There is a need to analyse whether Parliamentary System is more Democratic than a Presidential System. Besides, deciding whether a parliamentary system is more democratic than a presidential system raises a lot of controversies. Democracy typically involves a system of governance whereby the citizens exercise power directly or choose individuals who act as their representatives in governing institutions, such as parliament (Gerring and Thacker 2008). Sometimes, democracy is interpreted as ‘the rule of the majority’ (Goodnow 2017). A parliamentary system has democratic features, and so does a presidential system. The prime minister, who is chosen by the members of the legislature, is the head of the government. The prime minister is, therefore, accountable to the legislature. The members of parliament, who form the legislature, are elected by the citizens, and they work hand in hand with the executive branch. What is more, members of parliament work hand in hand with the executive branch to run the state matters.
On the other hand, the presidential system constitutes of three branches, the executive, the judiciary, and the legislative body, which have separate powers but they check each other to ensure that the power is distributed equally (Berman and Murphy 2012). Most importantly, the president is the head of the government in a presidential system, and he or she is directly voted in by the people, which make him or her accountable to the people. As such, a presidential system is more democratic than a parliamentary system. This paper digs deep into the reasons why a parliamentary government is less democratic than a presidential system.
Method of Voting
First, the president is chosen directly by the people, unlike the prime minister who is voted in by the members of the parliament. A presidential system enables every voter who is of legal age to participate in electing the candidate whom they feel or think will be capable of leading them. The candidate who wins with the majority of the votes from all parts of the country is chosen to be the president, and this concurs with the definition of democracy, which is ‘the rule of the majority.’ On the other hand, the prime minister, who must also be a member of the parliament, is chosen by a majority vote of the members of the parliament (Berman and Murphy 2012). Some of the opponents of a presidential system may argue that a parliamentary system is more democratic because the members of the parliament are voted into the parliament by the citizens and therefore, they represent the majority in the parliament. However, the truth is that in a parliamentary system, the people do not have the opportunity to choose the leader of the government directly but instead a member of parliament decides for them, and this does not reflect the true meaning of democracy (Colomer 2016). A member of parliament is supposed to represent the people who chose him or her, but they might be biased and choose the prime minister based on their personal preferences and not the will of the people.
Separation of Powers
Another reason why a presidential system is more democratic than a parliamentary system is passed on the separation of power between the executive, the judiciary, and the legislature. In a presidential system, the president has the ultimate authority to approve and enforce a law that has been passed by the legislature. However, the judiciary can hinder the president from acting if they deem that action as unconstitutional. On the other hand, the judicial members can easily be impeached by the legislature if they are not practicing justice in a presidential system. In the process of checking one another, at the end of the day democracy is achieved since even though they have separate powers, the three arms of government in a presidential system largely depend on one another. On the other hand, in a parliamentary system, the legislative members enjoy direct benefits of working together with the executive branch, which means that there are no checks that go on. What is more, the executive is mainly composed of members of the legislature. As such, it becomes easy for the leaders in a parliamentary system to act based on their interests. Besides, both the executive and the legislature and the executive possess some of the power to influence the constitution and hence undermining the role of the judiciary, which is supposed to ensure justice.
Impeachment of the Heads of Government
However, it can be argued that the parliamentary system is fair and liberal than the presidential system. The members of parliament can cast a vote of no confidence is they feel that the prime minister is not performing as expected (Dodd 2015). This facilitates the removal of leaders who have become corrupt or even dictatorial. On the contrary, it is difficult to remove a sitting president, and if they have to be impeached, lengthy formalities that require the intervention of the judiciary have to be followed. What is more, a president can only be removed based on various conditions, such as when they are sick and cannot perform their leadership roles. Some people who oppose a presidential system might claim that the mere fact that it is hard to remove a president from power provides a chance for dictators to thrive. Despite this, a presidential system is more democratic than a parliamentary system because a prime minister can be voted out, not necessarily because they are not performing, but because they do not conform to the corrupt and individualistic ideas of the majority in the parliament. The stay or the removal of a prime minister depends on the opinion of the members of the parliament who only represent a small portion of the overall population, and this is not democratic (Wilson 2017). As for the president, the need to remove him or her requires serious investigations to justify that the action is necessary, and this protects the will of the people of the people who voted for him or her.
US Presidential and UK Parliamentary System
The system in the US involves a sitting president who is the head of government and who is directly elected through the oversight of an independent body. The presidential system in the US is also democratic in the sense that the president is limited to the number of terms they can serve. Furthermore, in the US, a president can work for two terms, with each episode consisting of four years. As such, incumbent presidents who want to be elected for a second term and those who want to leave a legacy after their second term are more likely to pursue the interests of the voters. Incumbent presidents can be voted in or out by the citizens based on their past performance, which implies that the president is mandated to work according to the wishes of the people who elected him (U.S. Department of Justice 2015).
The presidential system in the US differs significantly to the parliamentary system that is found in the UK. As opposed to a president the head of government in the UK is a prime minister who is not directly accountable to the citizens but instead, to the legislature. It differs significantly from the American presidential system because the parliamentary framework in Europe relies on the party in power that means the party leadership and there is no independent body to foresee the process. Furthermore, there is no specific time in the UK parliamentary structure to describe when a prime minister can leave the office since their fate depends on the priorities of the members of the parliament. It thus follows that the prime minister might not pursue the interests of the citizens but the individual needs of the members of parliament so that they cannot be impeached. Eventually, democracy loses its true meaning in a parliamentary system as opposed to the presidential institution in the American setting.
Overall, a presidential system is more democratic than a parliamentary system. A parliamentary system is led by the prime minister who is voted in by members of the parliament instead of the citizens, which is why this form of governance is less democratic than a presidential system. What is more, a presidential system exhibits more liberty in the sense that its three branches of government, despite having separate powers, check each other and ensure that there is a balance of authority, which does not happen in a parliamentary system. A parliamentary system is also less democratic because a prime minister can easily be impeached if the legislature casts a vote of no confidence, without any other formalities. The presidential system sets terms, which enable presidents to serve for a limited time and allow another leadership.
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