A presidential system

A Presidential System and its Impact on Democratic Stability

A presidential system is a democratic and republican system of governance in which the head of the government heads an executive branch distinct from the legislative branch. The president is the leader of the government who is also the head of state. Almost every Latin American country has a presidential system. It is critical to recognize that a presidential system can have a substantial impact on a country's democratic stability. No matter the degree of impact that presidential systems have it is important to note that the United States is the only country the world that has been successful in having a presidential system with a long-running history of democracy. A presidential order has two defining features which are elections for the President takes place separately from that of a legislature, and also the president has a fixed term of office. This means that the president cannot be removed from the office through a vote of no-confidence in the legislature. This paper will argue about why the Latin America countries should do move from the presidential system.

Tendencies Towards Authoritarianism

One main disadvantage of why Latin America should do away with presidential systems is because it has tendencies towards authoritarianism and this is because of the overreaching power that is usually given to one person (Close 368). These presidential systems have the ability of quickly transforming into authoritarian regimes if the circumstances favor them. When a president wins, it is usually a winner-take-all, zero-sum prize. The President often has the freedom to rule without any allies for the duration of their term or even consecutive terms. The presidential systems have always found it challenging to sustain democratic practices whereby it has always slipped into authoritarianism in a lot of the countries that have been employed. A good example of countries that have failed includes Egypt, Yemen, and Libya which collapsed as a result of their governments transforming into authoritative ones. The Venezuelan President Maduro is an example of a president who became authoritative as he tried to orchestrate a constitutional coup so that he could be able to disempower Congress (Close 373). The president and the legislature usually have an equally valid mandate from the public. Most of the time it is impossible to reconcile the conflict between the branches of government, and when the president and the legislature are in conflict which will result in the state not efficiently working it will lead to a powerful incentive to integrate extra-constitutional strategies to break the deadlock. Presidential systems usually lack mechanisms that will assure the majority of the executive in the legislature and also there is no way of replacing the minority government until the next election. It is important to note that minority governments are usually prone to minority governments and immobilism of which it has often resulted in the enervation of the power of the executive, issues with governability, severe misunderstandings between the legislature and president, and other times is part of the contributor of democratic breakdowns.

Difficulty in Handling Significant Crises

Perhaps the most significant liability of presidential systems is the difficulty that they have in handling significant crises. Even though many of the presidential systems have provisions that enable them to impeach they provide far less flexibility in regards to crisis situations mainly because if there is an attempt to impeach the president, the whole system can be easily destroyed (\u00c1lvarez & Leiv 259). There is no known method of replacing a president without consequences especially one who is very unpopular in the society and has also lost most of his or her backing in the legislature. Many of the times a coup is usually considered to be the only strategy of removing an incompetent president. This means that the efforts focused towards the impeachment of an unpopular person can very well result in the regime being destroyed. Presidential systems are based on the separation of power whereby there is a legislature, executive, and parliamentary government. Since both the president and the Congress are elected independently there is usually an emergence of competing claims of legitimacy by the presidential regimes; one is by the president while the other one is by Congress. When there are constant conflicts on who should be allowed the authority over some things by the two branches of the government can result in escalating hostilities. The continuous competing claims to supremacy in the presidential systems can result in antagonistic relations between Congress and the President instead of moderation that is more common and suitable for a stable democracy (\u00c1lvarez & Leiv 265). In the presidential government, the assembly governments are usually inadequate when it comes to creating an efficient government and most of the times are prone to immobilism. Presidential systems are generally more susceptible to immobilism because of two main reasons. The first one is that they are more apt to weaken the executive power and engender minority governments which have the capacity to cause immobilism. The second reason is that presidential systems have fewer capabilities of combating issues when they arise. As a result of the separation of powers the presidential systems usually lack means to ensure that the president enjoys the support of the majority in parliament. Countries like Brazil it is well known that the president most of the time does not possess the secure backing of even their party (Shugart & Mainwaring 479). In most of the Latin American countries, their presidential systems the president usually has a more significant responsibility for policy and legislation, and the primary policy function of Congress is to oversee the executive. Because of such facts, many observers have concluded that the presidents of Latin America have virtual dictatorial power. All through Latin America, the president role is portrayed as ambivalent and ambiguous as presidents have overreaching powers in some places while in others they are notably weak (Shugart & Mainwaring 485). A lot of the constitutions in Latin America give presidents a lot of potential in terms of legislative authority.

Impediments to Leadership Change

Apart from the presidential systems being more susceptible to produce minority governments, and engender executive power that are weak they have electoral timetables that are fixed they also do not have traditional methods of resolving deadlocks. As a result of the set electoral calendar even if Congress were not in agreement with the programs of the president they have no power to dismiss the authority of the president. Presidents usually do little to bring development in Latin America because the constitutions prohibit them from being reelected. As a result of the set checks and balances on a frequent basis has led to severe impasses on the political system on that has evoked an ongoing battle in the Latin American countries (Mamalakis 538). In the presidential system, the president usually possesses special privileges in the passing of legislation. However it is next to impossible to find the head of state that has the authority to propose laws directly, or cast a vote in regards to the bill. The only possible solution known to deadlock between an executive and a legislature as each has legal mandates from the public is through the employment of coercion. The influence that the presidential system has in politics is usually seen through the dominant role of the president and the gridlock that is experienced when legislation is being passed (Mamalakis 545). The last disadvantage of the presidential system and a reason why Latin America should do away with it is the impediments to leadership change as it is complicated to remove an unsuitable president who leaves most countries with presidents who are unhelpful and dictators.


The presidential systems of government have never been suitable or conducive for a stable democracy. Evidence from many countries has shown that presidential states are more of problematic rather than helpful. Presidential systems have common challenges that most of the time cannot be avoided such as the conflict between the president and the legislature with the end result of immobilism, the efforts of the president to bypass Congress, and the efforts by parliament to limit the authority of the president. It has never been easy to accomplish constitutional or institutional reforms be it politically or a remedy. But even with this recognition, it should not be a passage to immobilizing pessimism in regards to all the efforts to attain improvements. As a result of Latin America political systems' staggering incapacity to address the most crucial problems of the past decade continue to make it vulnerable to the challenges of leadership that it has. Latin America should do away with the presidential system to establish a change in their countries.

Works Cited

Close, David . “Latin American Politics and Society.” Latin American Politics and Society, vol. 59, no. 4, 2017, pp. 366–398., doi:10.1111/laps.2017.59.issue-4.

Mamalakis, Markos. “Democracies in Development: Politics and Reform in Latin America (Review).” The Americas, vol. 61, no. 3, 2015, pp. 530–543., doi:10.1353/tam.2005.0031.

Shugart, Matthew Soberg, and Scott Mainwaring. “Presidentialism and Democracy in Latin America: Rethinking the Terms of the Debate.” Presidentialism and Democracy in Latin America, 2014, pp. 477–493., doi:10.1017/cbo9781139174800.002.

Álvarez, Michael E., and Leiv Marsteintredet. “Presidential and Democratic Breakdowns in Latin America: Similar Causes, Different Outcomes.” Presidential Breakdowns in Latin America, 2012, pp. 235–278., doi:10.1057/9780230105812_3.

Deadline is approaching?

Wait no more. Let us write you an essay from scratch

Receive Paper In 3 Hours
Calculate the Price
275 words
First order 15%
Total Price:
$38.07 $38.07
Calculating ellipsis
Hire an expert
This discount is valid only for orders of new customer and with the total more than 25$
This sample could have been used by your fellow student... Get your own unique essay on any topic and submit it by the deadline.

Find Out the Cost of Your Paper

Get Price