Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Presidents Vs Parliaments - Accountability wins

At some point, I plan to write a nice article on how Parliamentary Governance is far superior to Presidential (and other directly elected Executive) systems. I did a fairly big case study on it once, and my opinion has only hardened since then, despite the abuse Blair has put to the UK system. But, as I'm still swamped at work*, this article in the New York Times is a good start:
a leading scholar on democratization, warned of the “perils of presidentialism.” Presidents, he argued, made for a “winner take all” politics and tended to see themselves in dangerously “plebiscitarian” terms as the living embodiment of the nation’s will and deepest interests. Linz’s special concern was Latin America, which (like the Philippines, Indonesia, South Korea and much of Africa and Central Asia) has followed the model set by the United States. To his mind, Europe’s more accountable prime ministers — and their parliamentary counterparts in countries like Canada, Japan and Australia — represented a safer institutional alternative.
Reading it requires registration, but that's free, so worth the effort. Interesting real world analysis to back up my academic interest in the subject; essentially, America set the standard for Presidential systems, but got lucky, because the early Presidents were all great statesmen with experience in government already. For most countries, especially emerging democracies, too much power in the hands of one person, especially one who can claim a rather spurios "mandate" is dangerous, as numerous coups and pwer grabs the world over have shown. Parliamentary systems may be flawed, and open to abuse, but in the long term, they're both more stable, more democratic, and contain their own checks and balances.

Time, of course, to rebalance the British system.

Liberty Central is on hiatus currently, most of us involved are far too busy*, but when it relaunches, that full article should be one of my early efforts I think.

*Today, I finished work at 6.30pm. Yesterday, I finished at 11.30pm. Yup, 11.30pm on a Sunday, in a nominally office job. It starts to calm down from now on, I'll be human in August, if the heat goes away.


Anonymous said...

Well, when you do, read Presidents and Assemblies before posting. 

Posted by Martin Keegan

Anonymous said...

Hmm, looks interesting and familiar in some ways, I think I may have read either a precis or an abstract at some point; it was a few years back I did the study on it, no idea what I actually did or didn't read now.

I'll have to see if the library can get me a copy at some poit; I thank you sir. 

Posted by MatGB