The two most common types of democratic governmental systems are Parliamentary systems and Presidential systems. For many years, people have studied the effectiveness of both and have given reasons why a certain country should obtain a certain form of government. Examples of two countries that use these systems are Canada and the United States. Canada uses a traditional parliamentary system, and the United States uses a presidential system. In this paper, I will focus on the strengths of a parliamentary system, and the weaknesses of a presidential system, to prove my argument.
Canada is better off with a parliamentary system then a presidential system for many reasons. In order for my argument to be persuasive, I will explain the differences in the two. In comparison to a presidential system, a parliamentary system has more closure in making decisions, the parties that exist within the system tend to be stronger, and there is a responsible government, which allows for the government leader to be more actively involved with its citizens. A parliamentary system is a system of governing in which there is a close interrelationship between the Prime Minister and the parliament (Mintz, Close, Croci 325).
A presidential system is a system of governing in which the president and congress each separately derive their authority from being elected by the people, and has a fixed term of office (Mintz, Close, Croci 349). When dealing with the strengths of a parliamentary system, we must first consider responsible government. Responsible government is when the political executive is accountable to parliament for its actions and mist retain the support of the elected members to remain in office (Mintz, Close, Croci 325). Of course, in the presidential system, there is no form of responsible 2 government.
This to me is a weakness of presidential systems. There are three levels of responsible government in a parliamentary system. The highest is the Queen, who is represented by a Governor General, then the Prime Minister and the Cabinet and then the legislature. The Queen is responsible for everything as a whole, the Prime Minister must then represent the Queen and the people, and the legislature represents the voters, or people who elect them. In a parliament, the head of the government must receive confidence from the people around them, to stay in office.
This is confidence must be received from the elected members or Parliament. Although the whole Parliament can make changes to laws and many other aspects, it is the executive that proposes almost all of the laws that are passed by Parliament. This allows for the executive to let the parliament make decisions, so they can focus on higher issues. Since the Prime Minister is kept in office until they feel they cannot do it anymore, it allows for the Prime Minister to do things at a lot better pace.
In Canada the Prime Minister has a lot of power in the parliamentary system, mainly because he is a part of the legislature. This approach towards leaders gives people a chance to have an opinion about who is running their country. When a government is not doing their job, actions should be taken place to remove the current government in charge. If the people feel that the parliamentary leader is not doing their job, there will be another election and the current Prime Minister will not get a chance to be re-elected. The biggest advantage with responsible government is that it is also responsible for the people. Since the executive and the legislature are so closely related, it is an advantage to have this relationship when faced with tough decisions.
The Prime Minister 3 can be apart of the House and influence the decision making process. Within a presidential system, the President must be in office for four years. Although presidents have a fixed term of office, Congress does have the ability to remove a president who has engaged in illegal behavior. This is called impeachment. This is a weakness, because no matter what conditions the country is in, caused by the president, unless he/she did something illegal, they will still remain in power.
Canadian government focuses so much on the people, that having no responsible government would make things unchallengeable, and since the people would have no influence on the legislature removing the Prime Minister, it would effect the government as a whole without the support of the citizens. In regards to decision making, Canada’s parliamentary system seems to run more smoothly. Since a parliamentary system has a Cabinet it makes things a lot easier for the Prime Minister. The cabinet consists of members of the political executive. The Prime Minister leads the Cabinet, with many or most Cabinet ministers having the responsibility of heading a government department (Mintz, Close, Croci 332). For example, there is a Cabinet minister for foreign affairs.
This takes pressure off the Prime Minister because the elected cabinet ministers deal with the issues that he does not have to deal with completely. The cabinet ministers are also removed if the legislature feels they are not confident enough in them, so this is why Cabinet ministers are reliable and help with the decision making process. One representative may be chosen for the decision making process to represent the Cabinet as a whole.
This allows for the influences of the cabinet to be shown to the legislature and the executive. In a presidential system, the Cabinet is not a decision making body (Mintz, Close, Croci 350). Some presidents have 4 avoided holding regular Cabinet meetings, and the president does not necessarily follow the advice of Cabinet (Mintz, Close, Croci 351). The president has most control and that can cause problems. If the political leader in a government is not seeking advice, or help in decisions of the Cabinet, it can lead to some bad decisions, especially if it is on a matter that one of the cabinet ministers knows a lot about. Also, in the decision making
process, in a parliamentary government, the Prime Minister can choose whatever type of bureaucracy they want. But, in a presidential system there is a separation of powers. This is a basic feature of presidential systems in which the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government are separate from each other, with each having different personnel and different bases of authority (Mintz, Close, Croci 349). This leads to divided government. The presidential system would rather pass bureaucracy based on quick policy making, then base it on what is truly wanted by the majority of the citizens.
Presidential systems often times tend to have leaders with extreme dominance, and this is a result of the decision-making being directly about them. A parliament is based on the people’s needs often times, and within the presidential system, there is not much of a balance. Difficulties in passing legislation can make the presidential government system slow to respond to the wishes of the electorate as a whole. Within the parliamentary system, the Prime Minister usually gets what the people what easily. In Canada, it is clear that the government is a lot more closed about certain things then the United States.
This is a result of the government systems in play. The presidential system tends to be more open than the parliamentary system (Mintz, Close, Croci 361). Policy differences tend to be aired publically for the whole world to see. Yes, in a way it allows for the public to be more aware of the circumstances going on in the 5 country, but it can also prevent laws for the common good from being passed (Mintz, Close, Croci). The parliamentary system is only open about topics that they want the general public to know about. In a way, this can be bad for citizens, because we all like to be aware of what is going on, but it makes sure that nobody is stepping over boundaries.
If there is a issue going on within the government, that is for the government to decide amongst themselves. It should not be broadcasted to the world; it just makes the government seem weak. Flexibility is another concern with presidential systems. Parliamentary systems like to give people what they want, and people like change. The fixed terms of office in presidential systems can make it difficult to resolve impasses between the executive and legislative branches, as an election cannot be held before the end of the term of each elected politician (Mintz, Close, Croci 361). Who is to say that the people will have the same views tomorrow as they did today?
Obviously in a parliamentary system the leader of government does not change every single day, but if majority of the people influence the legislature enough to feel less confident in the leader, he/she will be abolished. Sometimes a party or caucus may pressure the Prime Minister to step down, without having the legislature do the work (Mintz, Close, Croci 361). This can give the government an advantage, and show that the leader knew they were doing wrong, so they stepped down.
For example, Kathy Dunderdale stepped down from her position as Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador. Although this is far from the Prime Minister’s decision in stepping down, she knew she was not particularly influential on the people, and the people did not admire anything she was doing. Instead of being thrown out, she stepped down. 6 Within a presidential system, often time people who are favorite or “outsiders” will get elected. Popular personalities and wealth individuals are sometimes able to appeal to the public at large even if they o not have a strong connection to a particular party (Mintz, Close, Croci 361).
Although this may bring a different perspective into politics, it means that the president may have limited or no experience in national politics and international affairs (Mintz, Close, Croci 361). This is extremely bad for the government. Some people may vote for this man or woman because they have money or they seem like they have a lot of power because they are in a socially higher standing then most. This is a wrong way to think considering this person may have no experience, and they are the ones making the decisions for the country.
Although many argue that Barak Obama has been one of the most influential presidents thus far, he served fewer than four years in the US Senate before being elected president. Prime Ministers are generally more experienced in politics and will not get elected simply based on whom they know, but more on what they actually know. In parliamentary systems, people who lose in a election may be offered a role to serve in the government, they do not necessarily get forgotten about. Presidential systems do not offer this formal role (Mintz, Close, Croci 362).
Canadian government is probably the most desired government in the world. Although the United States run a democratic presidential system, the democratic parliamentary system within the Canadian government seems to be stronger. Canada is a place where people want to live. Often times, Canada is looked upon because of our freedoms. Many of these freedoms would not be functional without a strong government. Parliamentary systems simply work better as a whole. Presidential systems tend to focus 7 on one individual, rather than the people. A president is elected through the people, but when elected, can often slip away from what the people want.
The Prime Minister has many knowledgeable cabinet ministers who help support decisions, and help make decisions. A parliamentary system is more flexible, and less open, to keep maintain stability within the government and the citizens they are serving for. Canada is better off with a parliamentary system for obvious reasons. Canada is so traditional that it would not work any other way. If the government tried to change, the people would over power the government. Canada should stay the way it is, because I’m sure many citizens of Canada would agree that we run more smoothly then the United States does.
This is because of the differences in presidential systems and parliamentary systems. Works Cited 8 Mintz, Close, Croci. Politics, Power, and the Common Good: An Introduction to Political Science. Pearson, 2013.