Jaimaica's new president signals intent to make a republic 5 replies

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Commissar MercZ

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#1 6 years ago

BBC News - Jamaica to break links with Queen, says Prime Minister Simpson Miller

Jamaica to break links with Queen, says Prime Minister Simpson Miller

Jamaica's new Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller, has said she intends to make the island a republic, removing Queen Elizabeth as the head of state.

In her inaugural address, Ms Simpson Miller said the time had come for Jamaica to break with the British monarchy and have its own president.

The announcement comes ahead of celebrations to mark 50 years of Jamaican independence from Britain.

The Queen's grandson, Prince Harry, is due to the visit the island this year. 'Time come'

"I love the Queen, she is a beautiful lady, and apart from being a beautiful lady she is a wise lady and a wonderful lady," Ms Simpson Miller said after swearing the oath of office.

"But I think time come".

"As we celebrate our achievements as an independent nation, we now need to complete the circle of independence," the prime minister added.

In response, a Buckingham Palace spokesman said "the issue of the Jamaican head of state was entirely a matter for the Jamaican government and people".

Ms Simpson Miller, 66, became prime minister for the second time after her People's National Party won a big election victory on 29 December.

Her inaugural address mostly focused on her plans to revive Jamaica's economy.

The Caribbean island has widespread poverty, high unemployment and huge debts.

Ms Simpson Miller is not the first Jamaican leader to promise to move towards a republic.

In the early 1990s, then-Prime Minister PJ Patterson also said it was time for the island to have its own head of state, and set 2007 as the deadline.

I wonder how opinion will react to that. In some cases like Britain's former holdings like India and Pakistan when they moved to Republican forms along with the entirety of its former African holdings and much of its far-east holdings, there wasn't much opposition to the matter. Though similar calls in larger nations like Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, it's a more touchy issue. The new PM is coming off a recent victory in elections there, displacing the long dominant "Labour Party" (which despite its name is actually a 'conservative' party) and discontent over the Island's substantial disparities in wealth, opportunities, and corruption.




Rikupsoni

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#2 6 years ago

Well, why not. If I was Jamaican I would support a president instead.

Having a symbolic head of state on the other side of the globe is not that much of a use. Besides, having a Jamaican president, he or she would focus 100 % representing Jamaican issues. The queen can't directly represent Jamaica very much at all.

I suppose this boosts Australian republican movement a bit too. When Elizabeth II's reign is over, they probably have a new referendum with increased support I assume.




Commissar MercZ

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#3 6 years ago

Rikupsoni;5599547Well, why not. If I was Jamaican I would support a president instead.

Having a symbolic head of state on the other side of the globe is not that much of a use. Besides, having a Jamaican president, he or she would focus 100 % representing Jamaican issues. The queen can't directly represent Jamaica very much at all.

I suppose this boosts Australian republican movement a bit too. When Elizabeth II's reign is over, they probably have a new referendum with increased support I assume.

We might end up seeing a president whose powers are limited compared to the PM. Though I agree, coming from the island's perspective and its history- being a slave colony until slavery was abolished by the UK in the early 1800s, though the population continued to face marginalization- there might not be much care for a monarch that doesn't factor into their 'popular' history as much.

I think though the previous PM had also indicated a move towards republicanism, though this apparently never occurred. Not sure what happened there, but I guess the island's worsening economy and moving slowly towards a request to the IMF probably put that at the backburner. Even as far back as Michael Manley who apparently was popular much with the UK and courted nations like Cuba, there was not much progress on the matter.

I wonder what the prospects of this would be in larger nations since you brought up Australia. I thought the Republican movements there were on the decline? I suppose with the perception the Queen and Governor-General holds a solely ceremonial role people don't think it would serve a function to 'abolish' it.




Octovon

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#4 6 years ago
Commissar MercZ;5599640I wonder what the prospects of this would be in larger nations since you brought up Australia. I thought the Republican movements there were on the decline? I suppose with the perception the Queen and Governor-General holds a solely ceremonial role people don't think it would serve a function to 'abolish' it.

In Canada, republicanism is around, but has been pretty much marginalized in the political arena. The idea of getting rid of some far-away, hereditary monarch that is technically our head of state yet only visits maybe once or twice a decade, makes sense to some but politically is often trumped by the more popular "it's tradition" argument. Fundamentally, Canadians don't like the idea of unelected people having important places in government (take a look at recent debate surrounding Senate reform), but the monarchy is a tangible, living symbol of Canada's historical ties to Britain. For a country that's seemingly always in search of it's identity, those historical ties and the idea of the monarchy are very important, more so for Canadians of British ancestry (not so much for French-Canada or the majority of immigrants). Since the monarchy and Governor General play largely symbolic or ceremonial roles (aside from some relevant constitutional powers), most just don't see the point in abolishing the monarchy in Canada and it's largely a non-issue.

The other, more contentious reason republicanism may not be that popular in Canada is anti-Americanism. Some Canadians make the connection that republicanism is somehow "American" and by abolishing the monarchy we would in some way be no different than the United States. It's as if getting rid of the Queen as our head of state instantly erases Canadian history and makes us Americans, and somehow that's bad. Sad, irrational and ridiculous as it is, many Canadians exhibit varying degrees of anti-Americanism (from subtle or benign to outright stupid), and in debate over the existence of the monarchy in Canada, the idea that republicanism equates "American" inevitably arises.

Personally, I don't see the point of having a head of state who resides across an ocean, has little understanding or care for my nation's issues and interests, and only comes to visit for the taxpayer-funded vacation. I congratulate Jamaica (as well as Australia before them), for at least entertaining the idea of replacing absentee heads of state in favour of a democratically-elected head of state.




Rikupsoni

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#5 6 years ago
Commissar MercZ;5599640We might end up seeing a president whose powers are limited compared to the PM.

I don't think that's only bad. Most countries have a president that has a lot less power than a prime minister. I don't think that many people even know the name of the President of Germany while definitely know chancellor Merkel. But that doesn't mean presidents are useless, PMs have their hands full of managing the government, presidents can do foreign trips, advance trade relations, be a leader with values approved by citizens in a direct vote and so on. But indeed, the president won't have that much of a role in a parliamentary republic where the focus is on the parliamentary part. But neither does a monarch.

I wonder what the prospects of this would be in larger nations since you brought up Australia. I thought the Republican movements there were on the decline? I suppose with the perception the Queen and Governor-General holds a solely ceremonial role people don't think it would serve a function to 'abolish' it.

To my understanding, most Australians like Elizabeth II but not necessarily the monarchy. So when it's time for Charles to step up, the public opinion may be different. The republicans can't be divided on a formality issue this time like in the last referendum with how the president should be elected.

But even if and when Jamaicans and Australians like the Commonwealth and wish to have good relations, it's more of a principle issue. Have a foreigner as your head of state and be a subject instead of a citizen.

Also I'm not sure if it's too good that the Church of England is integrated in the monarchy and the monarch is the Supreme Governor of that church.




Commissar MercZ

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#6 6 years ago
Rikupsoni;5599750I don't think that's only bad. Most countries have a president that has a lot less power than a prime minister. I don't think that many people even know the name of the President of Germany while definitely know chancellor Merkel. But that doesn't mean presidents are useless, PMs have their hands full of managing the government, presidents can do foreign trips, advance trade relations, be a leader with values approved by citizens in a direct vote and so on. But indeed, the president won't have that much of a role in a parliamentary republic where the focus is on the parliamentary part. But neither does a monarch.

I know, I was just pointing out to those who might not be aware of systems with a more 'ceremonial' head of state in the form of a president, like the case of Germany you've mentioned and I believe Italy has a similar thing too.

I agree though, it's more useful to have a head of state constituted from that nation, rather than one that is still kept there out of some historical tie. I suspect that Jamaica might have an easier time of this, I'm not sure if there's the same mindset there that might make people take these moves the wrong way.

To my understanding, most Australians like Elizabeth II but not necessarily the monarchy. So when it's time for Charles to step up, the public opinion may be different. The republicans can't be divided on a formality issue this time like in the last referendum with how the president should be elected.

But even if and when Jamaicans and Australians like the Commonwealth and wish to have good relations, it's more of a principle issue. Have a foreigner as your head of state and be a subject instead of a citizen.

Also I'm not sure if it's too good that the Church of England is integrated in the monarchy and the monarch is the Supreme Governor of that church.

I think it would be interesting to see how larger states more tied to the British culture like Canada, New Zealand, and Australia would react to such proposals. I had thought Republicanism was going down there, though like you said that was more out of the popular image of Elizabeth II.

Still, even with this perception of the British crown as a Head of State being purely 'ceremonial', it has been able to exercise extraordinary powers in some cases, most notably the 1975 Australian constitutional crisis.