Constitution of Gylias

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The Constitution of Gylias (French reformed: Constitution d'Gylias) is the constitution of Gylias. It was created through a popular drafting process and was approved by referendum in 1961, coming into force immediately afterwards.

The Constitution and the six codes of law represent the foundation of Gylian law. The Constitution is notable among Tyranian constitutions for reflecting the extensive influence of anarchism, its simple language, and its brevity: it contains 40 articles in 6 sections.

History

The Constitution emerged out of the legal foundation laid by the Free Territories — legislation passed by the communal assemblies and the General Council.

The process of constitutional drafting began with Gylian independence, and took place in parallel with the drafting and adoption of the six codes. The process was popularly-driven, with suggestions and amendments being debated at communal assemblies, and those that won support among a majority of assemblies across Gylias being included in the text. In many ways, the drafting served to transform the uncodified constitution of the Free Territories into a written one, consolidating legislation and outlining fundamental principles.

The drafting of the Constitution was made with the involvement of a wide range of the political spectrum. Anarchists and leftists held a predominant position, inherited from the Free Territories, but liberals, centrists and moderate conservatives also exercised an influence and made notable contributions to the final text. All of these groups were strongly anti-authoritarian, resulting in a general consensus for a democratic constitution.

Dissension occurred within the anarchist camp as Darnan Cyras and other members of his executive committee advocated the Marxist concept of withering away of the state, opposed by anarchists who agitated for its immediate abolition. The liberals benefited from the prominence of former Alscian governor Donatella Rossetti, whose vision of "government as an engineering marvel with an elegance of structure" proved appealing to many.

The final result was largely a compromise: anarchists strategically conceded to the liberals on certain points — particularly symbolic matters — while concentrating on maintaining power at the local level through direct democracy provisions.

The effort of producing a text that would be most acceptable to all factions, as well as fulfil anarchist desires to prevent the emergence of authority, resulted in a constitution focused on creating a framework for protecting autonomy and self-governance. Justina Mendonça Ferreira, subsequently the justice minister, described the final constitution as "the minimum standards necessary to ensure the development of a free and flourishing society".

Upon completion, the final text of the Constitution was submitted for voter approval on 28 April 1961, and approved by an overwhelming majority. It came into effect immediately after the final vote tally. The promulgation of the Constitution is seen by many historians as the end of the transitional period in which the Free Territories evolved into Gylias.

Provisions

The Constitution contains a preamble and 40 articles, arranged into six sections:

  1. Fundamental principles (articles 1–10)
  2. Rights and freedoms of the people (articles 11–22)
  3. Social and economic structure (articles 23–26)
  4. Governance (articles 27–38)
  5. Revision procedures (article 39)
  6. Supplementary provisions (article 40)

The brevity of the document is at least partly due to many articles being put together out of multiple paragraphs, especially in the second section. Rather than an exhaustive compendium of principles governing the functioning of the Gylian polity, many sections simply state that certain provisions "are established by law", and leave them to be defined separately in more specialised legislation.

The influence of anarchism is strongly evident in the wording, which avoids reference to statehood. The only such mention is in Article 1, which declares the form of government to be temporary "until the time when a state is no longer necessary for organisation". The explicit inclusion of the withering away of the state concept was controversial, and served as a "miserable compromise" between anarchist support for abolishing the state and liberal support for maintaining a state to achieve economic development.

Preamble

The preamble establishes the people as the source of sovereignty, and acknowledges the Free Territories and Liberation War. The last paragraphs explicitly declare Gylias' commitment to anarchist values and anti-capitalism.

The preamble was a notable contribution of Darnan Cyras to the drafting process, and reflects his preference for simple and non-ostentatious wording.

Section 1: Fundamental principles

The first section affirms Gylias' status as a "sovereign democracy [...] organised in the form of a republic", as well as the temporary nature of the state. It enshrines the principle of self-government, defining institutions larger than communal assemblies as based on the principle of subsidiarity, and the purpose of the law in a non-authoritarian manner. Article 4 affirms the supremacy of the Constitution and six codes, as well as the illegality of attempts to legally impose public morality.

Article 3, paragraph 3, espouses the principle that freedoms are not absolute in society, and thus codifies a Popperian paradox of tolerance into the Constitution.

Articles 5-8 defines the essential features of Gylias, including official languages, secularism, the national symbols (defined by the Law on National Symbols of 1959), and the equal status of citizens and residents.

Articles 9 and 10 refer to international relations. The former's final provision that "the people's rule" is superior to treaties and international organisations reflects an apprehension that international law or institutions could be used against Gylias' direct democracy or economic system. The latter contains the famous renunciation of war which provides that Gylias may only maintain the Gylian Self-Defense Forces and not a conventional military.

Section 2: The rights and freedoms of the people

The second section contains the bill of rights, which Article 11 establishes as universal while acknowledging "accompanying responsbilities and duties". Article 11, together with Article 3, paragraph 3, serve as the foundation for Gylias' anti-discrimination and anti-hate speech laws.

The section is grouped into four titles — fundamental, legal, social, and political rights and freedoms. The guaranteed rights are extensive, encompassing both civil and political rights and economic, social, and cultural rights. Notable is the stipulation of a right to personal identity, the rights of the accused listed in Title 2, and the right to an adequate standard of living in Title 3, from which derive a plethora of rights — including rights to food, water, housing, education, healthcare, social security, leisure, a healthy environment, and "freely-chosen, just, and socially beneficial work."

Paragraphs 11 and 12 of Article 21 also enshrine the principle of workers' self-management as a right, and guarantee "freedom from economic abuses" — forming the basis of competition law.

The wording of Title 4 emphasises the rights to organise popular initiatives, referendums, and recall elected officials, in line with the principle of self-government.

Section 3: Social and economic structure

The third section is one of the briefest in the Constitution, apart from the last two which have one article each. It establishes the principle of common ownership of natural resources and the means of production, and provides for decentralised planning. Article 26 further states that the purpose of the economy is "improving the well-being of the people and protecting personal dignity".

During the drafting process, there were many influential voices, including incumbent government members, opposed to declaring Gylias' economic and social structure in the Constitution. This accounts for the brevity of the section and its general as opposed to specific provisions.

Section 4: Governance

The third section establishes the political organisation of Gylias. Article 27 reaffirms the principles of self-government and subsidiarity, by making provisions for delegating "what cannot be addressed or exercised directly" to "higher levels of organisation".

The section reverses the structure of other Tyranian constitutions, by first referring to local government and then higher levels. Article 28 establishes communal assemblies as "the main organ of governance". Its second paragraph states that larger administrative entities exist for coordination and management purposes, and only exercise the responsibilities and capabilities delegated to them by the people.

The framework of federalism is established in Articles 29–31. Municipalities are established for administrative purposes, with the capacity to combine their resources and responsibilities into "federated bodies", which in turn are federated into regions. Assemblies and other legislative bodies have shared responsibilities and capabilities except for specifically reserved matters, and regional legislative bodies have fiscal autonomy within the framework of self-governance.

Article 32 refers to the civil service, and defines the principle of dualistic public administration.

Article 33 establishes the Parliament as the federal legislature, which consists of the Chamber of Deputies and Senate. The former is elected through direct and universal suffrage, for a term of 4 years, and its members "serve and are responsible to the people". The latter was initially elected as well, but was reformed in the 1990s and is now chosen by sortition and appointment.

Article 34 defines the federal government as the cabinet, headed by the Prime Minister. Additional provisions are made for cabinet collective responsibility, individual ministerial responsibility, and banning the government from interfering with the functioning of the civil service. The specific phrasing of paragraph 3 further limits the powers of the government: its responsibilities are defined as carrying out internal and external policies in accordance with its program, and exercising "general guidance" over public administration.

The following three articles define the judicial system, establish the Court of Cassation and Constitutional Court, and specify a nonadversarial system for trials.

The presidency is established by Article 38, with the President being defined as "the main counselor and arbiter of the people". The additional paragraphs refer to the President's duties, including calling elections, designating Prime Ministers, signing bills into law, appointing public officials, and being the commander-in-chief of the GSDF.

The final wording of these articles reflects the compromise between anarchists and liberals, with conventional terms being used to name the federal legislature, head of government, and de facto head of state, while the full definitions avoid references to a state and define their role and responsibilities in a very limited manner.

Section 5: Revision procedures

This section contains only Article 39, which details modifications to the constitution. Amendments can be advanced by popular initiative, cabinet proposal, or a parliamentary majority, but must be approved by voters in a referendum. Furthermore, amendments can not affect the democratic order or the rights and freedoms of Section 2.

Section 6: Supplementary provisions

This section contains only Article 40, which forbids the granting of honours and the recognition of titles of nobility.

External links

The Constitution of Gylias