Presidential Government As A Better Agent Of Democracy Essay

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Politics, Government, Democracy, President, Law, Elections, Power, People

Pages: 5

Words: 1375

Published: 2021/02/26

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Democracy between two types of government, parliamentary and presidential, differs in many ways. At the same time the word itself is interpreted by different regimes in different ways. Therefore analyzing which amongst the two is more democratic may prove to be difficult since democracy itself is quite relative. Even with this though, this paper is able to point the relatively more democratic by setting the definitive rules of what a democratic state’s characteristics are. With this, it may be concluded that the presidential form of government is relatively more democratic because it embodies participation, competition and liberty more effectively.

Characteristics of Democracy

In order to properly prove which type of government is more democratic, the characteristics of a democratic state must first be defined. Democracy is most often equated to the freedom of the people to choose what is best for them, but taking this definition will be very much lacking for the Constitution itself contradicts it for there are definitive guidelines to the freedom that is granted with each individual. One of the best ways to build the fundamentals of democracy is to go back to the meaning of the word itself which came from the Greek terms demos meaning “the common people” and kratia meaning “power” or “rule”. Therefore the word democracy directly translates to giving or having the power to the common people. (O’ Neil, 2010) Power however does not necessarily mean that each individual has to participate in political procedures for it may be directly or indirectly manifested. What is important is to make sure that the fundamentals of democracy which are participation, competition and liberty are present. This definition, while it will be used throughout this paper, must not be taken lightly for this definition is still quite subjective that some political scientists call it as liberal democracy to imply that all of the three elements mentioned are included (Carey, 2005).
As mentioned before, democracy may be exercised in two ways: direct and indirect. The intuition of these types lies in the process of how each practices democratic procedures. The former, direct democracy, refers to the democratic process where the people are directly involved in political procedures such as governance and policy making. Indirect democracy on the other hand is the process where the people allow themselves to be represented in the government in confidence that this representative will be able to air and present their concerns to the National Government, which is the prevalent form of democracy in the current age. The process to which the latter type of democracy still allows the people to practice their power is through the process of elections which will be discussed further as the paper progress.
In order to fully understand the groundwork of democracy, there is a need to understand the different institutions that govern a democratic state: Executive, Legislative and Judiciary. The executive branch includes the head of the government and the head of the state. The former is the term used when identifying the function of the executive branch that serves as the chief executive officer of the country. The latter on the other hand is the function of the executive branch as the representative of the state to the international community. These two functions are commonly imagined as residing to a single person in the government: the President. This may also be given to two different people in other types of government however such as the parliamentary form of government wherein the monarch is the head of the state while the prime minister is the head of the government. This point is important because democracy is most often associated with a Presidential type of government when in fact it may also be present with other types. Second is the legislative branch which creates and passes the laws of the country. This branch has two further types: unicameral and bicameral. From the names itself, unicameral means that there is only one house or chamber in the legislative branch whereas to bicameral has two houses which is usually an upper house and a lower house. This does not necessarily mean that the other is far superior to the other though. Bicameral houses are primarily created as a mechanism for check and balance to each other. Lastly is the legislative branch which from the term itself is concerned with the enforcement and prevalence of the constitution. This is the branch that ensures that no legislation will occur that is contradicting the constitution aside from its function as a trial court in impeding individuals that violate the constitution. The power of the judicial court differs however but their two types of review for legislation are prevalent: concrete and abstract. Concrete review is the process where the constitutionality of the legislation may only be placed into trial when it has been triggered in a trial while abstract review is when constitutionality may be reviewed even without a trial and even during the legislation procedure.

The Parliamentary and Presidential Types of Government

Both parliamentary and presidential type of government is under a democratic state for both showcase the characteristics discussed before, albeit differently. The stark difference between the two lies in the division of power of the executive department (Carey, 2005). The parliamentary type of government has two very distinct characteristics. First is the fact that the prime minister serves as the head of the government while the monarch or the president is the head of the state. Second is the power of the legislature to elect the prime minister that comes from them as well. The most powerful man/woman in a parliament is the prime minister. This power stems from the very fact that the prime minister is placed in his/her position through the legislative department. Therefore aside from the position and resources he/she holds, the support of the majority of the legislature department is most often is with him/her. Even the monarch or president does not equal with the power that the prime minister have. The monarch or the president may rise to the position by being directly elected, inheritance, or by appointment of the legislature. However, they are more of a face that the government keeps for international and social purposes. The most hold that they have of the state is the power to veto such as against legislation that contradicts the constitution. In this effect, it can be seen that the prime minister serves as the head of the country. In a parliamentary government therefore, the people does not directly vote their head for this is left to the parties in the legislature. Furthermore, the prime minister does not have a specific term in the position for he/ she may be there as long as the support of the legislature is with him/her.
A presidential type of government on the other hand, has the role of the head of the state and the government fused into one. (O’Neil, 2010) The president is both the overseer of the matters of the state and the face that keeps international relationship and social relationship amongst others. Furthermore, the president is not elected by the legislature or any other institution of democracy, but is directly voted upon by the public for a definite period of time. This fact heightens the division between the three branches of government since the president does not need to rank up towards the position of the president. Another power of the president is to create a cabinet that he/she appoints himself as a representative to different branches of the government.

Analysis of Democracy

As stated, both presidential and parliamentary forms of government are both democratic in a sense that the public plays a huge role in choosing who represents them. This is best seen in the electoral process which is the greatest evidence of democracy. There is however the question of which amongst this two manifests and upholds democracy more. This paper ignores the question of which is a better form of government for this must be answered by taking other factors into consideration. In answering which is more democratic however, there is one very important criterion that must be considered: the magnitude of power that the public has on the political process in the country by going back to the three characteristics of democracy which are representation, competition and liberty.
As far as representation go, both types of government strive to represent the people. Presidential form of government however is better in handling this for the people vote for all the positions that will be filled in the political arena with the exception of the cabinet members appointed by the president. It cannot be denied though that since the people vote for who is in the position, satisfying the people is of primary importance for these officials. In contrast with the parliamentary system wherein the vote of the people is just one part of the political process, there is also a different set of individuals that the running prime minister has to court which is the legislative parties themselves since they are the ones that will place the prime minister into the position.
Competition also very much exist in both types of government. This is best seen during the electoral process wherein each representative, political parties and presidential nominees has an equal ground to run for the position to serve their constituents. In the parliamentary system however this competition does not end with just the election of representatives, it continues on with the fight for the prime minister’s position. This does not mean though that the parliamentary system bested the presidential system already. It must be noted that this competition must continuously be under the supervising eye of the public. In this regard the presidential system is more dominant.
Finally is liberty that again, is seen in both forms of government. In this regard however it is difficult to determine if the presidential or parliamentary form of government owns the upper hand for both are free, but guided by the constitution. Both have the judiciary system which is relatively more independent from the two other branches. As long as this prevails liberty is given whether of the two types of government is chosen.
Through the three criteria given by O’Neil (2010) it can be concluded that the presidential system is relatively more democratic as the public is relatively given more role and power as to who is placed in the position. The biggest manifestation of which is that the public is the one who chooses the person in the highest position in the government.

Limitations of Democracy

Democracy does not automatically equate to a better government however. Both types of government have its disadvantages which were extensively discussed by Shively. He noted two distinct disadvantages of the parliamentary system, the first of which is the minimal representation of the minority. Since the parliamentary system makes straight-forward laws that are generally supported y by the majority slate in the government. (Shively,n.d) This may pose a problem for their may be laws that may be promising to the development of the country, but cannot be enacted since the consensus of the majority is needed. The second disadvantage is the instability of the government itself. The head of the government is decided by the majority and what binds them together is their general agreement to get along well. When conflict arises though and they do not reach a consensus, the majority may dismantle.
The presidential system on the other hand, is very much prone to corruption since power is concentrated to one person only: the President. Furthermore, the support that the president has from the other branches of government is relatively more unstable than that of the parliamentary system since there is no need for him/her to ensure the majority’s agreement with him/her. All the president needs to do, all other things held constant, is to make sure that the people will vote. These problems are very much apparent in the country of Mexico where corruption is prevalent in the government. (Shively, n.d)

References

Carey, J. M. (2005). Presidential versus Parliamentary Government. In Handbook of New Institutional Economics. Retrieved from http://www.colorado.edu/ibs/eb/alston/psci4028/fall_2010/Presidential%20versus%20Parliamentary%20Government%20by%20Carey.pdf
O’Neil, P. (2010). Essentials of Comparative Statistics. Norton & Company Ltd. Wallstreet, London
Shively, W. P. (n.d.). Power and Choice: An Introduction to Political Science. McGraw-Hill Higher Education.

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