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British Parliamentary System: Advantages and Disadvantages Essay

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Updated: Jun 19th, 2020

Introduction

A parliamentary system is a form of governance in a nation from where the executive branch obtains its power (Rodner 54). The executive is accountable to the House of Commons in Britain. Hence, the two are interrelated. It is important to note that the head of state is different from the head of government. Thus, it is different from the presidential form of democracy. It is usually practised in monarchies and parliamentary republics. A parliamentary system could be a bicameral system that consists of two chambers, or a unicameral house (Rodner 58). This essay focuses on discussing the advantages and disadvantages of the British Parliamentary system.

Advantages of the British Parliamentary system

In order to understand the advantages of the British Parliamentary system, it is important to highlight its components (Rodner 59). First, the executive is linked with the legislature. Second, the executive organ is composed of the prime minister and cabinet ministers. Finally, it has a separate head of state and head of government (Rodner75). The above features give the system many advantages. One of the main advantages of this system is unity (Rodner 79).

This is for the reason that the executive and the legislative organs support each other. According to Rodner (83), unity is key because the legislative arm can pass a vote of no confidence if it is not contented with the performance of the executive branch. The process of making and amending laws is easier and faster (Rodner 85). The executive arm has the majority party in the parliament, meaning that it has the majority votes. This implies that it is easier to pass legislations without much resistance from the opposition (Rodner 85).

Moreover, the British Parliamentary system draws the attention of ethnic communities, making the leadership very effective in achieving national and regional goals (Gamble 404). Gamble (406) states that power is spread evenly on the platform of the British Parliamentary system. The prime minister is as important as the monarch because voters focus on voting for party ideas, but not for persons. Gamble (409) contends that the system also allows serious debates in parliament that could lead to changes of power without holding elections. Elections in Britain can be held anytime, especially if the assembly passes a vote of no confidence vis-a-vis the executive (Gamble 411). Parliamentary system in Britain is associated with less corruption (Gamble 411).

In fact, leaders who do not perform as expected are removed from offices. The system is also advantageous for the reason that the nation functions without a formal constitution (Bevir and Rhodes 216). Through the parliamentary arrangement, relatively small political parties grow and achieve national outlooks with a lot of ease (Bevir and Rhodes 218). For example, some leaders are indirectly elected by different districts that vote for representatives of the legislative body. Bevir and Rhodes (220) argue that in the British Parliamentary system, there is a dual relationship between the Upper House and the Lower House.

This is for the reason that both cooperate to promote the developments of the state. It is vital to state that proponents of parliamentary system argue that all political parties are included in the executive, including the minority parties (Bevir and Rhodes 224). This implies that diverse views are incorporated during the law-making process. Notably, the system has made the monarch and members of the House of Lords depend on the parliament (Bevir and Rhodes 226).

This has resulted in the promotion of accountability and transparency of the government towards citizens’ representatives. The system has developed a progressive and innovative electoral system that ensures efficiency during elections (Bevir and Rhodes 229; Lijphart 165). It allows the executive to implement its manifestos through the legislature (Bevir and Rhodes 131). This is because the executive and the legislative organs are interrelated.

The British Parliamentary system has allowed a relatively peaceful change from monarchical to a liberal democracy (Bevir and Rhodes 232). This has improved efficiency in the running of the country’s affairs. It has also allowed flexibility of legislative structures (Bevir and Rhodes 234). For example, the bicameral house is composed of the Upper House and the Lower House, which consults each other to avoid conflicts during implementation of government policies.

Disadvantages of the British Parliamentary system

The British Parliamentary system has many advantages compared with other systems of governments. Despite the many advantages, it has been characterised by many disadvantages. First, the executive power is not separated from the legislature (Oliver 154; Lijphart 167). As a result, laws that are not good have been passed. Although the parliament can pass a vote of no confidence, there are limited checks and balances (Oliver 156; Lijphart 168).

This has been the case because the majority party forms the government and would always aim at protecting the government. Cabinet members are appointed from the upper house, which interferes with the functions of the upper house with regard to monitoring what the executive does (Oliver 156; Lijphart 169). Nonetheless, the informal constitution that is used in Britain can be changed at anytime by the executive and the legislative arms through a bill or an amendment (Prosse 479).

It would be important to note that the powers that are inherited are undemocratic and could cause constitutional crises (Prosse 483). Reserve powers are derived from conventions, and issues could arise when employing them. The absolute powers of the executive and the legislature have contributed to an autocratic form of government that is controlled by the prime minister (Prosse 483). This has interfered with effective functioning of other organs.

Prosse (485) supports the fact that the prime minister is not elected directly and has little autonomy, interferes with his or her decision-making process. In addition, voting of the prime minister that is done strategically might not represent the voters’ interests (Prosse 487). It is crucial to note that the British Parliament is as a result of historical processes that derived power from an absolute monarch (Prosse 487).

Conclusion

In conclusion, the British Parliamentary system has advantages and disadvantages. It has been used as an example that has achieved a lot across the world. It is typified by the dependence of the executive on the parliament. Prime minister and the monarch are answerable to the House of Commons, promoting accountability and transparency as aforementioned. The fact that the system lacks a clear distinction between the legislature and the parliament makes the two collaborate. Voting that is done on the basis of party manifestos implies that citizens’ interests would be addressed. However, the system utilises informal constitution that is based on multiple sources of the law. Thus, it can be manipulated by the legislature and the executive.

Works Cited

Bevir, Mark, and Rod Rhodes. “Studying British government: reconstructing the research agenda.” The British Journal of Politics & International Relations 1.2 (1999): 215-239. Print.

Gamble, Andrew. “Theories of British politics.” Political Studies 38.3 (1990): 404-420. Print.

Lijphart, Arend. “Patterns of democracy: governance forms and performance in 36 countries.” New Haven, CT: Yale university press. (1999). Print.

Oliver, Dawn. “Constitutional reform in the United Kingdom.” Oxford, United Kingdom: OUP Oxford. (2004). Print.

Prosser, Tony. “Understanding the British constitution.” Political Studies 44.3 (1996): 473-487. Print.

Rodner Brazier. “Constitutional practice: The foundations of British Government.” Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford university press. 1999. Print.

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