"The King is Dead! Long Live the King!"
THE POINT AT WHICH POWER IS TRANSFERRED
by "Dr Kick", Vanuatu
As the processes for a return to democracy appear at long last to perhaps actually be likely to happen, it may be worth noting this basic principle of government: "The King is dead! Long live the
What this principle means is that a clear process for transitioning rom one ruler to another is vital for a peaceful transition. When the succession is clouded, trauma can occur that disrupts life for large parts of society.
Examples include when there have been several Princely Contenders--or none--in centuries past; and more recently by Mr. Marcos not having a Vice President in the Philippines at the end of that nation's last experiment with Parliamentary government, 1978-86. PNG offers an interesting, but still occurring, variation on this problem. This may be a more common problem in the Westminster format.
Fijians have often seen this basic rule. Over the past 40 years, the post high chief of Cakaudrove has gone vacant for five or six extended periods. The general peace that Fiji has enjoyed since Cession kept these 'vanua' transitions from devolving into serious internecine conflicts.
However, at the level of the nation-state, the matanitu, there are fewer protections, fewer constraints, against conflict when there is a perceived power vacuum because of an unclear or non-existent
America has seen several of its Presidents leave office unexpectedly--through death or resignation Two of those occurred in the volatile period just before or after the end of a major conflict. Because the US Constitution is short enough, most Americans have read and can understand the processes for transitioning from one leader to another. Thus that nation's transitions from one leader to the next did have not created fears that might be exploited.
My worry with the "King is Dead ..." issue is that the uncertainties and potential power vacuum surrounding even a normal transition will be so much greater in this future case.