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Essay on “Merits and Demerits of the Parliamentary and the Presidential Systems” Complete Essay for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

Merits and Demerits of the Parliamentary and the Presidential Systems

The two popular forms of government in a democracy are I the Presidential and Parliamentary systems. There is the Parliamentary system in England and it has worked so well over the years that it has become a model for a number of other countries. On the other hand. in the USA there is the Presidential form, and it has been working quite successfully in that country. These two forms of government have their own distinctive characteristics and respective merits and demerits.

Soon after the inauguration of the Republic of India on 25th January 1950. India opted for the Parliamentary form of government, modelled closely on the English Parliamentary system. India has adopted most of the conventions of the English system, hoping that it will work as well in India as it has worked in England.

However, in recent times, it has been felt that the Parliamentary form is not working well and that a change over to the Presidential system is urgently needed. The issue has become a matter of hot controversy, between the -pro-changers” and -no-changers° among the intelligentsia, the political scientists, the jurists, the judges, the politicians, the journalists, and our highly politicised, though largely illiterate electorate. Let us attempt a comparative study of both these systems to draw any conclusion.

(1) In the Parliamentary system the Prime Minister and Chief Minister are totally dependent upon their respective legislatures in the matter of the selection of ministers. On the one hand, they are expected to select men of vision, integrity, ability, professional knowledge and practical experience, on the other, they are supposed to give adequate representation to the privileged as well as to the neglected sections of society.

In the case of the Center, for instance, the Prime Minister has to select his/her entire team from a small pool of MPs who are elected in most cases due to their local popularity or on account of their loyalty to the party. The Prime Minister may be able to pick up such able and experienced ministers only if he or she is left free to make the selection on his/her own, and is not tied down to the small groups of MPs who consist largely of professional politicians and sycophants.

Under the Presidential system, on the other hand, the President is not hampered by such considerations. He is not tied to, or subordinate to the legislature. He is free to choose his cabinet of ministers from outside the members of the legislature. In this way, he can really induct competent, experienced and deserving people into the government. He can freely choose men of vision and integrity of professional knowledge and practical experience.

(2) In the Parliamentary system, for the reasons listed above, the ministers are not able to provide effective leadership. As they dc; not have the requisite expertise, they have to depend largely on the civil servants, their secretaries and _under-secretaries, They become mere puppets in the hands of officers, and thus democracy degenerates into bureaucracy. The Presidential system suffers from no such disadvantages.

The ministers have the necessary expertise and so are not dominated by the civil servants. They know their business and can see to it that their policies and programmes are sincerely carried out.

(3) As the ministers are chosen from party men in the Parliamentary form, the party is deprived of capable persons needed to keep the organisation united homogeneous, strong and viable. As a result of this drain of talent from the party to the government, the party organisation grows weak and the result is indiscipline and infighting. The Presidential system is largely free from this drawback, as well as from rivalry and friction between the party bosses and the ministerial wing the party and the government thus work in harmony.

(4) The politics of defection is the worst fault of the Parliamentary system. Legislators and MPs freely across the floor. Defections become the order of the day. This result in corruption, nepotism, casteism, regionalism and often short-lived coalition governments are formed. Defection leads to multiplication of political parties, political instability comes in the way of constructive work. This evil is unheard of in the Presidential system.

(5) The legislators and MPs are not free to vote according to their conscience in the Parliamentary system. They must obey the party whip or face expulsion. The Presidential system is superior in this respect also. On the basis of all these factors, it may be concluded that the Presidential system is desirable, for it has the following merits:

(i) A strong and stable government.

(ii) An able and mature ministry through direct induction of top professionals and technocrats.

(iii) Legislators’ freedom from the fear or ‘party whip’ resulting from the separation of the Executive from the Legislature.

(iv) Gradual emergence of two-party system as a result of pre-election coalitions of like-minded parties before the very eyes of the electorate.

(v) Bureaucracy is under the surveillance of mature political leadership.

(vi) Rampant defections and uneasy post-election coalitions tend to disappear.

There is no doubt that such are the advantages of the Presidential system. It certainly means greater stability and sanity in the politics of the country. However, it suffers at least from one serious drawback. By making President and his colleagues independent of the legislature, it makes the executive too powerful and this carries within it the seeds of dictatorship. This is the worst aspect of Presidential system. The President is elected for a fixed term, say of five yeast and he cannot be removed from office even if he loses the confidence of the legislature. This danger and inherent drawback will have to be overcome in some way or the other, before it can be acceptable to a country like India whose genius is essentially democratic. In order to remedy the present ill, the present system of Parliamentary executive may suitably be modified within the framework of the “basic structure” of our Constitution and in the light of the experience of its working acquired during the last over 60 years. Any drastic change may simply mean falling from frying pan into the fire. One is also reminded of, in this connection, the English poet Goldsmith’s words: For forms of Government let fools contend, whatever is best administered is best.” It is good administration that counts and not the form of government. Any form of government will do, if the people who run it are capable, efficient, hard working, sincere and honest Many of the evils that beset Indian politics today will vanish. if there are right type of people at the helm of affairs.


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