Monday, June 14, 2021

Parliamentary oddities

In Israel, some alarm is being expressed at the deal made by the partners in the new Israeli government, by which the new prime minister, Naftali Bennett, will only be prime minister for a couple of years and then will yield to one of his coalition partners, Yair Lapid, who actually controls more seats than Bennett does. A New York Times op-ed suggests this must be a constitutional revolution and a Bad Thing  Surely a prime minister has to be The Boss, no?  Prime minister is another name for president, isn't it, and there has to be a president.

In Northern Ireland, the government leader, Arlene Foster of the Democrat Unionist Party (read, Protestant, pro-union with Britain), did not oppose a bill to end conversion therapy, and her infuriated caucus found that intolerable and removed her from leadership. They then chose her cabinet colleague Edwin Poots, who is mostly famous for believing the Earth is 6000 years old. But Poots wants to be party leader without being government leader, and he designated another cabinet minister, Girvan by name, to be first minister. But under the Good Friday agreements, the opposition party, Sinn Fein (read Catholic, pro-union with Eire) is entitled to name the deputy first minister.  And amidst the bizarre doings at the DUP, it says it will refuse to make that appointment -- and thereby bring down the government -- unless it gets a bunch of its own demands met. (Sounds like the DUP should say sure, force an election. Anything else means letting one party choose the other's leader, which would be strange even in Northern Ireland.)

In Canada, a Green Party MP who was too pro-Palestine for the Greens has switched to the Liberal Party, apparently on the theory that the Liberals will be more tolerant of unorthodox behaviour from backbenchers. (!)  It has been suggested she should not be allowed to change parties without standing for re-election, as if she represented the Greens and not the constituency.    

It's amazing how people (I was going to say political scientists, but the rot goes much further) always want to invent into existence all kinds of rules to prevent parliamentary processes from functioning. In working parliamentary systems, a prime minister is anyone the governing caucus will support -- for as long as they choose to support him or her. So Bennett and Girvan are perfectly plausible prime ministers). A caucus consists of any MP that wants to be a caucus member and is accepted by the other caucus members. It ain't statutory -- and conventions are habits, not statutes.

Update, June 15: Now the council of the Green Party is considering initiating the possible removal of their recently elected leader.      

Follow @CmedMoore