Our perception of presidential power will largely determine not only how we behave towards the individual and how they will act toward us but also how we will act if, perchance, we ever hold that office. How Guyanese presidents have strode the political stage has left many of us believing that the presidency is an autocratic institution that enables the incumbent to do as s/he chooses. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.

There are formal checks upon presidential authority: the legislature, the courts, the executive, local authorities, the media, civil society organisations, other states, international law and institutions, etc. Certainly in the United States of America, but even in a highly centralised political system such as ours, power is dispersed among many actors who must be properly placated if the presidential agenda it to be successfully accomplished. For a US president to succeed, Richard Neustadt, whose 1959 book Presidential Power (often revised and still being widely used today), observed and pioneered the idea that he must have three qualities: the power to persuade, a good professional reputation and high public prestige…..

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