Yemen vs the United States: Power Sharing

After their unification, both the United States and the Republic of Yemen have practiced democracy, but the way they share the power in their government is really different. Both of the country wrote their own constitution in which the power and responsibilities of the government are mentioned. The power sharing system in the government, the individual freedom of people, and the way the government power influences the local authorities and the citizens , they all are seemed to be similar between two countries in the first glance, but they become irony in reality.

After the United States got independence from England in 1776, they established the federal presidential constitutional republic. Although the central government is above the state governments, the state governments have their own power and authority which the central government doesn’t have. The Constitution created in 1787 is the highest law in the land and above of everyone in the country. In 1990, the South Yemen and the North Yemen became united as one country called The Republic of Yemen.

After the federation, the country’s government has become the unitary semi-presidential republic. In that government system, the national government is the one single unit of the government and the highest. The local authorities only have very little power which the central government has granted them. Although both of the countries’ governments are democratic government, the power sharing system between the national government and local authorities or state governments is contradictory to each other.

One of the most important differences about power in those two countries is the power of the religion. In 1789, when the Bill of Right is added to the United States constitution, the very first Amendment includes the freedom of religion for the country. It gives the citizens the full right to believe in whatever religion they want. The purpose is to protect the religion from the effects of politics and to keep the politics out of religion. Of course, it can’t stop the religion from affecting the politics; nevertheless it can make those two things separated.

In contrast, in the very first sentence of the Constitution of Yemen, it states that Yemen is an Arab Islamic country, and in Article 2, it claims that “Islam is the religion of the state”, and Article 3, “Islamic Shari’ah is the source of all legislation” (Constitution of the Republic of Yemen, 1) which means the laws directly come from Islamic laws. Also in the later parts in the Constitution, it mentions the people chosen or elected for higher position of the government must be Islam. It can be assumed like the religion of the country is the politics of the country.

Therefore, the religious group of the country will definitely have the power over government as the Constitution itself is made up of religious laws, which is opposite to the United States. The President of the United States has the executive power (Constitution of the United States of America). In Yemen, the President is the head of the state, and the Prime Minister who is chosen by the President is the head of the government. The term of the presidency is 4 years 2 terms in U. S. and 7 years 1 term in Yemen.

It shows that the elections in Yemen are more important for citizens because if they don’t like the President, they have to wait for a long period to vote a new President. Moreover, a 7-year term is nearly the double of the U. S. ’s presidential term. It’s like if a president is elected in Yemen, he is given the power for a time as much as about two terms of U. S. President’s, without another election in the halfway of his tenure. In the Legislative Branch of the United States government, there is the Congress, and it is divided into the House of Representatives and the Senate.

For Yemen, there are the House of Representatives and the Consultative Council. For both Houses of Representatives, the number of representatives for a state or a governorate (as it’s called in Yemen) is decided on the population of each state or governorate. The problem of that system is more populated states or governorates having more power in the House of Representative. To resolve this problem, the United States has already created the Senate in which two senators are elected for every state, in order to balance the power difference caused by the House of Representatives.

In Yemen, the members of the Consultative Council are chosen directly by the President, and the number of the members is not mentioned how many members per governorate. So the Consultative Council doesn’t resolve the power unbalance and still creates the inequality of power between the more populated governorates and less populated ones. Therefore, in Yemeni democracy, not all people are created equal and don’t have equal power. The Executive Branch’s system of Yemen is complicated when it is compared to the United States’. The U. S. ’s Executive Branch is only one unit and there are the President and the Vice-President at the top.

The Yemeni Executive Branch has three branches: the Presidency of the Republic, the Council of Ministers, and the Bodies of Local Authority. The President is the head of the Presidency of the Republic. After the President is elected, he has to appoint the Vice-President, the members of Consultative Council, the Prime Minister, and the members of the Council of Ministers. In the Constitution, the Council of the Ministers is mentioned as “the highest executive and administrative authority of the State” (The Constitution of the Republic of Yemen).

The responsibility of the Council of Ministers is to carry out the plans and policies for the political, economic, social, cultural, and defense fields. In the United States government, all of the three branches have equal power, and none is higher than the others. In Yemen, the Council of Ministers is clearly claimed, even in the Constitution itself, as the highest of all other administrative bodies of the country. That shows that the power is shared unequally among the branches of government, which is opposing to democray. Compared to other two branches, the Judicial Branch is mentioned very little in the United States’ Constitution.

However, it still has the same power with the other two. In the Judicial Branch, there is the Supreme Court which is the highest court of the country. The Justices of the Supreme Court are appointed by the President. They have the lifelong term to serve at the court, and they retire only if they choose to or 66 percent of the Representatives vote to dismiss them, which is really difficult to do. The Supreme Court has the power to veto laws passed by the Congress if they are deemed unconstitutional. Just like in the U. S. ’s Constitution, the Judicial Branch of Yemeni government is described only a little in Yemen’s Constitution.

In Yemen, the Supreme Court is the highest court, also. However, when it is compared to the United States’, the Judicial Branch of Yemen is weak and usually influenced by the Executive Branch although it is meant to have the independent authority according to the Constitution (Butler). The Executive Branch appoints the judges of the Court and can remove them easily. Here is another point that makes the power sharing of the Yemeni government questionable. In the United States of America, there are two main political parties: the Democratic Party and the Republican Parties.

The two parties hold almost equal number of position in the government. The two parties are competitive and check each other all the time in order to get more votes from people and gain power, and that is good in some ways as they can’t be lazy and always have to try to get new ideas. Although Yemen says it has the multi-party system, in reality, there is only one dominant party called General People’s Congress (GPC). There are many other small opposition parties, and a little famous one is the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) which is an opposition coalition; however, they can’t compete with General People’s Congress when it comes to power.

The General People’s Congress has won 58% of the vote in 2003 parliamentary election and holds the majority of position in the government. Because of the fact that the majority is always win in democracy, the ruling party of Yemen, GPC, has more power in making decision of the country in the government. If the writer has to put those two countries on the Linear Political Spectrum, the place of U. S. will be somewhere in the middle, as the left Democratic Party and the right Republican Party gain power almost in turn. Also, the government power and the individual freedom of the citizens are about equal.

The writer might put Yemen on the left side a little bit near to the Socialist because the government power is high, and the individual freedom of the people is low. When people hear that a country is a democratic country, they immediately think that the power is in the people’s hand, and they will have more freedom and rights. Actually, not all democratic countries practice true democracy. The facts explained above clearly prove that even though a country is claimed to be democratic, the power can be still in the hand of government or in a particular branch, like Yemen’s situation, and people can still have less voice.

Both the United States and the Republic of Yemen claim that they are democratic countries; however, their stand for democracy, their system of sharing power between the government and the local authorities and between the government branches, their political party system, and the amount of freedom of the citizens are very different from one another. Bibliography * Ali Abdullah Saleh. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 2013 http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Ali_Abdullah_Saleh#Resignation * Bulter, Rhett. Yemen: Government and Politics. 1994-2013.

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2013 http://www. ifitweremyhome. com/compare/US/YE * Translated by Dr. Ahmed noman Al – Madhagi and Dr. Abdelrahman A. Abdrabou. The Constitution of the Republic of Yemen. Amended via a Public Referendum– held on February 20, 2001 http://www. refworld. org/docid/3fc4c1e94. html * Yeman Main Page. Infoplease. 2013 http://www. infoplease. com/country/yemen. html * Yemen: Maps, History, Geography, Government, Culture, Facts, Guide & Travel/Holidays/Cities | Infoplease. com http://www. infoplease. com/country/yemen. html#ixzz2cVkkH8JI.