Comparing Parliamentary and Presidential Systems of Government

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2. Compare and Contrast a parliamentary system a presidential system, analyzing their strengths and weaknesses. Use specific examples. Do you think one system is more or less “democratic”. Why? Which system do you prefer? Why?

In a parliamentary system of government the head of state (usually called a prime minister) is the head of the party with the majority of legislative representation. That is, unless one party fails to win a majority of the legislative seats or 50%+1. In that case the party with the highest percentage of legislatures attempts to form a coalition government by promising members of lesser parties a role in the government in turn for their support. This is done until that group has 50%+1 legislators backing the head of state.

In a presidential system the head of state (the president) and the legislative branch of the government are elected independently. The winner in both the legislative and executive elections is decided in a “first-by the-post” fashion. In laymen terms the candidate with the highest number of votes wins.

The strength of a parliamentary system is that the executive and most powerful party in the legislature are always in agreement. As a result of the guaranteed agreement more legislation is likely to pass and changes in policy are enacted swiftly, political party’s are forced to enact policy that they promised when they were elected.. The availability of swift change could also be seen as a weakness as well because it could lead to more uncertainty within the country regarding taxation changes, federal funding, and governmental programs. An example of swift change is in England where the conservative party now has formed a coalition government with the liberal democrats (in most cases the lesser parties in a coalition government just have token powers, like heading legislative committees). The conservative government was elected on a platform of spending cuts, deficit reduction, and taxation reform. While holding power...
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