Parliamentary or Presidential systems

Parliamentary or Presidential systems

The following article as written by Gulcin Ozkan, Professor of Economics, University of York and Richard McManus, Senior Lecturer in Economics, Canterbury Christ Church University could in the context of the MENA region, be more inspirational than educational. It must be said that it is in that Region where either Parliamentary or Presidential systems do not exist to this day, let alone the subtle differences of these very much differentiated forms of governance are perceived, that civilisation began.

Picture above is of the Algerian President, an octogenarian leader in power for nearly two decades, who last weekend announced he’d be running in the next elections for a fifth mandate.

Here it is, republished for all intents and purposes, with thanks to the authors and courtesy to The Conversation.

Parliamentary systems do better economically than presidential ones

File 20190211 174864 1nl5p3e.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
UK Parliament/Stephen Pike, CC BY-NC

Gulcin Ozkan, University of York and Richard McManus, Canterbury Christ Church University

Numerous amendments are being negotiated in the UK parliament in an attempt to break the Brexit stalemate. There does not seem to be a clear majority for any specific way forward with Brexit and the parliamentary arithmetic has so far worked against the government. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking before Britain leaves the EU without a deal in place and reverts to World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.

The situation has been described as “Adrift, rudderless, confused, chaotic. A mess.” This may be true in many ways. But the roots of this current situation lie with the decision to call the referendum in the first place.

The current impasse is actually a signal that the parliamentary system is working. Necessary checks and balances on government are working to try and make the best of this situation. Although it may not seem like a system to celebrate, our new research shows how it plays an important role in promoting better economic performance for the country in the long run.

The separation of power resulting from checks and balances is among the key factors that make parliamentary regimes superior to presidential ones. Executive power in a parliamentary regime is generated by legislative majorities and depends on these majorities for survival.

Parliaments keep the executive in check.
Wikipedia / Tobias Koch, CC BY-SA

It has long been argued that parliamentary systems are more conducive to stable democracy. In a phenomenon referred to as the “perils of presidentialism”, this type of regime often produces a divided government, due to competing claims for legitimacy by both the president and the assembly.

Our recent work shows that parliamentary systems also produce superior economic outcomes. By using data from 119 countries across the period 1950 to 2015 and examining an extensive set of macroeconomic data, we find that parliamentary regimes are consistently better for a country’s economy. On average, annual output growth is up to 1.2 percentage points higher, inflation is less volatile and 6 percentage points lower, and income inequality is up to 20% lower in countries governed by parliamentary systems.

When we categorise countries according to growth and income inequality, we find that 91% of the best performers – with above average growth and below average income inequality – are parliamentary regimes. In isolating the impact of the two forms of government, we take into account a large set of other factors that are likely to influence economic performance such as geography, the legacy of colonial rule, religion and how long the country has been a democracy for.

Institutions and power separation

To answer this question, it is crucial to understand the wider institutional context within which the government systems operate. It is now widely recognised that the quality of a country’s institutions – the legal and administrative bodies that underpin society – plays a key role in economic performance. Our findings reinforce the significance of the role these play in economic outcomes.

Parliamentary systems consistently feature higher scores of democracy, more extensive media freedoms, a stronger rule of law, greater constraints on the executive and hence greater checks and balances. These are all characteristics that are associated with better economic performance.

You might be wondering how the US bucks this trend. It is the world’s largest economy, but has a presidential system. Our results suggest that the reason why the US still experiences relatively good economic outcomes with a presidential regime is due to the checks and balances its constitution puts in place that ensure a separation of powers between the legislative, executive and judicial arms of government.

There are two good reasons why parliamentary systems are better for the economy. First, greater separation of power combined with greater public deliberation, which underlie parliamentary systems, allow for wider representation and broader participation in decision making. This has significantly positive consequences.

Second, parliamentary systems offer much greater stability across consecutive governments. In contrast, transitions between leaders in presidential regimes are usually stark and volatile due to the single person nature of the office.

So it may be frustrating to observe lengthy debates and extended deliberations – as has been the case in the UK over Brexit – but it is important to remember that these checks and balances are just what is needed for both democratic and economic stability. The fact that there is the impasse now is a signal of the system working as it should, not that it is at fault. Although one may decry the lack of political leadership or bipartisan consensus, parliament is acting as it should and holding the government to account.The Conversation

Gulcin Ozkan, Professor of Economics, University of York and Richard McManus, Senior Lecturer in Economics, Canterbury Christ Church University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Christmas festivities in Bethlehem

Christmas festivities in Bethlehem

Bethlehem, West Bank (AP) – Palestinians are preparing to host pilgrims from around the world in celebrating Christmas in the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the top Roman Catholic cleric in the Holy Land, crossed an Israeli military checkpoint from Jerusalem on Monday ahead of midnight Mass at the Church of the Nativity, the traditional birthplace of Jesus.

Hundreds of locals and foreign visitors gathered in Manger Square as bagpipe-playing Palestinian Scouts paraded past a giant Christmas tree.

Palestinian Tourism Minister Rula Maaya says “the whole world is looking toward Bethlehem” and the Palestinians are ready to host them.

The Christmas festivities traditionally bring a boost of holiday cheer to Christians in the Holy Land, who make up just a small percentage of the local population.

Christmas in Palestine

December 22nd – December 30th 2018

During the Christmas season, Bethlehem in Palestine welcomes Christian worshipers from all denominations from all over the world. An estimated 10,000 were in the Square on Christmas Eve last year!  It is an exciting, colorful and lively time during which a message of hope is broadcast around the world by the large number of media agencies covering Manger Square in which the Church of the Nativity is found.

What will we do?

You are invited to take part in this unique experience with To Be There. We have a well-planned a program providing you with opportunities to enjoy the Christmas season as well as gain an understanding of ancient and recent history, and how the occupation affects the lives and the future of Palestine and its people.  Topics which will be covered during your visit include Palestinian refugees, their  legal status and the hardships they face; Israeli settlement colonies which contribute to the forcible displacement of Palestinians and land theft; the treatment by Israel of Palestinian children and the documented violations of their rights; Palestinian political prisoners and their treatment under military law; the Israeli infrastructure of occupation and apartheid – walls, security zones, check points and much more.

Why should we come?

Palestinians enjoy welcoming foreign guests to participate in the procession to the Church lead by Palestinian scout groups from all over Palestine and Israel accompanied by the music of horns, bagpipes and drums. However, Christmas is experienced differently Bethlehem, providing an example of how Palestinians enjoy such occasions while living under the Israeli military occupation which imposes sever hardships on the people, restricting their freedom of movement, their livelihoods and economic and social well-being.  Sadly, the occupation and its policies have turned Bethlehem in to a ghetto around which Israel continues to tighten the noose with its encroachment and development of settler colonies, ‘Jewish only’ restricted roads and security zones, checkpoints and military installations.  In fact, Israeli controls 90% of tourism into Bethlehem.  Christmas in Palestine is an opportunity to visit Palestine, to make a contribution to this vibrant community during the Holiday Season and witness the reality of occupation.

May we all have a Merry Christmas.

Encapsulating the Ills of Israel and Palestine and Move on

Encapsulating the Ills of Israel and Palestine and Move on

This commendable contribution of Professor Yossi Mekelberg , Senior Consulting Research Fellow, Middle East and North Africa Programme published in the Chatham House site on 26 July 2017 whilst appearing to be impartial in its assessment of the status quo, does indeed cover and in few paragraphs one of the world’s most entrenched neighbouring nations’ problems that plagued human settlements form time immemorial.  Jerusalem ‘the sacred’ as labelled by all sides, is obviously in great need of compassionate understanding between the parties so as to encapsulating the ills of Israel and Palestine and move on to lead the rest of the MENA region into a more serene future.

Unrest in Jerusalem Encapsulates the Ills of Israel and Palestine

Given the absence of a comprehensive and viable political solution between Israel and the Palestinians, and the complete lack of trust between the two sides, a large scale confrontation is more a matter of when and not if. The situation in Jerusalem is especially fragile – any interference with the long-standing status quo on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, especially one that is not coordinated with all interested sides, would lead to the eruption of violence in the city and well beyond.

So it was careless of Israel, in the wake of the shooting of two Israeli policemen by three Israeli Palestinian militants at the Lions’ Gate, to apply collective punishment on Palestinians from East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and to introduce metal detectors at the entrance to the Al-Aqsa mosque. Both were neither justified nor required to ensure security. The assailants were neither Jerusalemites nor from the West Bank, but from the northern Israeli town of Umm Al-Fahm.

It was, essentially, an intelligence failure by the Israeli security services in not detecting the formation of such a militant cell within Israel, and for allowing the purchase of lethal weapons and their smuggling into the holy compound to go unnoticed. Enabling a proper investigation and collection of evidence by the police is understandable, but preventing thousands of worshippers from exercising their right to pray can only aggravate an already very volatile situation.

The events of the last fortnight have highlighted the deep gulf in the narratives about the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Israel consistently insists that a united Jerusalem would remain its eternal capital under its sovereignty, while the Palestinians see East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state under Palestinian sovereignty. Facts on the ground clearly demonstrate that the city is far from being united with a clear demarcation between both communities.

If the lack of progress for a political solution contains the seeds of conflict, it is already a fertile ground for extremists from both sides. Hardliners on both sides believe that a clash in this holy place would serve their purpose and ultimately lead to a decisive victory.

In the mysterious ways of Middle East politics, a tragic event in Amman enabled the Israeli government to climb down from their previous decision. After an Israeli embassy security guard shot dead his alleged young Jordanian attacker and accidentally his landlord, Israel removed the metal detectors from Temple Mount, in exchange for Jordan allowing the Israeli guard to return to Israel.

This provides one of the most important lessons – that only by regional and international cooperation is it possible to prevent or contain violence in the holy sites in Jerusalem. This can be done only through daily coordination with all those with a stake in the holy places including the Waqf, which manages the site and is responsible for religious and civil affairs, Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other international stakeholders.

Nevertheless, no coordination mechanism, however efficient in dealing with maintaining the status quo or addressing a crisis situation, can replace building trust through a genuine comprehensive political process leading to ending the occupation and ensuring the political, human and civil rights of both peoples.

To comment on this article, please contact Chatham House Feedback