Presidential and Parliamentary System

Topics: Presidential system, Separation of powers, Parliamentary system Pages: 8 (2658 words) Published: August 31, 2011
The phenomenon of political control over the public service in South Africa cannot be quantified as integral part of public administration and an essential ingredient of representative democracy.

Bureaucracies are controlled in various ways. Mechanisms aimed at ensuring public accountability towards ministers, national assemblies, the courts may be instituted. The civil service may become politicized, so that it shares the ideological enthusiasm of the government of the day. Counter-bureaucracies may be formed to create an alternative advisory service and to strengthen the hand of elected politicians. The reality of ‘government by officials’ may function behind the façade representative and democratic accountability, which is the precise reason why control over bureaucratic power is one of the most urgent problems in modern politics and public administration and why no political/administration system has found and easy solution to this problem yet. It is against this background that answers can be found to question of whether bureaucracy should be subjected to political control and how much control should be exercised.

Traditionally and persistently, typology of governmental form has been argued to rest on the location of real power. In the fifth century B.C. classified all governments as monarchies, aristocracies or democracies. “Every political system operates”, says Austin Ranney, “in an environment, and certain characteristics of its particular environment contribute materially towards determining both its form of government and its policy outputs” . This observation bears truth as the different countries have adopted different forms of the government. In some countries one form of government is functioning well, whereas in others not. The suitability of the one form of the government or the other depends upon different factors like population, economy, social structure, social tensions and consensus and political culture etc. Broadly speaking the government may be categorized either as democracy, obligarchy, dictatorship, pluralism or eliticism. It is notable that democracy is preferred over other forms of government as in it decisions are ultimately controlled by all the adult members of the society rather then by some specially privileged subgroup or one all powerful member. In forcible terminology of Abraham Lincoln, “democracy is a government of the people, for the people and by the people,” or what Daniel Webster argued, “the peoples´ government made for the people, made by the people, and answerable to the people”. But there is no definite mode of democratic operation; nor the examples of ancient regimes or unclassified systems are lacking.


The parliamentary system typically has clear differentiation between the head of government and the head of state, with the former being the Prime Minister and the latter, the President. The Head of Government is the chief executive and, together with the Cabinet, exercises executive power or the authority to form and implement policies and programs. In the case of South African Politics the Head of Government is also the Head of State. A Cabinet is a body of high ranking members of the government, typically representing the executive branch. It can also sometimes be referred to as the Council of Ministers, an Executive Council, or an Executive Committee. The Head of Government is also usually the leader of the political party that wins the majority of votes in the legislature or parliament, either assuming the post automatically or gets elected by the legislature. The members of the Cabinet are chosen by the Head of Government from the members of parliament and can come from the same party or from a coalition of parties. The head of state, meanwhile, is the President, often elected by a designated electoral college as a figurehead with ceremonial powers. In some cases, however, the President could take...
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