The presidential and parliamentary systems of governance differ markedly particularly at the high positions of power. America uses the presidential system. In such a system, the political, and leadership roles are well shared or distributed among the executive, the judiciary and the legislature. The president is the head of government and is elected directly by the general public. To enhance governance, the president, appoints a cabinet to run the various government ministries. The composition of the cabinet is made by expatriates in different field who are not members of the congress. This system allows for separation of powers between the executive and the legislature with each acting independently. The United State’s presidency is relatively strong in terms of control of governing structures although the constitution has in place well outlined checks and balances as well as the legislature mandate to act as a watchman of the executive to avoid mis use of powers.
The president has no authority over the legislature and can therefore not nominate or remove any member of the legislature. The president can only be removed from office through a vote of no confidence initiated by the legislature. Due to the lack of link between the presidency and the legislature, the president would still remain in office even if his party for one reason or another gets a minority in the legislative chamber. On the issue of legislation, under the presidential system, it is the responsibility of the legislature to formulate and introduce bills. In case the executive formulates a law, it has to be introduced on the floor of the house by a legislative member. The legislature is also responsible for amendments to laws.
The parliamentary system is characterized by a sharing of powers between the executive and the legislature. The head of the government is a prime minister and is also the leader of the party with a majority votes in the legislative assembly. The prime minister is chosen by the legislative members and raises to such a portfolio through campaign among the members of his/her party.
The cabinet is appointed by the prime minister from among the members of the legislature. This integration of the executive and the legislative branches means that should the ruling party lose the majority threshold in the legislature, the executive would automatically change.
The prime minister can be removed from office either through a vote of `no-confidence’ or by party members outside legislative domain. The no confidence vote is usually introduced by the opposition as a show of lack of confidence in the prime minister and his/ her cabinet ministers to continue serving as government and if it passes by the required margin, the prime minister and his cabinet steps down and new elections are held. The party members may also remove the prime minister from office without involving the legislature. In the latter case, no new elections are held. This may arise when the head of government fails the accountability credentials test as stipulated by the nation’s constitution or party doctrines. In formulation of legislation, the executive carries the chief mandate to formulate and introduce bills to parliament for discussion and the eventual passage.
Both presidential and parliamentary systems offer various ways the executive can form after Parliamentary elections. If a party does not get an outright majority in an election, a merger can be formed between the party and another or others to qualify to form a government. The party that wins the outright majority in parliamentary or general elections in most cases forms the government. Political parties, interest groups and social movements have been part and parcel of political structures in many countries. The political parties determine the leadership of a nation as well as the policies to govern. Specific interest groups such as labour and trade unions and social movements also play a role in formulation of governing structures by advocating for inclusion of their specific interests in policy formulation. The major difference is that they do not involve in any political issues. The major goal of the interest groups is to have their interests included in government planning. Members join such groups to benefit from the scale of representation and acquire a significant bargaining power. Interest groups come in different forms; social, economic and human rights. The economic interest groups have a privileged position at the negotiation table since they play a pivotal role in shaping the economic destiny of a nation, a very important aspect to any ruling class.
The Duverger’s law is a principle which asserts that a plurality rule election system only acts to favour a two party system. The reasons given for this are; it results in fusion of weak parties as well as elimination of weak parties by the voters since the voters possess a feeling that the weak parties will lose anyway. An example is the domination of two political parties in the US since 1824. As of 2004, the two dominant parties garnered 50.7% and 48.3% of the votes with all other parties combined getting a negligible 1%.
Constitutional monarchy means a monarch acts as head of state but within the limits of the constitution. In such a monarchy, the government uses the parliamentary system and the monarch only enjoys ceremonial powers. In a republic, the president or prime minister is democratically elected by the people. A coalition government is formed through cooperation of political parties. It’s only formed under specific conditions such as economic or political crisis and when no party wins an outright majority votes. The parties that form coalition governments must share ideologies and their union must be focused on achieving a particular objective. The parties must also reach the set threshold to form a government.
Political support is necessary in an electoral system. The electorate observes the issues addressed in manifestos of political parties to determine which party represents their ideologies both short term and long term. The funnel of causality is a model to explain decision making among people about an issue such as political decision. The funnel works in such a way that, problems affecting the general public trickle down to the high position of power such as the presidency who in turn is forced to make or implement a decision to solve or alleviate that problem. For example, in the US, the public represents the wide part of a funnel at the top, followed by the congress and other bodies that represent the people. At the bottom of the funnel represents the executive and finally the president, therefore, challenges affecting the populace filter downwards to the president’s office.
Different political systems exist in the world states. These include One- party system in which only one party is allowed by law and any form of political opposition is illegal. This system exists in communist republics such as North Korea and China. A two- party system is dominated by two parties. For example in America, only the republican and the democrats dominate the political landscape. Other parties exist but lack any significance. A multi-party system is characterized by more than two political parties. In such countries, the parties almost have equal chances of forming the government as in Italy and Germany. A dominant-party system differs markedly from a one party system. Despite the presence of other political parties, one party simply dominates to an extent that winning elections becomes a formality. An example is the domination of the conservative party in Britain under Margaret thatcher and John Major from 1979 to 1997.
Party families are groups of political parties from different nations who by virtue of sharing similar ideologies come together at the international stage to advance their common agenda. The conservatives for instance, favour maintaining the status quo and traditional setups and oppose change in fear that it would have negative impacts. Liberal democrats are socially and economically accommodating.Different political parties exist in the political arena with the most attractive being the catch-all or big tent party. This type of party is attractive as it accommodates diverse views and does not stick to a specific ideology. This aims to unite and bring on board different approaches in its mandate to realize its goals. In the US, the Republican Party used this approach in the 20th century bringing on board all interest groups.
Social movements arise in societies to advocate for good governance or to rise against societal evils. They are characterized by peaceful protests, civil disobedience and strikes. The Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004 began to oppose the presidential elections that were marred by voter intimidation, and massive corruption. Following a court’s appeal the loser of the run-off poll was elected overwhelmingly bringing an end to the revolution. There are various electoral systems that are in use in different countries. The commonest are proportional representation in which the number of seats won by a party is equivalent to the votes received. The system is an alternative to the single member district (SMD) which produces disproportionate representation and only favour the large political parties in terms of threshold, proportionality and bloc representation.
Elections play a role in democratic systems of government and not in autocratic systems. The democratic system is representation of people by the people they have freely elected as opposed to autocratic systems in which an individual enjoys unlimited executive powers and may apply intimidation of the electorate to remain in or capture power. A divided government is a situation in which one party has control of the institution of presidency and another has control of one or both houses of congress. The situation is currently being experienced in the US under the leadership of Obama where the Republicans are in control of the congress while the democrats occupy the white house. This situation allows for more democratic space since the parties can negotiate on equal ground without intimidation from a higher office.
Legislative chambers in different countries are either unicameral or bicameral. A bicameral system is composed of two chambers. Each chamber represents different constituencies and interest groups. In the US, Germany and India there are the two chambers and also in other federal states. Unicameral chamber is a one chamber legislature and is the most common in the world. Portugal, Sweden and New Zealand are examples of countries with unicameral chamber of legislature
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