According to Transparency International the least corrupt nations on earth are those with parliamentary systems of governance. Anyone who has suffered through the last thirty-two years of Philippine history will know all too well that the country’s post-1987 presidential system has resulted in legislative deadlock, economic turmoil, social decline and frequent elections which mask a substantial democracy deficit. It is fair to say that of all the nations attempting to be democracies, The Philippines has one of the worst systems in the world. It is for these reasons that reformist leader Rodrigo Duterte has called for both federalising the vast and diverse country whilst also advocating for parliamentary reforms which would weaken and ultimately replace an executive president.
Just as Joni Mitchell sung the lyric “you don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone”, it appears that some individuals living in parliamentary systems don’t realise that the alternatives are far worse. Whilst Britain’s Parliament is often called “The Mother of All Parliaments”, many of today’s vulgar politicians and avaricious` British television executives seek to import the worst elements of presidential systems which serve only to distort the once cherished superiority of parliamentarianism.
The troubles began in the year 2010 when the light on policy but huge on ego leader of the opposition David Cameron pushed for a presidential style debate on the eve of a general election. The format was shambolic and ended up thrusting Liberal leader Nick Clegg into the spotlight because of his used car salesman routine in spite of his fact that prior to the debate, his party’s policies were not particularly popular (and for good reason).
Whilst his policies were supremely destructive, former Prime Minister Tony Blair stated on multiple occasions that he refused to participate in vulgar presidential style debates because in a parliamentary system, the proper place for debates and the place where they happen on a daily basis is in the parliamentary chamber.
Unlike in presidential systems, in a parliamentary system, debates are held on a daily basis. In such debates the executive is represented by the government minister whose portfolio is apropos to the specific topic of the debate. In other words, if there is a debate on the situation in the Middle East, one would see the Foreign Secretary and his or her opposition shadow engage in a front bench debate before backbenchers would then participate. If the issue was one about crime, the Home Secretary and his or her opposition shadow would debate the matter at hand and if the issue was one about tax and revenue it would be the Chancellor of The Exchequer (finance minister) and his or her shadow who would debate one another face-to-face.
Of course, the head of government, the Prime Minster faces general questions in Westminster style parliamentary systems at least once a week. During many weeks out of the year, the Prime Minister is in parliament engaging in debate multiple days out of the week.
Backbenchers aspiring to a leadership role also engage in regular debates. Thus, due to the fact that all parliamentary proceedings in the UK (as they are in most countries) are filmed, the only debates which ought to be televised before an election are those which show the individuals in question debating within the Parliamentary House of Commons.
But instead of taking this sensible approach, there exists a contemptuous push among an intellectually bereft media class for these vulgar and ultimately useless presidential style debates which in any case were not designed with parliamentary systems in mind. On the 18th of June, the state-run British Broadcasting Corporation conducted one of these grotesque presidential style debates between the men vying to become the next leader of the ruling Conservative party. It would have been a far better use of time to simply show video footage of these men deb`ating the issues from inside the House of Commons.
Instead, a chaotic display ensued which did none of the candidates any particular favours. Not only do presidential systems produce poor economic and social results and are less democratically efficient and transparent, but even the media accoutrements surrounding such systems are as ghastly as a modern day version of human bear baiting.
Last night ought to convince every politician in every parliamentary system throughout the world that the proper thing to do is to refuse participation in any further presidential style debating forum. Such vulgarity ought to be universally rejected in countries with superior parliamentary systems.