Thursday, December 08, 2016

History of accountable leadership

Some guy, an Islamophone, and a misogyst, on a stage
A gang of incompetents and nobodies -- fourteen, at last count -- is spending eighteen months and hundreds of thousands of dollars, trying out all kinds of extremist positions, in an effort to buy themselves the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada in one of those orgies where untold thousands of "members" get to participate for a ten fifteen-buck fee. (Update: about 85,000 individuals are known to have signed up; how many tens of thousands of newly purchased votes may be dumped into the process at some strategic moment remains secret.)

The prime minister of New Zealand, John Key, announced this week that he no longer wished to be prime minister.  On Monday his successor, likely to be Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Bill English, will be selected by his party caucus.  Time: one week.  Cost: zero.  

Not only will the new boss be chosen by a selection committee (the caucus of elected MPs) that actually knows the strengths and weaknesses of the potential candidates, but perfect parliamentary accountability will be maintained. The caucus members making the selection remain answerable to the voters, and the prime minister they have selected will remain constantly accountable to them.

Well, almost constantly accountable. New Zealand had a long record lively party caucuses and of prime ministers and party leaders stepping down, not on their own timetables, but when their caucuses concluded they had outlived their usefulness and ceased to support them.

After New Zealand adopted  proportional representation, however, party caucuses acquired blocs of MPs who did not represent any constituency but were appointed to the House by their parties. It was quickly determined that they should not make up their own minds on issues and must support the party line. MPs still get to vote on party leadership -- but since the adoption of PR and the introduction of party-appointed MPs, no prime minister of New Zealand has been removed by his caucus. Hmmm

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