A Mixture of Presidential and Prime Ministerial System

“A prime ministerial government system is a system in which executive power is concentrated in the prime minister’s hands through the suppression of collective cabinet government” (Heywood: Pg 429: 2002). A Prime ministerial government has two key features. First the office of prime minister is the central unit between the legislative and the executive branches of government, its holder being drawn from and accountable to the assembly and also serving as chief executive subordination of both the cabinet and departmental ministers. In this, it parallels presidentialism.

Prime ministerial government has been criticized for the following reasons: * It strengthens centralization by weakening the constraints formerly exerted by the cabinet and government departments. * It narrows policy debate and weakens scrutiny by excluding criticisms and alternative viewpoints. However, it can be defended on the following grounds: * It reflects the personal mandate that prime ministers acquire in general elections. * It gives government policy clearer direction by checking the centrifugal pressures, embodied in departmentalism and the ‘nudge and fudge’ of collective decision making (Heywood: Pg 344: 2002).

The cabinet is the senior executive organ and policy making responsibility is shared within it, the prime minister being ‘first’ in name only. The system is usually underpinned by collective responsibility all the cabinet ministers are required to ‘sing the same song’ and support official government policy. The virtues of cabinet government are: * It encourages full and frank policy debate within the democracy of cabinet meetings, subjecting proposals of elective scrutiny.

* It guarantees the unity and cohesion of governments since the cabinet makes decisions collectively and stands by them. However, cabinet government has been criticized for the following reasons: * It acts as a cloak for prime ministerial power because it forces dissenting ministers to support agreed government policy in public. * It means that government policy becomes incoherent and inconsistent, as decisions are based on compromises between competing ministers and departmental interests.

“Presidential government is a system in which executive authority is concentrated in the hands of a president, whose office is politically and constitutionally separate from the legislative” (Heywood: Pg 429: 2002). Presidential systems are based on the strict application of the assemblies and executives are formally independent from one another and separately elected. The classic example of this is found in the USA where the so called ‘founding fathers’ were particularly anxious to prevent the emergence of an over strong executive, fearing that the presidency might assume the mantle of the British monarchy.

Outside the USA, presidential systems have been confined largely to Latin America. In this system there is a dual executive in which a separately elected president works in conjunction with the prime minister and cabinet drawn from and responsible to the National Assembly. The principle virtue of presidential systems is that, by separating legislative power from executive power, they create internal tensions that help to protect individual rights and liberties. As Hobbes put it, ‘liberty is power cut into pieces’.

In particular, presidential systems may be ineffective and cumbersome because they offer an ‘invitation to struggle’ to the executive and legislative branches of government. Presidential executives may be either limited or unlimited. Limited presidential executives operate within constraints imposed by a constitution, political democracy, party competition and some form of separation of powers. The principle features of a presidential system are: * The executive and the legislature are separately elected, and each is invested with a range of independent constitutional powers.

* The roles of head of state and head of government (the chief executive) are combined in the office of the presidency. * Executive authority is concentrated in the hands of the president, the cabinet and minister being merely advisers responsible to the president. * There is a formal separation of the personnel of the legislative and the executive branches ( except in semi-presidential systems) * Electoral terms are fixed. The president can neither ‘dissolve’ the legislative nor be dismissed by it (except, possibly, through impeachment) (Heywood: Pg 338: 2002).

A model known as the ‘Hybrid’ Model typical of the French system, which has evolved since the inauguration of the Fifth Republic in 1958. Under this system, a combination of the United States presidential and British constitutional systems obtains. The voters elect both the Lower House of parliament and the head of state (the president). Like the monarch in the British parliamentary system, the French president appoints a prime minister, whose role is to preside over parliament. The French president like the British prime minister and unlike his American counterpart can dissolve the National Assembly.

Thus, some hybrid systems are characterized by a divided executive with a dual authority structure in which the president shares power with a prime minister whose position is based on the support of parliament keeping with parliamentary systems. The dual executive system, which is a characteristic feature of parliamentary system, becomes semi-presidential when the head of government is not appointed by the heads of state and where the president is directly or indirectly elected by civil society. Ultimate power depends on who controls the majority in parliament. (Barrow Giles: Pg 133: 2002).

The key distinction between a parliamentary and presidential system of government is that in a presidential system, the president is detached from the legislative body, but in a parliamentary system, the chief executive, such as a prime minister, is a component of the legislative body or parliament. A presidential system separates the executive and legislative functions of the government and provides what are commonly called checks and balances to limit the power of both the chief executive and the legislature. In a parliamentary system, the legislature embraces the power and the chief executive must answer to the legislature.

An additional main difference is that in a presidential system, the legislature is elected by the people and then must appoint or advise for selecting one of its members to be the chief executive. In Guyana (operates under a party list system based on proportional representation) the executive president is elected directly at the same time as National Assembly elections on the plurality basis, which Hamid Ghany describes as a most curious mixture of party list system of proportional representation and the first past the post system. This avoids the potential for gridlock which separate elections would encourage.

Guyana, while not satisfying the criteria for presidential model of government, can be described as a hybrid political form standing at the crossroads of presidentialism and parliamentarism (Barrow Giles: Pg 133: 2002). Many changes have taken place in the commonwealth Caribbean constitutions. Some of the changes were designed to augment the rights of citizens, but several have increased executive power at the expense of the governed, as in the case of the 1980 constitutional change in Guyana, which provided for a presidential executive system.

However, while the power of the new presidential executive was increased under the new arrangement, the essential parliamentary nature of the system remained unchanged. “Under the new arrangement, the political accountability of the president to the national assembly is virtually removed. Under article 89 of the new constitution, he can veto all acts of parliament which can only be overridden by a special majority, which requires not only two thirds of the members of the national assembly present and voting but all the elected members of the Guyanese national assembly.

Francis Alexis argues that under article 170 (the loophole provision) the constitution further empowers the president by giving him the authority to assent or dissolve the national assembly within 21 days after the conditions of article 89 are satisfied. This therefore gives the president a powerful weapon which he can use to effectively stifle any controversial piece of legislation and to control the parliament. James and Lutchman also contended that in relation to the exercise and control of the presidential veto the balance is ‘undoubtedly weighted heavily in favour of the executive president’.

The 1980 constitutional modifications in Guyana are also significant given the provision relating to the removal of the executive president from office and the immunities which he enjoys under the constitution” (Barrow Giles: Pg 128: 2002). “James and Lutchman argue that: ‘the power of dissolution in the circumstances must surely be regarded as an indication of the extent to which provisions in the new Constitution have been designed to protect the position and powers of the Head of Government.

It is difficult to envisage a Prime Minister under the old constitution, losing support to the extent of 75% of the membership of parliament and remaining in office, or being granted a dissolution of Parliament by the ceremonial President … it would require a great deal of effort to come up with a more insidious scheme to make it more difficult to remove a President from office constitutionally than that contained in the new Guyanese constitution” (Barrow Giles: Pg 29: 2002).

Venezuela has a federal-presidential type of republic which is governed by a constitution. This also means that a monarch does not exist. The government was formerly a bicameral legislature but was transformed in the 1999 constitution into a unicameral National Assembly. The chief executive is president of Venezuela who is also head of state and head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the President while Legislative power is vested in the National Assembly.

“According to the 1999 constitution, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela was founded in order to “ establish a society that is democratic, participatory and protagonistic, multi-ethnic and multi cultural, in a State of justice, federal and decentralized, that consolidates the values of liberty, independence, peace, solidarity, common good, territorial integrity, co-existence and the rule of law” (Venezuela-us. org/politics/). In a federal republic, there is a separation of powers among the national ("federal") government, and the government of the individual subdivisions.

Although each federal republic manages this division of powers in a different way, national security and defense, monetary policy, and other issues of a "national" extent are handled at the "federal" level while more local issues such as road and infrastructure upholding and education policy are handled at the local level. In other words, while the federal government has ultimate sovereignty, there is a limited sovereignty granted to the subdivisions, where the federal government does not have jurisdiction.

This is in contrast to a unitary republic whereby the national government has complete sovereignty over all aspects of political life, with purely managerial subdivisions, and a confederacy whereby the constituent states keep hold of ultimate sovereignty. The federal republic is a form of government used by many countries around the globe. Cuba is a republic with a socialist state which is centralized socialist system of government closely recognized with the workers. Cuba is guided by the political ideas of Karl Marx and the fathers of communist states Engels and Lenin.

Political power rests with the National Assembly of People's Power, which nominates the Council of Ministers, the highest executive body. Its executive committee is composed of the president, the first vice-president and the vice-presidents of the Council of Ministers. The Cuban democratic system is regulated by Chapter 14 of the Constitution of the Republic, which establishes that in every election and referendum the vote is free, equal and secret. Each voter has the right to only one vote. All Cubans 16 years old and above have the right to vote.

All citizens, men and women, who fully enjoy their political rights can be elected, including the members of the Armed Forces and other military institutions. For its political and administrative division, Cuba has 14 provinces and 169 municipalities. These are in turn divided into 13,865 electoral constituencies, which are the bases for the elections. The voters directly propose the candidates and elect their Representatives to the Municipal Assemblies of the People's Power. Cuba has a unicameral legislature. But the question still remains, “Is the government of Cuba beneficial? ” They have an excellent healthcare system.

The relationship cultivated between Cuba and Venezuela in recent years has resulted in agreements in which Venezuela provides cheap oil in exchange for Cuban "missions" of doctors to strengthen the Venezuelan health care system. Cuba, with the second-highest number of physicians in the world (behind Italy), sends tens of thousands of doctors to other countries as aid, as well as to obtain favorable economic terms of trade. The impact of foreign investment in Cuba is, however, limited by the country’s political and economic program, which restrains foreign investment in a number of significant respects.

References * The British Constitution ; J. Harvey , L. Bather ; Fourth Edition * Developments in British Politics 2 ; Henry Drucker ; Patrick Dunleavy ; Andrew Gamble ; Gillian Poole Revised Edition * American Government and Politics Today; S. W Schmidt; M. C. Shelley; B. A. Bardes. Brief edition * Politics ; A. Heywood (1997) * Politics ; A. Heywood , Second Edition,(2002) , Palgrave Foundations * Oxford Dictionary of Politics; L. Mclean ; A. Mcmillian (1996) Oxford University Press * Introduction to Caribbean Politics ; C. Barrow-Giles ; Ian Randle Publishers (2002) * Sociology Themes and Perspectives ; Haralambos and Holbourn (Fifth Edition).