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Governments

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notes

Governments:

Democracy is a system of government wherein the people elect their rulers. But there is no single type of a democratic system of government. The two major types are Parliamentary and Presidential. India and the United Kingdom follow the Parliamentary system, while the United States of America follows a Presidential system.

Parliamentary system:

The Parliamentary system makes a distinction between the Head of the State and the Head of the Government. The Head of the State is the President or in the case of the United Kingdom, the Monarch. The Head of the Government is the Prime Minister. The President or the Monarch, the Prime Minster and the Council of Ministers are the Executive. But the real executive power is vested in the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers. The President or the Monarch is a nominal executive head. The actual or real head is the Prime Minister.

All Parliamentary systems are classified into either Constitutional Monarchies or Republics depending upon the nature of the nominal Executive. Systems where the office of the nominal Executive is filled on the basis of heredity are Constitutional Monarchies and the office holder is known as the Monarch. Republics are those where the nominal Executive is elected and the office holder is termed as the President. The nominal Executive is also termed as the Head of State.

It is the President or the Monarch who appoints the Prime Minister. The Council of ministers are also appointed by the President or the Monarch, but as per the Prime Minister’s wishes. Whosoever commands a majority in the Legislature is appointed by the President or the Monarch as the Prime Minister. It is the Prime Minister who actually runs the Government with the assistance of the ministers, and hence is known as the Head of Government.

For example in the United Kingdom the Parliament consists of the House of Lords and House of Commons. In India, there is the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. The members of House of Commons and Lok Sabha are directly elected by the people.

The origins of the House of Commons date from the second half of the 13th century, when landholders and other property owners in the counties and towns began sending representatives to Parliament to present grievances and petitions to the king and to accept commitments to the payment of taxes. In the 14th century the knights and burgesses chosen as representatives (i.e., the commons) began sitting in a separate chamber, or “house,” from that used by the nobles and high clergy (i.e., the lords). The UK public elects 650 Members of Parliament (MPs) to represent their interests and concerns in the House of Commons. MPs consider and propose new laws, and can scrutinise government policies by asking ministers questions about current issues either in the Commons Chamber or in Committees.

The House of Lords is the second chamber of the UK Parliament. It is independent from, and complements the work of, the elected House of Commons. The Lords shares the task of making and shaping laws and checking and challenging the work of the government. The House of Lords is made up of around 800 members from a variety of professions and walks of life

Presidential System:

In a Presidential system, the head of Executive branch is directly elected by the people for a fixed period. This head of the Executive branch in most such systems is termed as the ‘President’ and hence the term ‘Presidential system’. The President is both, the Head of the State and the Head of the Government.

The President also can appoint his subordinate officials like ministers and ambassadors. Generally, in such systems, members of the executive are prohibited from being members of the Legislature. For example, the Ministers (called Secretaries in the United States) are not members of the Congress.

The President has the right to reject a law passed by the Legislature. This is known as the ‘Veto Power’. The President can also request the Legislature to pass laws proposed by the Executive which are deemed necessary to solve the problems of the day. The Legislature can also impeach or remove from office the President if it is proved that the Constitution has been violated. However, this is a rare occurrence in established democratic systems.

Two United States presidents have been impeached, although none of which were convicted: Andrew Johnson in 1868, Bill Clinton in 1998. Donald Trump although in popular belief, was not impeached. He was in the process to be impeached by the Committee but resigned before he was officially impeached. Richard Nixon resigned as a result of the Watergate Scandal in 1974, after the House Judiciary Committee passed articles of impeachment but before the House could vote to impeach.

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