Democracy can be explained as a situation in which case the people have the supreme power to elect individuals they deem fit to lead. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, democracy is a government by the people, for the people, and of the people (Shively, 2005). The current global situation illustrates the majority of countries being democratic in nature while others subvert this option to reinforce anarchy and other systems of government. In this instance, this paper will evaluate two main systems of government, parliamentary and presidential systems in order to determine the level of democracy and appropriateness of each. For this reason, this paper will prove that the presidential system is more democratic owing to the power vested in the people as well as conducive environments created that provide adequate opportunities for the exercise of the people’s power (O'neil, 2015). In this regard, the paper will weigh each system in relation to the advantages and disadvantages of each approach, as well as the benefits and demerits accrued by each, to reinforce the choice for the most appropriate system in relation to democracy.
The similarity between parliamentary and presidential systems of government is that both are democracies. In this case, the power rests with the people who elect their leaders to power. As a result, the people form the government that is representative of their needs and wishes in which case are represented by the elected leaders (O'neil, 2015). In addition, the leaders elected under each system of government are held accountable by the people who elected them into power (Shively, 2005). As such, they represent the people who elected them and as such expected to address their needs and concerns at the government level.
The similarity indicated above forms the basis of the difference between the two systems. In this case, the formation of government systems differs in the sense that the presidential system involves the direct appointment by voters who vote him/her to office through the election ballot. On the other hand, the parliamentary system involves the indirect nomination; as the potential candidate is elected by his/her party to vie for the position of the head of government. In this instance, in as much as the individual seeks the electorate support, the party plays a significant role in their election to power.
Upon the formation of the government, the presidential system as in the case of the American system, the president often appoints individuals based on his/her preference (O'neil, 2015). For instance, in the U.S those appointed to cabinet comprise of individuals with little political experience and who are drawn from different backgrounds such as college professors, lawyers, amongst others. On the other hand, the parliamentary system cabinet appointment is often obligatory as it comprises of party notables (Shively, 2005).
Having been elected directly by the voters and therefore having a direct mandate from the people, the president in the presidential system is prompted to have direct influence on policy than compared to cabinet in a parliamentary system (O'neil, 2015). On the other hand the parliamentary cabinet owes its loyalty to the party. As such, it operates as a team in accordance with the party’s direction in relation to the policy under discussion.
Both government systems impose great powers of appointment to the leaders of government. In this case, leaders can appoint individuals they like to hold powerful positions in the state such as ambassadors, judges, among other senior figures. The difference in this instance lies in the fact that as per the presidential system, as in the case of the U.S, the president’s choice of nominees to influential positions must be ratified by the Senate for their approval. Therefore, there is a degree of probability that the president’s appointments might be overturned. On the other hand, the Head of Government, such as the Prime Minister in relation to Britain, has tremendous power in relation to appointments and whose choice for different positions is not subjected to confirmation by another part of government.
In as much as both parliamentary and presidential systems of government compare and contrast against each other, they have their inherent advantages and disadvantages. In this regard, according to the presidential system, the availability of a fixed schedule of the serving president is provided by the constitution. As such, the president only serves for the time as specified in the constitution. As a result, this arrangement keeps the president accountable and strives to deliver on these promises to the electorate as his/her scorecard is analyzed in the next elections (O'neil, 2015). On the other hand, the parliamentary system through the Prime Minister has the power to call the election time provided this is done in less than five years. In this case, one can manipulate the system and call for elections particularly when he/she, as well as his/her party, is in favorable terms with the electorate. This system provides a myopic view of the work of the elected leader and hence removes the power of discernment required by the voters to elect the right leaders to office.
The strict separation of powers as per the presidential system keeps every organ in government accountable to each other (O'neil, 2015). The division of the legislature, executive, and the judiciary asserts that there is no interference with each body’s work and, therefore, creating the autonomy required to ensure effective and independent work. In this case, the interests of the people remain central to each body’s activities as each strives to ensure maximum benefit accrued to the citizens. The disadvantage of such an arrangement is the presence of conflict among the bodies of government. As a result, such situations may create divisions and conflict in which case may escalate and lead to the lack of consideration of the people who may be left in the middle while each side tries to run situations in their favor. As such, legislation and policy enactment may be difficult as each side presents its own case to align such terms to their favor.
On the contrary, the parliamentary system provides ideal and conducive environment to facilitate faster passing of legislation. This consideration is because the executive arm of government is often dependent on the legislature. In addition, some members in the executive are also part of the legislature. In this case, the executive which mostly compromises of members of the majority party often have adequate votes required to pass legislation. This advantage also provides the disadvantage associated with the parliamentary system. As a result of the support provided to the executive, this means that there does not exist a body that may oppose or veto a proposed legislation. This tyranny of numbers does not provide adequate assessment or checks on the legislature arm of government.
As in the definition of democracy highlighted above, it is clearly evident that the more democratic system is the presidential system. This consideration is due to the availability of checks and balances that make the government accountable, in consideration of the needs of the people. In addition, the direct appointment of the president of the people is a clear indication of the assertion of the right of the voters in which case the majority wins.
Conclusively, All in all, democracy focuses on the imposition of the will of the people, and their participation in government. In light of this, the presidential system provides the ideal circumstances where citizens can get to participate in a more influential and profound way than compared to the parliamentary system.
O'neil, P. H. (2015). Essentials of Comparative Politics: Fifth International Student Edition. WW Norton & Company.
Shively, W. P. (2005). Power & choice: An introduction to political science. Boston: McGraw-Hill.