You are on page 1of 19

Shall We Call The President?

Pending bills, disrupted sessions, no legislation. Maybe it’s time for Parliament to go, says Shashi Tharoor

ALSO READ „Infighting in BJP is the main reason for Parliament mess‟ „We must delink MPs and MLAs from the Executive‟ “Have provision for referendums on important issues”

Photo Courtesy: Outlook

Our parliamentary system has forced governments to

Every time Parliament grinds to a screaming halt. Has the time not come to rais e anew the case — long consigned to the back burner — for a presidential system in India? The basic outlines of the argument have been clear for some time: our parliamentary system has created a unique breed of legislator. It is time for a change. in Indian conditions. have confirmed once again what some of us have been arguing for years: that the parliamentary system we borrowed from the British has. It has produced governments obliged to focus more on politics than on policy or performance. a new general election. can we. than on staying in office notably the repeated paralysis of Parliament by slogan-shouting members violating (with impunity) every canon of legislative propriety. afford to keep expecting elections to provide miraculous results when we know that they are all but certain to produce inconclusive outcomes and more coalition governments? Isn’t it time we realised the problem is with the system itself? Pluralist democracy is India’s greatest strength. The . or avoiding. whereas ours increasingly promote drift and indecision. the talk is of holding. as a country. India’s many challenges require political arrangements that permit decisive action. but its current manner of operation is the source of our major weaknesses. largely unqualified to legislate. We must have a system of government whose leaders can focus on governance rather than on staying in power. outlived its utility. It has spawned parties that are shifting alliances of individual interests rather than vehicles of coherent sets of ideas. It has distorted the voting preferences of an electorate that knows which individuals it wants but not necessarily which policies. But quite apart from the horrendous costs incurred each time.THE RECENT political concentrate less on governing shenanigans in New Delhi. Let me elaborate. who has sought election only in order to wield (or influence) executive power. It has forced governments to concentrate less on governing than on staying in office. and obliged them to cater to the lowest common denominator of their coalitions.

The main reason for this is that they know how to work the present system and do not wish to alter their ways. . it was from the start unsuited to Indian conditions and is primarily responsible for many of our principal political ills.parliamentary system has not merely outlived any good it could do. rather than applauding by clapping their hands. Like the American revolutionaries of two centuries ago. Even our communists have embraced the system with great delight: an Anglophile Marxist MP. suggested the US presidential system as a model to Indian leaders. which they thought the replication of the Houses of Parliament would both epitomise and guarantee. I had the feeling that they thought I was offering them margarine instead of butter. BUT OUR reasons for choosing the British parliamentary system are themselves embedded in history. Barely any of the many politicians I have discussed this with are even willing to contemplate a change. an affirmative call is still “aye”.” Many of our veteran parliamentarians — several of whom had been educated in England and watched British parliamentary traditions with admiration — revelled in their adherence to British parliamentary convention and complimented themselves on the authenticity of their ways. rather than “yes”. When Bills are put to a vote. To suggest this is political sacrilege in New Delhi. he recalled. When former British prime minister Clement Attlee. “They rejected it with great emphasis. Indian MPs still thump their desks in approbation. as a member of a British constitutional commission. Indian nationalists had fought for “the rights of Englishmen”. Hiren Mukherjee. used to assert proudly that British prime minister Anthony Eden had felt more at home during Question Hour in the Indian Parliament than in the Australian.

waving placards and marching into the well of the House — is routinely honoured in the breach. shouting slogans. Some state Assemblies in our federal system have already witnessed scenes of furniture overturned. Raj Narain. not to mention fisticuffs and garments torn in scuffles. While things have not yet come to such a pass in the national legislature. with adjournments being preferred to expulsions. microphones ripped out and slippers flung by unruly legislators. five MPs in the Rajya Sabha were suspended from membership for charging up to the presiding officer’s desk. Many newspaper readers of my generation (there were no cameras in Parliament then) will recall the photograph of the burly s ocialist MP. they were quietly reinstated. out of a desire to allow the Opposition its space in a system where party-line voting . being bodily carried out of the House by four attendants for shouting out of turn and disobeying the Speaker’s orders to remain seated. a former wrestler. standards have been allowed to slide. wrenching his microphone and tearing up his papers — but after a few months and some muted apologies. Equally striking is the impunity with which lawmakers flout the rules they are elected to uphold. Perhaps this makes sense. shouting slogans. But over the years. as exposure to British practices has faded and India’s natural boisterousness has reasserted itself.Speaking out of turn. There was a time when misbehaviour was firmly dealt with. the code of conduct that is imparted to all newlyelected MPs — including injunctions against speaking out of turn. Last year. waving placards and marching into the well of the House are commonplace But six decades of Independence have wrought significant change.

The parliamentary system devised in Britain — a small island nation with electorates initially of a few thousand voters per MP. We have 44 registered political parties recognised by the Election Commission. as entities separate from the “big tent” of the Congress. whether “national” or otherwise. It requires the existence of clearly defined political parties. a party is all too often a label of convenience a politician adopts and discards as frequently as a film star changes costumes. what on earth is the continuing case. but it does little to enhance the prestige of Parliament. for two separate recognised communist parties and a dozen unrecognised ones?) PRESIDENT PRECEDENTS Blasts From The Past The debate for a presidential form of government over the parliamentary form has been on for some time now • Former president R Venkataraman. Yet there is a more fundamental critique of the parliamentary system than the bad behaviour of some MPs. is a result of electoral arithmetic or regional identities. are fuzzily vague about their beliefs: every party’s “ideology” is one variant or another of centrist populism. (And even there. as minister in the Tamil Nadu government. the existence of the serious political parties. each with a coherent set of policies and preferences that distinguish it from the next. derived to a greater or lesser degree from the Nehruvian socialism of the Congress. not political conviction. from the Adarsh Lok Dal to the Womanist Party of India. The principal parties. But with the sole exceptions of the BJP and the communists. had sent a draft resolution to the AICC in 1965 recommending constituting a committee to examine an executive . whereas in India. and a staggering 903 registered but unrecognised. and even today less than a lakh per constituency — assumes a number of conditions that simply do not exist in India.determines most voting outcomes. after the demise of the Soviet Union and the reinvention of China.

The socialist and communist parties consistently opposed a presidential system. had no difficulty signing the Common Minimum Programme articulated by their “bourgeois” allies. members of the committee framing the report. Antulay and Vasant Sathe. No wonder the communists. the India International Centre conducted a colloquium on the subject with contributions from British peer Max Beloff. when they served in the United Front governments and when they supported the first UPA. notably socialism. Justice KS Hegde and former CJI BP Sinha advocated a fixed executive.The Indian Experience THE LACK of ideological coherence in India is in stark contrast to the UK. but in its attempts to broaden its base of support (and in its apparent conviction that the role of an Opposition is to oppose everything the government does. it sounds — and behaves — . • In 1967. argued vigorously to the contrary. a mixed economy and non-alignment. even policies it used to advocate itself ). if he were strong. secularism. • The Swaran Singh Committee report submitted in 1976 looked into the issue and declared the parliamentary system “best suited” for the country because it “ensures greater responsivene ss to voice of the people”. During the next few years JRD Tata. India’s parties all profess their faith in the same set of rhetorical clichés. among others. Indira Gandhi said it was “an inspired document circulated by mischievous people to create a scare”. SOURCE: Granville Austin’s Working a Democratic Constitution . • The first paper advocating a presidential form was prepared by AR Antulay in 1975 during the Emergency.directly elected by the people for a fixed term. • Jayaprakash Narayan opposed it saying “temptation would be too great for a president. to usurp people’s rights”. With few exceptions. terms they are all equally loath to define. The BJP used to be though t of as an exception. which met with resistance from Jayaprakash Narayan. GD Birla.

if memory serves.more or less like the other parties.) In the absence of a real party system. their public image or other personal qualities. So our parties are not ideologically coherent. It is a perversity only the British could have devised: to vote for a legislature not to legislate but in order to form the executive. (One prominent UP politician. but his voters have been more consistent . and are indeed cheerfully dispensed with (or split/reformed/merged/dissolved) at the convenience of politicians. has switched parties nine times in the past couple of decades. take few distinct positions and do not base themselves on political principles. in our country. usually on the basis of their caste. Photo: EC Archives What our present system has not done as well as other democratic systems might. The sight of a leading figure from a major party leaving it to join another or start his own — which would send shock waves through the political system in other parliamentary democracies — is commonplace. But since the indiv idual is elected in order to be part of a majority that will form the government. therefore. party affiliations matter. except on the emotive issue of national identity. or even an MGR or NTR as their chief minister. not the label he was sporting. As organisational entities. is ensure effective performance . the voter chooses not between parties but between individuals. So voters are told that if they want an Indira Gandhi as prime minister. even banal. they are dispensable. they must vote for someone else in order to indirectly accomplish that result. voting for him.

The prime minister cannot appoint a Cabinet of his choice. cannot afford. The disrepute into which the political process has fallen in India. I shudder to think of what will happen if the next election produces a Parliament of 30-odd parties jostling to . (Yes. with its critical economic and social challenges. And. some with just a handful of MPs. he has to cater to the wishes of the political leaders of several parties. Holding the executive hostage to the agendas of a range of motley partners is nothing but a recipe for governmental instability. changing hands. The Anti-Defection Act of 1985 was necessary because in many states (and. and as also happened three years ago on the Indo-US nuclear deal. and our Parliament has not seen a single-party majority since Rajiv Gandhi lost his in 1989. after 1979. and many ministerial posts. India’s democracy is condemned to be run by the lowest common denominator — hardly a recipe for decisive action. And instability is precisely what India. Given the present national mood. The fact that the principal reason for entering Parliament is to attain governmental office creates four specific problems. dissension by a coalition partner or supporting party can hamstring the government. First. it puts a premium on defections and horsetrading. but our Upper House too has been largely the preserve of fulltime politicians. That cannot happen now without attracting disqualification.So much for theory. But the result of the profusion of small parties is that today we have a coalition government of a dozen parties. so the bargaining has shifted to the allegiance of whole parties rather than individuals. can be traced directly to the workings of the parliamentary system. at the Centre) parliamentary floor -crossing had become a popular pastime. and the widespread cynicism about the motives of our politicians.) Second. Under the current system. it limits executive posts to those who are electable rather than to those who are able. he can bring some members in through the Rajya Sabha. with lakhs of rupees. so the talent po ol has not been significantly widened. as we have just seen in the debacle over FDI in retail.

. many Opposition members feel that the best way to show the strength of their feelings is to disrupt the lawmaking rather than debate the law. Last year. this year’s winter session has seen two weeks of daily adjournments. an entire session was lost to such daily disruptions. The well of the House — supposed to be sacrosanct — becomes a stage for the members of the Opposition to crowd and jostle. applying its collective mind freely to the nation’s laws. Fourth. adjourns in despair. The ruling coalition inevitably issues a whip to its members in order to ensure unimpeded passage of a Bill. with very many Bills passing after barely five minutes of debate. after several futile attempts to restore order. In India’s Parliament. like towns and panchayats THIRD. Parliament itself serves not as a solemn deliberative body. MPs loyally vote as their p arty directs. The parliamentary system does not permit the existence of a legislature distinct from the executive. but also at local levels. Most laws are drafted by the executive — in practice by the bureaucracy — and parliamentary input into their formulation and passage is minimal. waving placards and chanting slogans until the Speaker. but as a theatre for the demonstration of their power to disrupt. Photo: AFP We need strong executives not only at the Centre and in the states. for those parties that do not get into government and realise that the outcome of most votes is a foregone conclusion. LEGISLATION suffers. many in the presence of bemused visiting members of other countries’ legislatures. and since defiance of a whip itself attracts disqualification.see which permutation of their numbers will get them the best rewards.

But that is what democracy has done. might better evade the problems we have experienced with political factionalism. with a president serving both as head of state and head of government. never been clearer.Apologists for the present system say in its defence that it has served to keep the country together and given every Indian a stake in the nation’s political destiny. Either approach would separate the legislative functions from the executive. the prospects for parliamentary chaos distracting the elected president are considerable. The French version. An American or Latin American model. is superficially more attractive. in my view. The case for a presidential system of either the French or the American style has. But. This is what the Sri Lankans opted for when they jettisoned the British model. by combining presidential rule with a parliamentary government headed by a prime minister. Any form of genuine democracy would do that — and ensuring popular participation and accountability between elections is vitally necessary. But what our present system has not done as well as other democratic systems might. A LEGISLATIVE YEAR LOST Lok Sabha Session Winter 2010 Budget 2011 Monsoon 2011 Planned hours 144 138 156 Actual sitting 8 117 104 Time lost (%) 90% 18% 33% Bills introduced Plan 32 34 34 Performance 9 9 13 Rajya Sabha Session Planned Actual Time lost Plan Performance . since it resembles our own system. and most important. is ensure effective performance. given India’s fragmented party system. not the parliamentary system. except for reversing the balance of power between the president and the council of ministers. free the executive from dependence on the legislature for its survival.

would have stability of tenure free from legislative whim. and above all. Why. Time of sitting of Rajya Sabha has been taken as 11 am to 5 pm. Financial and Appropriation Bills are not included. Parliament often compensates for lost time by sitting overtime. At the end of a fixed period of time — let us say the same five years we currently accord to our Lok Sabha — the public would be able to judge the individual on performance in improving the lives of Indians. and not just to government. Session 8: Statement of work. Lok Sabha. (prepared by PRS Legislative) A directly-elected chief executive in New Delhi. and the president will truly be able to claim to speak for a majority of Indians rather than a majority of MPs. 2010 Session 5-7: Resume of work. It is a compelling case. instead of being vulnerable to the shifting sands of coalition -support politics. then. rather than on political skill at keeping a government in office. be able to devote his or her energies to governance. be able to appoint a Cabinet of talents. do the arguments for a presidential system get such short shrift from our political class? Photo: AFP . The above data does not take this into account. The Indian voter will be able to vote directly for the individual he or she wants to be ruled by. Resume of work Rajya Sabha NOTE: Time of sitting of Lok Sabha has been taken as 11 am to 6 pm.hours Winter 2010 Budget 2011 Monsoon 2011 120 115 130 sitting 3 80 81 (%) 89% 17% 41% 31 33 37 0 3 10 SOURCE: Session 1-4: Statistical Handbook.

most of which suffer from precisely the same maladies I have identified in our national system. but also at the local levels. Most non-politicians in India would see this as a disqualification. Those who reject a presidential system on the grounds that it mi ght lead to dictatorship may be assured that the powers of the president would thus be balanced by those of the directly-elected chief executives in the states. an executive chief minister or governor should also be directly elected in each of the states. Of course. some around Indira Gandhi contemplated abandoning the parliamentary system for a modified form of Gaullism. thereby discrediting the idea of presidential government in m any democratic Indian eyes. rather than as a recommendation for a decaying s tatus quo. to offset the temptation for a national president to become all-powerful. ruling the country by fiat. and to give real substance to the decentralisation essential for a country of India’s size. They conjure up the image of an imperious president. In any case. They are comfortable with it. The more serious argument advanced by liberal democrats is that the presidential system carries with it the risk of dictatorship. Even a communist autocracy like China empowers its local authorities with . The case for such a system in the states is even stronger than in the Centre. they know how to make it work for themselves. immune to parliamentary defeat and impervious to public opinio n.We have a coalition of a dozen parties. Our Parliament has not seen single-party majority since Rajiv Gandhi lost his in 1989 At the most basic level. it does not help that. I would go farther: we need strong executives not only at the Centre and in the states. they have polished the skills required to triumph in it. But the Emergency is itself the best answer to such fears: it demonstrated that even a parliamentary system can be distorted to permit autocratic rule. during the Emergency. Dictatorship is not the result of a particular type of governmental system. our parliamentarians’ fondness for the parliamentary system rests on familiarity: this is the system they know.

Is that the most important thing for India. sanitation. “My Cabinet must look like America. everything (from the required permissions to land. democracy is an end in itself. [See box for Ambedkar’s remarks. Changing to a presidential system is the best way of ensuring a democracy that works. But few Indians are proud of the kind of politics our democracy has inflicted upon us. we must have a democracy that delivers progress to our people. a mayor is little more than a glorified committee chairman. INTELLECTUAL DEFENDERS of the present system feel that it does remarkably well in reflecting the heterogeneity of the Indian people and “bringing them along” on the journey of national development. which — given the logic of electoral arithmetic and the pluralist reality of India — is bound to be a home for our country’s heterogeneity. Democracy. some ask.” The risk that some sort of monolithic uniformity would follow the adoption of a presidential system is not a serious one. is vital for India’s survival: our chronic pluralism is a basic elemen t of what we are. and we are right to be proud of it. security and financial or tax incentives) follows automatically. BR Ambedkar had argued in the Constituent Assembly that the framers of the Constitution felt the parliamentary system placed “responsibility” over “stability” while the presidential did the opposite. Any president worth his (democratic) salt would name a Cabinet reflecting the diversity of our nation: as Bill Clinton said in his own country. To give effect to meaningful self -government. each with real authority and financial resources to deliver results in their own geographical areas. whereas in India. but the idea is the same. we need directly elected mayors. he did not refer to “accountability” and “performance” as the two choices. But even a president would have to work with an elected legislature. as I have argued in my many books. water. which a presidential system might not.] Are efficiency and performance the most important yardsticks for . with little power and minimal resources. panchayat presidents and zilla presidents. Yes. With the needs and challenges of one -sixth of humanity before our leaders.genuine decentralised powers: if a businessman agrees on setting up a factory with a town mayor.

yes: after six-and-a-half decades of freedom. but what’s wrong with that? Parliamentary Over Presidential BR Ambedkar’s remarks in the Constituent Assembly on why we chose the parliamentary system THE PRESIDENTIAL system of America is based upon the separation of the executive and the legislature. Ministers have the same rights as other members of Parliament. democratic and the choice . the chances of any party other than the president’s receiving an overwhelming majority in the House — and being able to block the president’s plans — are minimal indeed. that they can sit in Parliament. If such a situation does arise . But in the era of coalitions that we have entered. The Draft Constitution does not recognise this doctrine. “muddling through” as the “functioning anarchy” in Galbraith’s famous phrase? To me. when the inefficiencies of our present system have arguably helped keep India united. as Barack Obama has discovered. it might. take part in debates and vote in its proceedings. of course. Photo: Getty Images Both systems of government are. Only MPs can become ministers.judging our system. it would test the mettle of the leadership of the day. The ministers under the Indian Union are MPs. namely. It is time to fo cus on delivering results for our people. we can take our democracy and our unity largely for granted. So that the president and his secretaries cannot be members of the Congress. Some ask what would happen to issues of performance if a president and a legislature were elected from opposite and antagonistic parties: would that not impede efficiency? Yes.

on the other hand. It must be a responsible executive Unfortunately. Looking at it from the point of view of responsibility. A democratic executive must satisfy two conditions: 1. which means that it is not dependent for its existence upon a majority in the Congress. The British system. which gives you more responsibility but less stability. while a parliamentary executive being more dependent upon a majority in Parliament become more responsible. It must be a stable executive. and 2. Being a non-parliamentary executive. where the parliamentary system prevails. a non -parliamentary executive being independent of Parliament tends to be less responsible to the legislature. which means that it is dependent upon a majority in Parliament. gives you more responsibility but less stability. The reason for this is obvious. while the British system is a parliamentary executive. the assessment of the responsibility of the execut ive is periodic.between the two is not very easy. The American executive is a non-parliamentary executive. such as the one that exists in USA. You can have a system which can give you more stability but less responsibility or you can have a system. In England. it has not been possible so far to devise a system which can ensure both in equal degree. the Congress of the Unit ed States cannot dismiss the executive. the assessment of responsibility of the executive is both daily and periodic. A parliamentary government must resign the moment it loses the confidence of a majority of the members of Parliament. The American and the Swiss systems give more stability but less responsibility. Under the non-parliamentary system. The parliamentary system differs from a non -parliamentary system in as much as the former is more responsible than the latter but they also differ as to the time and agency for assessment of their responsibility. The daily . It is done by the electorate.

but that is a far fetched possibility. given that even Indira Gandhi. When it comes to choosing a president. the virtue of a system of directly-elected chief executives at all levels would be the straightforward lines of division between the legislative and executive branches of government. Under parliamentary system. Given the fragmented nature of our party system. therefore. which may take place every five years or earlier. at the hei ght of . however. The daily assessment of responsibility that is not av ailable under the American system is it is felt far more effective than the periodic assessment and far more necessary in a country like India. would enter the lists. (In order to have a manageable number of candidates. or better still. A presidential set-up will renew demand for an India for Indians As in France. we would need two rounds of voting.assessment is done by members of Parliament. In the first. adjournment motions and debates on addresses. and how would they avoid the distortions that our Westminster-style parliamentary system has bequeathed us? In my view. The electoral process to get there may not initially be all that simple. one candidate manages to win 50 percent of the vote (plus one). The draft Constitution in recommending the parliamentary system of executive has preferred more responsibility to more stability.” What precisely would the mechanisms be for popularly electing a president. both. with or without strong party backing. we have to accept that elections in our country will remain a messy affair: it will be a long while before Indian politics arranges itself into the conveniently tidy two-party system of the US. we would have to insist that their nomination papers be signed by at least 10 parliamentarians.) If. resolutions. or 20 members of a state Assembly. he or she is elected in the first round. by some miracle. no-confidence motions. we are defined by narrowness. Periodic assessment is done by the electorate at the time of the election. every self-proclaimed netaji. through questions. it is the French electoral model I would turn to.

But then Obama came along . and no worse. or that only one Welshman has been prime minister of Great Britain. it is no accident that every president of the United States from 1789 to 2008 was a white male Christian (and all bar one a Protestant). no one would win in the first round. Photo: AFP Democracies favour majorities. came from Uttar Pradesh. How does it matter? Most democratic systems tend to favour majorities. proving that majorities can identify themselves with the right representative even of a visible minority. but the answer surely is that their chances would be no better. But then Obama came along. a president will emerge who truly has received the suppo rt of a majority of the country’s electorate. Seven of India’s first 11 prime ministers. The defeated as pirants will throw their support to one or the other survivor. after all.her popularity. a couple of weeks later. every US president from 1789 to 2008 was a white Christian. perhaps a similar proportion of our directly elected presidents will be from UP as well. More plausibly. Indian politicians being what they are. never won more than 47 percent of the national vote for the Congress. the two highest vote-getters would then face each other in round two. than they are under our present system. there will be some hard bargaining and the exchange of promises and compromises. which surely has no monopoly on political wisdom. but in the end. Does such a system not automatically favour candidates from the more populous states? Is there any chance that someone from Manipur or Lakshadweep will ever win the votes of a majority of the country’s voters? Could a Muslim or a Dalit be elected president? These are fair questions.

has elected a white Prime Minister (Edward Seaga). I would also borrow from the US the idea of an Electoral College. have to be far more of a national figure than a prime minister who owes his position to a handful of political kingmakers in a coalition card-deal. The right minority candidate. A story with a certain ring of plausibility in India. whereas in our present parliamentary system. Indeed. so that crushing numbers in the cow belt alone would not be enough . where former president Alberto Fujimori’s ethnicity (Japanese) covers less than one percent of the population. who happened to be the widow of the nationalist hero Cheddi Jagan. A directly-elected president will. Carlos Saul Menem. by seeking votes in the name of religion.I dare say that the need to appeal to the rest of the country will oblige a would-be president from UP to reach across the boundaries of region. In Argentina. in other words. a politician elected in his constituency on the basis of precisely such parochial appeals can jockey his way to the prime ministership. caste and religion. . a voting population overweeningly proud of its European origins twice elected a son of Syrian immigrants. elected as president a white American Jewish woman. by definition. President Daniel arap Moi hailed from a tribe that makes up just 11 percent of the population. Politicians of all faiths across India have sought to mobilise voters by appealing to narrow identities. language... The adoption of a presidential system will send our politicians scurrying back to the drawing boards. which is 97 percent black. a country that is 50 percent Indian and 47 percent black. to ensure that our less populous states are not ignored by candidates: the winner would also be required to carry a majority of states. And why should the Indian electorate prove less enlightened than others around the world? Jamaica. caste and region. to choose the presidential system is not necessarily to make future Narasimha Raos or Manmohan Singhs impossible. the same phenomenon occurred in Peru. they have urged voters to define themselves on these lines. can command a majority. In Kenya. the voters of Guyana.

A presidential system will oblige candidates to renew the demand for an India for the Indians. a presidential term will have to be justified in terms of results. Jharkhand for the Jharkhandis. Any politician with aspirations to rule India as president will have to win the people’s support beyond his or her home turf. a Bodo or a Yadav than to be an Indian. other minorities. he or she will have to reach out to other groups. Our politics has created a discourse in which the clamour goes up for Assam for the Assamese. other interests. we are more and more defined by our narrow particulars. .Under our parliamentary system. and it has become more important to be a Muslim. Maharashtra for the Maharashtrians. And since the directly-elected president will not have coalition partners to blame for any inaction. and accountability will be direct and personal. In that may lie the presidential system’s ultimate vindication.