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Comparison between Presidential and Parliamentary Systems

Info: 2298 words (9 pages) Essay
Published: 16th Mar 2021 in Politics

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There has been a constant dispute between the two types of governmental systems, being the presidential system and the parliamentary systems, political scientist have analyzed them as to see which one is more effective and democratic to be able for each system to fulfill its democratic three main principles being democracy, constitutionalism and liberalism. This paper will argue why and how presidential is more democratic then parliamentary systems counterpart due to it being able to respect and follow the three main principles of democracy mentioned before. By explaining the specific difference between responsible government (Canadian system) and separation of powers (American system) this paper will prove that the separation of power  a more democratic machinery of government due to the decentralization and continuous back up check for each system .

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So what makes a state democratic in the first place the basic principal is that citizens of a democracy govern their nation, the purpose of democracy is the protection and promotion of their, interest and welfare. Democracy requires that each individual to be free to participate in the political community self-government. Political freedom is the main concept of democracy[1]. The overall concept of modern democracy has three main principals, democracy , constitutionalism and liberalism. This paper will further explore and compare these main points to asses which system responsible government or separation of powers respect and follow these points to asses which one’s more democratic.

Canada’s government is divided in three components the executive, the Governor General, the Prime Minister, and the Cabinet, furthermore the legislature, is made up of the Senate and the House of Common and, the judiciary.[2] In Canada the Queen is the top level of authoritative power, followed by the Governor General which is meant to be the representative of the Queen in Canada, even though the prime minster is next in level of power it is the prime minister that elects the Governor General,  ultimately electing their own higher authoritative figure. The prime minister is responsible to the legislature and the Queen the legislature is then responsible to the legislature to enforce laws, and is responsible to the crown.[3] As the Canadian public have no say or vote on the Queen who has in the end top power can be seen as undemocratic and goes against an individual’s liberty of voting who gets to rule over there country. While the American system, has three levels of government, the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary which are seen as equal.[4] The separation of power system can make sure and keep in check to make sure each levels can’t abuse there power as they know each policy that would like to be implemented will be double checked by another, making sure it is democratic as possible but it comes at  a cost this can create a complicated relationship can create internal confliction between the president and legislature.

Another big difference between the Canadian Government system and the U.S (presidential) is the power of the legislature. Both the U.S. and Canada have a house of commons and a senate, but the Senate between the two states are drastically different. The Canadian Senate has senators appointed rather than elected and does not have the same overly powerful body as the U.S does[5], by having the senate only being able to be elected compared to being elected does show some of the restriction on the Canadian citizen to vote for their political leaders and advocates compared to the states where each member must obtain the vote of the public such actions can be seen as more democratic as the senators must obtain trust of the people rather of an individual leader. Furthermore the Canadian senate does not have the ability to vote against most government policies, this enables the P.M to implement policies more efficiently due a slight less conflict that could be made from parliament, however this efficiency can come at a cost of a lack of back up check to the policy implemented by the prime minister and could leave some to argue that the primie minster would have too much power and therefore be less democratic unlike the United States. Thus the American senate has more power, and can vote on bills f it has 60% of the senate in order for it to move to congress[6] such power can make sure the president stays in check and adds to the bureaucratic structure.

The main differences between the American and Canadian system is that the American system has an executive, legislature and the judiciary are all separated and are designed to make sure that each balances one another[7] with each of them having  veto right to deny each of them of getting too powerful. for a bill to pass it has to be signed off by the President and at that stage the President has the ability to veto the bill.[8] But the Congress can overturn the President’s veto with a two-thirds vote in the Congress.[9] The President also has the power to pass a bill through what is known as executive order. Executive order allows the President to pass a bill even if the legislature has already voted against it.[10] For example Obama has threatened to use executive order on gun control bills if the congress does not pass new regulations in 2011.[11] The advantage of executive order is its the power of the Congress, and allows the President to pass certain policies that he feels are important. The disadvantage of executive order is the view that it gives the President too much, and an overuse of executive order it can lead to an autocracy rather then a democracy. In contrast, The Prime Minister does not have this power. In a majority government the Prime Minister really does not need to have executive order because in most cases the bills he wants will be passed.[12]

Another important difference between the presidential system and the parliamentary system is the electoral policy. The American presidential system works on the electoral vote for three individuals the senator, their representative and president[13], due to its separation of powers and the fact that citizens can vote directly for both their leader and legislator [14] makes it more democratic. Meanwhile in the Canadian political system the prime minister is not directly elected, instead voters elect a member of parliament in each party. The party, who wins the most seats, will then become the leading party, and their leader becomes the Prime Minister, making him/her a part of the legislature.[15] This system is not perfect and can be seen as undemocratic to not have a direct vote for the leader.

Party discipline is has a major differences between the two states. Party discipline is the ability of a part to influence its members to support the party leader[16]. Canadda has a strong party discipline due to the responsible government system to create a strong party, but however in this party members of parliament have to vote with the primie minister to prevent him/her from loosing confidence in the house and eventually loss of the party. Such incentive can be seen as slightly less democratic as parties are mostly encouraged to vote with the prime minister even though that allows for easier policy making it does raise concerns on the lack of opposition the prime minister faces and the tendency for people to follow his lead. The electoral system creates a strong party as the electorate vote for the party rather them the leader of the party,

 In conclusion the machinery of government between Canada and the USA do offer advantages and disadvantages to one another, and can show how sacrificing some democratic values can sometimes increase efficiency in policy making, however with all the evidence provided we can see that the presidential system does provide a more democratic machinery of government due to the fact that the whole governmental system is checked and voted on to make sure that no one system can gain too much power and that liberty is maintained with the citizen being able to have the freedom to directly vote for the political leader. This differs from the Canadian government since for example the Governor General is not exactly elected by the people since this individual is elected by the Prime minister after the elections, this shows that the government system in Canada has a system in which not all authoritative figures are chosen democratically. It is also important to note that the governments of Canada and the USA have also some similarities since both are composed of both a federal and state/provincial levels of government instead of a completely centralized democratic governmental system which can be found in many other countries worldwide.

Bibliography

  • Lemco, Jonathon. "The Fusion of Powers, Party Discipline, and The Canadian
  • Parliament: A Critical Assessment." Presidential Studies Quarterly 19 (1998): 283-284.
  • Print.
  • Lijphart, Arend. Parliamentary versus presidential government. Oxford: Oxford
  • University Press, 1992. Print.
  • Mainwaring , Scott, and Matthew Shugart. "Juan Linz, Presidentialism, and Democracy
  • A Critical Appraisal." Compartive Politics 29 (1997): 449-471. Print.
  • Rosemberg , Morton. "the Limits of Executive Power: Presidential Control of Agency
  • Rulemaking under Executive Order ." Michigan Law Review 80 (1981): 193-247. Print.
  • Siaroff, Alan. "Comparative presidencies: The inadequacy of the presidential,
  • semi-presidential and parliamentary distinction." European Journal of Poltiical Science
  • 42 (2003): 287-312. Print.
  • "The Canadian Senate: Role, Powers & Operation | Mapleleafweb.com."
  • Mapleleafweb.com | Canada's Premier Political Education Website! Web. 11
  • Feb. 2013.
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  • Barrette, and Emily. “Senate,” 2019. http://0-eds.a.ebscohost.com.mercury.concordia.ca/eds/detail/detail?vid=0&sid=cf081c47-20bb-4f3e-bc4b-276b771e23d9@sessionmgr4008&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmU=#AN=139360095&db=poh.
  • Black, and Edwin R. “turning canadian politics inside out. .” turning canadian politics inside out. . Willey Blackwell, May 2017.
  • Slaughter, and Thomas P. “Liberty Power: Antislavery Third Parties and the Transformation of American Politics.” Liberty Power: Antislavery Third Parties and the Transformation of American Politics, n.d. http://0-eds.a.ebscohost.com.mercury.concordia.ca/eds/detail/detail?vid=0&sid=92905f32-8d8a-4c95-8481-8f12f5bac553@sdc-v-sessmgr03&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmU=#AN=edsgcl.499914219&db=edsglr.
  • Stuckey, and Mary e. “American elections and the rhetoric of political change: hyperbole, anger, and hope in u.s. politics.,” 2016. http://0-eds.a.ebscohost.com.mercury.concordia.ca/eds/detail/detail?vid=0&sid=0035c356-ff5c-4298-9488-c73595aa12cc@sdc-v-sessmgr02&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmU=#AN=127520990&db=poh.
  • “The Concepts of democracy” https://www.civiced.org/pdfs/books/ElementsOfDemocracy/Elements_Subsection3.pdf

[1] “The Concepts of democracy”

[2] The Canadian Constitution 1867 from sections 1-57 lay out the structure of the Canadian system including the powers of each level of government

[3] Ibid.

[4] Black, and Edwin R. “turning canadian politics inside out. .” turning canadian politics inside out

[5] Ibid

[7] Arend Liphart, Parliamentary Versus Presidential Government, (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1992), pp.15

[8] Barrette, and Emily. “Senate,” 2019

[9] Ibid.

[10] Morton Rosenberg, “Beyond the Limits of Executive Power: Presidential Control of Agency Rulemaking under Executive Order”, Michigan Law Review 80 (1981), pp. 193-247, p. 194

[11] Siaroff, Alan. "Comparative presidencies: The inadequacy of the presidential,

semi-presidential and parliamentary distinction." European Journal of Poltiical Science

42 (2003): 287-312

[12] Stuckey, and Aary e. “American elections and the rhetoric of political change: hyperbole, anger, and hope in U.S. politics

[13] Black, and EDwin r. “Turning canadian politics inside out.”  2017

[14], Ibid

[15] Lemco, Jonathon. "The Fusion of Powers, Party Discipline, and The Canadian

Parliament: A Critical Assessment." Presidential Studies Quarterly 19 (1998): 283-284.

Print.

[16] Stuckey, and Mary e. “American elections and the rhetoric of political change: hyperbole, anger, and hope in U.S. politics.,” 2016.

 

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