The current Israeli political chaos leaves the country with the distinct likelihood of having a fifth, and doubtless inconclusive general election in a little over two years.
In the post-war years, France and Italy went through similar farcical scenarios with just about everyone having a crack at being Prime Minister, albeit often for just a few months. John Steinbeck wrote a delightful novella in 1957, “The Short Reign of Pippin”, taking the mickey out of the French situation.
Yet life went on in Italy and France while Israel has led the world with covid vaccinations and has a sophisticated, successful economy. Thus a case could be made for the de facto removal of politicians from the governing process, leaving the public servants to mind the shop.
So long as we have elections the public will be satisfied that they’re living in a democracy. Yet the irony is that in the few democracies left in the world, it’s non-stop grumbling about the calibre of power pursuing politicians and let’s face it, it’s mostly justified.
The latest Economist reveals the astonishing recent years economic and social success of Bangladesh, which I confess was news to me.
Nevertheless, the numbers show that it now hugely surpasses its original state, Pakistan, on all economic counts, and is on India’s tail to attain the top performing sub-continental king of the castle status.
It was of course originally East Pakistan but the 1971 civil war saw it become Bangladesh and for years was viewed as a basket-case. But no longer.
I certainly remember that war as I was in Kabul during it and each day the Pakistan and Indian embassies shoved newsletters under our hotel room door, both claiming victory in the previous day’s battles.
But here’s the point. The Economist in no uncertain terms, spelled out why Bangladesh would be even better off was it not for the damage done by its politicians.
I suspect that could be the case for all democracies. We can expect in Israel for example, general elections, all inconclusive, at six month intervals hereafter, with the bureaucracies actually running the show and Israel becoming even wealthier.
So if the Economist is correct re politicians negative impact, my suspicion is a study would reveal a similar situation for all democracies, including our own.
As it is anyway, most government initiatives are those recommended by the relevant bureaucracies, supposedly expert in the matter at hand.
So do we need politicians? The answer is yes so as to maintain the sense of living in a democracy, with the qualification that they concentrate solely on political quarrelling in their relentless personal power pursuit, but otherwise stay out of things.
So as long as the public service decisions are subject to public examination and if necessary appeal, then it will be happiness all round.
Bangladesh is interesting. Many of its problems were caused by massive repeated floods, largely the fault of deforestation by India, and their location on the Ganges floodplains. The country is quickly getting ahead now that they have some decent civil engineers staying in the country-it’s a problem for all developing nations-people leave to get an education and don’t come back, and also because they aren’t wasting their development loans on weapons a-la the Pakistani/India silliness. Good luck to them.
Public service decisions being subject to public examination…The horse is often left the stables by the time the examination happens…..
Backroom deals and private workshops are second nature to local (and probably) central government management…often labelled as commercially sensitive…
Make the chief executive have the same status as managing director, and the liability that goes with it, then we may have some transparency; otherwise most of what they do wont pass the stiff test.. But dont hold your breath on this happening.
All I can say is we certainly don’t need the current lot
SB. I think you jest. Frankly the public service couldn’t run our sewerage system ( Wellington case in point) let alone our country.
I happy to argue we should pay more and seek significantly better candidates but no Political representation! I think not.
Absolute power and all that stuff!!!! Right?
… our current bunch of lightweights , Jacinda’s team of Whack-a-Molers have denied us , the public , any examination of their major decisions …. which , considering the unprecedented number of ” working groups ” they’ve established , is quite remarkable …. even Treasury & IRD are not consulted …. Robbo’s big decisions seem to be ” I’ve been thinking …. why don’t we ….. ” …. then he goes on to crush one bunch of innocent business people after another ….