Do parliaments need a separate executive?


Don’t ever read the comments. But if you do, this one by Lazarus on a recent news article made me think:

Under our system, the executive is formed by a party representing ‘control’ of the lower house. That ‘control’ is only achieved through the system of whips and party patronage. The executive is not only formed by these group[s], but formed from this group, hence putting their constituent representative obligations, potentially at odds with their executive solidarity obligations.

Perhaps a separation of legislative and executive branches may be seen as a more important focus in the design of a future (and inevitable) Republic of Australia….rather than the relatively simple issue of replacing the Queen with a home grown Head of State.

They raise an interesting point. Prime Ministers in Westminster-style systems like Australia, Canada, and the UK are selected from elected members of the lower house by convention, or the unicameral house in the case of Singapore. Mmm, unicaramel. 🍫

I long thought this was a great idea; you can’t vote for a leader out of the blue with no political experience. But it does present potential conflict of interest; what might be good for the state, like a nuclear power station, may be seen as negative if built in their seat.

I’m not sure to what extent that has informed past decisions by PMs, but it’s an intriguing possibility. And it’s the first time I’ve been convinced a separate executive branch makes sense, as France and the United States have.

For my American readers, Nancy Pelosi would be the equivalent to a Prime Minister, as she was selected by the Democrats who have control of your lower house. It works for us because our actual executive is a Queen who, by convention, doesn’t interfere in politics. Well, almost.

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