Posted by: rbbadger | July 18, 2008

60 years of the Republic of Korea

2008 is a momentous year for South Korea.  It is the sixtieth anniversary of the establishment of the Republic of Korea.  Since that time, the Republic of Korea has lived through some very tumultous times involving wars, protests, assassinations, massacres, grinding poverty, the quick rise of the economy, and much, much more.  South Korea has been through six different constitutions, the last one having been promulgated in 1987.

There are now calls for a new constitution.  Some are in favour of a semi-presidential system of government like France has.  Others are favour of the Westminster system, used in the UK, Canada and other Commonwealth Realms, most countries of Europe (with the exception of France, Russia, and Belarus), Japan, Singapore, and Malaysia.  If used well, the Westminster system which features a neutral head of state (either a president or a monarch) and a parliament (of which the leader of the ruling party is known as the Prime Minister, Chancellor, or Premier) can produce a stable, accountable and transparent government.  (The US government is not often transparent and accountability is often a major issue.  Were the US governed on the Westminster System, neither George W. Bush nor Bill Clinton would have lasted long.)  I don’t really think that the Westminster System would work well in Korea.  Given the tumultous nature of Korean politics where compromise doesn’t really exist in the vocabulary of legislators, I seriously doubt that stable government would result.


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