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Parliamentary System


A parliamentary system is a system of democratic government in which the ministers of the Executive Branch derive their legitimacy from and are accountable to a Legislature or parliament; the Executive and Legislative branches are interconnected. It is a political system in which the supreme power lies in a body of citizens who can elect people to represent them.

A representative democracy is merely a system where a small subset of people (representatives) is granted power to legislate/rule on the behalf of the parts of the populace they represent. As such, every parliamentary system is a representative one (since the Parliament is a form of representation, by definition).

However, not every representative system mast be a parliamentary one. For example, presidential system – like USA – have executive branch is 100% independent of legislature.

The term representative democracy is principally used to distinguish it from participatory (or direct) democracy, in which citizens directly debate and vote on legislation, policy and the appointment of citizens to execute those policies. A Parliamentary democracy is just an individual model of how a representative democracy might work, in that representatives are elected who in turn elect an executive (the Government).

It is also worth pointing out that a Parliamentary democracy need not be purely representative, as events like referenda or plebiscites are examples of more direct democracy and can happily exist alongside an elected Parliament. Furthermore, the concept of “representative democracy” can be used in a normative way to discuss the way in which a legislature or executive is or isn’t demographically representative of the people it supposedly represents.

Features of Parliament Government

The Parliamentary form of Government or Cabinet system is an important and popular form of Government in modern democratic countries.

The Parliamentary form of Government is the system of government in which there exists an intimate and harmonious relationship between the executive and the legislative departments, and the stability and efficacy of the executive department depend on the legislature.

Although the parliamentary government is broadly defined in the above way, in such a system the supremacy of the legislature has now been replaced by the supremacy of the Cabinet. Hence, such form of government is also called Cabinet Government.

In a Parliamentary form of government,  the head of the state is usually a different person than the head of the government. A Monarch or a President is usually the head of the state. However, he or she is the head of state, but not the head of government. The functions of the head of the state is chiefly formal or ceremonial. The council of ministers or the cabinet exercises the real executive powers and authority to run the Government. In many countries, the Prime Minister is the the head of the council of ministers.

The Parliamentary or the Cabinet system originated in England. This form of government exists in countries like Britain, India and Canada. This Parliamentary form of government is also called Responsible government.

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