Michael Meadowcroft argues that “the problem of directly elected heads of state is that the power it confers all too often becomes an addiction that drives them to manipulate the constitutional safeguards” (Letters, 23 September). He then cites Ireland as an example of indirect election of presidents. In fact, the Irish presidency is directly elected.
Mr Meadowcroft also cites the example of Donald Trump to support his argument. The issue in respect of Trump is not that the head of state is directly elected, it is that the head of state in the US is also effectively head of government.
I agree that some politicians become addicted to power, but that is caused by the drug of governmental power, not the drug of presidency. I doubt that Trump would have had any interest in the presidency if the US had an Irish-style system where he would have had only ceremonial duties.
In another letter, Margaret Squires expresses concerns about a President Thatcher or Blair. Again, I would doubt that a limited, ceremonial presidency would have held any attraction for them. And even if an electorate does choose a questionable president, they get the chance to get rid of them a few years later. If you have a questionable monarch, you have no choice but to wait for them to expire or abdicate.
Dr Michael Holmes
Catholic University of Lille
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