Parliamentary System vs Presidential System
Varying systems of government exist in the world, whereby each country follows its constitution to determine the policies and frame of government bodies and institutions to have based on its democratic principles. There exist two forms of government namely the parliamentary and the presidential systems of government. The presidential system came into existence in the United States in 1787 after the writing of the US constitution and countries in South America, and some African nations practice it. The parliamentary system has been a purview of England for centuries with the United Kingdom and Scandinavian countries practicing it. The effectiveness and operation of the two systems of government occur through differences discussed in this essay.
The primary difference between the two systems of government is on separation of power. Separation of power refers to which power a government system has or does not possess and the extent to which each exercises it. In the presidential order, the president exercises control over the state and government, who comes into power through an election by voters and becomes answerable to them. The president enjoys immense control of the government such as the mandate to appoint individuals into his cabinet who serve at his pleasure and nobody else’s. Additionally, separation of power characterizes this system of government in that the executive is one entity, which has two branches of power namely, the legislature and the judiciary, which are independent of the executive. Unlike the presidential system, the parliamentary system of government is under the leadership of a prime minister who is the point man of the party that has the majority members in the legislature. The prime minister’s appointment is by the legislative members and becomes responsible to them. The prime minister gets to appoint cabinet ministers, whose selection is from the members of the legislature who are party to the ruling coalition. The system of government does not enjoy the differentiation of power, as the executive and parliament consist of the same people. However, there exists a distinction between the head of government and leader of the state. In this system, the head of government is the prime minister while the head of state is a ceremonial president.
The two systems of rule also differ regarding removal from office. In a presidential government, the election of both the president and the members of the legislature is separate from each other. Thus, the president has no mandate over the removal of members of parliament. A president’s tenure as the head of state and government lasts for a particular period as dictated by the constitution, which ranges from four to seven years depending on the country. However, the president can face impeachment initiated by voters before the end of his term due to gross violation of the law, treason, bribery or committing higher crimes. Additionally, a president has designated number of terms to be president, which range from one to three depending on the country. Contrary, in the parliamentary system, the impeaching of a prime minister is possible in two ways. One, through the filing of a vote of no confidence by the opposition against the president and his cabinet. In case, this motion passes with a majority vote; the prime minister steps down forcing the dissolution of the legislature, leading to a fresh legislative election. The second way is through the decision of removal from office by the ruling party to which the prime minister belongs. As a result, the party gets to select a replacement without the need for a legislative election.
The functions of the legislature differ in the two systems of government. In the presidential system of government, the crucial role of the parliament is formulating, discussing and passing legislation independently from the executive. Nonetheless, its mandate helps it work closely with the executive, whereby the executive drafts laws while the legislature ensures its approval. The parliament also has the power and mandate to amend any law that they see fit especially when in the interest of the nation. However, due to its reliance on the executive for finances, sometimes this role becomes impossible to meet. Moreover, it enjoys the powers to develop committees and subcommittees on various issues that invite the contribution of experts who aid in its successful drafting and reviewing of different laws. On the other hand, in the parliamentary system, the function of the legislature is under the prime minister who controls the agenda and activities of the legislature. The other members have no control of the initiatives carried out in the house. Additionally, in the parliament there are fewer committees thus, limiting the involvement of experts in the drafting and appraising of laws.
In conclusion, different countries observe a different system of governance based on their political structure founded on democratic values. Their usage in different countries coupled with differences in the separation of power, executive time in office and role of legislature elicit advantages for the citizens that bring about prosperity and security.