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Presidential or Parliamentary Systems


Presidentialor Parliamentary Systems

Countriesmay choose to have a presidential system of government or else aparliamentary system. These two systems have both benefits andcritics, which make them good or worse systems to be adopted orrejected by different countries. A presidential system describes agovernment system, where the executive branch is usually led by thepresident that serves as the head of the government and at the sametime as the head of state. In this system, the executive branchexists independently from the legislature, which it is notresponsible to and which it cannot dismiss in normal situations. Onthe other hand, the parliamentary system describes a system, wherethe executive branch is liable to the legislature branch in thissystem, the legislature and executive branches are interconnected.Besides, in this system, the executive obtains its democraticlegitimacy from the legislature.

Aprincipal difference amid the presidential and parliamentary systemsis that in the presidential system, the head of state (president) isusually detached from the legislature. However, in the parliamentarysystem, the senior executive like the prime minister is usually partof the legislature. The presidential system usually creates adifference between the legislative and executive roles and offerschecks and balances, limiting both the power of the legislature andchief executive. In the parliamentary system, the legislature holdsthe power and holds it, implying the chief executive has to beanswerable to the legislature (Stepan &amp Skach, 1993). Anotherdifference that relates to the two systems is the election process.In a presidential system, the senior executive and legislaturemembers are usually elected independently by the citizens. On theother hand, in the parliamentary system, the legislature is usuallyelected by the citizens and then the elected representatives appointor recommend one of its members as their senior executive.

Legislativeefficiency sets another difference amid the two systems ofgovernment. The two systems have a difference in issues likepolitical acrimony and efficiency. In the presidential system, sincethe senior executive and legislature members are separately elected,it is feasible for the senior executive to be from a single politicalparty and the legislature to become controlled by a separatepolitical party. This may cause discord in the highest governmentlevels, making it cumbersome for the executive and legislaturemembers to attain their particular goals. However, in theparliamentary system, the senior executive is almost always from apolitical party, which is in control of the legislature. Therefore,there is less discordance in the performance of government roles.Thus, it becomes easier to accomplish the goals that the seniorexecutive and legislature members desire to attain.

Besides,the capacity of removing a senior executive from power is differentin the two systems. In a parliamentary system, it becomes exceedinglyeasy to remove a senior executive since the legislature has themandate and is powerful since the senior executive is accountable tothe legislature, it implies that the legislature can easily removethe senior executive (Stepan &amp Skach, 1993). Issues such as alack of effective leadership or disagreement in a given policyprovide enough reasons for the legislature to remove the seniorexecutive from power. When it comes to the presidential system, it isusually exceedingly cumbersome to remove the president from powerunless on very extreme cases for instance, when the presidentbecomes accused of serious crimes.

Theparliamentary system has faced criticism emanating from its system ofno truly autonomous body that can oppose and veto laws passed by thelegislature therefore, the system does not have substantial check onthe legislative power (Cheibub, 2007). Besides, due to a lack of aninherent separation of powers, a parliamentary system may place toomuch power in a given branch, which can lead to other branches ofgovernment to feel less powerful. However, in some cases, the systemcan be bicameral, where the upper house may be designed in a way thatit can check the power of the lower house. Conversely, theparliamentary system has been criticized for the abuse of the lack ofa definite election calendar. In some parliamentary systems, it isfeasible for a ruling party to schedule an election at anytime. Thisis may be risky since a ruling party may avoid elections, when itknows it is unpopular and schedule the elections, when it is popular.Therefore, a ruling party can be capable of extending its rule for alonger period. However, this problem becomes alleviated by having afixed date for elections.

Thepresidential system has also been criticized due to the difficulty ofmaking comprehensive policies. It is exceedingly cumbersome to engagein making comprehensive policies in the presidential system since abill may become blocked at any level. The responsibility for policiesmay become more cumbersome to identify in this system since it isdifficult to put blame on anyone: the Supreme Court, the President,or the Congress (Cheibub, 2007). However, the system may be moreefficient for vast countries. Besides, in a presidential system, thesenior executive has to find support for his/her policy preferencedue to the separation of powers.

Ademocratic system has to directly or indirectly represent allindividuals in an equal manner. From the analysis of the two systems,the parliamentary system seems to be more democratic compared to thepresidential system. This is because in the parliamentary system,individuals that are not elected to be legislators cannot beappointed to the position of a senior executive. This is critical inrepresenting the will of the people since if one cannot be elected inhis own community why then represent the bigger society. In theparliamentary system, the person that gets appointed to the seniorexecutive position goes to a separate position of the head of statethat is non-partisan and non-executive. Since the position of asenior executive is not usually a highly powerful position since thesenior executive is answerable to the legislature, parliamentarysystem emerges as a better way of representing the citizens since thestatesman is non-partisan.

Besides,the legislature is usually charged with the responsibility ofremoving the senior executive in case he/she does not deliver. Thisis critical in ensuring democracy since the legislature usuallyrepresents their constituents, which implies that any decision thatthey can make is a representation of what the citizens want. On theother hand, unlike in the presidential system, where the presidentmay end up adopting a certain policy based on his/her personal will,it is different in a parliamentary system since the passage of acertain policy is through the legislature, who have a responsibilityin representing their constituents (Shivey, n.d). Hence, theparliamentary system seems as more democratic compared to thepresidential system.


Cheibub,K. (2007). Presidentialism,Parliamentarism, and Democracy.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Shivey,P.W. (n.d). Power&amp Choice: An Introduction to Political Science.New York: McGraw-Hill.

Stepan,A. &amp Skach, C. (1993). Constitutional Frameworks and DemocraticConsolidations: Parliamentarianism Versus Presidentialism. WorldPoliticsVol. 46 (1), pp. 1-22.