Presidential vs parliamentary system of government essay

The difference lies in the ability of the parliamentary government to muster a majority in the legislature and command support and cooperation from it. More important, the mutual dependency relation in parliamentarism creates effective constitutional devices to break deadlocks or remove inefficient governments. Frustrating, unproductive and long impasses are thus avoided. Thus, as a system that can better avoid deadlocks, discourage coup attempts and promote better cooperation in policymaking, a parliamentary democracy is superior and should be preferred over a presidential system.

In arguing for the stability of the presidential system, critics of parliamentary democracy point tothe frequent crises and changes in the prime ministers in parliamentary democracies, such as the French Third and Fourth Republic, the frequent government turnovers in Italy and India today, and more recently, in Portugal.

While accepting the rigidity that presidentialism introduces into the political process, its proponents view this more as an advantage than a liability. This feature, they contend, reduces the uncertainties inherent in parliamentary democracies, where multiple political players can, at anytime between elections, effect basic changes, bring about realignment of forces and, above all, change the executive, the prime minister.

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But again it must be emphasized that presidents are elected for a period of time that, under normal circumstances cannot be modified: not shortened and sometimes, due to ban on reelections, not prolonged. The political process then becomes broken into discontinuous, rigidly determined periods without the possibility of continuous readjustments as political, social and economic events may require.

Thus, unexpected events may intervene, like fundamental flaws in judgment or political process. Does the system adjust better to crises? Most likely not, especially when the president is unyielding. There is the option of voluntary resignation through pressure from party leaders, the media and public opinion.

But given the psychology of politicians, resignation is highly unlikely to happen. Moreover, the move will encounter opposition from the constituency that brought the discredited president to power. Then there is the extreme measure of impeachment, which is difficult and complicated to execute successfully. Thus, it is almost impracticable to remove even the most corrupt and inefficient president from office.

In sharp contrast, a parliamentary government — because of the mutual dependency between the executive and the legislature inherent in the system — permits flexibility in responding to changing situations and unexpected events. Moreover, it is also forgotten that the parliamentary system permits the removal of a prime minister who has lost party support or has been discredited and whose continuance in office may lead to serious political conflicts.

Without engendering a serious constitutional crisis, the prime minister can be replaced in a variety of ways — by his or her party, by the formation of a new coalition, or by coalition partners withdrawing support of parties tolerating the minority government. Through these means, a new prime minister is bound to surface, perhaps with some difficulty and delay, but definitely with much greater certainty than had the crises taken place in a presidential democracy. The absence of these self-correcting devices in the presidential regime leads to a paralyzing stalemate that ensures that nothing substantial gets done until new government is elected to replace the previous one, that is, if the people are patient enough to wait until the next election cycle.

In many instances, most notably in Latin America, either the president bypasses the legislature and the rules by decree or a military coup overthrows the government. In both situations, the institutional framework collapses and those who take power rule extraconstitutionally. The Stepan and Skach study covering 53 non-OECD countries, which they had classified as having been democracies for at least a year between and , confirm these tendencies. Of the 53countries, 28 were pure parliamentary, 25 were pure presidential and none, surprisingly, were either semi-presidential or mixed.

Presidential vs. Parliamentary Political Systems Essay -- Political Sc

See Table 2. Clearly, parliamentary democracies, with a rate of survival more than three times higher thanpresidential democracies, demonstrate greater capacity for ensuring continuous democraticgovernance. See T able 3 This difference points to a greater ability of parliamentary regimes to accommodate conflicts and crises in government without leading to a rejection of the regime.

The same study presents further evidence of the durability of the parliamentary system in a survey of 93 countries that became independent between and and that were continuous democracies from to Forty-one countries functioned as parliamentary systems in their first year of independence, 36 were presidential systems, three semi-presidential systems and 13 ruling monarchies. During the year period between and , only 15 countries were able to develop as continuous democracies and all of them were countries that functioned as parliamentary systems in their first year of independence.

Not one of the 52 countries that was not a parliamentary government evolved into a continuous democracy. See Table 4. Stepan and Skach examined all ministerial appointments during the years of democratic rule in Latin America, Western Europe and the United States between and The result was two major findings. The case of the U. This results from the almost total revamping of the bureaucracy that normally follows when a new presidential administration takes over.

Second, the average length of service of a minister in any one appointment is almost twice as long in parliamentary systems. The findings hold even if the study was limited to countries with more than 25 years experience in uninterrupted democracy. See Table 5. The evident conclusion is that ministers in presidential democracies have far less experience than their counterparts in parliamentary democracies. This inadequacy is felt most in areas such as foreign policy and macroeconomic policy management, as well as in every weak ties to the legislature, whose support they cannot do without.

In addition, the valuable wisdom that the new acquire on the job is not available to their successors.

Such is not the case in a parliamentary system, where a large pool of potential leaders is available. The reasonable chance of becoming prime minister or a key cabinet official among leaders of all major parties, particularly in a multi-party setting, encourages a greater number of aspirants for leadership positions to enter parliament. Moreover, even between elections, unless the government has a tight hold on the media, the parliamentary process — such as debates, motions of censorship, votes of no confidence, and other public actions — provides potential leaders with numerous opportunities to gain visibility and practice.

Switzerland and Finland are mixed systems. According to Stepan and Skach, Austria, Ireland and Iceland are parliamentary rather than presidential regimes because parliamentary is the political practice. Traditionally in Kiribati, all candidates for the unicameral legislature — the Maneaba — have fought as independents.

In , various Maneaba members who were dissatisfied with the government policies formed a Christian Democratic opposition grouping. The government grouping then is generally known as the National Party although it does not constitute a formal political party.

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Even leaders who have lost power do not end up with nothing, unlike in a presidential system. If they desire to continue with their political career, they will have to wait for the next cycle of election without any access to executive power and to patronage. In calling for the retention of the presidential system, respected constitutionalist and Senator Arturo M.

T olentino argues that, in a presidential system, accountability is easier to locate. The chief executive, the president, is directly elected by the people and singularly represents the government. The voter is thus in a position to know whom he is voting for and who will govern in case his candidate wins.

Moreover, the functions of the government are neatly divided among its three branches: the legislature sets down policy, the executive implements it and the judiciary interprets it. So responsibility is easier to pinpoint. By implication, in a parliamentary system, presumably the voter electing representatives of a party will, in no way, know who the party will select as prime minister.


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And in a multi-party system, where the party is not expected to obtain a clear majority, the voter is not in a position to determine which parties will ultimately coalesce to choose the prime minister and to govern the country. Furthermore, since the executive and the legislature are fused in the parliament, the lines of responsibility are blurred and accountability for performance is difficult to locate.

While these arguments may, in theory, be correct, reality negates most, if not all, of them. In presidential elections, the candidates do not need and often do not have any prior record as political leaders. To a great extent, former Presidents Aquino and Ramos fall in this category, not having been members of any political party before running for office.

Often, presidential candidates are elected on the basis of opinion about them or their promises or about the image that they project. They tend to organize their party around themselves such that when they leave the political scene, so does the party. On the other hand, leaders in parliamentary democracies have to struggle to take hold of, and retain over many years, leadership over their parties. They, therefore, truly represent Not just themselves but, more importantly, their parties, which precede and survive them, also, the voters in a parliamentary election are well aware that eventual winners will be drawn from the party.

Usually, the cabinet members are already established leaders of the party with vast experience in politics and government. The contention that the voter in a parliamentary election will be hard put to determine who will eventually govern is contradicted by the fact that parties are usually identified with highly visible political leaders.

Elections are increasingly focused on the leader aspiring to be prime minister. So a vote for British Conservatives is a vote for Mrs. While in this sense, personalization of leadership is not exclusive to presidential politics, the big difference is that leaders of parliamentary governments have to be loyal party members in good standing.

What about the States?

It may be argued that such choice may be ignored by the party choosing another leader. This may happen but normally the party will not invest so much to build up the stature of a party leader only to replace him or her subsequently unless the leader has proven ineffective.

And even then, the party and its leaders can be ultimately held accountable to the voters for such action. As to the difficulty in parliamentary systems of determining who will govern in the coalition, again this contention is not generally true. Before the election, parties commit themselves to a coalition and the voter of the parties knows who the chancellor will be. The voter is also aware that unless a party establishes an absolute majority, all the parties in the alliance will have representatives in the government.

In a parliamentary system, government formation takes a short time because of the presence of a well-known shadow cabinet. In a presidential system, the organization of a new government takes longer as the president-elect begins his or her search for, and formation of, a cabinet and key officials only after the elections. And add to this delay the confirmation hearings — which can be protected and humiliating — that all major appointments go through.

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Finally, presidentialists argue that accountability in a presidential system is greatly enhanced by the fact that a president — not the cabinet, not a coalition, and not the leaders of the party — is directly and solely responsible for governance during his tenure in office. In response, a president who cannot run for reelection will be difficult to hold accountable. Generally, in presidential democracies, including the Philippines, presidents cannot run for reelection.