What are the merits and demerits of Parliamentary and presidential forms of government?

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(1) Under the parliamentary system, there is proper co-ordination of legislative and executive policies; there is no such co-ordination under the presidential form. These are the two wheels of the ship of the state.

If they do not move in harmony, the ship of the state shall not move. There

shall be deadlocks and delays. It happens in the U.S.A. where the presidential system prevails.

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(2) Two different parties may control the executive and the legisla­ture under the presidential system. This may, therefore, lead to two different and very often contradictory policies which shall be harmful to government. That cannot happen under the cabinet system.

(3) There is no popular control upon the president during the term of office since this is a fixed tenure. There is constant control upon the cabinet and it can be removed at any moment by a vote of no confidence. It cannot be irresponsible. For all acts of omission or commission, it is collectively responsible to the parliament. The president is not respon­sible to any one.

(4) The President is a lone or single executive. He lacks the advice that is available to the Prime Minister. The cabinet members arc tried and capable leaders and are of almost the same political status as the Prime Minister is. They can always guide him.

Their political career is as much at stake as that of the Prime Minister if the government makes a mistake. On the other hand, in the case of the presidential system, the members of the cabinet are non-entities and have no status in political life and lack the political experience of the Prime Minister’s colleagues. They can be irresponsible in their advice.

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(5) Under the presidential system, there is lack of coherence in the legislative and financial policies because there is neither unity in guid­ance nor is there any co-ordination. Under the parliamentary system, the cabinet not only co-ordinates executive and legislative policy but also brings continuity and coherence in the legislative policy.

(6) Under the presidential system, if there is difference of opinion on vital policies between the President and the legislature both get paralyzed.

Under the parliamentary system, the Prime Minister can dissolve the Parliament and go to the electorate for their verdict. It not only provides an instrument for removing differences but also for a popular review of these policies by the electorate and the public.

(7) It is pointed out that the President can be more efficient in administrative matters and can meet emergency better and speedily since he does not have to face the Parliament. But this is not much of an advantage. Firstly, it means efficiency minus responsibility and popular criticism. He might become dictatorial and may ignore the mandate of the electorate.

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Secondly he may need more powers or a law to meet emer­gency and the legislature may refuse or it may not agree that there is emergency at all. Thirdly the administration under cabinet system would be more efficient because each department is headed by a responsible and seasoned politician.

In case of presidential system, on the other hand, President cannot look after all the departments himself. They are man­aged by his cabinet members, who have no political responsibility, nor have they anything to lose by their mistakes.

(8) The cabinet system suffers from one big defect. In case of multiple parties, cabinets are generally coalition cabinets. These cabinets are formed by compromising principles and policies, lead to political corruption and spoils of power and are generally unstable. France is an example.

On the other hand, in case of presidential system, there is little party discipline over members of the legislature with the result that lobbyism becomes rampant.

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Thus the parliamentary system is preferable to presidential system. Even the working of the U.S. constitution has proved that the separation of powers is not practical. Today the President has become both the ‘Chief Executive’ and the ‘Chief Legislator’. Even the Hoover Commis­sion agreed that the U.S. President is a lone executive and needs a cabinet like that of Britain.

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