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Johnson and Trump are trying to create sovereign executives

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Sovereignty is about where supreme authority lies in a society. For the first time in centuries, the American and British political systems are witnessing epic struggles between those who wish to usurp greater sovereignty for the executive branch and those who wish for sovereignty to remain vested in its traditional institutions.

An executive overthrowing the existing political order to increase its sovereignty has been a common modern political occurrence outside the Anglo-Saxon world. In the 20th century, France, Spain, Italy and Germany have each changed their sovereignty arrangements as a result of executives either usurping new powers or being defeated while attempting to do so. Almost all former colonies, especially those in the Arab World, experienced protracted struggles over their sovereignty arrangements in the lead-up to, and following, their decolonisations. Given our privileged history, the Anglo-American citizenry seems to be unique in its lack of experience, and hence knowledge, about how sovereignty operates in its societies.

Make no mistake about it, American presidents and British prime ministers have frequently tried to increase their power. But they generally did so by expanding their authorities into heretofore uncharted domains. Never have they publicly argued that major powers previously beyond their reach should now fall under their prerogative.

President Donald Trump's phone call with the Ukrainian president (attempting to solicit dirt on his domestic political rival) and Prime Minister Boris Johnson's failed efforts to........

© Al Jazeera