Presidential vs Parliamentary Form of Government


    In Context

    • Recently, West Bengal Chief Minister alleged that attempts are being made for a Presidential form of government in India.

    About the Presidential & Parliamentary form of government

    • About:
      • Modern democratic governments are classified into parliamentary and presidential.
      • This division is broadly on the basis of the nature of relations between the executive and the legislative organs of the government.

    Parliamentary form of government:

    Presidential form of government:


    • It refers to a system of governance in which the citizens elect representatives to the legislative Parliament. 
    • As a result of the elections, the party with the greatest representation forms the government. 

    Prime Minister:

    • Its leader becomes the Prime Minister and performs various executive functions along with the members of Parliament appointed by the Prime Minister to the cabinet. 

    Dissolution of lower house:

    • The Prime Minister can dissolve the lower house.

    Responsible Government

    • A Parliamentary form of democracy is also known as the Cabinet form of government or the ‘Responsible Government’. 
    • This Parliament is responsible to make the decisions and laws for the state. It is also directly answerable to the people. 
    • In this, is the one in which the executive is responsible to the legislature for its policies and acts. 

    Global presence:

    • The parliamentary government is prevalent in Britain, Japan, Canada, India among others.

    Merits & Demerits:

    • Merits:
      • Harmony between legislature
      • and executive.
      • Responsible government.
      • Prevents despotism.
      • Wide representation.
    • Demerits:
      • Unstable government.
      • No continuity of policies.
      • Against separation of powers
      • Government by amateurs.


    • In this, the President is directly elected by the people or the electoral college.


    • President does not have nominal powers. 
    • He is both the head of the executive and the head of the state. 
      • As the head of the executive, he has a ceremonial position. 
      • As the head of the government, he acts as the chief real executive. 
    • Single executive:
      • Thus, the Presidential system is characterised by a single executive concept.

    Dissolution of lower house:

    • The President cannot dissolve the lower house.


    • It is one in which the executive is not responsible to the legislature for its policies and acts, and is constitutionally independent of the legislature in respect of its term of office.

    Global presence:

    • The presidential government is prevalent in USA, Brazil, Russia, Sri Lanka among others.

    Merits & Demerits:

    • Demerits:
      • Conflict between legislature and
      • executive.
      • Non-responsible government.
      • May lead to autocracy.
      • Narrow representation.
    • Merits:
      • Stable government.
      • Definiteness in policies.
      • Based on separation of powers.
      • Government by experts

    Reasons for adopting the Parliamentary form of government

    • A plea was made in favour of the US presidential system of government in the Constituent Assembly. But, the founding fathers preferred the British parliamentary system due to the following reasons:
    • Familiarity with the System: 
      • The Constitution-makers were somewhat familiar with the parliamentary system as it had been in operation in India during British rule.
    • Preference to More Responsibility:
      • Dr B R Ambedkar pointed out in the Constituent Assembly that ‘a democratic executive must satisfy two conditions: stability and responsibility.
    • Need to Avoid Legislative—Executive Conflicts: 
      • The framers of the Constitution wanted to avoid the conflicts between the legislature and the executive which are bound to occur in the presidential system prevalent in the USA. 
      • They wanted a form of government that would be conducive to the manifold development of the country.
    • Nature of Indian Society:
      • India is one of the most heterogeneous States and most complex plural societies in the world. 
      • Hence, the Constitution-makers adopted the parliamentary system as it offers greater scope for giving representation to various sections, interests and regions in the government. 
      • This promotes a national spirit among the people and builds a united India.

    Difference between Indian and British Parliamentary model

    • In India, the system of democracy that exists is Parliamentary Democracy. This model has been borrowed from the UK, but there are certain differences:
    • Republican vs monarchical system:
      • Head of the State in India (that is, President) is elected, while the Head of the State in Britain (that is, King or Queen) enjoys a hereditary position.
    • Prime Minister:
      • While in the UK, the Prime Minister can only be from the lower house, in India, the Prime Minister can be from both Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha.
    • Legal responsibility:
      • Britain has a system of legal responsibility of the minister while India has no such system.

    Way ahead

    • Way of adoption of these forms of government:
      • Both of these systems come with their own advantages and disadvantages. A country chooses the system which suits it the most.
      • There are some countries that have adopted a mixture of both these types as well. 
        • These systems have multiple differences based on separation of powers, accountability, executives etc.
    • In India:
      • Whether the parliamentary system should be continued or should be replaced by the presidential system has been a point of discussion and debate in our country since the 1970s. 
      • This matter was considered in detail by the Swaran Singh Committee appointed by the Congress government in 1975.
      • The committee opined that the parliamentary system has been doing well and hence, there is no need to replace it by the presidential system.

    Source: TH