This article on ‘PARLIAMENTARY FORM OF GOVERNMENT: ITS FEATURES, MERITS, AND DEMERITS’ is written by an intern at Legal Upanishad.
A country is a giant community that is governed by the government. A government is a system of order of state or nation which is responsible for creating and implementing the rules of the society, the economy, foreign affairs, state policy, mechanism for determining the policy, and public services. The responsibilities of every government are similar but, the way of executing the duties differs depending on what type of government it is. There are different types of governments like direct democracy, representative democracy, communism, socialism, monarchy, autocracy, etc. here, we will look into the parliamentary form of government. Countries that follow a parliamentary form of government are Great Britain, India, Japan, Italy, Canada, Netherlands, etc.
This article will focus on what is the parliamentary form of government? Its features, what are its merits and demerits.
WHAT IS A PARLIAMENTARY FORM OF GOVERNMENT:
Under this government, the party that has the greatest representation will form the government. This system was first started in Britain and then followed by some of its former colonies. Ivor Jennings called this government a “cabinet system” as the cabinet is an important part of it.
The President is the head of the state. The Prime Minister is the head of the government and is considered the chief executive. He along with the cabinet exercises executive power or implement policies and programs. He is basically the leader of the winning political party which is won by the majority of votes in the legislature. He has the power to choose the members of the cabinet. The President has certain ceremonial powers and also could have more power or a significant role during a political or constitutional crisis.
There is a balanced relationship between the legislature and executive in this system therefore it’s called a responsible government. There is a fusion of powers between the legislative and executive branches, this is done by coordination of governmental powers and functions to initiate the programs and policies. In some countries, the judiciary has the power of judicial review.
FEATURES OF THE PARLIAMENTARY FORM OF GOVERNMENT:
- The legislative branch has its supremacy in the Parliamentary system. This branch might have a unicameral or bicameral Parliament. The members of the parliament are elected by the citizens of the country. Here the primary work of the members is to create and pass laws.
- In this system the Prime Minister does not have a term limit so, he can remain in his position as long as he is satisfied. In order to remove him, the members of the parliament can use a majority vote which is known as the vote of no-confidence.
- Laws are enforced after it is signed by the Prime Minister into legislation, who in case of disagreement can return the bill to the parliament. Anyways a majority vote by the parliament can veto that return.
- Some country that follows a parliamentary system gives their judiciary the power of judicial review. By this power, the court can declare a law void if it’s against the constitution
- In some countries, the President can exercise foreign powers such as national defense and military command.
- The Parliamentary system lacks a feature called “Checks and Balances” which is a part of the presidential system. This feature is more efficient as no political gridlock can delay them.
- Coalitions are a common type of agreement in the parliamentary system as this government consists of members serving various political parties. The members of the opposing political parties often form a temporary union, to accomplish a common goal.
- This system consists of double membership where the ministers are members of both executive and legislature, which means a person can’t become a minister without being a member of the parliament
- The Prime Minister plays the role of leader. he is the leader of the council of ministers, the parliament, and the party in power as he does a crucial role in the functioning of the government
- The Prime Minister can advise the President to dissolve the lower house of the parliament even before the expiry of its term and the ministers under this system take an oath of secrecy administered to the President that, they will keep the information about their policies, decisions, and proceedings as a secret.
PARLIAMENTARY FORM OF GOVERNMENT MERITS:
- The council members are responsible to the legislature and responsible for their acts of commission and omission. In order to accomplish this, they tend to remain clean. As a watchdog of the government, they will try to expose a corrupt government.
- There is harmony and great cooperation between the legislature and the executive as the executive for the approval of policies and programs of the government need not face many difficulties.
- The Parliamentary form of government is considered as people’s government as the political parties raise different issues of people and as representatives draw the attention to the house various problems of people, therefore the government is influenced by the people.
- As the ruling party has the majority support in the legislature it can take easy and quick decisions.
- This type of government has a lot of flexibility so that it can make easy decisions to cope up with emergencies and changing situations. Without much difficulty, the cabinet can be replaced with a new one also.
- It promotes national integration by taking care of the different regions and cultures of the nation.
- To get the votes of people, the political parties discuss certain important issues at the time of the election. These things mould people by making them politically conscious and improving their view of political knowledge.
PARLIAMENTARY FORM OF GOVERNMENT DEMERITS:
- This system has a weak separation of powers as the judiciary can get involved many times which is not the case in the Presidential system.
- As the cabinet here has lots of responsibilities tends to be authoritative and does not care about the views of the opposition party.
- There is no prompt decision. The council of ministers as they do not enjoy a fixed tenue often tend to care less about coming up with a bold and long-term policy and the coalition partners always fight within themselves failing to adopt a good policy.
- This system lacks competitiveness as most of the time the ministers are appointed by the members of the legislation, making it difficult to appoint a competent person. Ministers are mostly appointed in terms of religion, caste, etc which can be considered as a big flaw.
- As there are two main executives, the Prime Minister and the President it becomes too expensive to operate each of their offices and give provisions in terms of facilities and logistics which ends up wasting natural resources
- As there is a dual executive, there can be difficulty in implementing certain policies and programs in the state. This results in a conflict within the parliamentary system.
Regardless of many demerits in the Parliamentary system, a democratic form of government is one of the best forms of government. People here have strong fundamental rights and different kinds of problems in any geographical area can be easily covered when compared to other forms of government. Though this system has a double executive there is not much confusion in knowing their powers and functions. Separation of powers might not be as obvious as the presidential system but all the three branches of the government can act as watchdogs between themselves making it much stronger. Therefore, the Parliamentary form of government is one of the important and finest forms of government.
- Arvind Kumar. What are the Merits and Demerits of the Parliamentary form of Government? Retrieved: https://www.preservearticles.com/political-science/what-are-the-merits-a-demerits-of-the-parliamentary-form-of-government/12706.
- (2006, February 2). Forming a government: Parliamentary vs. Presidential system. Retrieved: https://dirp.pids.gov.ph/ris/eid/pidseid0602.pdf
- Nikhil. (2021, November 16). Features of Parliamentary Government. Retrieved: https://upscwithnikhil.com/article/polity/features-of-parliamentary-government.