Rhein on Energy and Climate

I am a regular visitor to Tunisia. I love this beautiful country with its long sandy beaches, white-washed houses, charming people, clever entrepreneurs and its relatively well-run public administration. No country on the southern shores of the Mediterranean has done better in terms of economic, demographic and educational development than tiny Tunisia during the past 50 years.

The first thing I learned upon arrival this time was that the country is once again preparing for presidential elections, to be held in 2009. There is no question that the incumbent will succeed himself for another, undoubtedly last, five-year term. But when I walked along the beautiful Hammamet beach promenade with the bizarre name “Boulevard of the 7th November 1987”, I suddenly realised that Tunisia has had the same President for already 20 years.

And I could not help recalling the wisdom of the American people, when deciding in 1945, with an ailing President having just been reconfirmed for the third time in office, to amend the Constitution and limit the tenure of any future US President to two four-year terms.

I also realised that the Russian President had to resist the temptation of serving a third term because the Russian Constitution prevents any incumbent from holding more than two terms.

I cannot remember in Europe any democratically elected prime minister after the second world war staying in office for more than three terms.

It would be timely for Tunisia and many other countries on earth to amend their constitution and put a ban on prime ministers and presidents serving more than two terms . Such a rule would be in the interest of the incumbents and their citizens. The exercise of power uses and, over time, lends to abuse. No human being is strong enough to stand the challenge of governance indefinitely. Power should be granted only for a limited time span. Ten years in power are enough!

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