The topic of this essay is „Presidential systems – strenghts and weaknesses.“ I chose this topic because I am very interested into the comparison of presidential and parliamentary systems. For quiet a long time, I have been trying to figure out which one is better for countries. This essay might be a good stepping stone for me to figure it out.
This essay will go step by step analyzing the advantages and disadvantages of presidential systems. Examples of countries will be concluded to each point. For every argument I tried to find a An interesting fact is, that every advantage can be seen from another point of view and I will like to show this in my essay.
First of all, the most most important argument in favor of presidental systems is the separation of the executive and legislative institutions of government according to classical democratic theory which means that these two can monitor each other, and therefore there is a lesser chance to abuse the power. According to Newton, Costa Rica has typical separation of powers, that means: Independent executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. There is an obvious division of offices and powers in this system. For example the president, vice-presidents and ministers in the Government Council represent the executive branch, and therefore have the power to tax and spend. The legislature represented by the Legislative Assembly can amend the president's budget (Newton, 2005).
In the United States, president is in charge of the executive branch and he initiates the legistlation, but he is dependent on the the legislature to pass it into law. On the other hand, he can veto anything the legislature has passed into law. If we compare this system with a parliamentary system we have in Slovakia, the level of control of presidents is incomparable (president in Slovakia can only veto once, and if the legislature repasses, the law goes into force even without the signature of the president) (EJS, 2004).
However, a conflict between the executive and legislation may be chronic and lead to deadlock or immobilism. A recent government shutdown in the United States (October 2013) may provide us a with a good example of a negative side of the separation of power. The problem occured because of the conflict between democrats (president Obama) and republicans on the Affordable Care Act. This dispute led to a government shutdown for half of a month. It caused inefficiency and slow-down of the government (Kirell, 2013).
Another advantage of the presidential system is that the president is directly elected. This makes the president more legitimate for his/her position. Nonetheless, the direct democratic election by people is questionable because they can be manipulated by the authorities in power. For example the elections of president in Belarus were not completely transparent. On the other hand, in the USA they are said to be transparent and truly democratic (Aliaksandrau, 2012).