Presidential Versus Parliamentary Systems
Fraser International College
Presidential Versus Parliamentary Systems
A nation’s form of government alludes to the organization of the state’s legislative, executive, and judicial organs. In the global paradigm, each nation needs or has some form of government to mitigate the occurrences of anarchy. In the context of this perspective, democratic government typifies to a government that allows the citizenry to manage their government through elected official or directly participates in various activities. Unlike a democratic system, an authoritarian government focuses on prohibiting and limiting the direct participation of their citizenry. Apart from the above-aforestated form of government, parliamentary and presidential systems are the most popular. Even though there is significant homogeneity between the presidential and parliamentary system, parliamentary systems are more advantageous.
A presidential system denotes to a system of government in which the executive presides and exists disparately from the legislature to which this form of government is not accountable and in the normal circumstance cannot dismiss the legislature. One notable characteristic of the presidential form of government is the presence of a presidential office. The president is both the head of state and the chief executive. The election of the president is independent of the legislature. The powers invested in president balances the powers prescribed in the legislature. In the presidential system, the parliament has the power of debating and passing various bills while the president has the innate power to veto the passed bills or prevent the adoption of the bills. However, in most cases, the legislature may override the veto of the president if they can attain most of the votes (Döring, 2017). The presidential system owes its origins from the medieval monarchies of England, France, and Scotland where the authorities vested the executive authority crown and not in parliament. However, the presidential system borrowed the conceptualization of separate spheres of influence of the legislatures and executive from the United States.
In context to the presidential system, the presidents hold office for a fixed term of office. Nations hold elections at the scheduled times, and parliament procedures or vote of confidence cannot trigger and the presidential election. However, in some countries, the aforestated rules are exceptional as they can impeach the president and trigger an election of the president acted unethically or broke the law (Szilágyi, 2009). The executive branch of the parliamentary system is unipersonal. Members of the cabinet conduct their affairs at the pleasure of the president and conduct the policies of both the legislative and executive branches. However, the presidential systems may periodically require various legislative approvals of presidential nominations various government posts as well as nominations of the cabinet.
Presidential governments have no distinction betwixt the positions of the head of government and head state both of which the president holds. However, some political scientist suggests that the conflation of the head of government and head of state duties to be a significant problem of presidential since criticisms of the president as the head of state corresponds to the criticism of the state. In the presidential system, the president is usually an active participant in the political paradigm though the extent of their relative power is dependent on the political framework of the legislature (Wilson, 2017). Additionally, whether the opponents or supporters have a dominant position, supporters claim four cardinal advantages in the presidential system, which are the separation of powers, direct mandate, stability, decisiveness, and truth.
Direct mandates mean that the election of the president is through direct election by the people. From this perspective, some scholars argue that this aspect proves the legitimacy of the president’s power. Separation of powers establishes the legislatures and the presidency as two parallel structures (Szilágyi, 2009). Most of the supporters suggest that this particular arrangement allows the structures mentioned above to supervise each other to prevent any abuses. Stability is in the connection of the president through the virtue of the fixed term, which provides more security as compared to the positions of a prime minister who have limited powers.
The advantages of the presidential system are that it is democratic since under this system the president is responsible to the people. Second, the president can exercise effective control of the appointed ministers. (Morton, 2016) Third, the presidential system provides a plethora of opportunities for fast decision making since the president is the single executive and there is no need of lengthy consultations before the actualization of a decision (Maddex, 2014). Fourth, the government is stable. The above is a significant feature of the presidential system since the president holds office for a given period. Lastly, the presidential system is cheaper to operate since all government expenditures focus on only one executive.
The notable disadvantages of a presidential system are that it can degenerate into a dictatorship. There is a higher propensity that the presidential system might degenerate into tyranny. Second, there is a thin line betwixt national and partisan issues. In the presidential system, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between matters that are purely partisan from those that are strictly national (Maddex, 2014). The above is because the same individual represents the party holding power and the same there are the leaders of the state. Third, in this system, it is difficult to change the government midstream since the executive holds power for a fixed period. Lastly, since there is a fixation on the period to remain in office, leader s might focus on reelection instead on fulfilling their core mandates.
In the parliamentary system, the chief executive and the head of state are two different offices. In many instances, the head of state subsumes a ceremonial role while the head of the executives is the principal leader of the legislature. The parliamentary system usually has a distinct and precise differentiation betwixt the head of state and the head of government (Döring, 2017). The head of government is typically the premier or the prime minister while the head of state is a notable figurehead, a monarch, or a president. The conceptualization of a parliamentary system does not mean that the ruling of a particular nation is by different coalitions. The aforestated multiparty arranges are the result of the electoral system referred to as proportional representation.
There are two distinct forms of parliamentary systems, which are consensus and Westminster systems. The Westminster system is prevalent in commonwealth nations even though they are neither exclusive nor universal to commonwealth nations. These types of parliaments espouse aspects of the adversarial style of debacles and a comprehensive session of parliament, which is relatively salient, then a committee (Maddex, 2014). The election of some of the parliaments adopting this model is through a plurality of voting systems such as Canada and the United Kingdom while other models utilize a proportional representation such as New Zealand. The above model provides a framework, which allows an augmented separation of powers as compared to the western European model as the governing body in most cases does not have a majority of the upper house.
The innate characteristics of the parliamentary system are that the prime minister nominates they are a council of ministers in the cabinet, all the minister work in a cohesive team spirit and the prime minister has immense powers (Wilson, 2017). The prime minister act as the bridge betwixt the government and the cabinet. Besides, in this system, there is collective political responsibility since the cabinet is collectively responsible to the legislatures.
The salient advantages of the parliamentary system are that it reduces workload. In the context of the parliamentary system, there exists a dual executive. Simply put, in the parliamentary system, there is the head of government and head of state. From this perspective, it is easy for the thus two executives to share responsibilities and functions. Second, the parliamentary system enhances the continuity of the government. In light to a change in government, the head of state does not forfeit office (Morton, 2016). However, the head of government leaves their positions with their entire government. The salience of this approach is that someone runs the affairs of the state until there is a new government. The above aspect ensures that there is a systematic, peaceful, and streamlined transfer of power from, the incumbent government to the new government. Third, a parliamentary system ensures responsible governance since the entire government is collectively answerable and accountable to parliament for their actions.
The limitations of this approach are that it is an expensive system to operate. The challenge with the dual nature of the type of governance is that it is a very costly system. Second, there might be struggles betwixt the opposition and ruling party. A parliamentary form of governance might precipitate to the unhealthy rivalry between the ruling party and the opposition. Third, there might be a conflict between the head of government and head of state. (Morton, 2016) The dual executive manifested in the parliamentary system might be a source of conflict. The above leads to disagreements in the implementation of several programs and policies. Lastly, the parliamentary system violates the separation of powers.
Differences in Presidential and Parliamentary Systems
The most notable difference between the presidential and parliamentary system is the election of the chief executive together with the debate styles. In the parliamentary system of governance, the election of the chief executive and not the people. The majority party in parliaments elects chief executive who becomes the prime minister. The fusion between the executive and legislative bodies of government tends to instill discipline among different members of different political parties. The above aspects are because party members stringently tend to vote along party lines (Szilágyi, 2009). In the presidential system, there is less emphasis on discipline because the legislators have the opportunity to vote according to their conscience, as there is minimal repercussion from the party. Also, some people offer opposing view about the very system of governance arguing that the presidential systems, the legislators tend to capitalize on the right to filibuster or prolong speeches to derail legislative processes. Contrarily, parliamentary systems tend to call for cloture or call to end the debates so legislators can start voting.
Another significant difference between the presidential and parliamentary system is that separation of power is a significant aspect in the presidential system. Each branch of government has specific and distinct roles and responsibilities. The above means that the executive power is not present in the legislative body. Additionally, the election of the president is different from the election of the members of the legislative branch. In the parliamentary system, there is no election of the chief executive as the majority of the legislators chose that individual (Wilson, 2017). The above aspects make it easier for the legislature to pass legislation since there is no potential threat of a presidential veto in the parliamentary democracy. Since the presidential democracies have checks and balances, which limits activities this government can undertake.
Common Features between Parliamentary and Presidential Systems
In both the presidential and parliamentary systems, they can remove the chief executive from office through a legislative process. In the context of the parliamentary system, they utilize a vote of confidence where a significant majority of members of parliament votes to remove the elected prime minister from office (Maddex, 2014). In the presidential system, they conduct a process similar to that in the parliamentary system as the legislators collect votes to impeach the president from office. Besides, the homogeneity between the parliamentary and the presidential system is that in both systems of government the legislators elect their representatives. The aforementioned aspect gives people immense power as they can choose a suitable individual to represent their needs.
Since the fall of dictatorial monarchies and the Soviet Union, democracy within a nation in the global parameters started to flourish and thrive. As emerging states continue to struggle as they seek to identify themselves, there are incessant debates on the best form of democracy that addresses their needs (Szilágyi, 2009). Depending on states and its citizenry, a state might adopt the classic parliamentary system or a presidential system, which is less ridging and more dynamic. Additionally, the state can also coalesce and adopt aspects of both the parliamentary and presidential system of governance to create hybrid government to suit the needs.
From the research findings of this document, it is evident that the presidential system is more prevalent in the global paradigm as compared to the parliamentary system. There are different types of presidential systems, which are an executive presidential system, semi-presidential system, and full presidential system. Another significant democratic governmental form is the parliamentary system (Szilágyi, 2009). There are significant differences and similarities between these systems. The main differences are the debate styles and the election of the chief executive. The president is both the head of state and the chief executive. The similarities between the parliamentary and the presidential system are that the legislators can remove the head of state through a vote of no confidence.
However, the presidential system is more advantageous as compared to the parliamentary system. The above aspect is because in the presidential system it is easier to locate responsibility. A single individual can be responsible for the acts of omission and commission. Additionally, the presidential system is cheaper to operate as compared to the parliamentary system since in the presidential system there is only one cabinet as compared to the parliamentary system, which has a dual executive. Consequently, the presidential system provides a framework for quick decision making as compared to the presidential system since the president is the single executive and there is no lengthy consultation before reaching a decision.
Presidential Versus Parliamentary Systems