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Lecture 2

Lecture 2 - Forms of Government

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Political Science
Joseph Roman

Jan. 14, 2014 Executives and Legislatures • The role of the executive and the legislature. • How they function in parliamentary, presidential, semi-presidential systems. • What is the relationship between the two in the three systems? • Pros and cons of the parliamentary and presidential systems. The Role of Legislatures (they act skeptics of executive decisions) Democracy = disagreement 1. Representative functions • Achieved by representation by population • Legitimization function • Aggregates and articulates public opinion 2. Scrutinizes the executive 3. Arena of deliberation 4. Perform legislative oversight by analyzing bills, usually through committees -these committees need resources (without resources, they cannot function) Organizing Legislatures • Unicameral: only one legislative body exists • The idea of unicameralism is that a single body should reflect the popular will and it should not be obstructed • Bicameral: two legislative houses exist • The lower house is that of representatives and the upper house usually takes the form of regional representatives who may or may not be elected • Upper houses act as places of sober second thought Problems of Legislatures • Do they reflect the people they govern? • Who runs for office? – upper class or middle-upper class • Social filters – mostly old white men • The emergence of the political class and the rise of voter disaffection • Yet, does one have to be an “average” person to govern effectively? The Role of the Executive • Regardless of the system that one is discussing, all executives do the following: 1. Set priorities 2. Make decisions 3. Resolve crises 4. Ensure policies are implemented Features of Parliamentary Systems • The executive and the legislature are fused • The executive is called the cabinet and it is drawn from the legislature and is not popularly elected • The executive governs and the legislature scrutinizes their bills • The prime minister is the head of government and he/she becomes prime minister by being the leader of the party with the most seats in the legislature • The head of state may be a president who may or may not be popularly elected or a monarch • Heads of state are seen as being above politics and, thus, lack substantial powers Executive-Legislature Relations in a Parliamentary System • The fusion of the executive and the legislature lends to a mutual dependence for survival and career progression • The executive is answerable to the legislature and must therefore maintain the confidence of a majority of its members • If the executive cannot maintain the confidence of the majority of the legislature, the government falls • Yet, since the executive is drawn from the legislature, its members have a clear interest in demonstrating their loyalty in the hope of one day becoming part of the executive Forms of Executive-Legislature Relations in Parliamentary Systems • The executive may dissolve parliament too if the legislature becomes ungovernable • Part discipline makes the fusion of the executive with the legislature work • Not toeing the party line affects career prospects • Three forms that executive-legislature relations can take in parliamentary systems: 1. Cabinet government (entire cabinet answers to legislature) 2. Prime ministerial government (cabinet reports to the PM who answers to the legislature) 3. Ministerial government (minister answers the legislature) Are the Powers of the Executive Increasing? 1. Greater social complexity 2. General rather than specific laws have become the norm 3. Rapidity of decision-making in an influx socio-political environment 4. More tightly organized and disciplined political parties 5. Mass media 6. The internationalization of policies Are the Powers of the Executive Increasing? Yes • Presidentialization thesis • Centralization of political parties • Most bills are introduced by
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