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LETTER OF THE DAY - Adopt the executive prime ministership mode

Published:Sunday | November 25, 2012 | 12:00 AM


In a November 19 op-ed, The Gavel suggested that executive duties be removed from Parliament. While I do agree with the suggestion, it appears that the same tired, old recommendation that Jamaica move towards an executive presidential system is again raising its ugly head.

Part of what makes us Jamaicans is our years for good or bad under colonial rule. It is the reason why we speak English, play cricket and have a political system based on Westminster that has given us 50 years of democracy.

While I do agree that there is room for reform, if we radically change our political system, our next 50 years will be politically unstable, and thus we will become economically and socially unable. Jamaica's political system must take the form of an executive prime ministership.

The executive prime ministership (EPM) model would make separation of the executive and legislative power more pronounced. Under the EPM model, the presidents of the political parties would be disqualified from running as a member of Parliament. Instead, the number of seats in the House of Representatives would be increased by two members. One seat each would be allotted to the parties that won the majority and minority in the House of Representatives, respectively.

The seat given to the party with the majority must be given to that party president. Automatically, that person is given the title prime minister-elect. The other seat would be given to the minority party. That individual would become the opposition leader-elect. After all the formalities, those two individuals would become the prime minister and the leader of the Opposition.

PM's Cabinet Responsibilities

The prime minister would become a sometimes inactive member of the House of Representatives who must adhere to weekly 'Questions to the Prime Minister' sessions and can only vote in order to break a tied vote in the House. The prime minister would be required to choose members of the Cabinet from outside Parliament. These Cabinet members would have to be confirmed by the House.

The opposition leader would be an active member of the House of Representatives, with all the rights given to the other 63 active members.

For this model to work, other changes would have to be made, such as empowering the Speaker of the House of Representatives; redefining the role of the parliamentary secretaries; and as a way enhancing the capacity of the Senate to be the voice of reason, giving former prime ministers lifetime membership to the Senate.

This is the direction Jamaica should take towards political reform.


Washington, DC