[Answered] Discuss merits and demerits of presidential system. Do you think India should adopt Presidential system over a Parliamentary form of government?

Demand of the question
Introduction. Contextual Introduction.
Body. Merits and demerits of presidential system. Should India adopt presidential system of government?
Conclusion. Way forward.

The United States and many other democracies follow Presidential system of government. In this system, the President is both head of state and government. Unlike the Parliamentary system of government, there is clear separation between legislature and executive.

Merits of Presidential form:

  1. Stable executive: It establishes a stable executive which does not depend upon the fluctuating will of the legislature. Presidential system is more stable than parliamentary as coalition governments in latter can collapse as seen in Indian experience.
  2. Better policy implementation: The tenure of the executive is fixed and, therefore, the policy is carried without any fear or favour. Further, a fixed tenure of office means a greater continuity of policies and programmes and higher standard of administration.
  3. Direct reflection of people’s choice: As the President is elected by the people, it is a direct choice rather than being elected by Member of Parliaments and Legislative assembly.
  4. Better administration: President can appoint anyone as secretaries (minister equivalent). In India minister has to be Member of Parliament. The top administrators are therefore experts in the field of administration to which they are assigned. Regarding their selection and appointment, the President has a wider choice and he may appoint efficient people without any party affiliations.
  5. Stricter separation of powers: In Parliamentary system there is overlap in legislature and Executive, thus weakening the prospect of legislature holding executive accountable.
  6. Faster decisions: US President is more powerful, than India President domestically hence faster decision making is possible in the former. Thus, in the presidential form, there is possibility of misuse of powers and the legislatures are likely to be less dominant and arrogant.
  7. People’s participation: Popular election of the chief executive is supported to stimulate citizens’ interests in public affairs and competition for one important office concentrates public attention on the issue of the day more effectively than the elections for legislative seats.

Demerits of presidential system:

  1. Autocratic: The presidential system appears to be autocratic because the President is empowered to act more or less in his discretion.
  2. Irresponsible: It is irresponsible because the executive is made independent of the legislature. There is no effective means by which the responsibility for the exercise of power may be ensured.
  3. Lack of co-operation: Another weakness of the system is its failure to ensure the co-operation between law-makers and administrators. Frequent conflicts between the legislature and the executive may lead to deadlocks.
  4. Lack of accountability: There is no continuous accountability of the executive to the representatives of the people in the legislature. The fixed term of office of the executive also curtails responsiveness to public opinion.
  5. Inelastic: The biggest demerit of this system is that it is inelastic structure and uncertain in fixing up the final responsibility. It is inelastic because, once the President has been elected, the nation must continue with him, no matter whether it likes or dislikes his policies.
  6. Deadlock on important issues: Frequent conflicts between the legislature and the executive may lead to deadlocks.

Should India go for presidential form of government?

India should stick to the current model of Parliamentary form of government:

  • India is a diverse country and needs a diverse cabinet. The parliamentary system ensure this.
  • In India given the vast number of parties and maturing stage of democracy it is preferable to continue with Parliamentary form due to its stability and other advantages.
  • A shift will create legal issues as Parliamentary system is part of basic structure of Constitution. Moreover, transition may not be smooth and it may create chaos in the beginning and could prove detrimental for foreign investment.
  • The lessons and experiences of past 70 years in managing Parliamentary system will go waste and we will have to start afresh with a new system.
  • It avoids creation of deadlock and makes room for fresh elections in case Legislature and Executive are unable to resolve their differences.

In spite of the shortcomings, the Parliamentary system of government has worked satisfactory in India. Its successful operation is mostly attributed to the free and fair election conducted by India. India should continue with parliamentary system but should keep improving it plugging all the issues.

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