Presidential System of Government

Systems of Government Map
Systems of Government Map

Presidential system of government
In a presidential system, the President (who is the chief executive as well as the symbolic head of government) is chosen by a separate election from that of the legislature. The President then appoints his or her cabinet of ministers (or "secretaries" in US parlance). Ministers/Secretaries usually are not simultaneously members of the legislature, although their appointment may require the advice and consent of the legislative branch. Because the senior officials of the executive branch are separately elected or appointed, the presidential political system is characterised by a separation of powers, wherein the executive and legislative branches are independent of one another. Presidents have great control over their cabinet appointees who serve at the President’s pleasure, and who are usually selected for reasons other than the extent of their congressional support (as in parliamentary systems). In general, the British Prime Minister is more constrained to represent his/her parliamentary party in the Cabinet.
The U.S. represents the strongest form of presidentialism, in the sense that the powers of the executive and legislative branches are separate, and legislatures (national and state) often have significant powers.


Parliamentary system of government

Parliamentary systems, unlike presidential systems, are typified by a fusion of powers between the legislative and executive branches. The Prime Minister (who is the chief executive) may be elected to the legislature in the same way that all other members are elected. The Prime Minister is the leader of the party that wins the majority of votes to the legislature (either de facto, or in some cases through an election held by the legislature). The Prime Minister appoints Cabinet Ministers. However, unlike in the presidential systems, these members are typically themselves legislative members from the ruling party or ruling coalition. Thus, in a parliamentary system, the constituency of the executive and legislature are the same. If the ruling party is voted out of the legislature, the executive also changes. Continued co-operation between the executive and legislature is required for the government to survive and to be effective in carrying out its programs.
The UK represents the strongest form of parliamentarism (sometimes referred to as the Westminister system).


Hybrid system of government

The term hybrid generally refers to a system with a separately elected President who shares executive power with the Prime Minister. The President usually has the constitutional power to select the Prime Minister. If the constitution and/or political circumstances tend to place the emphasis on the powers of the President, it is sometimes termed a semi-presidential system. If, on the other hand, the Prime Minister and the legislative leaders enjoy more power than the President does, it may be referred to as a semi-parliamentary system.
For political reasons, Presidents generally appoint leaders of the ruling coalition to the post of Prime Minister, although they are not required to do so constitutionally. The Prime Minister may or may not be a member of the President’s political party, depending upon what party or coalition of parties maintains the majority in the legislature. The French system is the hybrid model most often cited as a semi-presidential system. In the French system, the President has broad powers. For example, the President nominates the Prime Minister and selects his own cabinet, over which he presides. The President, his cabinet and attending bureaucracy initiate and draft most legislation. The French President, like some others in hybrid systems, has some areas where his power is well defined, such as in the conduct of foreign affairs. The day to day running of the government is, however, left to the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
For purposes of clarity and simplicity, the French system is highlighted in the above and following text as the hybrid example.


US Presidential UK – Westminster parliamentary

German semi-parliamentary


French Hybrid


Who makes up the Executive Branch?
Separately Elected President, Cabinet nominated by the President and confirmed by the legislature

(Cabinet members cannot simultaneously be members of legislature, and vice-versa)
Prime Minister; PM and Cabinet elected by the majority party in the legislature The Cabinet, or Ministers, are members of the legislature. A Hereditary Monarch is head of state (mostly ceremonial).

Chancellor
, chosen from the majority party (or coalition) in parliament; cabinet members selected by Chancellor with parliament’s approval (may also be members of the leg.); indirectly elected President is head of state (weak powers)
Separately elected President with strong powers chooses a Cabinet and Prime Minister who presides over the legislature. (The President resides over the Cabinet, who cannot be members of the legislature.)


Can the legislature remove the executive, and vice-versa?
Legislature cannot remove the President, except under extreme conditions, and the president cannot dissolve the legislature. The legislature dissolves the chief executive and cabinet through a vote of no confidence, forcing new parliamentary elections. The legislature can dissolve parliament, removing the Chancellor and cabinet, but only if they simultaneously select a new chancellor. The legislature cannot remove the President, but can dissolve parliament, removing the Prime Minister and cabinet. The President can dissolve the lower house.


Bodies involved in the legislative process?
Upper House: Senate Lower House: House Govt. cabinet departments assist in drafting bills, but most originate via committees in legislature; President can veto legislation, which can be overridden by 2/3 vote of both houses. Upper: House of Lords Lower: House of Commons The government (Prime Minister, cabinet and bureaucracy) Occasionally bills referred to select committees for consultation. Upper: Bundesrat Lower: Bundestag Chancellor and Cabinet; Council of State Upper: Senate Lower: National Assembly President; Prime Minister and cabinet appointed by PM who sits in the legislature (can be MPs).


Who Initiates Legislation?
Both Houses Executive can draft legislation but a member must introduce it. Executive and Both Houses, but MPs can’t introduce bills that affect govt. spending or taxation. Can only amend on technical grounds. Executive-initiated bills take precedence over member bills. Executive and both Houses are active, but the majority of bills passed are introduced by the Executive. The President can issue "decrees," which have the force of law, without the legislatures consent. Executive and both Houses, Appointed bodies, such as the Economic and Social commission make recommendations on drafting legislation. MPs cannot introduce any bill that raises or reduces expenditures. Executive-initiated bills take precedence over member bills.

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