Argument about the presidential system Essay

            It has been said that there exists a great divide and exclusivity when the presidential system is employed. The main and salient point in having a presidential system is that the power is not solely concentrated on one person alone, but to each member of the government.

            A presidential system is a system of government where the executive branch exists and presides. In a typical presidential setup, the president is the ruling and titular head with powers equal to that being held by the legislature and the judiciary. Although having equal powers, each branches of government is separate and distinct with each other. Each of the branches is held accountable to one another in a theory called “checks and balances.”[1]

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            Under this theory, the president acts as the “executing arm” of the government. He is the head of the state and at the same time head of the government. It is the one responsible for implementing all the laws of the land. In addition, the president also has the power to oversee all the acts being done by those under his direct supervision. The president also has the power to extend and establish friendly relations between and among neighboring countries to foster economic growth as well as in establishing good trading relations.

            The president has no formal relationship with the legislature. He is not a voting member, nor can he introduce bills. However, in systems such as that of the United States, the President has the power to veto acts of the legislature, and in turn a supermajority of legislators may act to override the veto. Also, the president has a fixed term of office.[2]

            The executive branch is unipersonal. Members of the Cabinet serve at the pleasure of the president and must carry out the policies of the executive and legislative branches. However, presidential systems frequently require legislative approval of presidential nominations to the Cabinet as well as various governmental posts such as judges; while the president generally has the power to issue orders to members of the Cabinet, military, or any officer or employee of the executive branch, a president does not generally have the power to dismiss or give orders to judges.[3]

            The power to pardon or commute sentences of convicted criminals is generally given to heads of states in governments with a separation of power between legislative and executive branches of government.[4]

            Countries with presidential systems include the United States, Indonesia, the Philippines, Mexico, South Korea, and most countries in South America, as well as much of Africa and the Central Asian Republics.

            Meanwhile, the legislature is the one responsible for formulating the laws needed by the land. The laws serve as the “binding force” to which all the people must and should adhere to. Without these laws, the land would probably situate in a chaotic situation. However, the legislative body has no power to interfere with the president yet it can suggest laws in order to suit the needs of the country like in establishing relations with foreign partners. The legislature also has no power to execute these laws they would enable. The only power vested upon them is the power to legislate or create laws which may pose great advantage to the nations.

            The judiciary, on the other hand, is the “interpreting” agency of the government under a presidential system. The laws that are to be crafted by the legislative body are being assessed by the judiciary to determine whether or not such a law would pose detriment to the people. It would also explain the law crafted by the legislating body in order for the people to know what meaning lies beneath the wordings of the legislators. It also has the power to know whether such an act would possibly transgress the most important law of the land, the Constitution. Although this has been the case, the judiciary cannot interfere with the decision of the president. What it can do is to know whether such an act is deemed “constitutional” or otherwise. The members of the judiciary are considered the primary guardian of the Constitution.

            The presidential system is far favorable than any other system of government. It has been said that under the system, there exists a direct mandate posed by the president. He is generally elected directly by the people. To some, this makes the president’s power more legitimate than that of a leader appointed indirectly. It is also stated that the direct mandate of a president makes him or her more accountable. The reasoning behind this argument is that a prime minister is “shielded” from public opinion by the apparatus of state, being several steps removed.

            Also as earlier mentioned, the presidential system has incorporated a theory called “separation of powers”, where the president and the members of a congressional body are on the equal footing. The theory then allows each separate branches of government to supervise each other without greatly abusing the powers lodged to them by the electorate. The fact that a presidential system separates the executive from the legislature is sometimes held up as an advantage, in that each branch may scrutinize the actions of the other.

            Apart from this, the presidential system also allows speed and decisiveness in every decision-making which the nation is at stake. Under the system, the president can enact changes quickly, yet setting aside any interference or impediments from the legislature. Some supporters of presidential systems claim that presidential systems can respond more rapidly to emerging situations than parliamentary ones. A prime minister, when taking action, needs to retain the support of the legislature, but a president is often less constrained.[5]

            In addition, the presidential system allows stability in governance compared with a prime minister under a parliamentary system who can be dismissed should the “vote of confidence” wears out. Many people consider presidential systems to be more able to survive emergencies. A country under enormous stress may, supporters argue, be better off being led by a president with a fixed term than rotating premierships.

            The fact that elections are fixed in a presidential system is likewise often held as a valuable “check” on the powers of the executive. While parliamentary systems often allow the prime minister to call elections whenever he sees fit, or orchestrate his own vote of no confidence to trigger one when he cannot get a legislative item passed, the presidential model is said to discourage this sort of opportunism, and instead force the executive to operate within the confines of a term he cannot alter to suit his own needs.

            In reality, elements of both systems overlap. Though a president in a presidential system does not have to choose a government answerable to the legislature, the legislature may have the right to scrutinize his or her appointments to high governmental office, with the right, on some occasions, to block an appointment. In the United States, many appointments must be confirmed by the Senate. By contrast, though answerable to parliament, a parliamentary system’s cabinet may be able to make use of the parliamentary ‘whip’, which is an obligation on party members in parliament to vote with their party to control and dominate parliament, reducing its ability to control the government.

                However, the essence of the “separation of powers” has leaded the presidential system a success to most of the countries in the world.

WORKS CITED:

Presidential System. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 26 May 2007 from website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presidential_system

Governing Systems and Executive-Legislative Relations: Presidential, Parliamentary and Hybrid Systems. Retrieved 26 May 2007 from website: http://www.undp.org/governance/docs/Parl-Pub-govern.htm

[1]    Presidential System. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia:1
[2]    Ibid.
[3]    Ibid.
[4]    Ibid.
[5]    “Governing”:1

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