American beauty

Democratic senators have blocked hardline Conservative John Bolton’s controversial nomination as the US ambassador to the United Nations, despite White House call for endorsement of president George W Bush’s favourite. Republicans failed to get the requisite 60 votes in the 100-member Senate to pave the way for a confirmation vote. Predictably, the White House deplored this setback, blaming the Democrats. But Bush still has the option of appointing Bolton, a bitter critic of the UN, to the job during Congress’s July 4 recess or its month-long break, enabling him to serve in that post until January 2007, when a new Congress convenes. But such a step is bound to weaken Bolton’s standing at the UN, certainly not a good thing for US interests.

The need for confirmation by the people’s representatives of key executive nominations is indeed one of the beauties of American democracy. In an advanced democracy like America, the need does not often arise for rejecting executive choices, as the candidates are nominated after considering their suitability as to their professional competence, their private and public conduct, their probity, etc. All such nominees are vetted by the legislature before they are cleared for final appointment. This process greatly helps screen out the wrong candidates, thus minimising the risk of the wrong people landing the right jobs, and acts as a check against the possibility of the executive making or imposing wrong decisions.

The parliamentary vetting system for important public appointments becomes all the more necessary for a country like Nepal where the executive often tends to choose the wrong people for wrong reasons, including bribes, personal and partisan links. After the restoration of democracy in 1990, this system should have been introduced, but the major political players were not, obviously, interested in it. Those in power were not interested, because they did not want to risk their nominations being rejected, and the main opposition, because they were likely to come to power one day. In the absence of democracy during the 30 years of Panchayat rule, there was no question of there being any confirmation system, so is it during the present period of the democratic Constitution being defunct.