What should be the best option for constituting an Executive Government in Eritrea ? Part 2

By Fesseha Nair

In the first part of this article I have dealt on the parliamentary system and the formation of executive government, its advantages and disadvantages. In this part, I will deal on with the presidential system or presidential government.

Presidential system has been popular amongst many new democracies after the second waves of democracies. Most democracies in Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America being influenced by the US presidential system have chosen presidential systems.

Presidential systems have their advantages and disadvantages what is essential is, are they suitable in our Eritrean diversity?

Now let us look on the merits and demerits of this system.

Merits of the presidential system

When the Eritrean Peoples Liberation Front / EPLF has taken the power in Eritrea they directly called the leader of the front and later the party/ PFDJ leader a president and still now he is called President Esayas Afewrki. In the Eritrean politics there is a confusion of terminologies and definitions. In reality, the leader in Eritrea today should not be called a president but a prince.

Let us see what the word president means in theory and practice.

A president is directly elected by the people and is identified and accountable to the voters. Did such event happen Eritrea?

Back to the merits of the presidential system.

In the presidential system the office of the president is accountable to the voters for the decisions it take. In contrast to the parliamentary system, the chief executive is directly chosen by the people. it is thus easier for the electorate to reward or punish a president by voting him/her out where this is impossible in the parliamentary system.

In the presidential system, there is an ability to act as a unifying national figure standing above the battle of sectarian disputes. Has Eritrea such leadership properties? A president enjoying broad public support can represent the nation to itself becoming a symbol of moderation of the middle ground between the political rivals, to play this role it is important that the country has a good electoral systems for divided societies like that of ours.

In the presidential system, citizens have a high degree of choices. They can vote one for the president and the other for the legislature.

In presidential systems, there is more stability and continuity of public policy. As evidenced, in many presidential systems, since the terms of the office are fixed this can give the office of the president greater stability and effective policy making, while in the parliamentary systems policy making and decision are rigid and take time due to political contentious issues.

In summary the merits of this system are direct accountability to the voters, unifying capabilities and high degree of choices for citizens.

Demerits of presidential system

The main demerits of the presidential system for divided societies are the inclination of the office to be captured by one political or ethnic group. This can create particular difficulties for multi-ethnic societies like that of Eritrea who are trying struggling to make transition to democracy. A presidency captured by one political or ethnic group can highly become a dictator by subjugating those who does not belong his party and ethnic. Eritrea seems moving towards such scenario.

In the presidential system, there are no checks on the executives. This is becoming true with those countries who pursued this system, especially when the presidents party is majority party.

In the Eritrean case in the opposition camp, there are political organizations who dream themselves majority and take this position where the parliament has no real power to check the executive. This problem can be worsened by the fact that the president of the majority unlike the parliamentary prime minister can become virtually inviolable during his term of office. Most democracies of the presidential systems lack checks of the parliament and lead the country to dictatorship.  While impeachment of the president by the legislature is provided in the constitution many presidential systems remains unchecked by the legislature.

It is empirically proved that no presidential or semi-presidential systems established from 1945 to 1979( Except the USA) were democratic in comparison to those of parliamentary systems. Parliamentary systems were more stable and democratic.

The Eritrean National Commission for Democratic change must do a full research on constituting an executive leadership from the parliamentary essentials.

Continue……………………….with semi-presidentialism

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Posted by on Dec 13 2010 Filed under Articles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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