I like the American system of choosing their Chief Executive.” They limit him to two terms.” No matter how long he campaigns, regardless of how brilliant is his promise and how excellent his administrative skills, his term of office is eight years at the most. I would like such a constitutional provision in my little country.” I believe that the majority of Kittitians would also like to have such a system installed in St. Kitts.” When we look around the would and see the countries where democracy is really flourishing, we have to conclude that one of the impediments to true democracy is a ruler who can rule a country for life, like how the old-time kings and queen used to do. And when we compare these democratically mature countries to others, we can appreciate the stark differences between them in the way their people live as free and dignified human beings. The United States of America has a fairly orderly power structure.” The man/woman who will be president must pass through a long and testing process of primary campaigning before he/she can run for the office to which he/she aspires.” Then he/she must face a grueling contest before the people whose votes will place him/her in the top executive position in government. Although upon winning the election, he becomes one of the world’s most powerful rulers, the power he wields is constrained by the Congress, who jealously guards its separate power to make the laws that govern the country, and the Supreme Court, which guards with equal, jealousy its power to keep the Presidents behaviour within the parameters” of the Constitution. Consequently the great ruler, the President, cannot do as he likes as long as he likes, with the country.”” He cannot presume that he owns the country.” He has the Congress and the Supreme Court on his back to keep him in control. As if these two forces were not enough, he also has the Press in all its forms to scrutinize his conduct and expose him to the glare of the public light. There are other democracies that come close. When Russia was the centre of the Soviet Union, the ruler ruled for life; and anyone who challenged his rule in any way was eliminated.” Around him was a mafia comprised of people with special interests and personal axes to grind. It was in their interest that the ruler ruled for life, because as long as he ruled their vested interests remained intact and invulnerable.” These people with vested interests were always quick to find anyone whom they could accuse of not liking the ruler.” Secret agents were numerous and it was their role to dig out and get rid of those who did not like the ruler. Such a system inevitably dooms itself from within and in the process of time falls into decay.” The ruling elite grows old, suffers fatigue, becomes confused, grows erratic and makes crazy decisions intended to tighten its hold on power. It becomes oppressive, jails innocent people and plunges the country into economic and social chaos. This is what had begun to happen to the Soviet Union when Michail Gorbachev allowed it to slip mercifully into democracy and break up under its own weight into several democratic entities, including Russia. I like how they do it in Russia.” The president there has two terms.” In spite of how bright and capable he was Vladimir Putin could not hold office for more than two consecutive terms. Mr. Putin could handpick his successor and stay in the background, but there is where he must operate and someone else must manage the helm. I also like the South African way.” They give their presidents two terms only.” Thabo Mbeke is a good man and a very effective ruler but he had two terms to rule with provisions in the constitution to remove him from office anytime within his allotted time if he conducted himself discreditably. This is real democracy, not like what exists in Zimbabwe where they have a shadow of democracy.” In Zimbabwe the government is not for the people but for the ruler. This allowed Mugabe to hold on to office for 28 years, using the very system which should protect his people to oppress them. The longer he stays in power the more aggressive are the” challenges to his rule the greater his oppressions grows. His henchmen have become entrenched and take the initiative in dealing with his detractors with unspeakable cruelties.” I don’t like the Zimbabwean system and I hope that its iniquities will soon be cleansed and that the Zimbabweans will at least enjoy life with dignity and freedom from oppression. I don’t like the St. Kitts-Nevis style of democracy either.” It is too different from the American, European and South African models and too much like that of Zimbabwe. Like Zimbabwe, the rulers of St. Kitts-Nevis can rule for life, getting elected term after term and strengthening their hold on the office as term follows term.” This is not good for democracy.” This is the recipe for political and social confusion; it is the sure path to economic decline. St. Kitts-Nevis democracy needs term limits to sustain it.” The office of Chief Executive carries too much power for one man and his immediate supporters to wield for a whole generation.” The very fact of one man staying in office indefinitely stifles the growth of talent and stunts the development of initiative.” When one man remains as prime minister for the abominably long periods that our constitution allows, young leadership talent with fresh ideas wilt and die beneath the shadow of this never ending marathon. It matters not whether the head of government is good or bad.” What matters is that we are supposed to be living in a true democracy not a makeshift dictatorship. I expect to hear the argument that our system is a copy of the British system. Not really, not in substance.” While it is true that the British Prime Minister is not term limited by law, by custom the office is challengeable at anytime his colleagues are dissatisfied with his leadership style.” Margaret Thatcher was forced to bow to the challenge, so did Tony Blair and his successor Gordon Brown is now consumed by a rearguard struggle to justify to his cabinet colleagues that he is fit to lead them. In Britain where all elected members are equal, the premiership is not taken for granted.” It is only held by the holder as long as he commands the respect of his fellow parliamentarians especially those who sit in his cabinet. I want to see such a system come to St. Kitts-Nevis before it is too late I dread the terrible eventually that our prime minister, this one or one to come, might find ways to sustain himself in power to the extent that he becomes, unknowing to his fellow citizens, the head of a dictatorial regime.
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