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Parliamentary Form of Government: Features, Merits, Demerits | Parliamentary System

By Balaji

Updated on: February 17th, 2023

A Parliamentary form of government is a democratic system where the political party having a majority or the most significant representation in the Parliament forms the government. The leader of this party becomes the Prime Minister of the country and chooses his cabinet of ministers to perform various functions in this parliamentary form of government.

The remaining parties with a minority of votes form the opposition. These opposition parties can challenge the ruling party wherever they find it suitable on certain grounds. In the Parliamentary form of government, Prime Minister chooses the members of the Parliament as the cabinet ministers.

Table of content

(more)
  • 1. What is the Parliamentary Form of Government? (more)
  • 2. Features of the Parliamentary Form of Government (more)
  • 3. Benefits of the Parliamentary Form of Government (more)
  • 4. Demerits of the Parliamentary Form of Government (more)
  • 5. Why did India adopt a Parliamentary System of Government? (more)
  • 6. Parliamentary Form of Government Constitutional Provisions (more)
  • 7. Parliamentary System UPSC (more)

What is the Parliamentary Form of Government?

A Parliamentary form of government is also known as a Cabinet Government or Parliamentary Democracy. As is evident from the name, this government is based on the Parliamentary system which means the Parliament House is the centre point of all major decisions that are made towards the better administration of the country.

The Parliament possesses complete authority in a Parliamentary form of government. The party that achieves a majority in the parliament during elections is given the power to form the government. The leader is chosen from the Parliament as the Prime Minister and he/she further chooses the members of Parliament as cabinet members.

Meaning of Parliamentary Form of Government

The Parliamentary form of government is the result of a strong equation between the legislature and administration. The concept of the Parliamentary system of government originated in the United Kingdom which led to the creation of the British Parliament.

The power in the Parliamentary form of government is held by the Head of Government, i.e. the Prime Minister. He runs the country. He/she is responsible for all the major decisions and actions to be taken in order to maintain law and order in the country. There is also a Head of State in the Parliamentary system who like the Queen / King is only a kind of figurehead and does not take part in political matters or legislation on a regular basis.

In India, the Head of State is known as the President who does not hold equal power as the Prime Minister and does not participate in the day-to-day decision-making of the Parliamentary form of government.

Features of the Parliamentary Form of Government

The Parliamentary system of government in India has been inspired by the United Kingdom. This is the reason why the constitution of India was framed which is the holy grail of the Parliamentary form of government. Here the powers of the parliament are also divided between the legislature and the executive. The important features of the Parliamentary government are listed 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 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.
  • Bicameral Legislature: The Parliament is bicameral which means it consists of two houses: the Lower House or Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha or the Upper House. The election of members to each of the houses is done by two different procedures.
  • Election of the PM: The Prime Minister in a Parliamentary form of government is elected by the President which is mentioned in Article 75 of the constitution of India.
  • Rule of Majority: The Parliamentary system allows the party having a majority in the Lok Sabha to form the government. Further, the leader of the party is invited by the President to form the government. In the case where none of the parties attains a majority, the President proposes a coalition government.
  • Maintenance of Secrecy: It is required from all cabinet ministers & other members of the Parliament to refrain from discussing the Parliament proceedings outside.
  • Mutual Responsibility of the Ministers: A major feature of the Parliamentary form of government is that the council of ministers are all responsible to the Parliament mutually. In adverse circumstances, the Lok Sabha can introduce a no-confidence motion and uproot the existing government.
  • 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.

Benefits of the Parliamentary Form of Government

The Parliamentary form of government refers to the concept of Parliament being the highest authority. It consists of a bicameral legislature. There are many challenges as well as benefits of the Parliamentary system. The benefits of the Parliamentary form of government are as follows.

  • The Parliamentary government is a representative of the diversity of a country like India. It provides encouraging opportunities for people of all ethnicities, cultures and ideologies to participate in the lawmaking and administration of the country.
  • This system of government is flexible and can be moulded as per the circumstances and for the benefit of the people.
  • The Parliamentary system in India allows the legislators to question the executive and raise concerns if something isn’t going right.
  • In this particular system of government, there is no scope for authoritarianism. The whole group of cabinet ministers are jointly responsible and accountable for their actions to the Parliament.
  • The Parliamentary form of government also facilitates the possibility of an alternate government in case of the Lok Sabha passing a no-confidence motion in Parliament.

Demerits of the Parliamentary Form of Government

As is evident from the above discussion that the Parliamentary form of government possesses several benefits and advantages. Apart from these advantages, there also are disadvantages to this system that have been discussed below.

  • In this case of the government, the irregularities in the distribution of power often may lead to certain unwanted circumstances. The lawmakers are at times unable to impose their right decisions due to various reasons.
  • The Parliamentary government mostly leads to the sidelining of the public’s interests in order to focus on maintaining the ruling party’s position.
  • Politics within the party is a major concern for the legislators which deviates them from thinking of the public sphere.
  • Control of the Bureaucracy is high in the Parliamentary form of government. This leads to a negative effect on the decision-making process of the government.

Why did India adopt a Parliamentary System of Government?

India is a diverse country which was ruled by the Britishers for a long period of time. The British supremacy on the Indian land left some strong impressions and effects on the way the country is governed today. The main reason behind Indian democracy becoming a Parliamentary form of government was the strong influence of the British system of governance.

As Indian leaders were very much acquainted with the British system of Parliamentary government, adopting the system was an easy option. While framing the Indian Constitution, the Constituent Assembly members related to the British administration and felt suitable to incorporate this system into the Indian administration.

Click here to learn about the Presidential form of government.

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.

Parliamentary System UPSC

The Parliamentary system of government in India has been inspired by the British Parliament and serves right of a country as large and diverse as India. The topic is extremely important for the candidates preparing for the UPSC exam and therefore should be well aware of all the necessary and key points related to the Parliamentary form of government.

Before starting with the exam preparation, it is important to scan the complete UPSC Syllabus and check for all the changes (if any) and the entire structure of the exam including the essential topics.

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