Presidential Democracy vs. Parliamentary Democracy, Which Do You Prefer?
Dear Friends & Neighbors,
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At the end of our previous post “Ways To Obtain President Trump’s Tax Returns“, I’ve promised to embellish more upon the topic of Parliamentary Republic system. Allow me to share an excerpt from wikipedia, in italics, on the topic of Representative democracies, with emphasis in Presidential democracy (as what we have in United States) vs. Parliamentary democracy (as what one would find in United Kingdom or Australia, with some variations), below:
For some easy ways to understand the concepts of Parliamentary and Presidential democracy. In the video “Parliamentary versus Presidential: a Visual Guide to Distinguishing the main forms of Democracy“, Mr. Parker compares and contrasts these two governmental systems:
A representative democracy is an indirect democracy where sovereignty is held by the people’s representatives.
- A liberal democracy is a representative democracy with protection for individual liberty and property by rule of law.
- An illiberal democracy has weak or no limits on the power of the elected representatives to rule as they please.
Types of representative democracy include:
- Electoral democracy – type of representative democracy based on election, on electoral vote, as modern occidental or liberal democracies.
- Dominant-party system – democratic party system where only one political party can realistically become the government, by itself or in a coalition government.
- Parliamentary democracy – democratic system of government where the executive branch of a parliamentary government is typically a cabinet, and headed by a prime minister who is considered the head of government.
- Westminster democracy – parliamentary system of government modeled after that of the United Kingdom system.
- Presidential democracy – democratic system of government where a head of government is also head of state and leads an executive branch that is separate from the legislative branch.
- Jacksonian democracy – a variant of presidential democracy popularized by U.S. President Andrew Jackson which promoted the strength of the executive branch and the Presidency at the expense of Congressional power.
- Soviet democracy or Council democracy – form of democracy where the workers of a locality elect recallable representatives into organs of power called soviets (councils.) The local soviets elect the members of regional soviets who go on to elect higher soviets.
- Totalitarian democracy – a system of government in which lawfully elected representatives maintain the integrity of a nation state whose citizens, while granted the right to vote, have little or no participation in the decision-making process of the government.
If you prefer your leader to focus more on governing and less on pageantry and other things, than you are better off with a Parliamentary Democracy where the executive is two positions, a Prime Minister as head of government who is responsible for making policy and a Monarch or President as head of state who handles all the ceremonial stuff. However if you prefer for there to be consistency between the affairs of Government and the affairs of State than you are better off with a Presidential Republic. In times of crisis a split executive can cause confusion, especially when legal conditions are uncertain regarding a head of state’s reserve powers. However presidential republics have a tendency to devolve into one party dictator ships. What about the way the executive is elected? If you believe that power should be in the hands of the masses than you would prefer a presidential system, for the most part. If you believe the power to decide should belong to a smaller group who have a more personal experience and knowledge of the candidates, than you should go with a parliamentary system. What about the power of government? With Parliamentary Democracy the members of the executive branch are also members of the legislative majority, leaving very little a Prime Minister’s government can’t do. So if you prefer a government that can get things done quickly without filibusters than you should go with a Parliamentary system. However if you prefer a government that is stable and not prone to sudden changes in policy than you would prefer a Presidential Republic. With the members of the executive branch being selected separately from the legislature it makes it possible that two opposing parties can control the separate branches government, allowing one branch to check the actions of the other, thereby restricting governments power, but at the cost of speed and efficiency. Then there is the issue of elections. In a Parliamentary Democracy elections are held at the whim of the Prime Minister. This means that elections tend to be shorter, and there is less voter fatigue, but this system can be abused when the Prime Minister decides to delay an election until their party’s electoral fortunes look better. In contrast Presidential Republics have elections that can be predicted infinitely into the future because of set dates. This means that the party that controls the Presidency can’t rig the date of the election to their favor, but it also means that political campaigns are virtually perpetual.
There are positives and negatives in both systems. So, which of the two do you prefer?
To see a list of countries by system of government, please click HERE.
If you’re interested in finding out more about Presidential Democracy, please check out this book, The Cult of Presidency: America’s Dangerous Devotion to Executive Power
At this point, I would like to introduce you to the Australian Parliamentary system that seems to be somewhere between the Presidential and Parliamentary Democracy, with many pluses, in italics, excerpt from Australian government website, below:
The Parliamentary System
The Australian Constitution of 1901 established a federal system of government. Under this system, powers are distributed between a national government (the Commonwealth) and the six States (three Territories – the Australian Capital Territory, the Northern Territory, and Norfolk Island have self-government arrangements). The Constitution defines the boundaries of law-making powers between the Commonwealth and the States/Territories.
The Commonwealth Parliament
The Parliament is at the very heart of the Australian national government. The Parliament consists of the Queen (represented by the Governor-General) and two Houses (the Senate and the House of Representatives). These three elements make Australia a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy.
There are five important functions of parliament:
- to provide for the formation of a government;
- to legislate;
- to provide the funds needed for government;
- to provide a forum for popular representation; and
- to scrutinize the actions of government.
Proposed laws (known as Bills) have to be passed by both Houses and be assented to by the Governor-General before they can become Acts of Parliament. With the exception of laws relating to revenue and taxation (which must be introduced in the House of Representatives), a proposed law can be introduced in either House.
Changes to the Constitution involve action by Parliament and the people. Both Houses of Parliament must agree on a proposed change, or if agreement cannot be reached, the Governor-General can present a proposal to the people. For a proposal to succeed, it must be favored by a majority of voters in a majority of the states, and by a majority of voters overall.
The Governor-General is appointed by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister. The Governor-General performs a large number of functions which are defined by the Constitution, but fall roughly into three categories: constitutional and statutory duties, formal ceremonial duties, and non-ceremonial social duties. On virtually all matters, however, the Governor-General acts on the advice of the Ministry.
The Senate has 76 Senators – 12 are elected for each of the 6 states, and 2 each for the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. State Senators are elected for 6 year terms, territory Senators for 3 year terms.
Historically, the Senate has been regarded as a State’s House: the States enjoy equal representation in the Senate, regardless of their population, and State matters are still important to Senators.
The modern Senate is a very powerful Chamber. Bills cannot become law unless they are agreed to in the same terms by each House, except in the rare circumstances of a double dissolution followed by a joint sitting of both the houses
The Senate has a highly developed committee system and Senators spend much of their time on committee work.
The House of Representatives
The most distinctive feature of the House is that the party or group with majority support in the House forms the Government. The accountability of the Government is illustrated every sitting day, especially during Question Time.
The Prime Minister is appointed by the Governor-General, who by convention under the Constitution, must appoint the parliamentary leader of the party, or coalition of parties, which has a majority of seats in the House of Representatives. This majority party becomes the government and provides the ministers, all of whom must be members of Parliament.
The Federal Executive Council, referred to in the Constitution, comprises all ministers, with the Governor-General presiding. Its principal functions are to receive ministerial advice and approve the signing of formal documents such as proclamations, regulations, ordinances and statutory appointments.
Australia operates under a Cabinet system of government. The Cabinet, not mentioned in the Constitution, is the key decision-making body of the government and comprises senior Government Ministers. The decisions of Cabinet are given legal effect by their formal ratification by the Federal Executive Council.
The Constitution provides for the establishment of the High Court of Australia and such other courts as Parliament may create. The judges of the High Court are appointed by the Governor-General in Council (acting on advice of the Federal Executive Council).
The functions of the High Court are to interpret and apply the law of Australia; to decide cases of special federal significance including challenges to the constitutional validity of laws; and to hear appeals, by special leave, from Federal, State and Territory courts.
Gathered, written, and posted by Windermere Sun-Susan Sun Nunamaker
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