Jump to content
Political Discussion Forums

Chiefs of State & Heads of Government


Recommended Posts

I started a thread on constitutional monarchy and its utility in modern democracies today.  Not all countries with parliamentary political machinery are monarchies of course.  Some are republics, some are constitutional monarchies, and some are what Wikipedia refers to as "crowned republics".

What is the purpose (and advantage) of separating the position of head of state and head of government in a democracy? A mostly-ceremonial head of state is a concept that bemuses American political science students, since it's something we're terribly unfamiliar with--we combine the divine and the human natures in one role, like...I dunno, Jesus or something.  (Appropriate for its present occupant.)

One wonders, if some monarchies are simply "crowned republics" (their chiefs of state have only ceremonial duties, not even in theory do their legal roles bear constitutional substance) then why is there even a head of state at all in some parliamentary governments? The emperor of Japan for example, is little more than a notary public with ceremonial duties.  I think it was Walter Bagehot who said the Queen has three roles: the right to be consulted, the right to advise, and the right to warn.  The emperor has no such rights, if I understand correctly.  The President of Ireland, if I understand, has no rights either.  No mystical concept of sovereignty is inherited from the old kings of Ireland.  Even the Taoisich--which means "cheiftain"--refers not to their president but to their PM.

Here's my question: can you have a parliamentary republic that has no head of state position whatsoever? (Think of the Star Wars prequels: the Supreme Chancellor is elected by the Senate but there is no separate head of state of the Galactic Republic....closest example I can think of.)  Would it really matter?

 

Edited by JamesHackerMP
Link to post
Share on other sites

In Canada, the Queen has all the authority and no power. The Prime Minister has the power but no authority. No General, Judge or politicial can legally have that ultimate authority. The Crown is the ultimate check on the actions of the Prime Minister. She appoints him and she can dismiss him."Can you have a parliamentary republic that has no head of state position whatsoever?"

Yes, but it would be unwise. It is important to deny that ultimate authority to someone with power.

 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/23/2017 at 4:18 AM, JamesHackerMP said:

Here's my question: can you have a parliamentary republic that has no head of state position whatsoever? (Think of the Star Wars prequels: the Supreme Chancellor is elected by the Senate but there is no separate head of state of the Galactic Republic....closest example I can think of.)  Would it really matter?

 

James Hacker, aside from your derivative references to Star Wars, you ask good questions - as did people in America in the 18th century.

The State is one thing. A government something else. The Head of State is one person; and a head of government possibly someone else.

Go figure.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The Monarch is the personification of the State. Louis was right. Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada is, by tradition, the personification of Canada. She is the second longest reigning monarch in our history. Louis XIV was the longest and he was also the personification of Canada.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Time we got our own de facto head of state by electing the GG by plebiscite. Once QEII departs for her eternal reward we should quietly downgrade the foreign link and choose our own figurehead whom we can replace. Thus the monarchists could still point to Charles as our de jure king while the rest of us look to a Canadian elected by the people. Alternatively, we could just ignore QEII's demise and make her the monarch in perpetuity. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

It seems to me the only real difference between maintaining the monarchy and establishing a Canadian Republic would be that the prime minister no longer gets to choose the person who is effectively the real head of state in Canada--the governor general.  As I understood it, the separation between the two is one of the hallmarks of parliamentary democracy.  When the PM is effectively choosing the GG by personal fiat, doesn't that violate the separation of head of state/head of government principle?

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 7 months later...
  • 3 weeks later...
On 9.5.2017 at 6:58 AM, SpankyMcFarland said:

Time we got our own de facto head of state by electing the GG by plebiscite. Once QEII departs for her eternal reward we should quietly downgrade the foreign link and choose our own figurehead whom we can replace. Thus the monarchists could still point to Charles as our de jure king while the rest of us look to a Canadian elected by the people. Alternatively, we could just ignore QEII's demise and make her the monarch in perpetuity. 

You do that already, don't you? I mean, Canada can pick anyone it wants as its GC and the Queen in London just signs in the approval.

More relevant is the question how much power does the GC have. In Australia in 1975 their GC dismissed the PM after the PM failed to get the budget passed and the opposition-leader was appointed as PM. There was a deep crisis involving debate could the GC really do that but he did so he could.

Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, -TSS- said:

You do that already, don't you? I mean, Canada can pick anyone it wants as its GC and the Queen in London just signs in the approval.

More relevant is the question how much power does the GC have. In Australia in 1975 their GC dismissed the PM after the PM failed to get the budget passed and the opposition-leader was appointed as PM. There was a deep crisis involving debate could the GC really do that but he did so he could.

Effectively, the PM picks the GG after consultations. I would like to see the GG elected by popular vote through some mechanism. 

The GG should be mainly a ceremonial post. When governments lose budget votes, things can get complicated. 

 

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/3/2018 at 9:17 PM, SpankyMcFarland said:

Effectively, the PM picks the GG after consultations. I would like to see the GG elected by popular vote through some mechanism. 

The GG should be mainly a ceremonial post. When governments lose budget votes, things can get complicated. 

 

 

 

You run the danger of having a politician as head of state. That would have the potential of having a GG who is from a different political persuasion and refuse to sign the government's legislation into law or she could dismiss the PM for partisan political reasons. 

Your main problem is such a change requires a Constitutional amendment and no sane government would ever open up that can of poisonous snakes. Remember Meech?

 

Edited by Queenmandy85
Link to post
Share on other sites

Germany has a politician--or at least an ex-politician quite often--as its head of state. And the president has the authority to veto a bill IF he can justify it on constitutional grounds (it violates the constitution). It's only been done a handful of times since 1949, but it's been done.

A republic cannot really have a totally-neutral head of state. But Canada's not really a republic or a monarchy, it's what you might call a crowned republic. Since the Queen will automatically accept any PM's recommendation for GG, it means that your GG is actually far more political than his German counterpart, the bundespraesident.

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2018-02-07 at 10:37 AM, Queenmandy85 said:

You run the danger of having a politician as head of state. That would have the potential of having a GG who is from a different political persuasion and refuse to sign the government's legislation into law or she could dismiss the PM for partisan political reasons. 

Your main problem is such a change requires a Constitutional amendment and no sane government would ever open up that can of poisonous snakes. Remember Meech?

 

At the moment the PM takes some advice before making the decision. All I'm suggesting is a wider trawl for opinions. Would a non-binding plebiscite require constitutional change? Perhaps.

Other countries have ceremonial Presidents elected by popular vote who hail from various parties. The thing is that if your legitimacy comes from a vote you are less likely to be intimidated by a PM than if they picked you themselves. 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 months later...

I had started this thread a long time ago, and I'm sorry if I abandoned it somewhat prematurely. 

What's Meech? I wanted to ask about that.

The U.S. president combines the two roles; it is legislative power, however that we deny him. Not a perfect way of doing things--no constitution has ever worked perfectly at all times--but it's worked well enough for 200+ years that after 27 amendments to the constitution, none of them have changed the basic framework of legislative-executive separation of powers.

Edited by JamesHackerMP
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Announcements



×
×
  • Create New...