Political Systems in the Middle East essay

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The political system of any country plays a vital role in the life of its citizens. Good political systems do not limit their citizens in the rights and freedom. They also ensure that the citizens have the best standards of living, good jobs, education and have rights to select their leaders. Moreover, good governments ensure equal distribution of resources among all its citizens apart from using public assets responsibly. On the other hand, poor political systems oppress the citizens through denial of simple human rights, have poor education systems, high levels of poverty, unequal distribution of resources, corruption, lack of transparency, embezzlement of public funds among other social evils. The Middle East is one of the regions in the world with the rich political systems. They vary from democratic, autocratic, monarchial and aristocratic political systems. This paper will discuss the political systems in Israel, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, which are in Middle East.

Saudi Arabia is one of the oil rich countries in the Middle East. It is a leading oil producer. The Saudi Arabians have a supreme monarchial political system. Saudi Arabia also has two of the holiest Islamic cities of Medina and Mecca. In this Arabic state, people lack the right of  representation through election of officials. The religion and the state are indivisible. The king is a supreme leader of the entire country and he guides his people through the Sharia law (Stenslie, 2011). Sharia grants the king and other supreme leaders with powers to govern the people using the Koran teachings and the Sunna (teachings of Prophet Muhammad). The king rules throughout his lifetime and the next king ascends the throne after the death of the sitting king. The next king must be from direct lineage of the sitting king. Mostly, it is the first son or if the king does not have children, then his brother takes over the throne. Nonetheless, since 1995, the king developed stroke that denied him the capacity to lead his subjects. Consequently, the prince took over his father’s duties and responsibilities until the King gets well or upon his demise when the prince will assume the throne. The king has the power to appoint most government officials and assign duties and responsibility. The sharia law is very broad and comprises complex rules governing every aspect of a Saudi citizen. Politically, sharia denies the women to have the right to appear or participate in public matters for the sake of morality. Therefore, women in Saudi Arabia do not have the right to vote.  The government of the Saudi people also has a counsel known as Majlis al-Shura that serves as the body that debate on new laws and amends the existing Sharia (Stenslie, 2011). This is comparable to parliament in other democratic countries. The sharia provides for self-governing judiciary systems that handle all cases. However, the King and high members of the royal family are above the law. The royal family and their associates have immune from the powers of the judiciary. They also have the ability to influence the decisions of the bench. Therefore, when these senior government officials commit a felony, they do not face trial. The government officials also lack transparency because the people of Saudi Arabia lack any other institutions to check the powers of royal government. Recently, there were claims that the government officials and their allies spend millions of public funds on luxuries and taking their children abroad for further studies. Stenslie (2011) argues that this is the gravest effects that come with lack of other independent institutions to check on the powers of the government and the royal family.

Another country in the Middle East is Israel. The Israeli government is a democratic state where all citizens above the age of 18 years old have the right to vote. Different groups of people, regardless of sex, religion or race including women, Jews, Arabs and Druze have the right to elect their leaders to and serve in the Knesset. Sager (2005) argues that the Israel state prohibits formation of racial parties that struggle to overthrow the state. The nation of Israel does not have a constitution. Like Saudi Arabia, the Israelites use basic rules that protect the rights of every citizen. Furthermore, religion and state are inseparable and the religious groups have been on the forefront in opposing formulation of the constitution and the separation of state and religion. The Israel government has a parliamentary government, where citizens appoint their leaders to the Knesset. The Knesset then appoints the president who is the ceremonial head of the state. Israel too has three branches of the government: the judiciary executive and the legislative (Davidson, 2012). These branches of the government are dependent on each other. For representatives to qualify to the Knesset, the voters cast their votes for a party rather than individuals nationwide. Israel is a multi party nation where several political parties like Kadima, Israel Labor Party and Likud among others contest for parliamentary seats (Sager, 2005). Before elections, party decides on representatives of particular region if the party will win. The citizens always vote in members of the Knesset after every four years. The electoral body regulates campaigning and the funding of the campaigners. The prime minister grants leads in dissolution of the parliament after every four years. However, the Knesset may also be dissolved before the end of four years term if the members agree. The prime minister is also elected to the office for a four years term and is a member of the Knesset. However, in case of failure to perform, insanity or a scandal like abuse of office, the Knesset may always impeach the prime minister with the majority of votes. Therefore, they can shorten his/her term in office. The prime minister is the head of the government and he/she appoints the cabinet after forty-five days from the appointment to office. The Knesset approves most government activities. However, one political party has never won majority of the votes in Israel (Davidson, 2012). To avoid conflicts, prime ministers always form coalition governments. Generally, political system in Israel is a party governing the nation. Common people appoint their representatives. The Israeli nation respects the rights of all groups and everybody above age of 18 years old has the right to participate in politics. The government distributes the public resources and opportunities equally among its members (Sager, 2005).

The third government is Lebanon. Lebanon inherited most aspects from its colonial masters: the French. After its independence, Lebanon adopted the constitution of its colonial masters that was set in 1926. In the Middle East, Lebanon is one of the countries with strangest constitutional demands. Murden (2002) argues that the Lebanese constitution recognizes different religious groups and their demands. The constitution recognizes the rights of its 18 religious groups. Lebanon experienced different political squabbles that set out to tear the nation apart. The country experienced civil wars for 15 years. The nation also experienced political instability and a series of presidential assassinations. The external interference also caused political instability that posed serious setbacks on its economic growth. To end these conflicts, different religious groups united and chose to share powers among themselves. The president has to be a Christian, the speaker must be a Shiite Muslim, and the prime minister a Sunni Muslim. Half of the parliamentary seats belong to Muslim sub sect and the other half belongs to Christians and its sub sects. Lebanon is a democratic country that conducts elections after every four years. The government has three branches: the legislature, judiciary and the executive. The executive branch is comprised of the president and the prime minister. The president who has a six years mandate heads the state. The parliament elects the president to the office. The president is the commander-in-chief of all the armed forces. The council of ministers holds the executive powers. The prime minister heads all meetings of council of ministers. The council of ministers makes all the government and executive decisions (Murden, 2002). The executive branch has the power to amend the constitution, voting the budget and formulation of government policies. Lebanon has a unicameral parliamentary system. The legislature has 128 members who have the legislative powers. The legislative members are elected to parliament after every four-year term. The parliament has all the parliamentary powers. It also checks on the powers of the executive and the judiciary. The Lebanese constitution also allowed formation of the constitutional council that has ten members who have the responsibility of regulating the constitutionality of laws. The body also settles the lawsuit over presidential and parliamentary elections. The judiciary holds the power of solving the civil conflicts and administrative problems (Murden, 2002).

To sum up, different nations have different political structure. Middle East has a test of different political regimes including monarchy, democracy and aristocracy. Religion has played an important role in most countries in the Middle East. In the Middle East, religion may have absolute control over the nation, or partial in countries where there are different religious groups’ disagreements and civil wars. Politics is the mother of any nation and people deserve to have the right to presentation. Leaders need to be accountable and use public funds with much more transparency and accountability. Finally, politics plays an important role in safeguarding human rights. In nations where people have the right to appoint their leaders, the leaders respect the freedoms of their citizens.

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