Virtual Kollage: The advantages and disadvantages of a parliamentary system of Government

Posted by / Wednesday, 6 April 2016 / No comments

The advantages and disadvantages of a parliamentary system of Government

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ADVANTAGES OF PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM
It reduces the workload
In a parliamentary system, there exists a dual executive. In other words, there is a Head of State and head of government. It is easy, therefore for the two executives to share the functions of the executive between them. The sharing of the workload makes the work less heavy for the two of them.

Ensures Continuity in government
Where there is a change in government, the Head of State does not leave office. Only the head of government does, with his entire government. The advantage is that, there is someone to hold the state together until a new government is formed. It therefore ensures that there is a peaceful transfer of power from one government to another.

Loyalty to the state
The position of the Head of State is non-partisan or, at least, expected to be. Therefore, the Head of State is an embodiment of the states. For this reason, the citizens tend to be loyal to the Head of State who embodies the state.

Less likely to become dictatorial
One of the features of a parliamentary system of government is the existence of an official opposition.One of the main duties of the opposition is to keep the government in check. Once the government is kept in check, the leader is less likely to degenerate into a dictator. Another feature of the parliamentary system that helps to prevent dictatorship is the dual executive. The two executives  act as a check on each other thereby preventing the rise of a dictatorship.

Less expensive
In a parliamentary system of government, the parliamentary candidates vie for the seats in their constituency and after that the party that wins the majority seat is asked to form the next government led by the Prime Minister. The advantage is that there is only one level of election and therefore less expenditure to incur.

Ensures responsible governance
In a parliamentary system, the entire cabinet is collectively responsible to parliament for all their actions. Parliament is a representative of the people and they have the power to pass a vote of no confidence in the cabinet if it no longer enjoy their support. In which case, the government must resign en-bloc to be replaced by another. The fear that it could be driven out of power for non-performance, compels them ensure that the needs of the people are met.

Brexit, Uk, Eu, Westminster, Parliament
DISADVANTAGES OF PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM
Expensive to operate 
The dual nature of the executive in the Parliamentary system of government creates more expenses as the office of the Prime Minister and of the President or the Queen, must both be catered for in terms of the provision of facilities and logistics. This results in unnecessary waste of national resources. In effect, it is relatively more expensive to operate the Parliamentary system of government than the presidential system.

Struggles between the ruling party and the opposition
The system may lead to unhealthy rivalry between the ruling party and the opposition party. The opposition is officially recognized, and is seen as a government in waiting. So sometimes they fall into the trap of over-criticizing the government of the day to gain political advantage. Such destructive criticisms can delay the progress of national development.
 
Conflict between the Head of State and head of Government
The dual executive can be a source of conflict in a parliamentary system of government. This may result from the two executives disagreeing on  policy and programmes to be implemented in the state. It was one of these reasons which led to the conflict between Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba and President Joseph Kasavubu in the former Congo in the 1960's. It is believed that this was what led to the eventual assassination of Patrice Lumumba.

It violates the concept of Separation of Powers
The principle of separation of powers states the three arms of government, the legislature, the executive and the judiciary must be separate in functions, personnel and power. However, under the parliamentary system, there is a fusion of powers in terms of the executive and the legislature

May drift into instability
There is the tendency to drift toward instability. This happens when a vote of no-confidence is passed in the government by the legislature and it has to resign. In other words, the government could be removed from power before its actual time is due. This situation can hinder the implementation of government policies and thus retard development.

Lack of initiative on the part of parliamentarians
In a parliamentary system, there is a strict adherence to party discipline. For this reason, a Member of Parliament cannot, for example, vote against his/her own party's policy. The party whip is able to whip errand members of parliament into line. For this reason, sometimes Members of Parliament are not able to take any initiatives of their own. 

SAMPLE QUESTIONS
1. a. What is a Cabinet or parliamentary system of government? [2 marks]
    b. Highlight three advantages and two disadvantages of the Parliamentary system of government. 10 marks]
2. Highlight three advantages and three disadvantages of the Cabinet system of government. [12 marks]

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