One of my photos

Philadelphia Freedom

November 22nd, 2008 · Posted by Skuds in Politics · No Comments · Politics

Earlier in the month I was rambling about the US political system and its differences to ours.  I forgot a couple: one good and one bad.

The good one is the way they have a handover period after an election.  There are several practical ways that this can be a benefit.  Inthe case of America it is almost essential.  An incoming president has to sort out loads of staff positions that, over here, would be filled by civil servants who stay in place – at least initially.   How would they manage the country while they are still getting their staff in place? The country would effectively be without a functioning president for a month.

It also works out well for the departing president (and VP, Sec of State, and all the others), giving them a chance to tie up loose ends.  It seems more practical and civilised than the way our lot drop everything.

The only downside is that it leaves the way open for so-called midnight legislation.

Connected to this handover period is the other difference between our systems, and one I am not so keen on: the presidential pardons.  US presidents do have the power to issue pardons at any time, and to grant immunity from prosecution as well, but they have a habit of issuing a load just before they leave office.  Just the ability for such pardons and immunity to be granted on the whim of one person really undermines the rest of the democratic and legal structures – and of course their legal structure is more democratic anyway, with judges being elected rather than appointed.

I know that our home secretary has the ability to over-turn court decisions, but it is not done lightly and certainly not in the blatant favours-for-friends way that US presidents have done in the past.  For a country with so much more democraticinputto te legal system it seems strange that they allow this great big loophole – one which Conrad Black is hoping to exploit.

Talking of whom…  loved the reference to Conrad Black in tonight’s The IT Crowd.  “Conrad Black?  The first rich personto go to jail for 300 years?”

Tags: ·

No Comments so far ↓

Like the collective mind of the Daily Mail, comments are closed.