MODERN countries came up with a system that entails separation of powers embedded in their constitutions. The goal was to strike a balance among the components of the state, and to prevent one authority from overstepping the authority of the other.
This is why popular revolutions erupted when some parliaments overstepped and even dominated the executive authorities, as seen during the 17th century in Britain in the so-called “Parliamentary Revolution”, which led to a civil war that ended in the execution of King Charles I. Three years later, his son Charles II was exiled, and the ruling dynasty was replaced by the Cromwellian England.
Likewise, in Czar Russia, one of the causes of the Communist Revolution in 1917, under the slogan “Peace, Land and Bread” and led by the frantic Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky, was due to the fact that Emperor Nicholas II, who was preoccupied with his son’s illness, had failed to resolve some issues of concern for the people, and was in his complete submission to the fake monk Grigori Rasputin.
Between the two events, the French Revolution was also triggered by the domination of the whims of Marie Antoinette over the ministers, and King Louis XVI’s failure to pay attention to the people’s demands.
In Germany, the matter was different, and it was the most clear lesson about the parliament’s dominance over the executive powers.
The Nazi party, which won the elections in 1932, exploited democracy to achieve totalitarian rule and entered the country at the time in a world war, from Nazi starting points.
After these developments, the form and content of the parliaments of democratic countries changed, and the separation of powers became the basis for the development of the state.
Indeed, the national assemblies of some countries became two chambers – a Senate and another of Representatives. This is also in effect in some Arab countries, as is the case in Britain, France and Russia after the disintegration of the Soviet Union.
In other countries, the leaders realized the matter from the beginning, defined the nature of each state institution, and worked to put regulations over it to avoid overlapping of powers.
Rather, there are countries, either monarchy or republic, where the leaders are the ones who handle the needs of the people and prevent the parliamentarians from exploiting such needs.
In the United States of America, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government imposed on Congress to put in place stimulus legislation twice – the first with $2.5 trillion and the second with $1 trillion, all of which are debts borrowed by the government.
By the way, the US federal debt is $25 trillion, and despite that, it did not invoke oil prices or any other difficulties.
In Britain, the government has worked to support the economy by pumping 150 billion pounds. The central bank raised its purchases of government bonds to 875 billion pounds. It is the same in France, Germany and Russia where they did not wait for their parliaments’ approval.
As for the Gulf countries, they were not late in supporting the economy and dropping loans. In Saudi Arabia, the government allocated 226 billion riyals to support the economy and citizens, and the UAE allocated a hundred billion dirhams for this purpose. The same is the case in Bahrain, which approved a plan to help companies with a package amounting to about 32 percent of the gross domestic product, and it mostly includes securing liquidity for lending and debt deferral.
In the Sultanate of Oman, the Central Bank pumped about eight billion riyals and in Qatar, the state allocated the equivalent of $75 billion to support its economy.
In view of all this, Kuwait was the only country that was plunged into political wrangling among the National Assembly, the government and the Central Bank. It did not provide any real aid package, except for a six-month delay in repaying loans, which eventually affected the debtors negatively because the Central Bank issued instructions to banks after the end of the period. It increases the default of borrowers, in addition to the crippling conditions in the stimulus process. There are those who boast that the state has not spent a single penny of public money, citing the lack of liquidity and low oil prices.
All Gulf countries live on oil and they do not have taxes; if taxes existed, the citizens would not be able to bear them.
In Saudi Arabia, fees on expatriates and land trade, as well as the UAE are just municipal fees, and the same applies to the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries. Therefore, any argument among officials in Kuwait about not supporting the national economy, or not helping the 120,000 defaulting borrowers, means increasing the impoverishment of many families.
No one is calling for dropping the loans, but for dropping interests, rescheduling the principal of the debt to 10, 20 or even 30 years, and with the state guarantee, because failure to solve this issue means more discontent, and thus entering the maze of chaos.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times