close
Advertisement
Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

Capital suggestion

April 21, 2019

The fourth republic

Opinion

April 21, 2019

The First French Republic was founded in 1792. Yes, Paris “was plagued by food riots and mass hunger.” The new convention “did little to remedy the problem.” A new constitution was promulgated. The French Second Republic failed to deliver and was thus short-lived. In 1870, France adopted a new system of governance, the French Third Republic. The Third Republic failed to deliver. Between 1946 and 1958, France had the French Fourth Republic, “governed by the fourth republican constitution.”

Yes, the Fourth Republic collapsed and in 1958 the Fifth French Republic was established under a new constitution. The fifth republic replaced the parliamentary republic of the Fourth Republic with a new “semi-presidential, dual-executive with a strong head of state” system of governance.

In 1972, South Korea adopted a new constitution under the fourth republic. In 1981, the Philippines came under the Fourth Republic. In 1993, the Fourth Republic of Ghana was established. In 1996, Niger adopted a new constitution under the Fourth Republic. In 1999, Nigeria under the Fourth Republic adopted a new constitution. In 2011, Hungary wrote up a new constitution and established the Fourth Republic.

In order to rectify political dysfunction, countries draw out new constitutions. Others write up new constitutions in order to strengthen the state. Yes, new constitutions are written when the old ones fail to deliver. Yes, new constitutions are written if the old ones keep throwing up frequent crisis.

The 1956 constitution of Pakistan provided for a parliamentary form of government, a unicameral legislature, prime minister as head of government and a president as a ceremonial head of state. It did not work out. In 1962, the presidential system was introduced under a new constitution. From an economic standpoint, the 1962 constitution worked well. The Constitution of 1973 established a bicameral parliament with the prime minister as head of government.

Is the Constitution of 1973 working? Are checks and balances working? Has the Constitution of 1973 strengthened the state? What has been the frequency of crisis under the Constitution of 1973? Do we need to establish the Fourth Republic?

Yes, the media is exposing corruption at all the high places and corruption in all of its four dimensions – cronyism, nepotism, patronage and embezzlement. But, isn’t our system of checks and balances out of sync? We have already experimented with autocracy, authoritarianism, kleptocracy (government by those who expand their personal wealth also referred to as ‘rule by thieves’) and kakistocracy (‘a system of government which is run by the worst the least qualified’). For the record, there are around 12 dozen democracies around the world of which 100 are presidential or semi-presidential and around three dozen parliamentary (a number of parliamentary democracies are ex-British colonies).

Our policies and institutions are inefficient. Why? Answer: Because it is in the benefit of the political class to have inefficient policies and institutions. The electricity sector is leaking – and the government is least bothered. The gas sector is leaking – and the government has no clue what to do. The public procurement sector is leaking – and the government is least bothered. We need to rectify our political dysfunction. Our democracy is weak and vulnerable. We need to strengthen our state.

Democracy in this country is on trial – like never before. We need more democracy, not less. We want neither oligarchy nor aristocracy; neither tyranny nor monarchy. What we want is democracy-and what we want is meritocracy. The Constitution of 1956. The Constitution of 1962. The Constitution of 1973. Do we now need to establish the Fourth Republic?

The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad.

Email: [email protected] Twitter: @saleemfarrukh

Topstory minus plus

Opinion minus plus

Newspost minus plus

Editorial minus plus

National minus plus

World minus plus

Sports minus plus

Business minus plus

Karachi minus plus

Lahore minus plus

Islamabad minus plus

Peshawar minus plus