Criticisms of Parliamentarianism

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Criticisms of Parliamentarianism

  1. The main criticism and benefits of many parliamentary systems is that the head of government is in almost all cases not directly elected.
  2. In a parliamentary system the prime minister is elected by the legislature, often under the strong influence of the party leadership. Thus, a party’s candidate for the head of government is usually known before the election, possibly making the election as much about the person as the party behind him or her.
  3. Another major criticism of the parliamentary system lies precisely in its purported advantage: that there is no truly independent body to oppose and veto legislation passed by the parliament, and therefore there is no substantial check on legislative power.
  4. Conversely, because of the lack of inherent separation of powers, some believe that a parliamentary system can place too much power in the executive entity, leading to the feeling that the legislature or judiciary have little scope to administer checks or balances on the executive.
  5. Although it is possible to have a powerful prime minister, as Britain has, or even a dominant party system, as Japan has, parliamentary systems are also sometimes unstable.
  6. Although parliamentarianism has been praised for allowing an election to take place at any time, the lack of a definite election calendar can be abused.
  7. In some systems, such as the British, a ruling party can schedule elections when it feels that it is likely to do well, and so avoid elections at times of unpopularity. Thus, by wise timing of elections, in a parliamentary system a party can extend its rule for longer than is feasible in a functioning presidential system. This problem can be alleviated somewhat by setting fixed dates for parliamentary elections, as is the case in several of Australia’s state parliaments.
  8. In other systems, such as the Dutch and the Belgian, the ruling party or coalition has some flexibility in determining the election date. Conversely, flexibility in the timing of parliamentary elections avoids having periods of legislative gridlock that can occur in a fixed period presidential system.
  9. It has been argued that elections at set intervals are a means of insulating the government from the transient passions of the people, and thereby giving reason the advantage over passion in the accountability of the government to the people
  10. Critics of parliamentary systems point out that people with significant popular support in the community are prevented from becoming prime minister if they cannot get elected to parliament since there is no option to “run for prime minister” like one can run for president under a presidential system.

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