Advantages and Disadvantages of the Parliamentary System.

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aThe parliamentary system is one of three most widely used democratic forms of government. It is mainly used by European countries and Commonwealth nations. The former subscribe to the West German model while the latter uses the Westminster model. It is a system whereby the Executive branch is supported either directly or indirectly by the legislative. The head of government, who leads day to day affairs of government, is separate with the head of state that has a ceremonious function. Some parliamentary nations merge the role of the president and prime minister such as South Africa where the president is also a member of parliament. Like all forms of government, there are advantages and disadvantages which shall be discussed below. As mentioned above, this system has many advantages. Firstly and most importantly, it is easier and faster to pass legislation compared to the presidential system which leads to a smoother governance. Usually a bill becomes law within a single session of parliament. In a presidential system specifically in the United States of America (US), the time taken to pass a bill can be anywhere from a few weeks to many years. Many bills though do not get pass. The ease in legislation is due to the structure of this system whereby the majority grouping in the lower house i.e. the direct representatives of the people forms the executive. Thus the executive have the majority support and votes to pass legislation. This is important as it usually prevents legislative gridlock especially in passing the government budget and provides quick response in national emergencies. For example due to opposing parties between houses of Congress, the US had not pass a budget in four years where as Japan’s Diet passed a reconstruction bill within a month after the 2011 tsunami. Secondly, government policies are based more on consensus. Executive power is more spread out among Cabinet ministers unlike in the presidential system where power is focused in the President. The head of government (prime ministers or chancellors) are rarely as important as a ruling president and policies are formed through Cabinet discussions and approval. This is where the concept of collective responsibility arises. The Prime minister/ Chancellor, as chairperson of the cabinet, are responsible for guiding the cabinet and deciding its political direction but the ministers are free to carry out their duties independently. For example in the Netherlands, the prime minister is only considered primus inter pares within their cabinet and all members share equal status. Thirdly, there exists greater executive accountability within a parliamentary system. Under the Westminster model, parliament is considered the highest organ of state. Ministers are accountable and responsible to parliament which directly represents the people. The executive must answer the question of the legislature relating to administration to their satisfaction always tries to remain alert, because this influences its electoral prospects. Under the same model includes a tradition called the “Question Period” wherein the prime minister and his cabinet members face tough questions from members of the opposition party. A US president does not face such questioning by Congress. Traditionally, questioning the president is through a press conference which is less frequent, less combative and more in control by the president. Question period is held every day in each parliamentary session in the United Kingdom (UK). Furthermore, the parliamentary system has proven to provide greater stability for racially and ethnically or ideological diverse nations. Many relatively stable multi ethnic nations use the parliamentary system of government namely Malaysia, Singapore, India, and South Africa. Through this system, the government structure is more flexible and executive power can be effectively shared. This is not true in a president system were power is centred on one person, the president....
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