Presidential vs. Parliamentary Government Essay

Every nation, ever since the dawn of civilization, has always had some form of government. It is of necessity rather than need, as a nation without one will always result to anarchy. Today, two of the most popular and well-known forms of government are the presidential form of government and the parliamentary form of government. Each form of government has it’s own pros and cons, and the debate of whether one is better than the other has long been a subject of discussion.

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            The main difference between the two forms of government is how the extent governmental powers are distributed and/or separated between branches of the government, and whether one branch has or does not have power over another. In the presidential form of government, political and administrative powers are distinctly divided between the executive branch (the President), the legislative branch (i.e., the congress/senate), and the judiciary branch.

The powers vested in the executive branch is usually balanced against those given to the legislature.

Laws and bills are made by the legislature and it is the executive branch which enacts it. The President has the power to veto the bill, preventing it’s execution, but the legislature may override the President’s veto, provided they can gather enough votes to do so (“Parliamentary versus Presidential governments”). This serves as a check and balance for both branches, ensuring that one does not overpower the other.

            In the parliamentary form of government, however, there is a fusion of power between the legislative and executive branch. This is mostly due to the fact that the head of government, the Prime Minister, is voted into position by the legislature, which is often mostly composed of the ruling party or coalition. Hence, almost always, the constituents of the executive and the legislature branches are the same (“Governing Systems and Executive-Legislative Relations”).

            The terms of office for both heads of the government also varies. In the presidential system of government, the President serves a specific, defined term. In the parliamentary system, the Prime Minister stays in power for as long as he or she has the support of the majority of the legislation. Political parties also hold less of an impact on the presidential system than on then parliamentary system since the President can still be voted in office regardless of whether his or her political party is a minority or not. In parliamentary system, it’s almost always the ruling party which holds dominance over the outcome of the election of head of government.

            Given the choice, from the points stated, I would rather be a citizen of a country ruled by a parliamentary government, like the United Kingdom. There is more cohesion and unity given the fact that the legislative and the executive powers come from one ruling, common party. This would mean that bills are passed much quicker. Also, ethnicity, race, and ideology won’t be much of a conflicting factor, especially for a very diverse country, since power is equally divided amongst the legislators, and not just focused on one (e.g. the President). Lastly, a study conducted by the World Bank has found out that a parliamentary system is associated with lower corruption (Lederman, Loayza, & Soares, par. 1).

Works Cited

“Governing Systems and Executive-Legislative Relations.” UNDP: Governance: Political          systems and their impact on Governing Relations. 2006. 18 December 2007.             <>

Lederman, Daniel and Normal Loayza and Rodrigo R. Soares. “Accountability and        Corruption: Political Institutions Matter.” World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 2708. 2001. 18 December 2007. <>

“Parliamentary Versus Presidential Governments.” eSSORTMENT. 2002. 18 December 2007.             <>

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