In a parliamentary democracy, the people elect representatives to the parliament (also known as the legislative branch), and the party with the greatest number of members in the parliament forms the government. The members of the parliament then elect their leader, who will go on to become the country’s Prime Minister. This form of government is different from presidential democracies, in which the people themselves elect a president into office.
In many cases, the head of government (i.e. the Prime Minister) in a parliamentary democracy is not the head of state. This title usually falls to a ceremonial president (in a parliamentary republic) or a monarch (in a constitutional monarchy. Parliamentary democracy has been around since the 1700s, and it is present in several countries around the world including Japan, Ireland, India, and the United Kingdom.
Parliamentary democracy has gained many supporters over the years, but there are also those who oppose this kind of government and say that it comes with several disadvantages. Read on to know more about the pros and cons of parliamentary democracy.
List of Pros of Parliamentary Democracy
1. It requires parties to cooperate with each other.
In parliamentary democracy, a party cannot pass any legislation if they don’t have majority rule or if they can’t get the help of other parties. Because of this, all parties within the government must form a coalition if they want to enact laws and bills and propel the country forward.
2. It encourages leaders to choose the common good.
Politicians in presidential democracies usually get their funding and support from individuals who have their own agenda. As a result, those in the government have to protect the interests of their supporters or risk losing them. This isn’t normally the case in parliamentary democracy. Since there’s an additional space between voters and politicians, the latter don’t need to worry about the interests of certain individuals, and they can focus on doing what’s best for the country.
3. It prevents the head of government from being too powerful.
The executive branch of the parliamentary democracy is separated into several departments, which are each headed by a department head (who answers directly to the parliament). So, instead of being the sole executive leader, the Prime Minister shares his power and responsibilities with several other people. The parliamentary can also dismiss the Prime Minister any time through a motion of no confidence if they see that he’s not doing his job well.
List of Cons of Parliamentary Democracy
1. It may prevent the minority from being heard.
Ideally, the minority challenges the decisions of the majority and helps create a healthy “check and balance” system. However, this may not always be possible, particularly when a party gains complete majority in parliament and has the power to make decisions without consulting other parties.
2. It can be abused by the ruling party.
Because elections don’t have a fixed date in a parliamentary democracy, the ruling party can schedule it whenever they like. Specifically, they can avoid having elections when they see that they’re unpopular among the people and opt to have it during a time when they’re most likely to win. This careful timing means that they can extend their rule for a long time.
Parliamentary democracy isn’t perfect. Just like any other form of government, it comes with several advantages and disadvantages, which must be weighed carefully to create the best possible government for the country.