Difference Between Parliamentary vs Presidential

Difference Between Parliamentary vs Presidential

With democracy making inroads on both advanced and developing economies, more and more citizens are allowed to decide who leads their nations. In a similar vein, nations have had to make a choice between direct democracy (where individuals come together to make decision for the country) and representative democracy (where parties make decision for the nation).

In this guide, you will learn the contrasts between parliamentary vs presidential systems. Keep in mind that these two types exist in a representative arrangement. As a political science student, you have to grasp the differences between the two concepts.

Definition of Parliamentary

Parliamentary is the type of governance where the executive is chosen or elected from an existing legislative house (who are often called parliaments or lawmakers). In this setting, the executive arm is divided into two key sections: the head of states (who may be called the president in many instances) and prime minister. While the former is merely a nominal member of the executive arm, the latter is the real executive member.

To elect who heads the nation in this structure, it has to come from leaders whose party won the overall national elections. This practice is commonly seen in the United Kingdom, Sweden, Canada, Japan, and India.

While those countries practice this type of governance, there are often disparities from one nation to another. The prime minister may have to schedule an election when the need arises. The head also has the statutory power to dissolve the lower house.

Definition of Presidential

Presidential, on the other hand, is the form of government wherein one person (also called a president) acts as the head of the executive and the entire tier. The citizens decide who that man or woman is through the ballot boxes (election). While the head of the executive tier may have to address the lawmakers from time to time, he is not a member of the house.

The head does not have to address the house because he or she is not a parliamentarian or congressional representative. When the head of state is chosen, he or she will form the cabinet himself or herself. This is practiced in the United States, Russia, Nigeria, Brazil, etc. Though these countries practice this governance style, there are variations from one place to another. There are definite dates for elections.

Main Differences between Parliamentary vs Presidential

Given that we have defined what each entails, we will now proceed to dissect the difference between presidential and parliamentary systems. Well, all of the details have been discussed in the table below.

Basis for ComparisonParliamentaryPresidential
MeaningThis is a leadership structure where the executive is made up of legislative tier (which is often referred to as parliamentarians or lawmakers)This is governance style where the head of state is not a member of the legislature and is directly elected by the people
ExecutiveThe executive members are also lawmakers who have been elected to lead the nationThe executives are not originally lawmakers
The CabinetThe cabinet is usually peopled by legislatures who are also card-carrying members of the party that won the popular vote (ruling party) These are rarely politicians as they are mostly experts in their fields or technocrats
AccountabilityExecutive is accountable to the houseThe executive is not accountable to the lawmakers but the citizens
Dissolution of Legislature  The prime minister has the statutory power to dissolve the lower houseNobody has the power to dissolve the lower houses as the constitution has already defined their term

Difference Between Parliamentary and Presidential: Conclusion

Governance means mandating some people to use new and existing laws to determine how to run the affairs of everyone. With that being said, to understand the difference between parliamentary and presidential governance, it is critical you grasp the foundation of those forms of government.

However, we must point out that there are slight disparities as you move from one jurisdiction to another. There are certain places where the two are just mixed. It is noteworthy that people decide what works for them without following definite rules as detailed above. Despite those minor contrasts, we have explained the key features that you should know about parliamentary system vs presidential system in this guide.