POL101Y1 Study Guide - Presidential System

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7 Apr 2012
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Parliamentary versus Presidential Democratic Systems
Parliamentary Presidential
Parliamentary System: Prime Minister is elected by
the legeslature/allows an election to happen at any
time (Canada)
-most stable
- Head of state and chief executive are 2 different things
- Chosen by legislature and not the people (representation)
- Gives different constituencies more access to the devision-mak-
ing process, helping bind the constituencies to the polity
- A Prime Minister with a majority in parliament can have as
much authority as a president
- Cabinet members tend to accumulate considerable experience
and the system benefits from the accumulated political and admin-
istrative experience of executive ministers (can influence the deci-
sions of the PM)
- Easy to get laws passed/more efficient
Constituencies: a body of voters in a specified area who elect a
representative to a legislative body
Polity: an organized society
Head of State: Queen Elizabeth
Head of Gov: Prime Minister Harper
Presidential System: A presidential system is a
system of government where an executive branch
exists and presides (hence the name) separately
from the legislature (USA)
- chosen by the people and not the office of the legislature
- Not as stable because a presidential government entrusts authori-
ty and ultimate responsibility to a single person
- can gain full power of office without a majority vote (elected un-
der plurality/first-past-the-post)
- Has power to propose and veto legislation, has a fixed term, sur-
vive fluctuations in the strength of party support
- Weaker cabinets due to the separation of power
- Experience can be lost with a change of presidents, since each
president since the people he wants to be his personal confidence
- Difficult to pass legislature
- President is elected for a fixed term
- ‘Winner-takes-all in presidential elections (too much power for
the head of state)
Head of State and Gov: Barack Obama
*What system is used all depends on the cultural and economic factors of the state/ Also what kind of electoral process is used - whether
coalitions are formed/majoriy/minority
I.e. Latin American polities are unable to function under presidential systems
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