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LETTER OF THE DAY Yes to monarchy, no to republic ... unless we have a plan

Published:Sunday | July 3, 2011 | 12:00 AM


I was extremely pleased to see the results of a Bill Johnson poll which stated that most Jamaicans prefer to keep the monarchy in the Constitution rather than replace it with a republican system. It shows that most Jamaicans prefer to remain loyal to Queen and country rather than to politicians.

I would like to draw attention to an important issue surrounding the proposed changes, although there are some who want to send the Queen packing. There is no consensus among these traitors what they plan to replace it with, or what kind of presidency they want. Basically, there are three kinds to choose from: the presidential, parliamentary and mixed system.

The full presidential system is used by the US, some parts of Latin America and in Africa, where all three branches of government are separate, with a president as both head of state and chief executive. The semi-presidential (or mixed) system is employed by the French, Russians and several other nations in Eastern Europe and some Asian countries. In this system, the president is also head of state and government, but unlike the presidential paradigm, it also has a weak prime minister who is answerable to both the president and to Parliament.

Both of these systems concentrate too much power in the hands of the president and may cause deadlock between the executive and legislative branches of government. There are also loopholes for a president to overrule the other branches of government and establish a dictatorship. The many despotic regimes that arise from time to time in some parts of Africa and Latin America are proof of this.

different parliament

A parliamentary system is different. Here, the president is head of state and nominal executive. A dictatorship is less likely to occur in this system, so he would more or less perform a role similar to that of the governor general. That, of course, begs the question: Why should we bother to waste tax-payers' time and money to change the Constitution to something that is exactly the same when it will have no real impact on the life of the average Jamaican?

Another sore point to mention is the whole matter of presidential elections. Who will elect the president? The people, or Parliament? If the people should decide, how much will it cost them to do so? Why should we add presidential elections to that only to put a greater burden on an already tight Budget?

And if presidential selection should be Parliament's decision, would it really be democratic? Some would argue that the hereditary nature of the monarchy and the appointment of the governor general is undemocratic. The difference, however, is that with the monarchy, we are not under the illusion of thinking it is more democratic, as we would be in a parliamentary republic where politicians get together to choose the president and try to pass it off as more democratic.

These proponents of republicanism are divided. They want Her Majesty removed but have no real plan as to what they actually want, and that is why I must agree with the majority of respondents in that recent Bill Johnson poll and say no to a republic.