5 Important Demerits of Parliamentary form of Government

It is maintained that it violates the theory of separation of powers. Combination of legislative and executive powers leads to confusion and tyranny, ministers are liable to be distracted from their executive duties, taking the burden of preparing legislative measures and carrying them to the Parliament, while the Parliament may sometimes be tempted to interfere excessively and unnecessarily in administrative problems.

It also leads to “cabinet dictatorship”. The cabinet can rule as it pleases, if it is backed by a majority.

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(2)It is further pointed out that parliamentary government is unstable. It has no fixed life.

The ministry remains in office so long as it enjoys the confidence of the majority members in the Parliament. That is again subject to the whims and vagaries of the representatives and they may frequently change their opinions.

The instability and uncertainty in the tenure of office does not prompt the party in power to adopt a far-sighted and constituents policy.

There is hardly any continuity of policies in the parliamentary government. Instability of the ministry is a serious problem in a multi-party system.

(3)It is also criticised as an insufficient government by amateurs. Ministers as departmental heads are politicians rather than expert administrators. They are oversensitive to the reactions of the legislature and are more interested in politics than in administration.

Moreover, they are not experts and, once in office the major part of their time is devoted to the Parliament and Cabinet meetings, to social and other political activities and to nursing their constituencies. As they do not know the technicalities of the departments, civil servants assume greater power. Bureaucracy, in this form, “thrives under the cloak of ministerial responsibility.”

(4)Further, it is criticised that this form of government lacks promptness in deciding and taking immediate action in times of national crisis or emergency. In emergency promptness, vigour and initiative are essential for success.

But a cabinet, consisting of a large number of ministers, needs many minds to be consulted Again, a quick and immediate measurement cannot be adopted unless it is sometimes approved by the Parliament. Delay is therefore inevitable in the parliamentary form of government.

(5)A final indictment of the parliamentary government is that it results in irresponsible criticism by the political parties.

Political parties sometimes distort public opinion and do more harm than the good they render to the State.

Besides, political parties are highly disciplined and centralised. Generally the political power of the State is monopolised for a fixed period by one party and this results in the dictatorship of one man or a small group of men who are the leaders of the party.

With the growth of rigidity in the party discipline and the presence of party whip, it is not possible for a member to deviate form the party policy.

However, the defects of parliamentary government are often exaggerated. Though there is concentration of legislative and executive authority, this does not result in dictatorship. Practical experience tells us that executive and legislative departments can’t be separate like watertight compartments. It has succeeded in democratising the governmental machinery in most countries. It is wrong to assume that the parliamentary government fails to meet emergencies.

The World War II has fully demonstrated how parliamentary government withstood the test of time. England is the citadel of democracy because it has parliamentary form of government.

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