President vs Prime Minister

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This paper compares presidential and parliamentary forms of democratic government, discusses in detail the similarities and differences of the two systems as well as their strengths and weaknesses, and concludes with an observation of why some states are more likely to choose a presidential system as opposed to a parliamentary system.

Presidential and Parliamentary Systems:
A Comparison

Parliamentary and presidential forms of government are the two principal types of democracy in the modern world. The respective advantages and disadvantages of the two systems have been long debated, at first mainly by British and American political participants and observers, but with increasing frequency in other parts of the world, especially in Latin America and the emerging states of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. The distinctions between the two systems are more important now than ever due to the recent world-wide wave of democratization which has intensified both the debate and its significance. The struggling new nations of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe are desperate to establish democratic forms of government and are seeking the style of democracy that will prove most effective for their own unique political, social, and economic needs. 1 Of particular interest to the citizens and prospective leaders of these budding democracies is the matter of reaching a decision regarding which of the two most widely-practiced democratic systems of government—the presidential form or the parliamentary form—places more power directly in the hands of its people. In other words, which system more closely approaches a true democratic ideal ? Other concerns play a role, but these are the two primary issues under debate across eastern Europe, in the nations making up the Commonwealth of Independent States, and in the emerging democracies of much of the Third World. Proponents of the parliamentary form of



Bibliography: Berman, Larry, and Murphy, Bruce. Approaching Democracy. New York: Prentice-Hall, 1998. Brand, Jack. British Parliamentary Parties: Policy and Power. New York: Clarendon Press, 1992. Gould, Ron. Strengthening Democracy: A Parliamentary Perspective. New York: Dartmouth Publications, 1995. Judge, David. The Parliamentary State. New York: Sage Publications, 1993. Lijphart, Arend. Parliamentary Versus Presidential Government. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992. Patterson, Thomas E. The American Democracy. New York: McGraw-Hill College Division, 1998. Strum, P. Presidential Power and American Democracy. New York: Scott Foresman and Company, 1979 London: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

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