Federal-parliamentary vs presidential-unitary systems

Federal-parliamentary vs presidential-unitary systems Featured

THIS is a supplementary article to my series on "Centrist Democratic (CD) Agenda for President-elect BBM" which started just after the May 9, elections. My memo to president-elect BBM, was followed by "Political dynasties – party-lists" (May 22); Part 1 – "Centrist agenda for a Marcos regime" (May 25); Part 2 – "Replace the 1987 Constitution" (June 1); and Part 3 – "Institutionalize real political parties" (June 8). I received so many comments by email and FB that I thought I'd simply direct them to our website Centrist Democratic Political Institute, www.cdpi.asia, where all my columns, articles, speeches, essays and blogs are lodged.

The latest queries revolved around clarifications on the relative merits of a parliamentary-federal (Fed-Parl) over a presidential-unitary government. I have written extensively on this and many of my colleagues in the Fed-Parl movement have their essays and articles copied to this CDPI website. Links to excellent articles and books are provided particularly one authored by the incoming National Security Adviser (NSA) Clarita Carlos, Democratic Deficits in the Philippines: What is to be done? (KAS Publication, 2010). Secretary Claire has been my colleague during our salad days when together with our now departed comrades, 'Nene' Pimentel, 'Pepe' Abueva and 'Rey' Teves, we went nationwide spreading the Fed-Parl gospel under the auspices of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) and country representative 'Willy' Frehner. KAS is allied with the CDU party of Germany.

The details of what makes Fed-Parl a superior system are extensively discussed in the CD websites. Another interesting link is to the "CoRRECT Movement" websites founded by a young OFW Centrist Democrat, Orion Perez, who has been championing an open liberal economy that welcomes foreign direct investments (FDI) as central to the solution of stark poverty in the Philippines. To detail the relative advantages of the Fed-Parl over the Pres-Unitary will take more than the 1,200 words allotted to this column. For simplicity and clarity, a matrix is provided.

Evidence of Fed-Parl superiority

The following are excerpts from my speeches and lectures in the course of several years in the formation of the Citizens Movement for Federal Philippines (CMFP), the precursor of many of the parliamentary-federal initiatives, mostly of NGO and civil society networks, that led to the establishment of the Centrist Democratic groups. The purpose of this matrix is to present at a glance a list of the world's governments practicing parliamentary, presidential, federal and unitary systems and some permutations thereof. These are by no means a comprehensive argument for the superior system, leaving the readers, perhaps latitude to do research on their own to understand better why the CD groups consider these structural changes primordial. All Philippine presidents understood the necessity for systemic changes from the very start of their regimes, only to falter somewhere in the course of their administrations when perhaps personal political interests or the vested interest of their patrons were inputted. Only the two Aquino governments sought to protect the status quo, post-1986 — advancing the classic arguments that systemic changes are unnecessary, you only need to choose the right leaders. The fallacy of these arguments has been exposed several generations back. Tongue in cheek, it has been advanced too that even if Jesus Christ sits on top of our Philippine government structure, he will fail.

Most corrupt countries

Evidence suggests how countries under the presidential system have serious problems of corruption, development, and peace.

TOP 10 MOST CORRUPT COUNTRIES

1) SOMALIA – FEDERAL-SEMI PRESIDENTIAL
2) NORTH KOREA – UNITARY-PRESIDENTIAL
3) AFGHANISTAN – PRESIDENTIAL
4) SUDAN – FEDERAL-PRESIDENTIAL
5) SOUTH SUDAN – FEDERAL-PRESIDENTIAL
6) ANGOLA – UNITARY-PRESIDENTIAL
7) LIBYA – PARLIAMENTARY-TRANSITIONED FROM TOTALITARIAN RULE
8) IRAQ – FEDERAL-PARLIAMENTARY
9) VENEZUELA – FEDERAL-PRESIDENTIAL
10) GUINEA BISSAU – SEMI-PRESIDENTIAL

1. From the 2015 Transparency International Corruption index (TIC), the most corrupt/least transparent countries are under a presidential system. These include Somalia, North Korea, Afghanistan, Sudan, South Sudan, Angola, Libya, Venezuela and Guinea-Bissau. Iraq, placed as the eighth most corrupt, is the only country with a federal-parliamentary form.

2. Five of these 10 most corrupt countries (South Sudan, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia and North Korea) are ranked among the 10 least peaceful nations in the world (TIC 2015 Global Peace Index). To recall, the above-mentioned nations have presidential systems except for Iraq.

TOP 10 LEAST PEACEFUL NATIONS

1) SYRIA UNITARY – SEMI-PRESIDENTIAL
2) SOUTH SUDAN – FEDERAL-PRESIDENTIAL
3) IRAQ – FEDERAL-PARLIAMENTARY
4) AFGHANISTAN – PRESIDENTIAL
5) SOMALIA – SEMI-PRESIDENTIAL
6) YEMEN – UNITARY-PRESIDENTIAL SYSTEM
7) CENTRAL AFRICA REPUBLIC – SEMI-PRESIDENTIAL
8) UKRAINE – UNITARY-SEMI PRESIDENTIAL
9) SUDAN – FEDERAL-PRESIDENTIAL SYSTEM
10) LIBYA – PARLIAMENTARY-TRANSITIONAL (FROM TOTALITARIAN RULE)

3. Similarly in nations with the highest Terrorism Index, more have a presidential form (Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, Central African Republic, Ukraine (70 percent) while the rest have a combination federal-parliamentary government.

TOP 10 LEAST CORRUPT NATIONS

1) DENMARK – UNITARY STATE-MONARCHY-PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM
2) FINLAND – FEDERAL-PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM
3) SWEDEN – UNITARY-MONARCHY-PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM
4) NEW ZEALAND – UNITARY-MONARCHY-PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM
5) NETHERLANDS – UNITARY-MONARCHY-PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM
6) NORWAY – UNITARY-MONARCH-PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM
7) SWITZERLAND – FEDERAL-PARLIAMENTARY
8) SINGAPORE – UNITARY-PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM
9) CANADA – FEDERAL-PARLIAMENTARY
10) GERMANY – FEDERAL-PARLIAMENTARY

Least corrupt — the better ones

1. By contrast, all of those in the top 10 "least corrupt" nations list (Denmark, Finland, Sweden, New Zealand, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Singapore, Canada, and Germany) have parliamentary systems.

2. Moreover, these topnotchers in curbing corruption (Norway, Australia, Switzerland, Denmark, Netherlands, Germany, New Zealand and Canada), including the United States and Ireland, also have very high human development ranking in the 2015 UNDP human development index. Among these roster of highly developed countries, only the US adopts a presidential form, although a federal government.

TOP 15 MOST PROSPEROUS NATIONS

1) NORWAY – UNITARY-MONARCHY-PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM
2) SWITZERLAND – FEDERAL REPUBLIC
3) DENMARK – UNITARY-MONARCHY-PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM
4) NEW ZEALAND – UNITARY-MONARCHY-PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM
5) SWEDEN – UNITARY-MONARCHY-PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM
6) CANADA – FEDERAL-PARLIAMENTARY
7) AUSTRALIA – FEDERAL-PARLIAMENTARY
8) NETHERLANDS – UNITARY-MONARCHY-PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM
9) FINLAND – FEDERAL-PARLIAMENTARY
10) IRELAND – UNITARY-PARLIAMENTARY
11) UNITED STATES OF AMERICA – FEDERAL-PRESIDENTIAL
12) ICELAND – CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC-PARLIAMENTARY
13) LUXEMBOURG – UNITARY-PARLIAMENTARY
14) GERMANY – FEDERAL-PARLIAMENTARY
15) UNITED KINGDOM – UNITARY-PARLIAMENTARY

Finally, in the list of the top 15 most prosperous nations (Norway, Switzerland, Denmark, New Zealand, Sweden, Canada, Australia, Netherlands, Finland, Ireland, United States, Iceland, Luxembourg, Germany and the United Kingdom), all except the US whose government is federal-presidential, have parliamentary systems.

This clearly indicates that a federal form may be better than a unitary one; but clearly it also suggests that a parliamentary system is superior to a presidential system in government performance.

President Makoy, the father, understood this only too well, instituting parliamentary government in the 1973 Marcos Constitution, which was abrogated by President Cory, and substituting her 1987 Constitution that enshrined a presidential-unitary system.

Will the Marcos son continue his father's legacy?

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