Presidential vs Parliamentary System: Separation of Powers Explained - Essay Sample

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1255 Words
Date:  2023-01-01


At the national level, the structure of the government has been one of the major topics discussed by constitution drafters. The two models that have always emerged are the presidential and parliamentary systems. When discussing the two models, the concept of separation of power emerges. Separation of powers is a constitutional doctrine where the three branches such as executive, judiciary, and legislature have separate powers and oversee each other. It can also be referred to a system of checks and balances because all the three branches have separate powers that they use to check and balance the other branches. For that reason, there is the question "What system of government-a presidential system with separation of powers or a parliamentary system with no separation of powers-is better. Why?" This paper answers the question by conducting an in-depth analysis of the factors in a system of government using the UK and U.S examples. In essence, to answer that question, it is logical to understand the context, which systems of government operate. Primarily, it is significant to know the role legal and administrative systems play in improving the economy of a nation. While taking into consideration all those aspects, the paper supports the thesis that a presidential system with separation of powers is better because it improves the economy, is more accountable to the people, and improves the quality of governance.

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Presidential and Parliamentary System

The democratic constitutional structure of a national government has the presidential and parliamentary arrangements. The presidential arrangement involves a head of government, the president, who is elected by people or through the Electoral College system, which is notable in the United States of America (Szilagyi, 2009). By contrast, the head of a parliamentary system is the prime minister or premier who is chosen by the legislature. The process of selecting the prime minister can be the selection of members of parliament, selection by majority party or coalition of parties, then the appointment of the head of state like in the case of Britain (Szilagyi, 2009).

Presidential System and the Economy

Yaman (2017) cited the U.S, China, and South Korea as countries with better economic performance under a presidential form of government. As the author added, in a presidential system, the economy is far much better compared to a parliamentary system of government because there are no coalitions that undermine stability. Critics might contend that a parliamentary system with no separation of powers is associated with a better economic performance. However, take the case of America, which has the largest economic system but has a presidential system. Over the years, the country has experienced good economic outcomes. Its constitution puts in good checks and balances to ensure separation of powers between the executive, judiciary, and legislature. Furthermore, another case example is that of Britain with its parliamentary system. Due to the recent mayhems on Brexit, it is evident that the country's economy is dwindling. According to an FT annual survey on Britain's economic outlook, economists in the country are anticipating a slowdown in the economy (Strauss & Jackson, 2019). As per the survey, UKs uninspiring growth is stagnant at 1.5% even if there were to be a boost in the economy (Strauss & Jackson, 2019). These two case examples are a clear indication that presidential systems are better because it helps a nation survive and thrive.

Presidential System and Accountability

Undeniably, a presidential system encourages bureaucracy. Gerring, Thacker, & Moreno, (2012) talked about the way separate powers encourage bureaucratic accountability. However, as he mentions, critics contend that bureaucratic accountability is complicated in separate powers because bureaucrats have two masters, which include the nominal chief executive and controllers of the budget. By contrast, defenders argue that accountability in bureaucracy is assured through the semi-independent agencies carrying out strict mandates and overlapping jurisdictions conducting checks and balances on each other to make task policies easily accessible (Gerring, Thacker, & Moreno, 2012). Furthermore, the author talks about democratic accountability where he explained that defenders of the presidential system stand with the fact that electing a presidential chief creates a transparent relationship between elections and electoral outcomes (Gerring, Thacker, & Moreno, 2012). Besides, the formation of an information-rich environment is a clear factor in presidential systems. The division of power sets out the transfer of information among the three branches unlike a parliamentary system with no separation of power (Gerring, Thacker, & Moreno, 2012). Critics of the presidential system argue that too much information as evident in a presidential system creates citizen alienation and apathy (Gerring, Thacker, & Moreno, 2012). However, it is clear that this dissemination of information in a presidential system creates a favorable environment for the accomplishment of political power and policy selection.

Presidential System and Quality of Governance

In a presidential system, the type of governance coming from the president is exemplary. Gerring, Thacker, & Moreno (2012) affirmed that separate powers are the key to pluralism, which has positive ramifications on the quality of governance. According to the author, in pluralism, are myriad of views are expressed, each group will maintain a high degree of independence, and each group will have informal veto powers. The quality of governance has a strong relationship with political stability. Advocates of separate powers contend that it creates political stability (Gerring, Thacker, & Moreno, 2012). This is undeniably true considering the situation in Britain and its parliamentary system. The Brexit issue made the political instability in the country worse. If Britain had a presidential system, the judiciary, executive, and legislature would exchange ideas and create a political-friendly environment like that in the U.S.


Along policy dimensions, both presidential and parliamentary systems offer advantages and disadvantages. When discussing presidential and parliamentary systems, there have been many generalizations made, which actually lack empirical grounding. Based on the research done on the two systems of government, it would be astonishing for a person to question the idea that a parliamentary system is inherently stronger than a presidential system. Truth be told, the United States of America, which has a presidential system, is the most respectable and superior countries in the world with good economic standing, accountability, and quality of governance. Instead, it would be appropriate for critics to question the checks and balances that are absent in a parliamentary system. Assertions that attempt to undermine the presidential system lack merit. Oversimplifying the topic of presidential and parliamentary systems with separation of powers provides limited information on the dynamics that surround the two systems of government. In significant measure, there is no doubt that a presidential system with separation of powers is much better compared to a parliamentary system with no separation of powers. No matter what standing a person has on the two systems of government, it is important to know that the checks and balances are what keeps a country to have a good democratic eminence over other nations. Overall, countries, which would wish to settle on a democratic form of government in the long-run, should choose a presidential model.


Gerring, J., Thacker, S.C., & Moreno, C. (2012). Are Parliamentary Systems Better? Boston University. Retrieved from

Strauss, D., & Jackson, G. (2019). Brexit 'bad or awful' for UK prospects in 2019, say economists. Financial Times. Retrieved from

Szilagyi, I.M. Presidential versus parliamentary systems. (2009). Academic and Applied Research in Military Science, vol. 8, no.2, 307-314.

Yaman, S. (2017). What are the potential effects of a presidential system on the economy? Op ed. Retrieved from

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