Parliamentary vs Presidential Systems
The statement “The constraints imposed on a Prime Minister are greater than those imposed on a President. Therefore, a parliamentary system is more democratic than a presidential system”, makes a broad claim to which I agree. While Prime Ministers and Presidents are similar in some ways such as their responsibilities to do the best that they can for their nations, they also differ in many ways. These differences include separation of powers, the systems having different heads of state, and different election processes.
Each of these examples contribute to the difference in constraints imposed on presidents and prime ministers and therefore contribute to the level of democracy within each system. A parliamentary system is “a system of governing in which there is a close interrelationship between the political executive (prime minister and Cabinet) and Parliament (the legislative or law-making body)” (Mintz, Close, and Croci 338), while a presidential system is defined as “a system of governing in which the president and Congress each separately derive their authority from being elected by the people and have a fixed term of office” (363).
Firstly, residential and parliamentary systems have different individuals as head of state and head of government (342). Presidents and prime ministers are considered to be heads of government, but while presidents are also heads of State, prime ministers are not. The head of state in a parliamentary system is symbolic, and “carries out a variety of official functions but is expected to be ‘above’ politics and thus is not usually involved in making governing for a country” (342).
For example, in Canada the governor general, as a representative of the Queen, holds the role of head of state on a federal level, and the lieutenant-governors hold it on a provincial level. While these individuals do not have power in terms of law-making procedures and are not involved in elections or politics in general, the governor general does hold certain responsibilities and powers.
The governor general is responsible for ensuring that a government is in place at all times and must approve of all legislation, but he/she also has certain powers that are higher in importance. The governor general can use personal discretion in situations such as the appointment and dismissal of the prime minister, and the dissolution of parliament or prorogation of parliament (343-344). On the other hand,