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Midterm Questions & Answers

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University of Ottawa
Political Science
Joseph Roman

1. Executives and Legislatures - Illustrate how the relationship between the executive and the legislature differs in presidential and parliamentary systems of government . The Role of Legislatures (skeptics of executive decisions) Democracy = disagreement 1. Represent the public opinion of the population 2. Scrutinize the executive 3. Arena of deliberation 4. Perform legislative oversight by analyzing bills, usually through committees Organizing Legislatures • Unicameral: only one legislative body that should reflect the popular will and 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, all executives: 1. Set priorities 2. Make decisions 3. Resolve crises 4. Ensure policies are implemented Features of Parliamentary Systems • The executive (Cabinet) and the legislature (Senate) are fused • The executive is called the cabinet - drawn from the legislature (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 • 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 • Party 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) Pros and Cons of a Parliamentary System Pros • Policymaking is efficient • Continuity • Greater flexibility Cons • Multiple parties sitting in the legislature leads to instability • The legislature becomes a rubber stamp during a majority government Features of the Presidential System • Asystem of checks and balances is achieved by separating the executive and the legislature • Constant bargaining between the two branches • The executive and the legislature are popularly elected • The executive cannot sit in the legislature and no one in the legislature can be a member of the executive • Presidents are heads of state and heads of government • As a head of government, a president can initiate domestic policies • As a head of state, a president performs ceremonial duties, acts as the commander-in- chief of the armed forces, and is the head of the civil service • Presidents appoint their cabinets to advise them and run bureaucracies • Term limits on the president are the norm Presidential System • The separation of the executive and the legislature ensures that neither branch can bring the other down • The two branches are elected for fixed periods of time • Apresident can only be removed from office through death, resignation, or legislative removal (impeachment) Pros and Cons of Presidential System Pros • Constant bargaining between the two branches of government • Greater poli
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