The Main Characteristics of Parliamentary and Presidential Governments
The democracies can be presidential and parliamentary. The parliamentary government is the one where the legitimate power to govern is granted to parliament; it is the most widely spread type of democracy in the world.
“A parliament is a legislative body usually comprised of two houses of assembly”.
Parliament is typical for countries that used to be monarchies and have become constitutional democracies. Such a government is usually headed by the parliamentary executive, an official who is chosen by the head of the state. The Parliament has to form the majority government, which usually results in forming the ruling party that affects the parliamentary decisions and the national policy. The party left in minority usually forms the opposition and also has certain powers in the parliament. All decisions are discussed in the Parliament, and the head of the state has no authority to ratify any state decisions without the approval of the Parliament, which is the representative body voicing the opinion of the whole population.
The presidential form of government, in contrast to the parliamentary one, is characterized by the supreme power of the President who may influence the decisions of the Parliament. However, there are certain measures designed to restrict Presidential power; they are the strict adherence to the constitutional proclamation of the separation of powers. This rule is clearly evident in the USA where the system of checks and balances works perfectly well.
The government of Canada is parliamentary, so the majority of policies are informed in the Parliament. The minority government is highly vulnerable, and the Cabinet is very accountable to the Parliament, the role of which is to decide whether the Cabinet fulfills its duties properly or not. On some occasions, there are single-party governments that seriously challenge the assumptions of parliamentary democracy. The general audit function, i.e. the rules and procedures that allow members of Parliament to scrutinize and criticize the government record publicly, is a powerful tool for government accountability. One can state that legislative and executive powers are partly fused in Canada. In contrast to Canada, the USA legal system focuses mainly on the executive branch of power, and here the powers are clearly separated. They have been initially created as a system of checks and balances, to weigh each other and prevent each branch from misusing its powers.