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  • 1. Parliamentary andPresidential SystemsA Comparison
  • 2. Basic Government StructuresExecutive Branch• Elaborate, coordinate and implement legislature’s decisions• Sets agenda and priorities of government• Directs state ministries and departmentsGoverning BodyLegislative Branch• Assemblies of representatives – usually directly elected• Writes, reviews, debates, approves laws – legislation may come from executive• Oversee the Executive Branch – review, scrutinize, criticizeLegal BodyJudicial Branch• Intended to be “above” politics – neutral and impartial• Legal Institutions monitoring and enforcing laws – interpret and rule on disputes• Courts, Judges & supporting staff (Judiciary)
  • 3. Parliamentary Systems Only one elected body – the Parliament Its bills/resolutions are lawAppointed Judiciary (Courts)Judges Appointed by Cabinet Usually Independent JudiciaryAppointed Executive CabinetMinisters (usually drawn from MP’s) Direct/Oversee DepartmentsElected Legislative ParliamentRepresentatives (MP’s) but can bemore than one houseMeet in whole/committee
  • 4. Parliamentary SystemsExecutive Executive power is held in a cabinet Cabinet only serves as long as there is confidencefrom the parliament A “Vote of Confidence” can be called at any time, and amajority vote can unseat the existing cabinet (“governmentfails”) – this requires that a new government be formed But the cabinet can also hold the parliament in check. Theleader of the cabinet (Prime minister, premiere, etc.) candisband a parliament and call for new elections.
  • 5. Advantages of ParliamentarySystems Unified government Greater intra-party discipline/cooperation Support of majority of Parliament is reaffirmed Executive and Legislature overlap – high coordination No veto power and typically no judicial review Clear lines of responsibility Governing party is responsible for blame/reward ofgovernment policies, decisions, consequences
  • 6. Disadvantages ofParliamentary Systems Limited Separation of Powers (Cabinet) Judicial review and veto power can prevent badlegislation – but are limited/absent in Parliament Minority parties and rights can be trampled Example: Arbitrarily limiting debate (majority party) In absence of a “majority” government, instabilitycan be constant Coalitions usually formed Repeated political crises of “confidence” votes
  • 7. Committees Non-parliamentary systems are committee dominated–they have the power, and they can easily obstructthe work of government. Strong committees in a parliamentary system wouldweaken central unity – Strong leadership is importantto parliamentary systems Consequently, in Britain, for example, there are nostanding committees per se, but ad hoc committeesfor each bill. No permanent staff and no openhearings, etc. The parliament itself tries to maintain the open spirit ofdebate
  • 8. Presidential Systems The key distinction is the Separation ofPowers Separation of Powers(Executive/Legislative do not overlap) Doctrine and Checks and Balances Executive + Legislative + Judiciary must pass abill before it comes into force of law Differences in party systems, structures,politics and electoral processes
  • 9. Contrasts Between SystemsParliamentary System Policy Issues Leadership more diffuse Responsibility very clear Comprehensive legislation &practices easier to achieve Government Leaders PM – leader of political partywith most seats Party leader appeals to partymembers Heavy power in PM’s OfficePresidential System Policy Issues Leadership Very High Responsibility harder toattribute Comprehensive legislation &practices harder to achieve Government Leaders Directly elected president President must appeal tomajority of voters Head of legislative houses bynumber of party seats Heavy power in presidentBUT: Pres. Can be blocked(“Lame Duck President”)
  • 10. Contrasts Between SystemsParliamentary System Discourse/Debates Take place betweenelected members… alongparty lines To pass a bill publicdiscussion can be limited Can you spot why? Executive & Legislature areby structure and definitioncooperative Cooperation is the normPresidential System Discourse/Debates Takes place betweenelected members Takes place betweenExecutive and Legislature To pass a bill publicdiscussion must take place Executive & Legislaturemay be cooperative but areby structure & definition a“check & balance” Confrontation is the norm
  • 11. Contrasts Between SystemsParliamentary System Symbolic/Political Aspects Elections may happen at any time Head of State is somebody else Executive is not directly elected Between elections there isrecourse for removing governmentfrom power Not necessarilydemocratic May be powerless in anauthoritarian state Elections /= DemocracyPresidential System Symbolic/Political Aspects Elections are on fixed dates Head of State is usually President Executive is directly elected(partially) Between elections there is littlerecourse to removing governmentfrom power Not necessarilydemocratic May be powerless in anauthoritarian state Elections /= Democracy