Syllabus Section:  Polity and constitution/GS Paper II


Features of Parliamentary System of Government

The Constitution of India provides for a parliamentary form of government, both at the Centre and in the states. Articles 74 and 75 of Indian constitution deals with the parliamentary system at the Centre and Articles 163 and 164 in the states. The features or principles of parliamentary government in India are as follows:

1. Nominal and Real Executives: The President is the nominal executive (de jure executive or titular executive) while the Prime Minister is the real executive (de facto executive). Thus, the President is head of the State, while the Prime Minister is head of the government. Article 74 provides for a council of ministers headed by the Prime Minister to aid and advise the President in the exercise of his functions. The advice so tendered is binding on the President.

2. Majority Party Rule: The political party which secures majority seats in the Lok Sabha forms the government.

3. Collective Responsibility: The ministers are collectively responsible to the Parliament in general and to the Lok Sabha in particular (Article 75). They act as a team, and swim and sink together.

4. Political Homogeneity: Usually members of the council of ministers belong to the same political party, and hence they share the same political ideology. In case of coalition government, the ministers are bound by consensus.

5. Double Membership: The ministers are members of both the legislature and the executive. This means that a person cannot be a minister without being a member of the Parliament.

6. Leadership of the Prime Minister: The Prime Minister plays the leadership role in this system of government. He is the leader of the council of ministers, leader of the Parliament and leader of the party in power.

7. Dissolution of the Lower House: The lower house of the Parliament (Lok Sabha) can be dissolved by the President on recommendation of the Prime Minister.

8. Secrecy: The ministers operate on the principle of secrecy of procedure and cannot divulge information about their proceedings, policies and decisions. They take the oath of secrecy before entering their office. The oath of secrecy to the ministers is administered by the President

Features of Presidential Government

Unlike the Indian Constitution, the American Constitution provides for the presidential form of government. The features of the American presidential system of government are as follows:

(a) The American President is both the head of the State and the head of government. As the head of State, he occupies a ceremonial position. As the head of government, he leads the executive organ of government.

(b) The President is elected by an electoral college for a fixed tenure of four years. He cannot be removed by the Congress except by impeachment for a grave unconstitutional act.

(c) The President governs with the help of a cabinet or a smaller body called ‘Kitchen Cabinet’. It is only an advisory body and consists of non-elected departmental secretaries. They are selected and appointed by him, are responsible only to him, and can be removed by him any time.

(d) The President and his secretaries are not responsible to the Congress for their acts. They neither possess membership in the Congress nor attend its sessions.

(e) The President cannot dissolve the House of Representatives—the lower house of the Congress.

(f) The doctrine of separation of powers is the basis of the American presidential system. The legislative, executive and judicial powers of the government are separated and vested in the three independent organs of the government.