- Feb 3, 2011
(Are the Administration Act and Lead Ministry Act not incompatible with each other?)
((The Administration Act would override the Lead Ministry Act, since it removes the position being referenced to, so technically yes. If they both pass, we'll probably have to have a second vote to clarify things, such as the role of the Second Minister.))
* * * * *
Emperor Alfons IX listened carefully to all that was being said in the Assembly. He often sat in on sessions of the Assembly and the Cortz, for he'd be a poor ruler if he did not take interest in the affairs of the Parliament he had created. Of course this time was different. He was not sitting in ornate wooden throne at the front of the Assembly, something he was glad of since the chair was quite uncomfortable. When the new Parliament building had been constructed, the designers had suggested a throne made of solid gold with red velvet cushions, but Alfons had found that to be too much. The refined elegance of the carefully carved designs of the wooden throne seemed more fitting than the overbearing showmanship of a golden throne. Instead, Alfons was sitting amongst the Assemblymen, sitting near the back amongst a group of Royalists. No one knew he was here, other than the kindly gentleman who had allowed him to borrow his seat for a session. He had taken some efforts to change his appearance so he wouldn't be recognized. He wanted to see what went on during the sessions he wasn't present. Of course he could just read over the records, and indeed he did quite often, but that was not the same as being present. He had the feeling that there was conflict going on within Parliament but he had not been able to see it fully while present as emperor. Now he sat back and listened.
It soon became clear what was going on. On one side were those serving the interests of the Crown, or at least what they perceived as its interests. They were his loyal supporters, who would favour absolutism over any form of parliamentary government any day. Alfons did appreciate their support for his reign, for trust had always been hard for him to come by after the events of his teenage years. Yet their attempts to keep all power and decisions in the hands of the Emperor or the Cabinet was keeping the Parliament, the institution that Alfons himself had created, from developing and growing into something better. Then there were the reformers, the ones who wanted to reform the Parliament into something better able to advise him, or perhaps even govern in some capacity. They wanted to changed the Parliament, something Alfons could support, for he well knew that the system was flawed as any such major institution so newly created was oft to be. Yet there was always this nagging fear buried deep with his subconscious since the Hispanian Civil War that made him wary of their intentions. He hoped they merely wanted to make the Parliament better able to advise him during his rule, but could he afford to allow any power to transfer from the Crown to Parliament? All it would take was one cunning and ruthless person to subvert that power and use it for their own ends. He did not want to be made powerless and forced from his home again, fearing for his own life and the fate of Hispania. Was it corrupt for him to cling to his own royal power if he only wanted it to ensure he could keep Hispania safe? Part of him still longed for a balance of powers in government, a way to ensure no one held too much power. He could still remember as a child wanting to be the monarch to put forth a constitution. Yet that dream had died when Montségur appeared. Alfons could never allow such a thing to happen now. He needed the power that came with his crown to be able to squash any tyrant that tried to arise like the bug they were. Perhaps it seemed hypocritical to maintain absolutism to ensure no one could become too powerful, but as long as he was in charge he'd make it work.
As for now, he had a serious dilemma to deal with. It seemed clear that the two sides in Parliament would continue to butt heads, and as a result nothing would get done and the system would degrade. The deadlock had to be broken. As a recess was called for the Assembly, Alfons slipped away and removed his disguise in private. It was time he addressed the Parliament as emperor. The time for action was not now, but it was drawing near. He would speak before them and hope to spur some change in the situation, but if things worsened he would be forced to step in. The outcome of the vote would determine the path he'd take.
* * * * *
I must admit I am a bit surprised by the response to these reforms. It seems almost everyone has taken an all or nothing approach. Perhaps it is time I voice my opinion on the acts being proposed.
The Assembly Ministry Act seems a decent means to ensure the people's representatives are better represented in government, although I understand how some may perceive this as infringing on the royal prerogative and the Crown's ability to choose ministers freely. I personally do not feel the restriction too limiting, although I do find it biased towards the Assembly since it does not mention the Cortz. Of course there may be the worry that it will limit the ability to appoint minister who are capable but outside the Assembly.
The Lead Ministry Act similarly seems well equipped to solve some problems inherent in the Cabinet, but as with the earlier act might be interpreted as infringing on the Crown's ability to choose the Prime Minister.
As for the Second Amendment to the Parliament Act, it has my full support. The argument that all appointed representatives should be moved to the Cortz, thus making the Assembly purely elective, has merit. It would thus make the Assembly better representative of the people and the Cortz more representative of the Crown and the nobility. Of course I would not push forth such changes without the Cortz's approval. I understand that the nobility may feel that such a change to their parliamentary body might infringe upon the new rights granted to them. If the nobles want to ensure the Cortz is purely representative of their own, then I will not force the issue.
The Third Amendment to the Parliament Act equally has my support as a means to ensure the Assembly is purely elected, but as with the Second Amendment I defer to the Cortz on the matter.
I still have concerns about the Religious Offices Act, for I am not certain that a committee will perform better than a minister, or that it is necessary to have two bodies similar in nature existing to deal with religious affairs.
As for the Administration Act, I am flattered that there are those who would prefer I directly manage the Cabinet and affairs of state. If the Parliament believes that will be best, I will accept such responsibility. However, I also believe that the position of prime minister was created for a reason. With Hispania as large as it is, it was decided that one man, even a monarch, cannot manage both affairs the of the Crown and the state. Having a prime minister to take care of the latter relieved that burden and ensured a more efficient government. Of course, there is nothing that says an emperor cannot serve as their own prime minister. If I recall correctly, my grandfather served as his own prime minister after the attempt on his life. Personally, it seems more logical to me to keep the position of prime minister around, but if necessary the monarch can step in and take over the responsibilities.
The Franco-Austrian War has been on my mind as of late. It is not an easy decision, yet I feel myself inclined to favour France. They have stood by us for centuries, and it would be a shame to toss away that alliance. It would have been better if they had not tried to draw us into this situation in the first place and turn us against our other ally. Perhaps if it was against someone other than Austria I would reconsider. While I have favoured reconciliation, their betrayal still stings and I cannot in good conscience choose Austria over France. It will be a stain on my honour to dishonour a call-to-arms against an aggressor, but it cannot be helped. Austria dug their own grave when they betrayed us and now they must deal with the consequences.
Now I must deal with some personal concerns. I wish to request that members of the Assembly stop referring to my mother as "Prime Despot". Perhaps you do not agree with her actions or decisions, but I take it as a personal insult to hear her referred to as such. We should be above such name-calling. Yet this body was created for the sole purpose of advising the Crown on how best to govern the realm to meet the people's needs, and at times I feel that the Cabinet is ignoring such advice. We must be open to all sides of the arguments presented here and listen carefully so that we can pursue the best option. I ask that the ministers listen more carefully to what is being said and accept that some of the advice is actually worthy of consideration rather than simply denouncing everything that proposes any form of change. If the Cabinet cannot better represent those it serves, then perhaps I will have to ensure its composition better represents Hispania.
- His Imperial Highness, Alfons IX de Trastámara, Emperor of Hispania, Caesar of Rome, & Protector of the Greeks