Presidential Form of Government: Features, Demerits, Merits, Presidential System

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

The Presidential form of government is the kind of government where the President holds the executive power and complete authority over the functioning and administration of the country. This system is also known as the single executive system. In this system of government, the President is independent of the legislature on a constitutional basis.

The President is the Head of State in a parliamentary government but in the case of a Presidential form of government, he acts both as the Head of State and Head of Government. The United States is governed by the Presidential system. This system was originated by the founders of America as they wished to bring an alternative to the Parliamentary system.

What is the Presidential Form of Government?

A Presidential system of government provides complete power to the President of the nation. Unlike in the Parliamentary form of government, where the Prime Minister possesses all the executive authority, here the President controls the administration and functioning of the government and is the Head of the Government along with being the Head of State.

The Presidential form of government is very much different from the Parliamentary government in the sense that here the head of the government is elected by an elected legislature. In the nations following this system of government, the President is elected contrary to the Parliamentary system and he/she is not accountable to the legislature.

Presidential Form of Government Examples

The Presidential system is followed in many countries in the world. One of the most prominent examples of this system is the government of the United States of America. The US Government works completely on this principle and the President governs the country. Some other examples of the Presidential form of government are

  • Sri Lanka
  • Brazil
  • South Korea
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Angola
  • Maldives
  • Mexico
  • Nigeria

Features of the Presidential System of Government

The Presidential system of the USA is clearly not authoritarian as is argued at times. There has not been a single instance where the President has faced any accusation related to autocratic behaviour. The features of the Presidential form of government have been listed below:

  • Head of the State – The President is not only the Head of State but also the Head of Government. He is the actual head of the executive branch in the Presidential form of government.
  • Dissociation of Powers – The Presidential system functions on the main principle of dissociation or separation of powers. It does not work on the idea of providing powers to a group of people such as the council of ministers.
  • Election of the Leader – The Head of the Government is elected either by the people or through an elected legislature.
  • The Principle of Checks and balances – Although all the government organs are separate from each other, they still have the authority to check & object to any unlawful act of their counterparts.
  • Political Homogeneity – The Presidential form of government encourages variety and does not adhere to the principle of homogeneity in the cabinet. The members can be from different political parties.

Merits of Presidential Form of Government

One of the best benefits of a Presidential system is that it can prove to be the most appropriate solution in an emergency situation. Some of the other merits of the Presidential form 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.

Demerits of Presidential Form of Government

Apart from all the advantages that the Presidential system has, it also possesses many disadvantages. A few of the demerits of the Presidential form of government have been discussed below:

  • Risk of despotism – The President is the only Head of the State and the Government which increases the risk of him becoming despotic. He enjoys absolute control and power over the whole country and his tenure is also fixed.
  • Possibility of a stand-off – Due to the power separation between the executive and legislative branches, there is always a possibility of a rift between the two organs of the government.
  • Lack of flexibility – A Presidential form of government is often titled a rigid one. It is said to be of a non-flexible nature.
  • Faulty system – Owing to the separation of powers between the two branches of executive and legislative, there is a lack of harmony between the two. This leads to decreased efficiency of the system.

Role of President in Presidential Form of Government

As is quite evident by the title, the Presidential form of government is completely dependent on the President. He is the chief executive who is usually elected by the people on a direct level. The President in this case has to perform various duties including the enforcement of laws, and policy-making.

The President is the one who has full control but is not have the ultimate power similar to what a Prime Minister holds in a Parliamentary system of government. Due to the division of power among all the three organs of government – executive, legislative, and judicial – there is no single person holding complete power.

Presidential Form of Government UPSC

The system of governance is an extremely important topic for Indian Polity students as well as those who are preparing for the prestigious UPSC exam. The topic of the Presidential form of government is a necessary read for the aspirants as it is an important part of the UPSC syllabus.

  • The Presidential government is practised in several countries just like the Parliamentary system.
  • Often this system is misunderstood as an autocratic government owing to the President owning absolute power.
  • President here is the Head of State as well as the Head of Government and acts as the chief executive.
  • The leader in a Presidential form of government is elected by the people directly and in some cases by an elected legislature.
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