Cosa

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Cosa
Cosa.png
Lower house of the Ziu
60th Cosa

Leadership
  Túischac'h dal Cosa (Speaker) þerxh Sant-Enogat (PROG)  

Structure
  Seats 200
60cosa.png
  Political groups HM's Government
Free Democrats of Talossa (80)
COFFEE (20)
PdR (10)

Confidence and Supply
DIEN (20)

HM's Loyal Opposition
Open Society (30)
The Independent Party (20)
PROG (15)

  Length of term 8 months (approx.)

Elections
  Voting system Party-list proportional representation
  Last elections 15 June - 1 July 2024
  Next elections March 2025 (forecasted)

Meeting place
Cosa merrillhall.png
Online; ceremonially: Merrill Hall, Abbavilla

The Cosa or Cosă ([ˈkoːzɐ] ( )) (formerly Cosâ) is the lower house of the Parliament of the Kingdom of Talossa, the Ziu. Like the upper house, the Senate, it meets in Abbavilla.

The Cosa is an elected body consisting of a variable number of members known as Members of the Cosa (MCs), each holding a maximum number of seats defined by law, linked to the turnout of the previous General Elections. Each member can elect to represent a particular constituency, for ceremonial purposes, but otherwise represents the whole nation.

The current session is the 60th Cosa, which was elected in July 2024.

Role

The Cosa does not elect the Seneschal in the strictest sense; at the beginning of each new Cosa session, MCs representing a majority of seats in that session present a petition to the King to name a given individual as Seneschal. This same procedure is also used for selection of the Túischac'h, the Cosa's presiding officer. Most Cabinet ministers will also come either from the Cosa or the Senate. The Seneschalsqab can change hands during a term without the Cosa being dissolved: the most recent Seneschals to take office without a General Election were þerxh Sant-Enogat in January 2024 and Miestrâ Schivâ in February 2019, although the latter subsequently won reelection in her own right.

The Cosa may indicate its lack of support for the Government by rejecting a vote of confidence; motions of confidence are customarily phrased as "Do you wish the current Government to continue in its term of office?", and are voted on once per Clark. When a Government loses a vote of confidence, the Cosa is by law dissolved immediately, and the parties can not attempt to build another Government around a new majority without passing through a General Election. The Cosa does not have the power to remove (or impeach) members of the Government.

Members of the Cosa may also hold the Government to account through Terpelaziuns ("Enquiries") - questions to a member of the Cabinet. Terpelaziuns are traditionally addressed to the Túischac'h, a tradition mutuated by the British House of Commons. There is however no allotted "question time": members are free to submit questions throughout their whole term in office.

Whipping of government bills varies depending on the majority of the day; generally, the notion of the government being "defeated" on particular bills is normally not present in Talossa. There have been instances of ministers resigning due to relevant bills not passing the Ziu, as was the case for Istefan Perþonest in the 46th Cosa; however, this was due to the Senate rejecting the Talossan Monetary Policy Reform Act, rather than the Cosa.

All bills, save a few exceptions, can originate in either the Cosa or the Senate. Contrary to most national parliaments, there is no real supremacy of a house upon another, be it customarily or enshrined into law; therefore, the Cosa is not legislatively more "powerful" than the Senate. However, budget bills must originate in the Cosa by law, and the Government is required to keep the confidence of the Cosa to stay in office.

Members and Elections

Since 2002, the Cosa has been composed of 200 seats. The number of seats each member can hold is determined by law, based on turnout; the limit is typically around 15 to 20 seats. Upon its creation in 1985, the Cosa was composed of 20 seats, with each member holding exactly one seat.

Members are not technically elected to their seats (unless they run as independents), instead being appointed to their seats by the leaders of their party. Upon the passage of the Mandatory Cosa Lists Act and Amendment, however, candidates for the Cosa have appeared on the ballot since the December 2016 General Election; parties have to abide by certain guidelines when assigning seats, and people not listed on a party's list are not able to collectively hold more than a third of that party's seats.

General Elections take place each time the Cosa is dissolved; this happens either when the Government loses a motion of confidence, or at the end of a parliamentary term. The length of a parliamentary term is not enshrined into law, but is pegged to certain prerequisites: namely, it is composed of an initial month for electoral validation and formation of a government, six Clarks of one month each, and an optional month of recess. Therefore, general elections are typically held every eight or nine months, including the month when the elections actually take place.

Upon the end of a General Elections, the 200 seats are apportioned between the parties according to the percentage of the popular vote achieved by each political party. The method followed is a simple proportional allocation. Parties and independents have to pay a fee of 6¤40 ($10) to assign their seats; this was previously 13¤20 ($20) prior to the passage of the Rebalancing Finances Act during the 48th Cosa. Write-in voting is permitted, but any write-in party has to pay the 6¤40 ($10) to be able to allocate its seats. Additionally, since write-in parties have by definition not submitted a list of candidates, all of the seats they win are allocated to the party leader up to the maximum limit of seats per MC, with any leftover seat being declared vacant. Similarly, any seats won by parties that do not pay the fee cannot be allocated and are permanently declared vacant upon the end of the First Clark.

Members may lose their seats through resignation, failure to vote, removal by a supermajority, or death. The Secretary of State notifies the Ziu of any incurred vacancies along with the results of each Clark; and the leaders of each party will typically reassign the vacant seats to other members. An Organic provision technically mandates the King to appoint the replacements, but this has not typically happened, similar to a related provision that allows the King to choose replacement MCs if nobody is selected by their respective party.

Officers

The ceremonial head of the Cosa is the Túischac'h ([ˈtui̯ʃɐx] ( )), or Speaker. The Túischac'h is nominated via a petition of MCs representing a majority of seats within that Cosa session. Traditionally, the Túischac'h is elected from the largest opposition party. The 60th Cosă broke with this trend somewhat; to avoid having the Leader of the Opposition also serving as Túischac'h, a different Opposition MC was chosen, namely þerxh Sant-Enogat of the Progressive Alliance. The Túischac'h has few particular powers, most notably initiating debates, serving as a member of the Legislative Advisory Committee (or appointing a delegate to serve in their place), and receiving Terpelaziuns directed to the Government by Members of the Cosa.

This latter function has however been somewhat inconsistent in recent practice, as the number of questions posed has dwindled and the Tuischac'h has generally been bypassed in favour of posing the question directly to the relevant Minister. There have also been instances when Terpelaziuns were presented to the Túischac'h, regardless of the House of the questioner, and one instance when the Túischac'h (specifically, Miestrâ Schivâ) had herself submitted a Terpelaziun, curiously addressing the Mençei despite Schivâ's not being a Senator.

The Túischac'h used to appoint the five members of the Civil Service Committee, which was the only standing committee of the Cosa, but the committee was abolished by the Royal Civil Service (Establishment) Act in mid-2018. The Senate equivalent, the Mençei, has a similar power to appoint the Senate's lone standing committee, the Committee on Rules and Administration.

Procedure

Like the Senate, the Cosa usually does not meet in person, but assembles on Wittenberg from the 1st to the 21st of each business month. In-person (or more recently, live video-conference) parliamentary meetings are styled as "Living Cosas". During Living Cosas, the Túischac'h acts as presiding officer. The most recent Living Cosa to be held -- the first in many years -- was held via Zoom in November 2022, the sixth Clark of the 57th Cosa.[1]

During normal practice, votes are typically cast online, on Wittenberg or on the Chancery's database. Unusually, the Cosa does not have a quorum for operating.

A distinction exists between bills that are sponsored by the Government, the Opposition or by none of the two; namely, they are marked on the Clark as being proposed by either "HM Government" or "HM Loyal Opposition", or if not, are considered to be Private Member's Bills. However, since in Talossa the Government does not "run" the legislative agenda, the bills are treated exactly the same, and there is additionally no "official opposition" as established by statute, rendering the relative signature effectively never used. Government Bills are instead sometimes seen in practice - for example, Budgets are customarily submitted as such.

The Prime Minister has the power of declaring a month of recess for each term, which in recent times has typically coincided with January (to allow for Christmas and New Year holidays) or one of the summer months. The Prime Minister can also have a Writ of Prorogation issued at the beginning of a term, which delays the start of the First Clark by a month and removes the Sixth Clark; while recess is fairly common, prorogation has never been used in modern Talossan history, if ever.

References