Difference between Presidential and Parliamentary Form of Government

By K Balaji|Updated : September 23rd, 2022

A parliamentary form of government is defined as a system in which a close relationship exists between the legislature and the executive. The leader of this form of government is the Prime Minister, the head of the ruling party. On the other hand, the presidential form of government is the one in which the President is the head of the state and government. This type of government is more stable as there is no opposition pressure and no fear of losing power. Both Presidential and Parliamentary form of Government has their own merits and demerits, which are discussed in detail below.

In this article, the difference between presidential and parliamentary form of government is tabulated based on tenure, accountability, dissolution, ministers, etc.

Table of Content

Parliamentary Form of Government

India adopted a Parliamentary system of government primarily because the English system had a significant effect on the constitution's writers. The parliamentary model will only function to accommodate the diverse and numerous groups that make up our nation, as the founding fathers also understood. Additionally, the presidential system's strong separation of powers would lead to confrontations between the legislative and executive departments, which our newly independent nation could not afford.

Difference between Presidential and Parliamentary Form of Government PDF

There is a more parliamentary system of government than a presidential government around the globe. In this structure, the legislative normally has the final say, and the administration is answerable. It is also referred to as Responsible Governance and the Cabinet system of government.

Presidential Form of Government

A Presidential form of Government has a separate executive from the legislative one led by the head of state. In this situation, the head of the state and the government's top officials are one and the same. The fact that the executive is not answerable to the legislative is another important element.

Here are some of the key characteristics of the Presidential form of Government:

  • Legislative acts are subject to the executive's (President's) veto.
  • A vote of no-confidence in the legislature cannot be used to oust the President because of his set term in office.
  • In general, the President has the authority to commute or pardon criminal sentences.
  • A direct popular vote or an electoral college is used to choose the president.

Difference Between Parliamentary and Presidential Form of Government

After discussing the meaning of each system of Government, it is time to understand the difference between Parliamentary and Presidential form of Government based on different factors as tabulated below:

Basis

Parliamentary Form of Government

Presidential Form of Government

Accountability

Executive is accountable to the legislature

Executive is not accountable to the legislature

Executive

Dual form

Singular form

Dissolution of the lower house

The Prime Minister can dissolve the lower house before the expiry of its term

President cannot dissolve the lower house.

Ministers

Ministers are picked only from among the selected MPs

People outside the legislature can be appointed

Tenure

Not fixed

Fixed

Features of Parliamentary Form of Government

There are some significant elements of a parliamentary system of government. They have been listed down below;

  • Real and Nominal Executives: The Prime Minister is the true executive (de facto executive), while the President serves as the nominal executive (also called as the titular executive or de jure). As a result, the Prime Minister serves as the head of the Government, while the President serves as the head of the State.
  • Dual Membership: The Parliament is the legislature, while the Prime Minister along with the Council of Ministers, forms the executive. The Prime Minister and other ministries are chosen by the members of parliament, hence the executive is derived from the legislative.
  • Collective Responsibility: Together, the executive is accountable to the legislature. There is collective accountability, which means that the Council as a whole is responsible for each minister's obligations.
  • Secret Procedure: This form of Government stipulates that cabinet meetings must be private and not publicly disclosed.
  • Leadership under the Prime Minister: This type of governance is under the control of the Prime Minister.
  • Majority Party Rule: The leader of the party that wins a majority in the lower house typically appoints the prime minister.
  • Bicameral Legislature: In the majority of parliamentary democracies, legislatures are bicameral.
  • Political Homogeneity: Because they typically come from the same political party, the members of the ministers' council share similar political philosophies. A coalition government's ministers are obligated by agreement.
  • No fixed term: The majority support of the lower house determines the length of the government's mandate. If a motion of no confidence in the government is unsuccessful, the ministers must resign. Elections will take place, and a new administration will be established.

Parliamentary Form of Government Constitutional Provisions

There are four provisions for a parliamentary form of government in India under the constitution. They have been briefly explained below;

Article 74: It focuses on the assistance and counsel provided by the Cabinet of Ministers to the President in carrying out his duties.

  • If the President requests that the Cabinet of Ministers reconsider, then the revised advice must be followed.
  • The Council of Ministers' recommendations to the President are not subject to judicial review.

Article 75: It covers the following;

  • The Prime Minister is chosen by the President, and the President chooses other ministries based on the Prime Minister's recommendations.
  • For the duration of the President's time in office, ministers are selected by the President.
  • The Cabinet of Ministers is collectively accountable to the Lok Sabha.

Article 163: It focuses on the assistance and counsel provided by the Cabinet of Ministers to the Governor as he performs his duties.

  • The assistance and counsel of the Ministerial Council are not required if the Governor is operating at his or her own discretion.
  • The Council of Ministers' recommendations to the Governor are not subject to judicial review.

Article 164: It covers the following:

  • The Chief Minister is appointed by the Governor, who also names other ministries at the Chief Minister's recommendation.
  • For the length of the governor's time in office, ministers are selected by the governor.
  • The state's Legislative Assembly holds the Ministers jointly liable.

Advantages of Parliamentary Form of Government

The advantages of the parliamentary system of Government are as follows:

  • Better functioning between the executive and the legislature: Since the executive is a component of the legislature and most lawmakers often support the government, passing legislation and putting them into effect is easier.
  • Prevents authoritarianism: Since the legislative is in charge of the executive and has the power to remove it through a motion of no confidence, authoritarianism is avoided. Furthermore, power is not centralized like it is under the presidential government.
  • Responsible government: The legislators have the power to interrogate the executive branch, debate issues of public concern, and apply pressure. The executive's actions are subject to scrutiny by the parliament.
  • Representing different groups: Under this arrangement, the parliament provides various national groups with representation. This is particularly significant for a nation like India.
  • Flexibility: The system is flexible because it is simple to replace the PM when necessary. Winston Churchill succeeded Neville Chamberlain as Prime Minister of Great Britain during the period of the Second World War. Contrary to the presidential form of government, where a president can only be removed at the end of his or her term or in the event of impeachment or disability.

Disadvantages of Parliamentary Form of Government

The disadvantages of the parliamentary form of government are as follows:

  • No separation of powers: Absence of a true separation of powers makes it impossible for the legislative to always make the executive accountable. If the government holds a sizable majority in the house, this is particularly true. Additionally, lawmakers are unable to employ their independent will and cast votes in accordance with their beliefs and understanding due to anti-defection laws. They must adhere to the party line.
  • Unqualified lawmakers: The system produces lawmakers with the sole goal of advancing to the executive branch. They lack the necessary qualifications to pass laws.
  • Instability: There is uncertainty if there is no clear winner after the elections since governments can only last as long as they can demonstrate a majority in the parliament. Coalition governments typically have a limited lifespan and are highly unstable. As a result, the administration must concentrate on maintaining power rather than worrying about the welfare or state of the populace.
  • Ministers: The ruling party should be represented in the executive. As a result, hiring subject-matter specialists are out.
  • Failure to make a quick decision: The Ministerial Council frequently defers making big, long-term policy choices because it does not have a defined tenure.
  • Party politics: In the parliamentary system, where partisan interests motivate legislators more than national concerns, party politics are more obvious.
  • Bureaucratic control: Civil officials have a great deal of power. They provide the ministers with advice on a variety of issues, and they are not answerable to the legislature.

Advantages of Presidential Form of Government

The advantages of the presidential system of Government are given below:

  • Separation of powers: Since the three branches of the government are autonomous from one another, administration efficiency is significantly increased.
  • Expert government: Because the president can appoint experts in numerous fields to lead pertinent departments or ministries, the executive branch is not required to be made up of legislators. This will guarantee that the government comprises skilled and knowledgeable individuals.
  • Stability: This form of government has stability. He need not be worried about losing the government because the president's tenure is fixed and not dependent on legislative support. There is no threat of the government abruptly falling. The president is not under any political duress to make choices.
  • Limited influence of the party system: Since the tenure of the government is set, political parties do not try to overthrow it.

Disadvantages of Presidential Form of Government

The disadvantages of the presidential form of Government are given below:

  • Less accountable executive: Since the president and the executive branch are unaffected by the legislative, they are capable of taking a totalitarian stance.
  • Executive and legislative deadlocks: Since the division of powers is more clearly defined here, there may be regular clashes between the two branches of government, particularly if the president's political party is not the majority in the legislature. Due to time wastage, this may cause efficiency to decline.
  • Inflexible Government: Presidential regimes are sometimes criticized for having a rigid government. It's not flexible enough.
  • System spoils: The system grants the president broad patronage rights. He is free to pick the executives he wants here. As a result, those connected to the president gain positions in the government under the spoils system.

Presidential and Parliamentary Form of Government UPSC

Parliamentary and Presidential form of Government is a relevant topic, choke-full of important factoids for your IAS Exam preparation. Aspirants should be familiar with the topic. Practice these questions below to test your knowledge.

Which of the following are the principles on the basis of which the Parliamentary system of government in India operates?

  1. Nominal Executive Head
  2. Vice-President as the Chairman of the Upper House
  3. Real executive authority with the Council of Ministers
  4. Executive responsibility to the Lower House

Choose the correct answer from the codes given below:

  1. I, II, and III
  2. I, II, and IV
  3. I, III, and IV
  4. II, III, and IV

Answer: C)

The Constitution of India establishes parliamentary form of Government, and die essence of this form of government is its responsibility to the:

  1. People of India
  2. President
  3. Prime Minister
  4. Legislature

Answer: D)

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FAQs on Presidential and Parliamentary Form of Government

  • The parliamentary form of government is referred to as a system of governance operated by dual executives - the Prime Minister, who is the head of the Government and considered the real executive, and the President, who is the head of the state and considered the titular or nominal executive. It is a widely accepted system followed by a majority of countries, including India.

  • A presidential system of government, or a single executive system, is a form of government in which a head of government, typically with the title of president, leads an executive branch that is separate from the legislative branch in systems that use separation of powers.

  • The major difference between presidential and parliamentary form of government is the relationship between the legislative and executive. In the Parliamentary system, there is a close relationship between the two, while in the Presidential system, a strict separation of powers exists. The main distinction between these systems is the degree of division of power between the legislative, executive, and judicial branches.

  • The presidential form of government is followed in the USA, Argentina, France, etc., while the parliamentary form of government is followed in countries like the United Kingdom, India, etc. In the presidential system, the President is both the nominal and real executive. In the parliamentary system, the Prime Minister is the real executive and the leader of the government, while the President is the nominal head and the head of the state.

  • Some basic features of the parliamentary system of Government are as follows:

    • Dual executives
    • No fixed tenure of government
    • A close relationship between the executive and the legislature
    • Secrecy of procedure
    • The executive is responsible to the legislature
  • The Parliamentary form of government in India is taken from the British model of governance. Our founding fathers chose this as they thought it was best for a country like India, with its diverse population and newly gained independence, to have close ties between the executive and legislative and not strict separation of powers implemented by the presidential system.

  • The merits of the parliamentary form of government include better coordination between legislative and executive branches, more responsible government, more flexibility in the system, etc. While the demerits of the parliamentary system include no separation of powers, Control by the bureaucracy, failure to make prompt decisions, etc.

  • The first parliamentary system of government was formed in Great Britain between 1707 and 1800. Later, after gaining independence in 1947, India adopted this form of government at both states and central levels.

  • The United States is the originator and primary example of the presidential form of government, a model that is followed in only a few other democracies, such as Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and the Philippines.

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