The risks of parliamentarism

The new constitution, with the single party and the irrevocability of socialism and all rights conditioned to “the ends of socialist society,” seeks the perpetuity of post-fidel Castroism. In order to do this, he lays down all the roads with mines that could eventually lead to a transition to democracy.

The strange and capricious hybrid between the presidential system and the parliamentary system, in force in Cuba since 1976, is now replaced by the mandamases by a model more similar to the parliamentary model.

They have everything planned for tomorrow if the water reaches their necks, and are forced to make changes, not lose the power. Parliamentarism in its own way, under its own rules, with its own conditions, would be one way of achieving it.

I’ll explain myself, and for that I’ll make some assumptions in the future.

In order to avoid rebellion and being kicked out by the people in the face of an aggravation of the economic crisis to unsustainable extremes, rather than unleashing a bloody repression that provokes international repudiation and perhaps even U.S. intervention, some elements within the government and the Communist Party that emerged after the death of the elders of the so-called “historic leadership” could decide to initiate reforms, not only economic, but also political, but at their own pace.

Suppose that to cover the form they make a mimic of democracy, legalize some political parties and several of their members become elected deputies of the National Assembly.

You will find a parliament dominated by the communists, who may not be called that by then because they must have changed the name of the PCC, they will be the majority and they will control everything.

The new pro-democracy deputies will drag into parliament the quarrels and disagreements of when they were opponents, while the communists, given nothing to pluralism, formed in the most iron obedience, and by survival instinct, will maintain cohesion.

But let’s go even further on the suppositions, and imagine that time has passed, the situation is out of their hands and, through constitutional amendment, they have to allow a non-communist or coalition government to win in an election.

That government would have to deal with a parliament made up mostly of communists, which would no longer be the unanimous and applauding sanhedrin of trained seals that it is now, but a pot of crickets. And many of the crickets, obstructionists and saboteurs conscientiously.

As passionate as we Cubans are, and as intolerant as we have become that we can no longer argue in peace, not even by ballot, I do not doubt that the Members, in the event of a great disagreement, will insult each other in a very nice way and fall into the Chamber. All in all, if it has happened in some European parliaments…

Political parties are supposed to be stronger in parliamentary systems, but sometimes, to be a majority, they have to resort to coalitions with other parties, even if their programmes do not coincide with their own. It could happen, for example, that social democrats and centrists would have to seek alliance with communists in some kind of concertation.

It is to be expected that after 60 years of communist dictatorship people will instinctively reject anything that smells of the left, even the democratic left. But then, as a result of that same circumstance, they will come up against an extreme right that will shock them because it is too conservative and traditionalist on issues such as social spending, the family, customs, religion and churches, the rights of women and homosexuals, and so on. Consequently, in search of more liberal policies, many would vote for the democratic left, even though it is in coalition with the communists. These, by then, will have lowered the voltage of their rhetoric and will have tempered themselves, seeking the forgetfulness of their sins, to see if they can cajole. From there to the reconquest of power goes only one step. And then, we know what’s coming…

That is why, for a democracy to function properly, especially if it is parliamentary, it is important to avoid excesses of ideology, politicking and moralistic fundamentalisms, and for there to be both a coherent and pragmatic right and a democratic, sensible, responsible left that does not allow itself to be co-opted by the Communists.

I know that I am too far ahead in my political futurology lucubrations, which may seem nonsensical to some, but it is a good thing that all of us who aspire to live in a democracy are thinking about all this from now on.

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