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Presidential and Parliamentary Systems. Dr. Eric Langenbacher February 24th, 2004. The Executive. Fundamental institutional choice between a Parliamentary and Presidential system branches of government Executive—branch of government that proposes legislation—it initiates

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Presidential and Parliamentary Systems

Dr. Eric Langenbacher

February 24th, 2004


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The Executive

  • Fundamental institutional choice between a Parliamentary and Presidential system

  • branches of government

    • Executive—branch of government that proposes legislation—it initiates

    • Legislature—debates and passes laws

    • Judiciary—interprets laws

    • Bureaucracy—implements laws


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Basic distinctions

  • 1)Accountability/Reponsibility—executive directly accountable in Parl. system

    • In Presidential system, executive branch in separately elected—no direct responsibility

  • 2)Collegial v. appointed cabinets

    • Presidential systems based on separation on powers; Parliamentary--fusion


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Basic Distinctions (cont’d)

  • 3) Term flexibility—fixed terms in Pres.; variable terms in parl. due to Prime Minister’s right of dissolution

  • 4) Executive role differentiation—two roles—head of government and head of state—combined in Pres.; separate in Parl.


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Advantages of Parliamentary Systems

  • flexibility

  • clear lines of accountability

  • clear majority rule

  • efficient, streamlined decision making


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Advantages of Presidential Systems

  • decisive leadership

  • checking/balancing of power

  • necessarily cumbersome legislative procedures

  • stability, personalized leadership

  • ease to pinpoint responsibility


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Disadvantages of Parliamentary Systems

  • 1) instability

  • 2) numerous, fragmented party system

  • 3) fusion of powers

  • 4) dangerous for young democracies


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Disadvantages of Presidential System

  • 1) Inflexibility

  • 2) Effects on Party System

  • 3) zero-sum, majoritarian politics

  • 4) personalism, corruption

  • 5) dual legitimacy

  • 6) lack of role differentiation


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Conclusion

  • Arguments against Presidential systems are more compelling

  • Negative characteristics of Parl. systems cannot be avoided—but institutional remedies exist

  • Almost impossible to rectify shortcomings of Pres. system within own logic


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