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Basic Government StructuresExecutive Branch• Elaborate, coordinate and implement legislature’s decisions• Sets agenda and priorities of government• Directs state ministries and departmentsGoverning BodyLegislative Branch• Assemblies of representatives – usually directly elected• Writes, reviews, debates, approves laws – legislation may come from executive• Oversee the Executive Branch – review, scrutinize, criticizeLegal BodyJudicial Branch• Intended to be “above” politics – neutral and impartial• Legal Institutions monitoring and enforcing laws – interpret and rule on disputes• Courts, Judges & supporting staff (Judiciary)
Parliamentary Systems Only one elected body – the Parliament Its bills/resolutions are lawAppointed Judiciary (Courts)Judges Appointed by Cabinet Usually Independent JudiciaryAppointed Executive CabinetMinisters (usually drawn from MP’s) Direct/Oversee DepartmentsElected Legislative ParliamentRepresentatives (MP’s) but can bemore than one houseMeet in whole/committee
Parliamentary SystemsExecutive Executive power is held in a cabinet Cabinet only serves as long as there is confidencefrom the parliament A “Vote of Confidence” can be called at any time, and amajority vote can unseat the existing cabinet (“governmentfails”) – this requires that a new government be formed But the cabinet can also hold the parliament in check. Theleader of the cabinet (Prime minister, premiere, etc.) candisband a parliament and call for new elections.
Advantages of ParliamentarySystems Unified government Greater intra-party discipline/cooperation Support of majority of Parliament is reaffirmed Executive and Legislature overlap – high coordination No veto power and typically no judicial review Clear lines of responsibility Governing party is responsible for blame/reward ofgovernment policies, decisions, consequences
Disadvantages ofParliamentary Systems Limited Separation of Powers (Cabinet) Judicial review and veto power can prevent badlegislation – but are limited/absent in Parliament Minority parties and rights can be trampled Example: Arbitrarily limiting debate (majority party) In absence of a “majority” government, instabilitycan be constant Coalitions usually formed Repeated political crises of “confidence” votes
Committees Non-parliamentary systems are committee dominated–they have the power, and they can easily obstructthe work of government. Strong committees in a parliamentary system wouldweaken central unity – Strong leadership is importantto parliamentary systems Consequently, in Britain, for example, there are nostanding committees per se, but ad hoc committeesfor each bill. No permanent staff and no openhearings, etc. The parliament itself tries to maintain the open spirit ofdebate
Presidential Systems The key distinction is the Separation ofPowers Separation of Powers(Executive/Legislative do not overlap) Doctrine and Checks and Balances Executive + Legislative + Judiciary must pass abill before it comes into force of law Differences in party systems, structures,politics and electoral processes
Contrasts Between SystemsParliamentary System Policy Issues Leadership more diffuse Responsibility very clear Comprehensive legislation &practices easier to achieve Government Leaders PM – leader of political partywith most seats Party leader appeals to partymembers Heavy power in PM’s OfficePresidential System Policy Issues Leadership Very High Responsibility harder toattribute Comprehensive legislation &practices harder to achieve Government Leaders Directly elected president President must appeal tomajority of voters Head of legislative houses bynumber of party seats Heavy power in presidentBUT: Pres. Can be blocked(“Lame Duck President”)
Contrasts Between SystemsParliamentary System Discourse/Debates Take place betweenelected members… alongparty lines To pass a bill publicdiscussion can be limited Can you spot why? Executive & Legislature areby structure and definitioncooperative Cooperation is the normPresidential System Discourse/Debates Takes place betweenelected members Takes place betweenExecutive and Legislature To pass a bill publicdiscussion must take place Executive & Legislaturemay be cooperative but areby structure & definition a“check & balance” Confrontation is the norm
Contrasts Between SystemsParliamentary System Symbolic/Political Aspects Elections may happen at any time Head of State is somebody else Executive is not directly elected Between elections there isrecourse for removing governmentfrom power Not necessarilydemocratic May be powerless in anauthoritarian state Elections /= DemocracyPresidential System Symbolic/Political Aspects Elections are on fixed dates Head of State is usually President Executive is directly elected(partially) Between elections there is littlerecourse to removing governmentfrom power Not necessarilydemocratic May be powerless in anauthoritarian state Elections /= Democracy