In a time when nothing is more certain than rapid changes in the world, when people don’t trust their governments, when people doubt politics can do anything to make their daily life better and their country a better place, I come to think that the only viable system of governance is a strong selfless parliamentary system; a system of democratic governance in which the executive and legislative branches are strongly interconnected and work in the national interest.
This is where I stand. The executive branch must derive its democratic legitimacy from the legislature. Because the MPs (Members of Parliament) are elected to represent the people, only they hold the legitimacy to choose how the country should be led and what is best for the country.
The executive may take the form of a Prime minister, elected by the legislature, not nominated. The Prime minister is not the head of state nor the leader of the country, rather the country’s home policies executor and the country’s representation abroad.
Whilst the mandate of the legislature must not exceed 4 years, the Prime minister’s may not exceed 2 years and cannot be renewed more than once, in order to favour some kind of alternance in power.
Although the government ministers are chosen by the Prime minister, a parliamentary commission must investigate their background and ensure they are fit for the job.
The Prime minister and the government ministers must be held accountable to the legislature and can therefore be taken down with a simple required majority of votes in Parliament.
Choices about economy, education, health, employment, transport, etc. must go through commissions before being presented by government ministers to the Parliament, where votes must take place to finalise policies.
War time decisions must not be taken by the Prime minister. The Prime minister and his cabinet may make the case for or against war, but the ultimate decision must be taken by the Members of Parliament.
Finally, although the Prime minister can be taken down by a vote at the Parliament, the Parliament itself cannot be dissolved.
The parliamentary system may work in a country with a constitutional monarchy, with a monarch as the ceremonial head of state and the Prime minister a member of the legislature (such as the United Kingdom, Sweden or Japan).
It may also work with a republic, where the head of government is also head of state, but is elected by and is answerable to the legislature (such as South Africa or Botswana, although these two countries have Presidents not Prime ministers).
A selfless Prime minister working together with selfless ministers and Members of Parliament with a common interest in mind: the national interest.
This system of governance is no utopia. It only needs a little bit of thinking, a little bit of work and a big deal of willingness from both the people and the politics to change the way a country works. The selfless parliamentary system I propose may come true… one day… if we want it.
(Photograph of the Houses of Parliament, London, by latinspaceangel.)