Parliamentary Democracy is a form of government in which the executive authority derives its legitimacy from the legislature’s support and confidence. Following that, the same legislative body holds it accountable. Most of the legislature’s members must approve the executive at any time. The party or coalition of parties with the most excellent representation in that legislative body forms the government in this system of governance. The party’s leader takes on the role of the chancellor or prime minister, while the other party leaders take on ministerial positions. This article will look at the benefits and drawbacks of Parliamentary Democracy.
List of Pros of Parliamentary Democracy
1. Encourages Frequent Elections.
Under this government system, most legislators must support the ruling party. Failure to maintain this majority means that the government lacks the necessary legitimacy and will be forced to call a special election. Furthermore, it allows citizens to demand prompt elections if the current government fails to meet expectations.
2. Prevents Dominance.
Two parties typically dominate pure presidential systems. This system works to keep such a problem from occurring. It allows anyone to form a political party and use it to compete for political power. As a result, everyone has an equal opportunity to hear his side of the story.
3. Upholds Diversity.
Closely related to the preceding is the issue of preserving Diversity of opinion in society, which can give each person a fair chance of having their voice heard. Furthermore, many political parties run on local platforms and issues rather than national issues, as is the norm for parties in purely presidential systems.
4. Bolsters Cooperation.
A party must win a clear majority of seats to be given the mandate to form a government. Failure to do so frequently necessitates the formation of a coalition between the parties. This coalition’s formation necessitates a relatively high level of cooperation and compromise, resulting in lower friction and abrasion among the various factions.
5. More Accountable.
This system is more accountable when all factors are considered than the pure presidential one. The ruling party is restrained both within and outside the legislative body, and constituent parties must hear their voices while the minority party checks the ruling party. Finally, the ceremonial head of state has a say in the ruling parties’ direction.
6. Boosts Political Compromise.
Each time a clear winner is not found or does not emerge in an election, the leading contenders are required to enter into a coalition. This, of course, requires some compromise as the parties will have to back down on some of their stances while at the same time embracing others. The total of all these is good for the entire nation or society.
7. Guarantees Active Participation.
Most people feel disenfranchised in a presidential system as, for a large part, only the voices of the majority reign supreme. A parliamentary system gives voice to all, regardless of how minuscule they may be as a percentage of the total population. Thus more people are generally incentivized to participate in the electoral process under this system.
8. Creates and Promotes Diversity.
The truth is most societies are diverse and highly disintegrated. Of all the political systems at the moment, only the parliamentary Democracy seems to capture this reality. This is mainly because it gives the different segments of society the leeway to send the representatives who hold their standpoints and opinions—that way, every segment of the society feels well taken care of.
9. Stops Societal Polarization.
Further to the above is that it stops the polarization of society. It is principally capable of serving different cadres of political parties concurrently rather than only two monolithic parties or viewpoints. For this reason, the system welcomes as many kinds of opinions as it can. The friction that may arise between the various factions is stopped considerably.
10. Puts a Limit to the Political Gridlock.
The pace at which the laws are passed under this system is faster than that of the pure presidential system. Before a bill is tabled in the legislative body, the same has to be deliberated upon by the party or the coalition of parties that form the government. Also, a ruling party enjoys a comfortable majority in the legislative body at any time. Thus, debates and votes are pure formalities.
11. More Responsible.
When all factors are considered, parliamentary Democracy is more responsive to the masses’ needs and cries. Other than the need to hold the majority at any given time, it is also subject to the vote of no confidence and other checks. People governed by this system are hence more satisfied with the services they receive from the government.
12. Guarantees Greater Stability.
Generally speaking, this form of governance is less prone to the risk of political instability, unlike, say, the pure presidential system. It is also less affected by the political coups, insurrections, and other issues that tend to make the nations ungovernable for a large part. This is evidenced by 90% of the 35 countries that have maintained stable and ongoing democracies globally having this system in place.
13. Enjoys Consistently High Approval Ratings.
Lending greater credence to the above, this system has enjoyed consistently high approval ratings. For instance, the approval rating of the US Congress has averaged a paltry 20%, whereas that of the UK parliament is at about 40%. Many hence seem to enjoy better services and a fairer degree of satisfaction when governed by the parliamentary system.
14. Allows for Easier Formation of Political Parties.
The political parties are the bedrock of parliamentary Democracy. As such, some safeguards and laws are specifically meant to facilitate the formation of these parties in such areas. One striking aspect of this is that a party need not necessarily have a more wide or national following to be registered or given a lease of life. Hence, each person has a fairer chance of having his side heard and incorporated.
15. Great for ethnically-diverse Societies.
Of all the political systems that be, none is as remarkable for the ethnically-diverse societies as parliamentary Democracy. The political power in this system is more uniformly divided and spread out than in the case of the pure presidential system. Moreover, the head of government does not wield absolute power and control, as with the pure presidential system.
16. Highly Adaptable.
Change is inevitable. Indeed, societies will often have to change and adapt to new realities from time to time. That calls for a fairer deal of flexibility on the part of the structures that are placed for governance. Parliamentary Democracy is, for a large part, more flexible and hence highly adaptable to change than the puree presidential system.
List of Cons of Parliamentary Democracy
1. Suppresses Minorities.
As explained above, the passage of a bill in this system is mainly a formality. The ruling party, which often enjoys a comfortable majority, usually deliberates on the provisions before the same is debated and voted on. Thus, the minority is only heard but never taken seriously or have their views incorporated into the final bills.
2. Reduces Influences of Local Concerns.
This form of governance reduces direct representations at the local levels. That is given its forcing of the elected officials to compromise their stands to rhyme with what the majority favors. Most often, these concerns are out of touch with the reality on the ground, and they may not address the plight of the governed as need be.
3. Encourages Inconsistency.
The form of government is quite unstable. If a party that constitutes a coalition of parties that make up the government falls out with the ideals of that coalition, a special election is held to fill the vacancy. The new leader may not have the same vision or plan as the one that existed before. This, of course, leads to some inconsistencies along the way.
4. Gives the Voters a Limited Sphere of Influence.
Under this system of governance, the voters do not have a say on who exactly becomes the head of state. In many instances, the legislature votes the head of state into power. Thus, citizens are essentially disenfranchised. They may also not have a say in the decisions and mandates of the head of state-issued.
5. Unpredictable Election Schedules.
Given that elections may be held at any time, this form of governance presents an unpredictable election schedule. People can go to vote without the prior announcement of the same. This is disruptive and costly as the frequency may often get too high and cost more.
6. Prone to Confusion and Mild Instability.
There is also bound to be confusion and mild instability in these unpredictable elections. We have already explained that a special election is triggered each time the ruling party lacks or loses the simple majority it is supposed to have. Then again, trouble may brew if the executive authority is kicked out or resigns before completing his entire term in office.
7. Highly Susceptible to Manipulations.
The parties that make up the ruling coalition may use the loopholes within the structure to manipulate the outcomes. They may, for instance, sabotage certain government operations, pull out of the coalition prematurely, or even team up with the opposition to betray the government in whichever shape or form. Those acts do not potentially bode well for the government and the smooth welfare of the people.
As seen from the preceding discussions, the benefits of this system far outweigh the drawbacks. If you are a policymaker or considering a governance change, this may be something to consider. However, it is not without flaws.
As a bonus, this system has governed most nations that have reported no coups within their ranks. Why not give it a shot for your own country? You, too, will be entitled to the same fantastic benefits! Is it too much to ask you to disseminate this information widely?