whom Mudfield held serious distaste mainly on the issue of gay rights, Mudfield was charged with assault and battery as well as contempt of Parliament and sentenced to five years in prison. Although uncommon, members, especially those in the House of Commons, have often complained on the aggressive and heated environment. Some spoke of being "shoved", "scuffled about", or "gestured". Female legislators have also complained about wanton sexual advances or unnecessary physical contact by fellow peers, complaints which have always been heavily and closely investigated. All these incidents have a deep residual effect on the perception by the public as such acts perpetrate the fact that Parliament is unsafe and unprofessional. The number of incidents have drastically subsided over the years although memorably imposing cases have all the more given a blow to Parliament's overall prestige as a respectable governmental institution. The Senate and House Committee of the Whole are the two bodies that investigate and punish any members who commit criminal acts while on the floor.

See also[edit | edit source]