Free «Constitutional Choices for New Democracies» Essay Sample

In a country that is undergoing a democratic transition for the first time, it is extremely important to evaluate advantages and disadvantages of different types of relations between branches of the state authority. Many of the limits that have been just imposed on the people should be properly justified. The character of the government should be determined by a combination of beliefs. When combined together, these beliefs are concerned with the lawful and unchallengeable transmission of authority. Usually the authority is transmitted from generation to generation. In general, the constitutional process is rather long. The same thing can be told about the executive policy. This kind of policy is characterized as gradually worked out and adapted. The policy is adopted according to the individual wishes of the people. Thesis Presidential democracy is the best and the most effective types of government as it ensures strict control from the top level and stability.

The main advantages of presidential democracy are stability and direct mandate. In this type of power, executive branch is separated from the legislature in presidential democracy. The head of the states, the President, protects the system from centrifugal tendencies, which would otherwise threaten to tear the country apart. Presidential democracy allows a long-term perspective to prevail over short-term expediency. For all these reasons, there is a widespread belief that political leadership is exercised from the centre (Plattner, 2007). Only political leaders at the central level have the authority to take the initiative and to exercise leadership. In contrast to other types of democracies, the presidential democracy is more advantageous as it limits impact on the Parliament and parties on the state sovereignty and political stability inside the country. The examples of the presidential democracy are the Republic of the post-Soviet Union and the South American countries: the republic of Belarus, Armenia, Haiti, Uruguay, El Salvador etc, and the United States (Barry et al 2001).

Parliamentary democracy will not suit well for the country in transition because the state leaders of the executive branch are appointed from the legislature power only. The main threat for the weak state power is that in parliamentary democracy, legislative and executive branches of power are closely connected. Moreover, the presence of representatives of the central state in the (ministerial field services ensures that decisions taken at the local level are supervised and coordinated. Overall, the leadership capacities of the government institutions are not formally restricted by the powers of the local governmental agencies (for the structure of local power) (Plattner, 2007). Furthermore, the ordinary person looks towards the central state for guidance and for the resolution of the problems. The advantages of this system are that in contrast to the presidential democracy, in parliamentary democracy there is a clear distinction between the head of the state and the head of the government. The myth of the all-powerful governance is ingrained in the national political culture. In the political tradition, the state does not represent divisive, sectional interests, but the common good. It represents the will of the population, legislating on its behalf and implementing legislation in a way which is rational and impartial. The government defends the individual against potentially harmful private interests. Among countries with parliamentary democracy are Albania, Israel, Slovakia, Ukraine and Vietnam. Still, this form of democracy will lead to political instability and conflicts between branches of power (Carey, 1997).

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In a weak country, semi-presidential system will not work well because the main institutions of power are not formatted yet. Therefore, both constitutionally and politically, the remit of political leaders at the central level is both legitimized and unbounded by territorial constraints. At the same time, while in a formal sense centre—periphery relations are similar to those found in presidential democracy, in practice the role of local government is more influential than its presidential democracy counterpart (Plattner, 2007). For by placing no idea beyond criticism, by elevating no principle, including the principle of democracy itself, into a human rights dogma that is to be venerated or at least unquestioningly accepted, it submits not only the life of its momentary government but the validity of the state itself to the verdict of public opinion. Thus, whatever its inner confidence or fears, the democratic state must be prepared to live always in a state of ideological siege and political turmoil, even, possibly, of drastic political change (Bell, 2006). Semi-presidential system exists in France, Algeria, Lebanon, etc. Amongst other reforms, the powers of presidential democracy enjoyed by the state-appointed ministers over local councils should be reduced; a new tier of elected local authorities at the regional level should be introduced; and more powers should be given to the mayors of municipal councils (Plattner, 2007).

Foe a new democratic state, single voting system will help the state to minimize political conflicts and select the candidate approved by the majority of voters. Elections should be regularly held to discover the will of the people, which (presumably) is then to be translated into the law of the land. For instance, Americans have shown themselves to be adept at voting districts in such a way as to give disproportionate representation to minorities and thereby to distort what is still called the will of the people. The weakness of this system is that even if people set aside the notorious county-unit system of Georgia--rural groups, though a minority, dominate urban and industrial majorities in the heavily populated states, e.g., New York, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. And everywhere--save for a thinly populated state like Nevada which comprises but a single congressional district-the lines are drawn so as to give preferred minorities an undue share of the national legislative power (Mainwaring, 1993).

The purpose of an election should be to convert a popular majority into a legal or controlling majority-and if this is not its purpose it can hardly pretend to be the instrument of a democratic state in what sense can people speak of responsibility when they fulfill this purpose in so far as the lower chamber is concerned but deny it with respect to the upper chamber. Under such circumstances, the majority that gives control of the lower chamber to a particular political party may be a different majority from that which judges one-third of the Senatorial candidates, different again from the majority which two years before may have put the leader of the opposing party into the White House, and different yet again from the majorities which determined the composition of the Senate at two previous elections. It is not at all uncommon for the party which controls the House of Representatives to find itself confronted by a Senate in control of the opposing party, or for the party that controls both branches of the legislature to find that the presidency is in antagonistic hands (Plattner, 2007). Those who control the executive and legislative branches of the government should not be men of the same political identification, it does not necessarily follow that they share the same political persuasion; for the lack of party discipline permits legislators even on crucial issues to cross party lines. Even if there should be sufficient party consensus or legislative-executive rapport to produce agreement on a particular measure, there is still the ever-present possibility that a hostile judiciary will hold that measure unconstitutional (Linz, 1990). First of all, the Parliament is executive-centered, party-dominated, adversarial-minded, and multi-tasked institution. The government has many important features, one of which is the ability to succeed in adapting to the new environment. At present, the government has enough to keep up with the changing demands of markedly different eras. The same thing can be told about parliamentary democracies. These institutions often stay in the midst of reform (Plattner, 2007).

So, the best system for the newly developed democratic state is to follow presidential democracy and a single vote method. Under this system, the central government is the main partner in the relationship with the localities, but a new and more equitable distribution of power has been established between the two levels of government. Apart from presidential elections, parliament still remains the principal arena where the main political, economic and social issues of the day are debated (Linz, 1990). Still, senators and deputies still retain certain powers to obstruct the passage of government legislation. If the degree of obstruction is sufficiently determined, then the government may have to give in to the demands of the parliamentarians. Nevertheless, although these points mean that members of the executive branch of government in presidential democracy cannot simply ignore the wishes of those in the legislative branch, the Constitution presents them with a raft of constitutional resources with which to exercise leadership (Plattner, 2007).

Still, the principle of responsibility is exceedingly complex. This is not to question the principle of responsibility, or to allege that the democratic system is an oppressive one. It is rather to argue that the democratic system-however meritorious it may be on this or on other grounds--does not check all capricious and iniquitous acts. There is the rule of seniority in the American Congress, which not infrequently gives the chairmanship of a powerful legislative committee to one who, because he comes from a stable political district and therefore one that does not necessarily reflect the changing tides of public opinion, may be opposed in all major respects to the majority of his own party. These and other impediments to majority rule make it plain that, whatever the principle of responsibility may logically be held to imply, in the democratic system it does not imply that the government shall be responsible in any thoroughgoing sense to a determinate majority. It does not even imply that there shall be a serious quest for the elicitation of majority will. It is to point to certain intrinsic limitations to the principle of responsibility as well as to some limitations that are imposed on it by the specific institutional arrangements that are specifically designed to give it effect. Even where the political system approximates a full realization of the principle of responsibility, it may still be used to uphold rather than to remove an oppressive government.


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