What are their virtues and vices? Which system is more suitable to new democracies, and why? Do we have a universal answer for all countries? Different countries in the world have got their own political system in order to have their countries run and organized and most of them belong to two major systems, namely presidential and parliamentary system and with their own unique characteristics. The presidential and parliamentary systems have lots of different characteristics in their nature and practical running, and each of them have their own virtues and vices. Facing the change of the world political situation and the new democracies, they have got their own advantages to the development of the new democracies; however, there is no universal answer for all the countries in world of which system is more suitable for their new democracies.
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For presidentialism, it is a system which gives the president the most power in the ruling of the country.((((Find sources / define))). The president usually centralized the political power and symbolic power in his own hand.(CITATION) For political power, he has got a cabinet who is responsible for him and helping him to make various kinds of decisions in different matters, including both daily routines decisions and some important decisions like declaring wars and appointing the government officials, he has got the highest power in executing the policies in a country.
For the symbolic power of the president, he represents a state.(CITE) He would be responsible for most of the external issues, like expressing the stand point and the view of a country towards a specific issue, receiving the foreign ambassadors and visiting the other countries in order to promote the country and establish different kinds of networks, including the strategic and economic ones.
Like for the president of the United States, the country which is the representative of the presidentialism, Obama, he has been viewed as the symbol of United States nowadays. He has to represent the United States to attend different international conferences like the G20 Seoul Summit in 2010(Cite) and he has recently visited 4 countries in Asia and India. He has to do these visits in order to promote the State’s interests and establish links and relationships with other countries.
The most significant characteristic of the presidential system is the separation of power. The power of legislative and executive is separated and they are independent from each other. There are different elections for electing the members of the executive and legislative branches respectively and hence the two branches may be controlled by different political parties.
The parliamentary system is another major political system accounting for around 30% of all the governments (p.42) in the modern world and the assembly is allowed to remove the government (p.34). The parliamentary system has major characteristics of the fusion of power which the legislative and executive power was hold by the same body.
The symbolic and the political power in the parliamentary system is, unlike the presidential system, separated in two separate individuals and the two individuals are usually called ‘the head of state’ and ‘chief executive’ and the title is subject to change in different countries.(Cite). The example of head of state in the modern states include the Queen of England, Elizabeth II, the Emperor of Japan, Akihito (cite?) and their function is to symbolize the state and responsible for the external issues like receiving ambassadors and performing many of the ceremonial tasks. Some of the head of state is chosen by succession and the others are usually chosen by a governmental body like the legislature.(Cite)
The chief executive is responsible for the other part of the country management, he is the chief of the executive branch, and he is responsible for the policymaking and also the daily operation of the government. The chief executive is usually come from the majority party in the parliament, however when there is not a majority political party, there may be a coalition government governing the state, like in Britain.
Not 100% of the democratic form of government is of parliamentary and presidential system. In 2000, around 20% of the government in democratic systems is of mixed system, containing both the characteristics of parliamentary and presidential system.(Cite)(p.43).
Both the parliamentary and presidential system has its own virtues and vices and it explain why there are different countries supporting different system based on their situation and their historical background and real needs. However, they do not have absolute virtues and vices, there are only comparatively advantages.
The first virtue of the parliamentary system is the enforceability of its promises to their supporters and citizens. The parliamentary government has a structural advantage hence it could pass its decision more quickly. As mentioned above, the executive cabinet was chosen within the parliament and it is usually dominated by a majority party. Hence, whenever the government proposes some new policies, the legislators which most of them are in the same party or same line with the government will support and vote for the policies, the policies proposed by the parliamentary government would have a much higher chance and less resistance to be executed. (cite?)
However, the parliamentary system has a vice which is also because of its structure. Since the government is elected and chosen by the parliament, the power of parliament is strong enough to turn over the government. “The parliamentary system offers no job security” (cite). The chief executive will lose his position if the policies he proposed is not favored by the legislators, hence, the policies made by the parliamentary government would be more conservative if there is not an absolute majority party.
Also, the quality of the policies does not have promise since they are less challenged and discussed by the legislators. The fast pace of making decision cannot ensure the quality of the decisions made.
On the other hand, the presidential system has also got its own virtues and vices. The virtue of the presidential system is that there is separation of powers and hence the legislative branch would be able to check the power and the acts by the executive branch. Hence, there will be less chance for the executive branch to carry out policies which do not get public consensus and high popularity. The legislative branch can act as a ‘defendant’ of the public when the government exercises unreasonable policies. The discussion and challenges from the legislature would also bring more opinion and thoughts to the government and higher quality and more rounded policies can be made.
Secondly, the presidential system ensure the stability of the executive branch since the two branches are separated and independent to each other, hence, the legislature cannot dissolve the cabinet as in the parliamentary system. Both the legislators and president have fixed term and this encourages them to plan for longer terms of policies since there is certainty.
However, there are also vices for the presidential system which is because of its characteristics of having check and balance. The check and balance can achieve better policies; on the other hand, it takes much more time to pass. Since the challenges and discussion in the legislature usually takes a long time. Moreover, since there are different elections for electing the legislators and the cabinet, there may not be a party able to control both branches. Hence, it will be difficult for policies to be passed in the legislature if there are not enough ‘allies’. This also hindered the development of the country to a certain extent which the discussion will slow down the pass of some urgent policies.
The virtues and vices of both of the political systems are not absolute and they may change over different time and different situation.
Under the globalization process and the influence of countries among each other, there are now new democracies emerging in the world politics and they often face the dilemma of choosing a right political system. The parliamentary system will be more suitable for the new democracies because of the following points.
Firstly, the newly developed democratic countries would usually have a common characteristic which there would be a variety of interests in the public. For example, there may be a lot of different clans or races, different opinions over how should the government implement its economic and public policies. The parliamentary system would be more suitable in this situation since there will be more voices able to speak for their own interest in the parliament and also the government which is elected from the parliament. The members in the parliament who share the executive power may have different backgrounds and hence would be able to reflect their supporter’s opinion. The prime minister would not be able to bias for his own interest since he will be put off if he does not content the legislature especially when there is not a dominant party. More different voices can appear in the political system in parliamentary system.
Secondly, the executive branch in the parliamentary system is elected and chosen by the legislators and they gain certain extent of support from the legislators, in the new democratic countries, the prime minister and the legislators may have promised the voters and supports a lot in order to gain their support and also to strengthen the newly developed countries. Through the parliamentary system and its characteristics, the promises made by the politicians in the campaign can be easier realized since the policies proposed by the prime minister will get support from the legislators who have certain extent of consensus with the government. The system can also ensure the prime minister to carry out his promises since the parliament was given enough power to dissolve the cabinet; hence the prime minister will act according to his promise or in the legislator’s favor in order to gain support.
Moreover, the new democratic countries are usually underdeveloped or developing countries like countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Eastern Europe. These countries, other than developing a new democratic society in their land, also have to develop their economic and diplomatic strength in order to occupy a place in today’s world. Under these circumstances, these countries need a strong and efficient government to lead the people and also the country to catch up the developed countries in the world. In terms of efficiency, the parliamentary system will be much better than the presidential system. The law making and policy making process would be much smoother and shorter in time since there are much larger consensus between the legislative branch and the executive cabinet than that in the presidential system, which has to go through a long period of debate and challenges. Now in the parliamentary system, the good relationship between the two branches enable the government to pass some urgent policies which may be crucial for the country’s development and can be more flexible in policy and law making in order to cope with this fast-changing world.
Lastly a small but practical point, the parliamentary system requires fewer resources in holding elections. As mentioned above, the new democratic countries are usually developing countries which are limited in money and other resources like professionals for conducting and monitoring the elections. There is usually only one election for electing the parliamentary members and hence the members would form a government. It requires fewer resources when compared with the presidential system which usually requires two elections for electing the legislative and executive branch respectively. The resources saved can be used for developing the country in other aspects and they are important for a developing country.
The parliamentary suits the new democracies more in a general situation like in the situation mentioned above. However, different countries have their own situation and other factors affecting which political system is better for themselves, like the historical background and the existence of monarchy and the influence of the major political figure. There is no universal answer for all countries in the world in which the presidential system could also be efficient; it all depends on the different situation and characteristics of the country and its people. It is a must to closely examine the country’s background in order to decide which political system is better for it and would help its democratic development in the future.