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To prepare for Indian Polity for any competitive exam, aspirants have to know about the basics of the Parliamentary System. It gives an idea of all the topics important for IAS Exam and the polity syllabus (GS-II). Parliamentary System and related topics are extremely important for the UPSC Exam. This is an essential portion of the polity. As IAS aspirants, you should be thorough with the Parliamentary System. This article will provide you with relevant details about the Two Prominent Systems of Government

 

PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM- FEATURES, MERITS AND DEMERITS
  • India chose a parliamentary form of government primarily because the constitution-makers were greatly influenced by the system in England.
  • Another reason the founding fathers saw was that only the parliamentary model would work to accommodate the varied and diverse groups within our population.
  • Also, the strict separation of powers in the presidential system would cause conflicts between the two branches, the executive and the legislature, which our newly-independent country could ill-afford.
  • There are more parliamentary forms of government in the world than there are presidencies.
  • In this system, the parliament is generally supreme and the executive is responsible to the legislature. It is also known as the Cabinet form of government, and also ‘Responsible Government’.

 

Features Merits Demerits
Dual executive: There are two executives – the real executive and the titular executive. The nominal executive is the head of state (president or monarch) while the real executive is the Prime Minister, who is the head of government. Better coordination between the executive and the legislature: Since the executive is a part of the legislature, and generally the majority of the legislature support the government, it is easier to pass laws and implement them. Dictatorship of the Cabinet

Called as prime ministerial government’.

Majority Party Rule – Rule of party securing majority in Lok Sabha.

 

PM– Appt. by the President

 

Other ministers– Appt. by president on advice of PM.

Prevents authoritarianism –

Since the executive is responsible to the legislature, and can vote it out in a motion of no confidence, there is no authoritarianism. Also, unlike the presidential system, power is not concentrated in one hand.

Ministers may not domain experts.

 

Impacts efficiency

 

Limited choice of PM in the selection of ministers

Collective Responsibility (Art.75) to LS – corner stone of parliamentary system of govt.

 

Vote of no-confidence– only in LS (cannot introduce in RS)

Participative and inclusive decision making. Control by the bureaucracy:  Civil servants exercise a lot of power. They advise the ministers on various matters and are also not responsible to the legislature
Political Homogeneity– members belong to same party, common ideology. Responsible Government- ministers are responsible to the Parliament for their acts.

 

Instruments – question hour, discussions, adjournment motion, no confidence motion.

Parliamentary govt. is vulnerable to extra-constitutional influences.

 

e.g. Joint Parliamentary Committee, National Advisory committee.

Dual Membership – ministers are members of both legislature and executive.

 

Minister who is not a member of the Parliament for a period of six consecutive months ceases to be a minister.

Ready Alternative Government in case of losing majority support.

 

‘Leader of the opposition is the alternative PM’- Jennings

No Continuity of Policies

 

Change in the govt. is usually followed by changes in the policies of the government.

No fixed tenure: The term of the government depends on its majority support in the lower house. If the government does not win a vote of no confidence, the council of ministers has to resign. Elections will be held and a new government is formed. Representing diverse groups: In this system, the parliament offers representation to diverse groups of the country. This is especially important for a country like India. No separation of powers: Since there is no genuine separation of powers, the legislature cannot always hold the executive responsible. This is especially true if the government has a good majority in the house. Also, because of anti-defection rules, legislators cannot exercise their free will and vote as per their understanding and opinions. They have to follow the party whip.
Secrecy of procedure: A prerequisite of this form of government is that cabinet proceedings are secret, and not meant to be divulged to the public. Flexibility: There is flexibility in the system as the PM can be changed easily if needed. During the Second World War, the British PM Neville Chamberlain was replaced by Winston Churchill. This is unlike the presidential system where he/she can be replaced only after the entire term or in case of impeachment. Instability:  Since the governments sustain only as long as they can prove a majority in the house, there is instability if there is no single-largest party after the elections. Coalition governments are generally quite unstable and short-lived. Because of this, the executive has to focus on how to stay in power rather than worry about the state of affairs/welfare of the people.
Leadership of the Prime Minister: The leader of this form of government is the Prime Minister. Generally, the leader of the party that wins a majority in the lower house is appointed as the PM. Unqualified legislators: The system creates legislators whose intention is to enter the executive only. They are largely unqualified to legislate.
Close relationship between the legislature and the executive: Here, the Prime Minister along with the Council of Ministers form the executive and the Parliament is the legislature. The PM and the ministers are elected from the members of parliament, implying that the executive emerges out of the legislature. Failure to take a prompt decision: Because there is no fixed tenure enjoyed by the Council of Ministers, it often hesitates from taking bold and long-term policy decisions.

 

 

 

PRESIDENTIAL SYSTEM- FEATURES, MERITS AND DEMERITS
Features Merits Demerits
Single executive– President is both the head of the State and the head of government Stability of the Government: Presidential form of government ensures stability of the government. The executive can carry on with its policy till the end of its full term. It helps in bringing stability to administration. Dangers of Dictatorship: A diverse country like India cannot function without consensus-building. This “winner takes it all” approach, which is a necessary consequence of the presidential system, is likely to lead to a situation where the views of an individual can ride roughshod over the interests of different segments.
President is elected by an electoral college for a fixed tenure of four years. Only impeachment can remove. Unhindered Decision making: The presidential executive is free from obstacles such as political pressure and coalition dharma. He makes his own decisions and gets them implemented through his own ministers. Non-responsible government– Reduces scope of accountability.

 

Non-responsibility – Non-elected secretaries- Appointed by President, responsible only to president and removed by president. Checks and Balances: In the Presidential system, the executive, legislature and judiciary are independent of each other. This separation of power contributes to checks and balances in the system making it more democratic since there is no absolute concentration of powers in the same body and the presence of other organs ensure proper working of the system. Reforming States: To be able to bring Presidential System at the center, we will have to move simultaneously to a “gubernatorial” form in the States. A switch at the Centre will also require a change in the States.

 

Characterised by more stability but less accountability. Expert government: Since the executive need not be legislators, the President can choose experts in various fields to head relevant departments or ministries. This will make sure that people who are capable and knowledgeable form part of the government. Representative base is narrow compared to parliamentary system.
No dissolution of Lower House-President has no such authority to dissolve the lower house of the Congress (Parliament of USA). No influence of Political Party: The executive is free from the evils of party influence in his daily administration as compared with parliamentary form of government.
Doctrine of separation of powers is fundamental basis. More Suitable for Multi-party systems- The multi-party system invokes political concerns everywhere in the system making it prone to political instability and inefficiency. To check this, a strong executive as in the Presidential system is required, for the sake of people’s interest and stability. Chance of a Deadlock: On the other hand, if the legislature is dominated by a party opposed to the President’s party and decides to checkmate him, it could lead to a stalemate in governance because both the President and the legislature would have democratic legitimacy.
The president is elected directly by the people or by an electoral college.

 

  Bulldozing Legislature: If the legislature is dominated by the same party to which the President belongs, a “strong President” may prevent any contrary move from the legislature.

 

    Spoils system: The system gives the president sweeping powers of patronage. Here, he can choose executives as per his will. This gives rise to the spoils system where people close to the president (relatives, business associates, etc.) get roles in the government.

 

 

COMPARISON OF PRESIDENTIAL AND PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEMS
Basis Parliamentary Presidential
Executive Dual Single
Accountability Executive accountable to legislature Executive not accountable to legislature
Ministers Only from among MPs People outside the legislature can be appointed
Dissolution of lower house PM can dissolve before the expiry of the term President cannot dissolve
Tenure Not fixed Fixed

 

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