THE reason nations strive to build strong impersonal institutions is to override and circumvent personal weaknesses that are inherent in all human beings, irrespective of stature.
The idea behind institutions is the expectation that their guiding principles represent a wider national agenda that is above human frailty; and does not favour narrow provincial perspectives.
The republic, therefore, is meant to be a system of representative politics, by design, carrying with it a semblance of national and collective representation.
Monarchs had shown some of the worst examples of excessive power such that absolute monarchs became a recessive existence found in few countries in the 1900s and 2000s.
The sense of self-importance exhibited by monarchical systems easily overwhelmed the needs of the people until revolutions overcame those systems and gave rise to republics which are common now.
In these modern republics, it is now the legislature and judiciary who are meant to be bulwarks against excessive executive authority – whether perceived or actual.
Presidential authority is designed in a way that it conforms with both judicial and legislative principles of governance. Admittedly, politicians get the worst wrap when it comes to matters of integrity because it can become a challenge to balance complex competing needs of the electorate.
Some politicians respond by becoming dictatorial and thereby acting above political and judicial structures. Herein lies the new challenge of democracy and the republic.
As nations evolve, governance systems are being forced to evolve as well. Some of these evolutions are organic while others are more artificial.
Organic changes are those inspired by citizens and how they hope to shape their own country. Artificial ones are those imported into the domestic sphere usually through lobbying by powerful foreign interests.
Sometimes, nations that refuse to adopt foreign norms are labelled undemocratic by these powerful foreign interests for protecting their value systems and aspirations of their citizens.
Ultimately, if the leadership cannot secure and protect its own citizens from foreign interests, those citizens will save the republic and restore order through the ballot.
Be that as it may, modern times have also shown that elections are not always the pure measure of trust they are meant to be. This is why elections alone cannot be sufficient evidence of democracy anywhere in the world.
The argument has shifted to consistent institutional guarantees for citizens. In other words, democracy must exist in governance institutions permanently and evidently, not just when elections are near.
More than ever, the evolution of nations teaches us to be more observant of the judicial systems because they easily become battle grounds to settle differences and grievances.
In this evolution of nations, it appears that the judiciary’s integrity can be borrowed; and its punitive power directed to perceived enemies. It is easier to assess if democratic tenets are respected in a country by observing how the judicial system adjudicates more so on matters pertaining to perceived political opponents of the government.
This is because the judiciary represents ultimate power that has potential to obliterate or merge competing domestic national interests.
The one weakness with power, however, is that it responds efficiently to its equal (power). For example, judicial power will appear to move efficiently when there is political or economic power in its midst.
Here is where the judiciary must be cautious and balanced. In the stronghold of law, integrity cannot be optional or responsive only to its equal. The principal assumption that justice is blind must still symbolise hope particularly for those whose only asset and hope is access to – and receipt of justice.
In these modern republics, the legislature can be expected to be casual or temperamental, it happens in some countries. After all, parliament is a direct representation of ongoing public interest.
Even more, the executive can show responsive flexibility to the social causes for which they were elected. The judiciary on the other hand, has an extremely difficult task of ensuring the survival of the republic and the confidence of the people in the existence of institutional democracy and integrity. It cannot exchange judicial principles every electoral cycle.
A judicial system must build a reputation par to that of legislative and executive authority on one hand; and of national conscious on the other.
The first sign of a dying republic is a compromised judicial system and every man or woman on the bench must be cautious to avoid any form of induced refraction in the dispensation of justice if indeed justice is to be judicious and retain its credibility and trust, otherwise the republic becomes compromised and renders the citizens to a point of taking actions in their own hands.