PARLIAMENTARY AND PRESIDENTIAL
Q. 1. Write an essay on Cabinet Government or parliamentary government.
Ans. On the basis of relationship between the executive and the legislature, democratic governments may be classified into two types : cabinet and presidential. The cabinet system is characterised by a real executive responsible to and removable by the legislature. Under the presidential system the real executive is non-parliamentary action. Thus,
broadly speaking, cabinet government is founded on a fusion of executive
and legislative powers, and presidential government on a separation of these powers. The former is traditionally associated with the government of Great Britain, while the United States offers the classic example of the latter.
Cabinet Government : Its Mode of Operation
An intimate relationship between the executive and the legislative branches of government is the essence of the cabinet system. Hence, Bagebot described the cabinet in Great Britain as “a hyphen that joins, a buckle that fastens, the executive and legislative departments together.” The members of the cabinet or ministry constitute the executive, as they are the heads of the administrative departments. Usually, they are members of the legislature and are legally responsible to it. Thus, the cabinet may well be looked at as almost a committee of the legislature.
Really speaking, the cabinet is a committee of the party that has a majority in the legislature. The members of the cabinet are usually leaders of the majority party in the legislature. They come to the legislature with a programme, a well-knit majority to support it, and a mandate from the electorate to implement the programme with the help of the majority. The ministers hold office so long as they are supported by the majority of the members of the legislature or rather of that chamber of the legislature to which they are responsible. If the legislature express’s its lack of confidence in the cabinet by a direct vote of censure or a refusal to pass more vital measures, the cabinet resigns or counsels dissolution of the chamber to which it is responsible. A move for dissolution is accompanied by an appeal to the electorate for returning the government party to power. A fresh election is held and if the verdict of the electorate goes in its favour, the cabinet continues in office. An unfavourable verdict would, however, compel the cabinet to go out of office.
The prime minister presides over the cabinet meetings, and comes to the help of the ministers inside the legislature. As the leader of the party he has complete grip over the party machinery. In essence, the cabinet system turns out to be the rule of one man, the prime minister. Pre-requisites of Cabinet Government
It is the essence of the cabinet system that the executive branch of government is linked with the legislature. The cabinet which is the real executive leads the legislature and provides it with the policies upon which decisions are to be taken. “However”, as Neumann observes,
“There are certain pre-requisites without which cabinet government easily turns into something quite different.” The first pre-requisite is a clear and stable majority in the legislature by which the programmes and policies of the cabinet are backed. That implies in general, a two-party system. Executive leadership of the legislature becomes frictionless only when the cabinet is sure that its policies will be supported by the majority of its followers in the legislature. Effective leadership and definite governmental programme can hardly be achieved in a country where a multiplicity of political parties characterises the political system. In such circumstances, it becomes difficult for anyone political party to obtain a safe majority in the legislature. Ultimately, coalition government is formed on the basis, of ad hoc agreement among the political parties. The ineffectiveness and instability of such governments have been nowhere more clearly revealed than in post-war France.
Secondly, a certain degree of moderation among the political parties competing for political power is essential for the success of the cabinet system. After all, democracy, as Barker remarks, is based as much on the battle of ideas as on the marriage of minds. Hence, the parties competing for political power must observe certain common codes of behaviour. While differing in policies, they should unite on fundamental issues. In the absence of such an understanding, the parties seek to obtain certain political results by all means, fair or foul. Every trick is applied and every method of obstruction is adopted in course of which the codes of orderly government are sacrificed at the altar of party interests. In such circumstances, cabinet system can hardly function at all. In India, the widespread prevalence of separatist, extremist, and anti-democratic forces have led some critics, perhaps not without justification, to express doubts about the permanence of the Indian parliamentary system.
Thirdly, it is believed in some quarters that the power of dissolution is also necessary for the smooth operation of the cabinet system of government. The cabinet system functions well so long as the cabinet is in a position to lead the legislature. If however, a dead-lock occurs between the legislature and the executive, the system fails to operate successfully. On certain issues, tension may rise so high that the cabinet and the legislature will be at loggerheads. In such moments of indecision, judicious use of the power of dissolution may help restore normalcy. The legislature may be dissolved and a new election held to receive a Qesh mandate from the people. The underlying principle is ultimately
to approach the electorate in case of serious deadlock between the legislature and the executive.
Lastly, the existence of a powerful and responsible opposition is an important condition for the success of the cabinet system. The tendency of the governing class to grow despotic is a well-known historical fast. In the presidential system the effective means of restraint can be discovered in the elaborate system of checks and balances, such mechanical check on governmental authority is absent in the cabinet form of government where there is a fusion of the executive and the legislative powers. Here the restraining device can be found in a strong and vigilant opposition which acts as a counter weight against executive tyranny.
Characteristics of the Cabinet System
Following the salient features of the cabinet system in Great Britain it may be said that the cabinet consists of the members of the majority party in legislature, who hold the same political views, followed united policy under a common responsibility to be signified by collective resignation in the event of parliamentary censure, and acknowledge a common sub-ordination to one chief minister. In brief, ‘homogeneity’ , solidarity, and common loyalty to a chief, are the essential features of a cabinet system of government.
In a cabinet type of the government the head of the state and the head of the government are separate and distinct. In other words, a distinction is made between the nominal executive and the real executive. Legally the executive power is vested in the chief executive. In fact, however, it rests with the cabinet. Thus, the chief executive or the head of the state is the nominal executive, and the cabinet is the real executive. In England, the king or queen occupies the former position and the cabinet the latter, and the distinction is a matter of convention. In India, the Constitution provides in Article 53 (1) that the executive power of the Union shall be vested in the President. Again in Article 74 (1) the Constitution declares that there shall be a Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister at the head to aid and advise the President in the exercise of his functions. Broadly speaking, the President, though legally the supreme executive head, is really the nominal executive ; the Council of Ministers acts, in fact, as the real executive.
Secondly, the cabinet system implies that ministers, who are the heads of administrative departments are at the same time members of the legislature. In most countries with cabinet system, the ministers,
while serving individually as executive heads and collectively as the national executive, are also legislators. Thus, the Indian Constitution provides in Articles 75 (5) that a Minister who for any period of six consecutive months is not a member of either House of Parliament shall at the expiration of that period cease to be a Minister.’
Thirdly, the real executive, the ministry or cabinet, under a cabinet system is politically homogeneous. The ministers are usually the leaders of a political party. They follow the party programme are are backed by a comfortable majority inside the legislature. The bond of party unity binds the ministers together, and they come and go as a unit..
Fourthly, all cabinets are at least in theory responsible to and removable by the legislature. Hence, ministerial responsibility to the legislature is an essential feature of the cabinet system of government. This responsibility is, however, usually owed to the lower house. In Great Britain, that has become a convention. In India, too, under Article 75 (3) of the Constitution, ministerial responsibility has been confined to the House of the People. In some countries, as in Italy, the cabinet is responsible to both houses of the legislature. There are various methods by which the legislature ensures ministerial responsibility. Adjournment motions, decisions on departmental reports, questions, budget discussion, these are some of the common method by which the legislature holds the cabinet responsible. The most important device at the disposal of the legislature for ensuring ministerial responsibility is a motion of no-confidence which, if accepted, will result in the overthrow of the cabinet.
Fifthly, common subordination of the members of the cabinet or ministry to one chief is an essential characteristic of the cabinet system. As the leader of the partly that commands the majority in the legislature and thus in fact as the leader of the legislature and as the head of the ministry the prime minister leads the council of ministers, the legislature and the nation The other members of the ministry are, in fact, the nominees of the prime minister. Merits of Cabinet System
The cabinet system, so aptly characterised by Bagehot as the knuckle joint involves a conjunction of the executive and the legislature. These two organs of government are necessarily related and their collaboration becomes most effective under a cabinet system of. “It secures”, to quote Laski, “an essential co-ordination between bodies whose creative interplay is the condition of executive government.” As
the parliamentary leaders are also the head of the trecutive, this harmonious co-operation between legislature and executive ensures efficiency. The inembers of the cabinet, since they are backed by majority. in the legislature, introduce bills of their choice and get these passed quite easily. Moreover, the presence of the cabinet inside the legislature gives to the latter’s activities a direction. Modern legislatures have to deal with a mass of statutes. Without some sort of leadership, therefore, everything would be in a mess. The cabinet systeni provides such leadership. As Laski writes, “The executive as a committee of the legislature has an opportunity to drive a stream of tendency througe affairs.”,
Secondly, a great merit of the cabinet system is that it makes the executive responsible. Under this system the legislature keeps an eye on the cabinet, and in case the legislature loses confidence in the cabinet, the later may be turned out of office. Besides, this system ensures the responsibility of the cabinet to the electorate. As Bryce observed, “Being in constant contact with members of the opposition partly as well as in still closer contact with those of their own they have opportunities of feeling the pulse of the assembly and ‘through it the pulse of public opinion.” Thus, in case of a dead-loc!: between the cabinet and the legislature, the former may dissolve the latter and appeal directly to the people. The cabinet’s right to dissolve the legislatures makes it clear that it is ultimately responsible to the electorate.
Thirdly, authorities like Bagehot and Dicey have pointed out the flexibility and elasticity of the cabinet system of government. In times of crisis the nation requires able men at the helm of affairs. Hence, the governmental system should be flexible enough to adapt itself to the changing situation. It must be able to draw the right man at the right moment. Since the cabinet system does not involve a fixed tenure of the executive it makes room for the choice of suitable leaders in moments of crisis. Under the American system, on the other hand, the President enjoys fixed tenure. “There is” as Bagehot remarked, “no elastic element ; everything is rigid, specified, stated.”
Lastly, the cabinet system affords the executive in initiative in legislation, and the continuous presence of the executive inside the legislature enables the former to be thoroughly conversant with the work it has to perform. As Laski observes, “The average American President represents, at the best, a leap in the dark; his average cabinet rarely represents anything at all. But the average member of an English
Cabinet has been tried and tested over a long period in the public view. He has the ‘feel of his task long before the comes to the task.” . Demerits of Cabinet System
The cabinet system, as its critics point out, violates the sacred principle of separation of powers by establishing intimate contact between the executive and the legislature. Following Montesquieu’s argument, it is observed that such intimacy is apt to endanger liberty.
Secondly, it is alleged that since political homogeneity is a characteristic of the cabinet, the control of affairs by men belonging to a single political party lends of a partisan complexion to administration.
Thirdly, the cabinet system of government is supposed to be the breeding ground of nasty party-conflicts. As Bryce observed it “intensifies the spirit of party and keeps it always on the boil. Even if there are no important issues of policy before the nation there are always the offices to be fought for. One party holds them, the other desires them, and the conflict is unending – it is like the incessant battle described as going on in the blood vessels between the red corpuscles and the invading microbes.”
Fourthly, it is pointed out that the cabinet type of executive can hardly adopt and implement a long term plan for development. As the executive has no fixed term and lives instead at the mercy of the legislature, it does not venture to embark upon any durable projects.
Fifthly, the charge of ‘cabinet dictatorship’ has been levelled against this system. It is alleged that a small body of men with the backing of a solid majority in the legislature care little for the will of the legislators and the wishes of the electorate. The firm control of the cabinet over the legislature enables the former to pass a law of its own choice and obstruct the passage of a measures which it does not like. Public opinion has no opportunity or power to bring its effective pressure to bear on legislation. “Thus it is sometimes charged that Great Britain practises a form of ‘plebiscitary democracy in which people vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on the record of the government in general but are deprived of any share in the formulation of individual policies.”
The charge of cabinet dictatorship is not without foundation. But, as Lowell wrote, “if the parliamentary system has made the cabinet of the day autocratic, it is an autocracy exerted with the utmost publicity, under a constant fire of criticism.” The extent to which a cabinet in practice abuses power depends on the presence or absence of suitable checks on its operation. An unrestrained cabinet is apt to be a despot, the public awareness of this danger may well arrest such a development.
Q. 2. Write the characteristics of presidential government.
Ans. Presidential System of Government Characteristics
To quote Garner, “What has been called ‘presidential government, as contra-distinguished from cabinet_or parliamentary government, is that system in which the executive (including both the head of the state and his ministers) is constitutionally independent of the legislature in respect to the duration of his or their tenure and irresponsible to it for his or their political policies.” A general separation of the executive from the legislature, under this form of government, is made by the constitution itself..
The term ‘presidential government has been widely used mainly because of the identification of this system with the American presidency. But this term is, to some extent, misleading. For, an elected president, as in India, may be just a formal or nominal executive, and the real executive powers may, in such a case, lie in the hands of a cabinet responsible to the legislature. Such provisions, however, do not make a presidential system. In fact, what concerns us in distinguishing this type of government is not the existence of a president as such, but the role of “an elected real executive unmovable by the action of the legislature.” As the executive is independent of the legislature and the latter is powerless to shorten the term of the former, it makes for the fixity of the executive. Because of this peculiarity, it is proper to call this type of government the fixed executive system rather than the ‘presidential system. Working of Non-Parliamentary or Fixed Executive System
The Constitution of the United States is usually quoted as the leading example of a constitution embodying the non-parliamentary or fixed executive system. The system also operates in most states of Latin America. It is characteristics of this system of government that what the constitution states as belonging to the executive branch really does belong to the office of the person elected to carry it out. The real of working executive is also the titular executive, and thus, no such distinction is made between the nominal executive and the real executive as is found in the parliamentary system. When the Constitution of the United States says, “The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.” (Art. II, Sec. I), it sets up a real executive who would actually exercise the powers which the constitution
and laws confer upon him. Here it differs significantly from a similar-looking provision of the Indian Constitution [Art.53(1)] states : “The Executive power of the Union shall be vested in the President” : Unlike the American President, the Indian President ha. a Council of Ministers, constitutionally provided to aid and advise the President in the exercise of his functions. The powers, stated in the Indian Constitution, do, in fact, belong to the Council of Ministers – removable by the House of the People. Hence, broadly speaking, the Indian President becomes, in reality, a nominal executive like the British king or queen.
In the absence of any distinction between the nominal executive and the real executive, the chief executive, under the non-parliamentary or fixed executive system, makes all cabinet members his assistants who are denied the independent status enjoyed by the ministers in a parliamentary form of government. Thus, in the United States, the heads of executive departments and administrative agencies are appointed by the President and are removable by him. Such ‘cabinet’ members are, however, not members of the legislature, and are not in anyway responsible to it. Unlike the cabinet under a parliamentary system, they do not lead the legislature by preparing, introducing and advocating measures inside the legislative chamber for their enactment into laws. The cabinet members are merely the servants of the President, the chief executive, and not of the legislature. They are politically responsible only to the President.
Under the non-parliamentary or fixed executive system, the real executive is beyond legislative control. No vote of censure, or want of confidence can have any legal effect on the executive. It is not subject to removal be parliamentary action, and is responsible only to the electorate. The legislature may of course impeach the executive for actual misconduct in exceptional cases, but the executive is not in any way responsible to the legislature for its acts and policies. Whether the executive stays or goes depends not on the will of the legislature, but solely on the will of the people, as expressed in periodical election..
In countries with non-parliamentary or fixed executive system the principle of separation of powers seems to be adopted with some rigidity. At least in theory the executive and legislative branches of government arc strictly separated in such countries. Such separation, however, does not altogether rule out executive messages and recommendations to the
legislature, the veto and the summoning of special sessions. Also, the legislature has a share in the conduct of executive business, such as the making of appointments and treaties and the supervision administration. Merits of Presidential System
The presidential system, as it involves as an almost complete separation of the executive and the legislature, faithfully conforms to the principle of separation of powers. Thus it safeguards the liberty of
In the second place, the fixed tenure of the executive gives it a greater sense of stability. This element of stability encourages the executive to launch a long-term plan which can be easily carried through “without the danger of being upset by a sudden change of government.” Thus, as Marriott observed, the executive, without being distracted by a prying legislature, may devote attention to its specific function and gain in administrative efficiency.
In the third place, the presidential system, owing to the conceniration of executive authority in a few hands, ensures speedy execution of policies. Hence, it is highly effective in times of emergencies like war and economic depression.
In the fourth place, as Bryce maintained “legislatures are less dominated by party spirit under the presidential system than under the cabinet system.” Demerits of Presidential System
The chief defect of the presidential system lies, as Bryce pointed out, “in the forcible disjunction of things naturally connected.” As the executive and the legislature are co-ordinate branches of goverument, the system divides responsibility altogether. The executive lives in ‘awkward independence and the legislature pursues its own line of policy. Each shifts responsibility to the other, and a dead-lock follows which can be relieved only by a distant election.
In the second place, the freedom of the chief executive from legislative cannot is apt to breed executive irresponsibility and autocracy. The executive is not accountable to the legislature for its actions, nor can the former be removed during its tenure of office by the later. The security of tenure combined with the freedom from responsibility provides enough encouragement to override legislative and popular wills ; for after all, the executive knows it well that the commission of an SS Scanned with irresponsible act would leave it untouched.
In the third place, the disharmony between the executive and the legislature as the American system abundantly proves, leads to wastefulness and inefficiency. When the two branches are at logger-head no common policy becomes possible. Each is deprived of the other’s necessary assistance. As Finer remarks with reference to the American system, it “severs executive knowledge from Congressional law-making, and executive administration of the laws from the direct everyday impact of those who have made them; and that separates the making of policy from its fulfilment. This is the normal predicament, even where a President and his party are well in the saddle in both Houses.”
In the fourth place, the fixity of tenure and the stability of the executive make the presidential system of government extremely rigid. The executive office goes by calendar. Everything happens in accordance with the provisions elaborately prescribed by the constitution. No danger, ño crisis can melt the inflexible constitutional rules.
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