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Comparing Governments: Parliament vs. President

Posted by on September 20th, 2016

Systems of government vary across the globe, each with their own characteristics. Even within the same type of system, you can find variations. Two of the most prominent forms of democratic government are the parliamentary and presidential systems. There are a number of differences among their characteristics and design.

A major difference between the systems is how the executive leaders are selected: the parliamentary executive leader, the Prime Minister (PM), is elected by the legislative branch; the presidential executive leader, the President, is directly voted on by the people. Other key differences include the election scheduling, separation of powers and party influence. The following are more distinct differences between the two systems:

 

Parliamentary System

  • Parliamentary government offers the power to enact laws more swiftly than Presidential systems.
  • Every election has the power to change executive leadership. Elections can be called at previously unscheduled times.
  • In Parliamentary elections, the entire country does not vote for a leader by name.
  • Parliamentary Systems offer no separation of powers.
  • The ruling party gets to govern the way they want.
  • Minority groups can form additional parties and have much more influence in government. This sometimes leads to third, fourth and fifth party formation.

 

 

Presidential System

  • Presidential government requires checks and balances. It is more difficult to enact legislation.
  • Executive leadership can only be changed through presidential election (with the exception of impeachment). Elections are held on a strict schedule; usually the schedule does not change.
  • In Presidential elections the entire country gets to vote for specific leaders by name.
  • Power is separated through the different branches of government.
  • The branches do not have to be aligned on how they govern; this often leads to the legislative and executive branches working against each other.
  • Third parties are difficult to establish and do not offer much influence on overall government.

 

 

Both the presidential and parliamentary models are based on democratic principles. The two systems boast their own characteristics which create advantages and disadvantages for both.

 

Parliamentary Systems offer easier passage of legislation since the PM is in the same party of the majority. However, a disadvantage of Parliamentary Systems is the stability of the government since they can change leadership so often. An advantage of the Presidential System is the stable leadership that is representative of the people. The primary Presidential System disadvantages include stalemates that occur between unaligned parties and the lack of diverse parties due to bipartisanship. Numerous examples of both stems exist around the world.

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