Consensual democracy and the judiciary

The focus of this column is upon the judiciary and it is important to note that an essential chapter in the playbook of the modern autocrat – Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan – is to insidiously install loyalists in this institution (How Democracies Fall Apart: Foreign Affairs, 05/12/2016). Of course, control of the judiciary is an essential feature of all autocracies and by way of electoral manipulations over thirty years to 1992, the PNC had control of the executive and legislature, which was bequeathed it by our pre-republican Westminster constitution,  and the judiciary was a pawn in its hands. So much so that positive decisions such as that which occurred in the 1979 Seeram Teemal case, in which the court decided that the withdrawal of an increment given to the sugar worker was illegal, are still revered.

The, PPP/C came to government and found a weakened but not particularly supportive judiciary that soon vitiated the presidency of the late Janet Jagan and set the PPP/C firmly on the road trying to politically dominate society. As with the PNC, the PPP/C had constitutional control over the executive and the legislature and knew that it had to have, at the very least, significant influence over the judiciary if it was to achieve its goal. Quite unwittingly I believe, the PNC substantially aided that party in accomplishing its task by allowing it considerable leverage over the higher echelons of the judiciary and thus the judiciary itself. I make these points because it appears to me that the stage is set for a recurrence of the latter process!

Understandably, given its aim the PPP/C wanted ….

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In Federalism by any other name…: (SN: 12/6/2013) I said ‘I think that with the following statement by Mr.

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Democratising political parties

‘Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.

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