• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10
  11. 11
  12. 12
  13. 13
  14. 14
  15. 15
  16. 16

In liberal-democratic political systems, which type of executive offers greater scope for democratic accountability: a presidential executive or a prime-ministerial/parliamentary type?

Extracts from this document...


In liberal-democratic political systems, which type of executive offers greater scope for democratic accountability: a presidential executive or a prime-ministerial/parliamentary type? Over the course of this essay firstly I intend to describe the relationship between the electorate and the executive in each political system, then to bring the aspect of accountability into the argument. It is necessary to define exactly what is meant by democratic accountability. Democratic accountability is visible in the modern era in three ways. Firstly it can be seen by the extent to which newly elected executives implement the policies laid out in their election manifesto. Secondly it can be measured in the ability of the electorate to remove an executive from office if these promises are not being kept. Finally it is exhibited in the accountability of the executive in a legal context by way of a judiciary or an independent organisation set up to review specific events. When analysing the scope for accountability within the presidential system the main area of interest is the relationship between the President and the legislature. Primarily I intend to focus on the American presidential system although useful examples can be drawn from other democratic systems. A President is given more individual powers by the state than a Prime Minister. When the population directly elects the President it can be said that this is a major reason for the powers of governance they receive such as commander in chief of the armed forces. ...read more.


The crucial difference is the make up of the rest of the executive, known as the cabinet in parliamentary systems. The prime minister as in presidential systems selects the cabinet. However he is only able to select members of parliament that have been won their seat via the election process. This mean that the electorate has to some extent the ability to influence who the cabinet will be made up of. In reality it is often the case that leaders will put potential cabinet ministers in 'safe' constituencies where their election is guaranteed. The executive, as in presidential systems has to have policies ratified by the legislature before they can be implemented. In reference to the cabinets requirement to gain ratification of tax reforms from parliament "the tax imposers are sure to quarrel with the tax requires." (Bagehot:1992:67) This could lead to the adaptation of the reforms to fit the views of the publicly elected legislature, which is in the interests of the electorate. Conversely it could lead to a situation of gridlock seen in the American presidential system. Here the electorate can be seen to be missing out in a similar way to the American electorate due to the fact that the blame for poor policy execution can be laid at the door of the legislative as a whole. The parliamentary system has one major advantage in this respect as the cabinet can threaten the legislature with dissolution if progress is not being made. ...read more.


An example of this in the American presidential system is the case of Donald Rumsfeld v. Jos´┐Ż Padilla & Donna Newman. This case is regarding the legality of holding 'terrorist' prisoners in a manner that breaks principle human rights laws in Guantanamo Bay. In the UK issues are rarely referred to the judiciary. This is principally due to the lack of a written constitution. In Germany and the Netherlands the judiciary is stronger and plays a greater role in the regulation of the actions of the legislature. To conclude I have come to the conclusion that the epitome of democracy, and therefore democratic accountability is a parliamentary system with a proportionally representative voting system. Although slower, progress made in the multi party systems is more representative of the views of the electorate. This is because members of different parties have to come to equally agreeable decisions that are more representative of the views of the electorate as a whole. "All members of the coalition have an incentive to co-operate if they do not want the government of the day to fall. In these circumstances democracies with four, five or six parties in the legislature can function quite well." (A. Stepan, C.Skach 1993:20) Parliamentary systems also give a clearer picture to the electorate of the processes of discussion of the legislature. This in turn means that when an election is called the electorate is able to exercise their democratic right to remove those responsible for not best representing their interests. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level United Kingdom section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level United Kingdom essays

  1. Comparison of the US President and British Prime Minister.

    policy appears to spark the interest of Parliament, shown by the quality of debates on foreign issues.

  2. Does the UK have a Prime Ministerial government?

    it ensures that they are very much under the power of the public opinion and that defines how powerful they are. For example, Brown was very much a weak Prime Minister in the sense of dictating policy as he simply didn't have enough public support or a large enough majority

  1. Discuss the indepedence of the UK Judiciary

    if the court is exterior to Britain, it must be independent by interference of the British government. The same rule applies to the European Court of Justice, to which the British can also appeal on matters regarding European law. Finally the last argument for judicial independence is that concerning political culture.

  2. To what extent has the Prime Minister become Presidential?

    judiciary; government ministers, from senior ministers to Parliamentary Private Secretaries; ministerial advisory posts; nationalised industries, the NHS and the BBC; and party officers. The variety of appointments is considerable and allows him to shape the very machine of government. Unlike in the U.S.A., there is nobody to veto these appointments

  1. The comparison of the US President and the British Prime Minister appears from the ...

    the Prime Minister, and thus his power is greatly limited in order to provide accountable government for the United States. The lesser degree of government secrecy and the 'separation of powers' provide, it would appear, a more adequate form of scrutiny.

  2. How effective is Parliament as a check on the executive?

    The big advantage of independent MP's is that they can vote against the Government, and due to their independency they mean what they say. However they are almost non existent within Parliament anymore. Only three have been elected in the last four elections (97, 01, 05 and 10).

  1. Electoral Systems Assignment

    Explain three advantages of the 'First Past the Post' electoral system. (10 marks) One of the biggest advantages of 'first past the post' is the fact that it is simple. A voter merely has to put a cross in one box on a ballot paper signalling the MP they

  2. Does Britain have a Prime Ministerial or Cabinet Government?

    Her dominating and aggressive personality made it almost impossible to argue with her and those that did often found their views ignored. When describing herself and her leadership style she once said 'I am not a consensus politician, I am a conviction politician'.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work