Friday, February 16, 2018

History of head of state elections in South Africa

President Ramaphosa
I was delighted to observe the richly deserved removal from office of South African President Jacob Zuma, but a little puzzled by how the presidency seemed to be completely in the gift of the African National Congress party, as if he were merely a party executive and not the President of the nation and people of South Africa.

South Africa has a particular variant of parliamentary democracy, in which the national legislature elects a president from among its own members.  The president thereupon must resign from the legislature and becomes an executive president, with both real and ceremonial powers. It's the election of president directly by the legislature that gives the majority party the freedom to name and remove presidents without much regard to opposition parties or the will of the population.  The apartheid struggle, and the ANC's large majorities since, have conditioned it to blur party, state, and nation, in this and other matters.

I take note mostly because when Canada transitions to a republic, a key choice to be made will be how to select a governor general, and what powers that office will hold. There are lots of cautionary examples around the world. 
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