Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Constitutional fandango

Here in the UK we are endlessly deferring the question of constitutional reform, whether it's of the House of Lords or of the electoral system for the Commons. Clearly it is more important to deal with the mess of the lower house first, though of course MPs, when they bother, are more interested in tinkering with the upper house.

It's enough to make one despair.

In Zimbabwe we have just witnessed a remarkable election, the aftermath of which has seen the courts brought in simply to get the results published! The final paragraph of the Beeb's latest report makes depressing reading - the situation is darkly farcical at best.

Meanwhile in Turkey, the separation of powers has recently contributed to a constitutional crisis, with members of the judiciary voting to begin legal action against the executive (specifically, against the ruling party, recently returned at the polls with a significant majority) for violating certain constitutional principles. Zaman, a paper symathetic to the governing AK Party and its exceedingly moderate Islamism (which is really only an attempt to restrain the extremist secularism that has barricaded itself in certain corners of Turkish public life), is full of stories, which are well worth pursuing. They put the UK's constitutional and political weaknesses into perspective, they highlight the important principle that law is not ideoogically neutral (which Islam, at least, recognises, in contrast to the duplicitious thought-systems of Western liberal humanism and pluralism) and they teach the reader about a fascinating country.