POL100 RESEARCH ESSAY
GURSMEEP SINGH SYAN
15 November 2018
The following research work has been done to attempt to analyse and bring forth the main features of the two prominent forms of democratic governments – ‘The Presidential and The Parliamentary system of Government’. A proper consideration is given to the system of governance and its outcomes of both these forms throughout the essay.
The research works of many scholars and academicians have been entailed to reflect the similarities and dissimilarities of the presidential system and the parliamentary system to one another. Various examples of success and failure of both the types of governance have helped to back the opinions of the scholars and finalise a concluding remark for this thesis.
All countries require some form of government to ensure law and order.. In a democratic society, citizens are usually provided with the right to select their leaders through an election process. Unlike in autocratic society, through elections, the citizens in most societies are able to participate in the operations of the government through their representatives (Raunio, 2016). In democratic society, there are two major systems of government; parliamentary and presidential. Both these systems have proved to be effective during the course of history and have shaped the fundamentals of many of the dominant world powers of today. The formation of a nation’s political landscape is decided through the system of governance it follows. The UK and the U.S are the main countries that embrace Parliamentary and Presidential systems respectively. The two systems of governments mostly differ on how the three parts of government are related (Scharfstein, 2018). In the Presidential system, the president are given various powers that they can execute with assistance of the legislative, while there are those decisions that the president cannot take without asking the legislative. For instance, in the U.S, the president has the right to deploy military operations, but when calling for war, the president has to involve the legislative.
The two most eminent forms of governance have various facets of their composition differentiating them from one another. In a political community, the relationship of the legislation with executive, the accountability and removal of the executive and the broad outcome of governance determine the success of the system. The parliamentary system proves to be superior to the presidential system as an aftermath of this analysis.
The parliamentary system dates back in the 18th century in Britain. The parliamentary system traces its roots to the United Kingdom where the people of the country made the King sign a Magna Carta , a document which restricted the powers of the monarch and check his powers. This system later evolved into a setup of governance with two houses of legislature which came to be known as parliament. There are various countries that embrace these system including the UK, Israel, Germany, Japan and Canada. Under the parliamentary system, the legislative has more power as compared to the executive. The executive, according to Gaylord ; Rennó (2015), is answerable to the legislative therefore highly dependent on the responses of the legislative when making various decisions. In the parliamentary system, the executive is held by two offices, the head of government and the head of state. The head of state and head of government is held by the monarchy or the president. In the UK, the Monarch is the head of state and the Prime Minister is the head of government.
In the parliamentary system, the powers of the legislatives are combined together with the powers of the executive. According to Raunio (2016), the parliamentary system, as the name states, is largely centered on the powers of the parliament. The parliament has to approve most of the actions of the Prime Minister. In this regard, there is usually a battle to come out on top between the two arms of government.
The presidential system started back in the 19th century by the United States. Presidential system can be fully or partial depending on the decision by the government. According to James et al. (2016), the U.S is one of the countries with full presidential system. On the other hand, the South Africa has a partial presidential system which is referred as a semi-presidential system. In the presidential system, the president does not have anything to do with the legislature although his role entails the ratification of the bills formed by the legislatures. The disconnection between the president and the legislature is with regard to their elections. In a presidential system, both the president and the legislators are elected by the members of the public or the electorate defined in the constitution. In the argument by Scharfstein (2018), the fact that the president is elected by the public gives him/her power unlike in the parliamentary system. Under the presidential system, the removal of the president is conducted by introducing an impeachment bill which must go through the legal process because the voting process in the parliament. After the removal of the president, the country can take a given period before another election is held which is to take place imminently. The three arms are independent but work together to ensure a smooth operation of the government. However, both systems are explained as democratic because they provide the citizens with an opportunity to , in a way , indirectly influence the operation of the government through their representative.
In the Presidential system, the president are provided with various powers that they can execute with consultation with the legislative, while there are those decisions that the president cannot take without asking the legislative. For instance, in the U.S, the president has the right to deploy military, but when calling for war, the president has to involve the legislative. According to Scharfstein (2018), the presidential system puts separate power on the president and on the legislative. There is a mutual respected between the president and legislative because of their level of independence. Apart from the deployment of military, the president is tasked with appointing cabinet nominations, and other major positions such as attorney general and Supreme Court judges. However, when making various appointments, the president is required to seek approval by the government. Another flaw of this system turns out to be the selection of the Cabinet where the President can select those whose individuals whose motives align with the interests of the president.
As stated by Cheibub, Przeworski ; Saiegh (2004), the presidential system has its occurence from the medieval monarchies of France, Scotland and England where the executive was the holder of the crown. This means, the Presidential system supported and provides much powers to be on the president. The president is the main figure in the operations of the government. This is why in countries with presidential systems; the president is the outstanding figure in all the matter regarding the operations of the government.
In a presidential system, there is a fixed term of office that the president is required to serve. The president cannot be removed from office but some government provides a method through which the president can be removed. Generally, in the presidential system, there is no difference between the head of state and the head of government.
Similarities between the two systems
In both systems, the president can be removed from office by the legislative, however, by systems follow different procedures. Under the presidential system, the removal of the president is conducted by introducing an impeachment bill. After the removal of the president, the country can take a given period before another election is held. The three arms are independent but work together to ensure a swift and smooth operation of the government. However, both systems are explained as democratic because they provide the citizens with an opportunity to indirectly influence the operation of the government through their representative.
The two systems are virtually almost similar in many aspects but differ on how they are established in the country. For instance, in both Parliamentary and Presidential, there are three arms of government; Executive, Legislative and Judiciary. The judiciary in both systems has independent powers which are covered to it by the constitution and through other amendments through the parliament. According to James et al. (2016), the two systems are similar because the roles of the president in the presidential systems are almost similar to the powers of the Prime Minister in the parliamentary system. The Parliamentary and Presidential system of democracy are the most used in various parts of the world.. For instance, in both Parliamentary and Presidential, there are three arms of government; Executive, Legislative and Judiciary. The three arms are independent but work together to ensure a smooth operation of the government.
According to the scholars, the traditional role of a P.M was defined by unity, integrity and ideologies that boundand held all party members to work as a single entity. But in due course of time, as has been observed, that thepolitical parties have become increasingly less ideological and to an extent self-centred (Cheibub, 2009)
Differences between the two systems The major differences in both the systems arise due to the dissimilarity of their work procedures and their outcomes. As it has been seen in the cases of many South American countries, Presidential system of governance has not been able to successfully deliver proper governance to a point where people are happy with the system and are fulfilled by the proceedings of their respective governing authorities. In our society today, there is a greater impetus on the accountability of the form of governing a political entity because diversity between different sections of the society and communities demand check and balance of the system so as to ensure that the rights and freedoms of their particular community are looked after. If only the rights of a particular sect are given freedom to dominate the other sections, then it leads to a situation of utter and total chaos.
In the article, “Accountability and Democracy”, the author Mark E. Warren (May, 2014) has talked about how accountability and democracy are two majorly connected issues. He states that democracy which is the rule of the masses through representatives, is made up of chains of endless sizes of accountabilities between people and those who exercise this power to govern on their behalf. Accountability is comprised of reasons and justifications for the uses of power. Key problems for democracies include forming ideals of self motives with rigid structurality that take care of just individualistic views rather than pluralistic views, the accountability mechanisms need to be changed and refreshed periodically so they can be used looked upon by the citizens, and developing a true sense of egalitarian governance among the masses of the country.Accountability exhibited by the ruling elites is a measure of the legitimacy of their governing and in a way is an aspect which can determine the overall accountability of any political governance system.
Author emphasis on the independence of the judiciary so that the empowerment of the people of a country through strict means of judicial activity ensure true democracy and no one can alter the course of and democratic process. The author ends by saying that accountability of a governing system is its ultimate legitimacy towards its actions.
The Parliamentary and Presidential system of democracy are the most used in various parts of the world. The two systems are virtually similar in various aspects but differ on how they are established in the country. For instance, in both Parliamentary and Presidential, there are three arms of government; Executive, Legislative and Judiciary. The three arms are independent but work together to ensure a smooth operation of the government. Apart from difference on how the governments under the two systems operate, the systems also have divergent history, which Parliamentary identified with Great Britain and Presidential being identified with the U.S. However, both systems are explained as democratic because they provide the citizens with an opportunity to indirectly influence the operation of the government through their representative. The citizens are engaged in the democracy through a voting process. In the presidential system, the power is distributed to all the arms of government. This is different from a parliamentary system, where much power is on the Prime Minister who is the head of the government. As the head of government means, the Prime Minister is able to execute various decisions with the approval of the legislative. In the presidential system, the power is vested more in the President. This is different from a parliamentary system, where much power is on the executive as a whole. In my opinion , parliamentary form of governance is more beneficial for the masses of a nation as having a number of individuals in the executive promotes the welfare of a majority of communities and ensures a more ethically and intellectually diverse form of executive rather than having a single individual as the lone executive head. Also, the Cabinet and Prime Minister are answerable to the legislature so that in a way the power does not rest with a particular individual. Having a majority government as in the case of the parliamentary form ensures the continuum in governance and limits the possibility of a government shutdown. At last, the Prime Minister can be removed if the House of Commons passes a no-confidence motion which makes the prime minister to be thoughtful in his approach of governing and not adopt extensively unfavourable methods for the country.
Cheibub, J. A., Przeworski, A., ; Saiegh, S. M. (2004). Government coalitions and legislative success under presidentialism and parliamentarism. british Journal of political science, 34(4), 565-587.
http://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199641253.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780199641253-e-018. “Accountability and Democracy?” (Oxford Handbook), Written by Warren E, M. (May, 2014).
Gaylord, S., ; Rennó, L. (2015). Opening the black box: cabinet authorship of legislative proposals in a multiparty presidential system. Presidential Studies Quarterly, 45(2), 247-269.
James, O., Petrovsky, N., Moseley, A., ; Boyne, G. A. (2016). The politics of agency death: ministers and the survival of government agencies in a parliamentary system. British Journal of Political Science, 46(4), 763-784
Raunio, T. (2016). The Finnish Eduskunta: A Parliament in a Semi-Presidential System. Political Studies Association (Towarzystwo Nauk Politycznych), https://www. psa. ac. uk/psa-communities/specialist-groups/parliaments-andlegislatures/blog/finnish-eduskunta-parliament, 24.
Scharfstein, D. S. (2018). Presidential Address: Pension Policy and the Financial System. The Journal of Finance, 73(4), 1463-1512.
?eker, M., ; Gölcü, A. (2017). Manufacturing Consentover News Discourse: The Analysis of News about Transition to Presidential System in Turkey. Communication and Digital Media, 261.