SS Jan. 21-27 2763 Item IV

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Senate session 21-27 Jan. 2010 cc - item IV, detail

Item IV – Discussion on the best date for the annual entry in office of the Tribunes of the Plebs

(information point for discussion; no vote; if by consensus the Senate accepts it, I propose that, in addition of current sen. Tribune Curius, another tribune be, as representative of her/his colleagues, allowed to give her/his opinion in our debates).

You well know, Patres, the interrogation that we had, at the end of the previous year, on the day on which our Tribunes of the Plebs are to enter in office.

In the past years, a practice has begun: to allow our Tribunes entering in office on Dec. 10th. Initiated in good faith, this practice, as it has been reminded with soundness during the annual electoral campaign, forgot that our constitution states that the “Elections of the ordinarii shall take place no later than December 15th, and newly-elected officials shall assume their offices on January 1st. “ (paragraph IV.A).

In order not to have our institutions blocked at the beginning of the year, this august Curia has voted last December, a senatus consultum ultimum (hereunder abbreviated as “SCU”), whose legal possibility is provided by the constitution, paragraph. V.E., which you may consult again at: .

This SCU has authorized the elected tribunes to enter in office on last Dec. 10th. But you well know that a SCU may just resolve a specific situation, not “enact any permanent changes in the working of our institutions”. So, since last Jan. 2nd, when this SCU's application ended, we are back into the situation before the SCU: the day our tribunes enter in office is unconstitutional. We must therefore change either the day, or the constitution. Most of voices have proposed changing the day. In fact, I see just four alternative possibilities:

  • Dec. 10th;
  • July 17th;
  • Jan. 1st;
  • another day.

Dec. 10th is backed by the ones who consider that this day was historically the only day when the tribunes entered in office.

But on this point, it may be useful to remind what one of our most frequent historical and legal sources, William Smith's "Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities", states: (available at:*/Tribunus.html )

The time when the tribunes were elected was, according to Dionysius (VI.89), always on the 10th of December, although it is evident from Cicero (ad Att. I.1) that in his time at least the election took place a. d. XVI. Kal. Sextil. (17th of July).

Just a reminder: Dionysius was born, roughly, when Cicero died. Without lowering Dionysius's knowledges, we may consider that Cicero, specially for he lived such events, may probably deserve as much attention than the author from Halicarnassos.

So, both dates, July 17th and Dec. 10th may, according these both sources, placed on a same historical authenticity level.

Then, Jan. 1st has two arguments:

  • first, just being the date which currently provides our constitution. We might consider that we prefer keeping this situation, even if this rule is not one of those our Ancients used. It would not be the first difference in our practice, but, on another hand, the more we accept allowing such differences, the larger we will keep the gap between the ancient way and our current Roman State;
  • second, that having all magistrates beginning on Jan. 1st means that all our officers of NR Inc. begin their term with the civil year and end it on Dec. 31 at the same time. Even if we may legally consider that, from the moment we provide the exception of another date in our bylaws, there would be no apparent legal discrimination between the majority of the officers and the Tribunes, some may think that these two rules are not desirable at a time when we try to bring some order in our NR Inc. house.

Last, we may choose another day, which would have neither the historical advantage, nor the Jan. 1st interest.

Thanks, senators, giving us your advice: what day shall we, in view of these various considerations, propose our citizens in the frame of the required constitutional amendment?

P. Memmius Albucius

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