WITH the departure of President Musharraf the issue of succession is likely to turn into another bone of contention within the ruling coalition. Soon after landing at Islamabad airport PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari declared, without being person specific, that the next President was to be from his party. Statements by Minister of Water and Power Raja Pervez Ashraf and PPP MNA Farzana Raja indicate that a section of the PPP is keen to see Mr Zardari in the Presidency. Names of two other potential candidates from the PPP, MNA Faryal Talpur and MNA and former Defence Minister Aftab Shabaan Mirani are also doing the rounds. The PML-N has not put up a candidate of its own but wants a widely respected politician or a retired judge from one of the smaller provinces. Of the names suggested by the party leadership, Sardar Ataullah Mengal has refused point blank to be ever a candidate for the post. The ANP and JUI-F have yet to take a stand on the issue and the matter is supposedly under discussion among these parties. Outside the coalition, MQM chief Altaf Hussain who had been praised by Mr Asif Zardari for his "positive role" leading to the exit of President Musharraf has in turn proposed  the name of Mr Zardari for the post of the President. After the end of the dictatorship of General (retd) Musharraf and the beginning of the era of democracy there is a need on the part of the ruling coalition to establish healthy traditions. What is badly needed is to strengthen the institutions so that the system can run efficiently irrespective of whichever party is in power. What sustains developed democracies is the efficacy and resilience of these institutions, which enables them to continue to progress and prosper even under mediocre rulers and despite colossal blunders committed by them. In a parliamentary system, the President has to be no more than a figurehead. This requires urgent repeal of 58(2)(b), which empowers the President to send the elected government home. The spirit of federalism requires that if the Prime Minister belongs to one province, the President has to be from another. Equally important is for the President to be seen as nonpartisan, a neutral arbiter and a man who is above political strife. He must not therefore be a committed party leader or partisan in the Musharraf mode. Let such persons devote themselves to the much-needed task of strengthening their parties. What is required under the circumstances is a low profile and widely respected person from a smaller province. Power and prestige has to be distributed rather than accumulated in an individual, party or province.