Sunday, September 02, 2007

No more presidential systems

The more time goes by, the more of a parliamentarian system supporter I become. This little article from the Post today seems to be hammering the point better than usual.

It turns out that like in many strong presidential systems, the state of the Union address has also been adopted as a tradition/institution in Mexico. I suppose it was one way to show to the people that the imperial presidency of Mexico was not totally above the Mexican Congress and at least once a year the president was required not really to account but tell at least what he had been up to the last 365 long days. In Mexico this was perhaps particularly important since presidents were granted a single 6 year term and thus were compensated by one of the strongest presidential system around, meaning that the majority in Congress was not very relevant to the actions of a given president.

In the US where the president is a little bit more controlled, the same State of the Union exists and there it does serve many a purpose. It is perhaps an odd inheritance from the Crown's speech, but at least it sort of forces the exposition by the president of his wishful thinking for the next year. Curiously it is not mandatory for the president to attend Congress to deliver his speech and Clinton at least one year sent his message to Congress, after the GOP take over of 1994. However in general all presidents do go because no matter how bad things are, with the power of TV they get to at least slow down for a few days their slide in polls.

Well, Calderon this year decided to take a page from Clinton. For the Mexican State of the Union he went personally to the congress and delivered a package with his speech. And left. Certainly after last year fist fight when Vicente Fox could not deliver his speech, Calderon decided not to give the PRD the spectacle it sought. It seems that AMLO PRD has still not discovered that not only AMLO has indeed lost the election, but that as a party the PRD is quite behind the PAN in elected representatives, a fact that apparently does not seem to perturb the claim of AMLO in his everyday more ridiculous parallel government just as Calderon has crossed the 60% favorable opinion in polls. It is rather pathetic that instead of trying to become the shoo-in for the election in 5 years, AMLO is simply squandering political capital and good will.

Referring to this avoidance of Calderon, a reasonable one I must recognize as he must rise above the AMLO cheapness, I revisited my political fiction article on what would have happened last year if Mexico had been a parliamentary system. With allegedly all powerful Calderon having to skip a Congressional rendez-vous, my political fiction looks better than ever, a fiction where today Calderon would be president of Mexico and AMLO its prime minister, and both working at the betterment of the country instead of one actively sabotaging the other at any turn (with little success so far).

Coming back to Venezuela. Not only we are not light years away of any real and substantial role for our local parliament, but as all power will be as of December 9 in the hands of Chavez (it is already in his hands, the new constitution will only make it "legal" after a very illegal constitutional coup) we are simply entering into a legal dictatorship just as Fujimori managed in Peru not that long ago. Except that at least Fujimori managed to straighten up the his country's pathetic economic situation without the help of easy riches such as oil. Here in Venezuela we are about to get the most inefficient dictator (oh, legal!, elected!), surrounded by the most corrupt courtiers of our history, who will waste our oil money anyway and not solve long term our economic situation. Sadly priceless....

Definitely, as far as I am concerned, the future of democracy lies in parliamentary systems weakened by a strong federalist and decentralized administration. The examples to follow are Canada or Switzerland, or if you must have a beloved leader, make it an 8 year maximum gig within a federal state such as in Brazil or the US. Other systems will one day or the other lead you to authoritarian rule.

-The end-

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