Parliamentary system vs. Presidential system

Although an argument could be made for either system of governance, ultimately the parliamentary system is better for democracy than the presidential. The literal translation of democracy is “rule by the people”, but the practical definition of democracy encompasses far more than just that. If we were answering this question using only the literal translation, then the presidential system would probably win the debate because the leaders are all elected by the people. However, given that democracy in the real-world sense requires more than just rule by the people, the parliamentary system is more equipped to ensure that democracy endures. In a presidential system, the executive and legislative are independent of one another, which allows for the possibility, and likelihood, of the two bodies being controlled by different parties. This leads to stalemate and often a general unwillingness to cooperate and compromise, which creates an unstable and chaotic government that can’t be fully committed to upholding democratic ideals for the people. In a parliamentary system, however, the executive and legislative are very closely linked. The people elect their legislatives, and then the winning party’s leader becomes the executive, or prime minister. This allows for the executive to be a highly qualified politician chosen by his/her peers, as opposed to a presidential election, which arguably is not much more than a popularity contest. Because the two bodies are from the same party, it’s much easier to pass legislation and keep the government working for the people. The fact that the executive isn’t directly elected by the people isn’t a problem for democracy because the prime minister must report to the House of Commons regularly, which means they’re still being held accountable for their actions, policies, and decisions. As discussed in The Guardian article “Both Labour and Tories face a battle to win back truculent voters in 2015”, the parliamentary system also allows for coalition governments, which further allows for all citizens’ voices to be heard. Overall, I’d argue that a parliamentary system is better for democracy than a presidential system.

“Both Labour and Tories face a battle to win back truculent voters in 2015.” The Guardian. 1/5/15.

2 thoughts on “Parliamentary system vs. Presidential system

  1. At its core, the Parliamentary system is more Democratic because of the way in which the executive and the legislature are elected. The majority party and later the executive is elected directly through the people. This differs from the Presidential system where the legislature and the executive are voted on at separate times. The electoral process of the Parliamentary system best depicts fair, free, and competitive elections. However, I believe that procedurally, the Presidential system is more Democratic because the legislature is made up of individual representatives that are specific to certain areas. I believe this allows for a better representation of the people. Furthermore, the competitive nature of the executive, the legislature, and other branches of government places more stringent checks and balances on the government. While free, fair and competitive elections are important to democracy, so is a regulated government. From a definitional standpoint, I believe Parliamentary is more Democratic, but there are also aspects of Presidential that are more Democratic, as well.

  2. I agree that there could be arguments that support both the parliamentary system and presidential system in terms of upholding democracy. I believe the presidential system is an appropriate way to uphold democracy. The legislature and the executive branches are independent. The independent branches may gain support by their own contrasting ideas. The conflict between the houses allows for more democracy because the contrasting ideas are debated. The executive branch has a fixed term, which prevents political power from escalating. The new elected president can implement new or existing views as he/she responds to proposals. The presidential system creates individualistic plans through decision-making processes. Again, an effort to limit political power, the government’s ability to influence and implement policy is decreased through the processes.
    The main difference between the parliamentary system and the presidential system is that under the parliamentary system, legislatures may remove the government completely by a vote of no confidence. In this situation, a new government can be formed or elections are repeated. Although this does not happen often, the idea that it is readily available could be unnerving in a sense that governments could be changing too often or not transitioning enough.

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