Parliamentary form of government & Presidential form of government

Parliamentary form of government & Presidential form of government

A government is an organization, machinery, or agency, through which a political unit exercises its authority, controls and administers public policy, and directs and controls the actions of its members or subjects. The government makes laws, regulates economies, conducts relations with other countries, provides infrastructure and services, and maintains an army and a police force amongst others on behalf of the people of the country for their betterment.

A republic is a form of government in which power is held by the people of the republic and their elected representatives where the country is considered public property and not a private concern of rulers. Most modern republics use the title ‘President’ for the head of the State. Based on the difference between the head of state and head of government, we can define the Presidential form of government and the Parliamentary form of government.

If the ‘head of state’ of a republic is also the ‘head of Government’, this is called the Presidential system. While in the case of republics where the legislature is dominant and the presidential role is almost purely ceremonial and apolitical, these states are parliamentary republics and operate similar to constitutional monarchies with parliamentary systems where the power of the monarch is also greatly circumscribed.

The main difference between the presidential and the parliamentary systems of governance is the result of how states executive, legislative, and judiciary organs are organized.

Presidential form of government

In a presidential system, the head of the government leads the executive, which is distinct from the legislature. Here, the head of the government and the head of the state are one and the same. The executive is not responsible to the legislature in case of a Presidential form of government. The President is directly elected by the electoral college. The executive (President) can veto any acts by the legislature. The President in a Presidential system has a fixed tenure and cannot be removed by a vote of no confidence in the legislature. The President also has the power to commute or pardon judicial sentences that are awarded to the criminals.

Merits of Presidential System:-

  • Separation of power:- There is an efficiency in the administration as the three arms of the government is independent of each other.
  • Expert government:- The President can choose experts in various fields to head various departments as ministers. This is because there is no compulsion that the executives be appointed within the legislature. Thus, capable and knowledgeable people get a part of the government.
  • Stability :- Presidential government provides a stable government since the term of President is fixed and not subject to majority support in the legislative, hence there is no fear of falling the government.
  • Less influence of party system :- Political parties do not attempt to topple the government since the tenure is fixed.

Demerits of Presidential System

  • Less responsible executive :- Since the legislature has no hold over the executive and the president, the head of the government can turn authoritarian or dictator
  • Deadlocks between executive and legislature :- Since there is a strict separation of power in this form of government, there can be frequent tussles between both arms of the government, especially if the legislature is not dominated by the president’s political party. This can lead to a decrease in efficiency because of the wastage of time.
  • Spoils system :- This system gives the president sweeping powers of patronage. Hence, he can choose executives as per his will. This gives rise to a spoit system where people who are close to the president (relatives, business associates, etc.) get roles in the government.

Countries like the USA, Brazil, and Indonesia follow the Presidential form of government.

Parliamentary form of government

In a parliamentary form of government, there are two executives i.e. President who is the nominal executive while the Prime Minister is a real executive and the head of the government. The role of the President is primarily ceremonial while the Prime Minister along with cabinet ministers enjoys effective power.

The Constitution of India provides for a Parliamentary form of government at the Center as well as the States. Article 75 and 75 deals with the Parliamentary system at the center while Article 163 and 164 deal with the Parliamentary system at the state.

Merits of Parliamentary System:-

  • Better coordination between the executive and legislature:- It is easy to pass laws and implement them since the executive is a part of the legislature and the government enjoys majority support of the legislature
  • Prevents authoritarianism:- The executive is responsible to the legislature and can vote it out in a motion of no confidence,hence there is no authoritarianism.
  • Responsible government :- The members of the legislature can ask questions from the cabinet ministers and discuss matters of public interest and put pressure on the government. The parliament can check the activities of the executive.
  • Representing diverse groups :- The parliament offers representation to diverse groups of the country which is important for a country like India.

Demerits of Parliamentary System :-

  • No separation of powers :- There is no separation of power, thus the legislators cannot hold the executive responsible if the government has a good majority in the house.
  • Instability :- The government sustains only as long as they can prove a majority in the house, so there is instability in the house if there is no single-largest party after the elections.
  • Control by the bureaucracy :- Civil servants exercise a lot of power by exercising the ministers on various matters. They are also not responsible to the legislature.
  • Failure to take prompt decisions :- Since there is no fixed tenure enjoyed by the Council of Ministers, they often hesitate from taking bold and long-term policy decisions, and their decisions are mostly influenced by vote bank politics.

Countries like India, Bangladesh, Singapore, and Ireland follow the Parliamentary form of government

Author: Yatharth Tripathi,
1st year, Faculty of Law, University of Delhi/ Student

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