Essay on the Merits and Demerits of the Presidential Form of Government

This is why this form of government can tackle emergencies more efficiently than the parliamentary form. Further, the top administrators in this form..Not being full-fledged members, are free to devote more time and attention to administrative affairs.

The top administrators are. Therefore, more likely to be experts in the field of administration to which they are. assigned. Regarding their selection and appointment, the President has a wider choice and he may appoint efficient people without any party affiliations.

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(3) Another merit is that the “separation of powers” which is found in this system is an effective safeguard against arbitrary and oppressive government. The dangers to individual liberty lie in the concentration of powers. It is rightly argued that for the sake of individual liberty and administrative efficiency, three departments of governments, namely, the legislature, executive and judiciary, should be separated.

Thus, in the presidential form, there is possibility of misuse of powers and the legislatures are likely to be less dominant and arrogant.

(4) It is also a representative form of government. Voters exercise direct control over an extremely powerful and influential official. In view of the fact that the President is elected by the People, he is not expected to forget popular benefits and burdens.

Popular election of the chief executive is supported to stimulate citizens’ interests in public affairs and competition for one important office concentrates public attention on the issue of the day more effectively than the contests for legislative seats do in the largest number of comparatively small constituencies.

Legislature is less dominated by party spirit under the presidential system than under thee parliamentary system as a result of which merit counts much is government than party affiliation.

(5) Lastly, the advocates of the presidential form of government argue that such a system is the best suited to countries inhabited by different communities with diverse interests, culture, traditions, etc.

Homogeneous and identical party system is essential for the success of cabinet government. Party-discipline is very strict in the cabinet system.

Therefore, it is unsuitable for a country having diverse interests and different communities. In the presidential form, party-discipline is not very rigid and the members of the cabinet are chosen not on a party basis but on their merits.

Demerits:
(1) Esmein says that the presidential system appears to be “autocratic, irresponsible and dangerous.” It is autocratic because the President is empowered to act more or less as he pleases.

It is irresponsible because the executive is made independent of the legislature. It is dangerous because there is no effective means by which the responsibility for the exercise of power may be ensured.

There is a chance of the President being a dictator. Bryce has aptly said that the “presidential system leaves more to chance than does the parliamentary system.”

(2) Another weakness of the system is its failure to ensure the co-operation between law-makers and administrators. Frequent conflicts between the legislature and the executive may lead to deadlocks.

The successful working of any government requires team work and co-operation among its constituent parts. Under the presidential system, no branch enjoys supremacy with respect to the other and hence deadlocks and conflicts between the executive and the legislature become frequent, frequent deadlock leads to loss efficiency and energy and the administration as a whole suffers. It becomes serious when the executive and the majority in legislature belong to two different political parties.

To cite an example, the foreign policy of the President Woodrow of America was rejected by the Senate. The presidential system would have collapsed long since in the U.S.A. if the party system did not develop so well as to establish an indirect link between the executive and legislature.

(3) There is no continuous accountability of the executive to the representatives of the people in the legislature. The fixed term of office of the executive also curtails responsiveness to public opinion.

The refusal to re-elect the President after the fixed term is no effective enforcement of responsibility. Again the presidential system fails to bring out the development of an effective opposition, criticism by the opposition does not affect the President.

Even if it becomes apparent that voters have lost confidence in the legislative chamber or in the chief executive, no charge in government can be possible until the next general election. It is, therefore, called an irresponsible form of government.

(4) The popular election of the President is criticised for a number of reasons. It is contended that the choice by the voter is apt to result in the election of good politician rather than an efficient administrator.

Election is uncertain and the mass is often unpredictable. Therefore, competent and qualified persons do no like to contest in elections. The popular election of the executive also results in an admixture of politics and administration which is harmful to the latter. His appointments of other officers are sometimes based on political consideration rather than on merits.

Election of the President also causes disturbance, unrest and uncertainty at regular intervals in the State.

(5) The final demerit of this system is that it is inelastic structure and uncertain in fixing up the final responsibility. It is inelastic because, once the President has been elected, the nation must continue with him, no matter whether it likes or dislikes his policies.

The provision of the constitution must be followed without any change both in times of peace and war. During the World War II, the presidential elections were postponed in England. Again, because of the separation of powers in this form, it is very difficult to find out which organ possesses the supreme authority.

It is, therefore, difficult to decide and determine who deserves the credit, if things go well or the blame, if things go wrong. Divided responsibility leads to loss of efficiency and limits the scope of governmental activities from the standpoint of its own special interest.

Conclusion:
In spite of the above shortcomings, the presidential system has proved satisfactory in the United States of America. Its successful operation is mostly attributed to the growth of party system and of the Presidential leadership. The fathers of the American Constitution did not foresee the emergence of a dual party system.

After the emergence of the party system, the President has become the party as well as the national leader. When the President and the majority members in the Congress belong to the same party, the President has smooth sailing. His appointments, policies and plans are expected to be moved in party line.

His ministers are indirectly responsible to the Congress may compel the President to drive them away. The President has also some influence over legislation. He sends message to the Congress, summons extraordinary session of the Congress and possesses the power to give assent to the bill passed by the Congress.

The Congress of America very often respects the wishes of the President and the President generally expects the Congressional suggestions. Mutual respect is something which cannot be always guaranteed by constitutional provisions alone.

Although there is separation of powers, the American President has tremendous influence in the field of legislation. Lindsay Rogers goes to the extent of saying that “legislation which was the President’s minor role has become his major role now and the country judges him on the basis of his success as a legislator rather than his success as an executive.”

Thus, with the passage of time, the dichotomy between the parliamentary and presidential forms of government is becoming closer.

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