Parliamentary System Of Government: Meaning, Features, Merits And Demerits

Table Of Contents
1. Meaning Of Parliamentary System Of Government
2. Features Of Parliamentary System Of Government
3. Merits Of Parliamentary System Of Government
4. Demerits Of Parliamentary System Of Government
Meaning Of Parliamentary System Of Government
Parliamentary system of government also known as Cabinet system is a system of government in which the head of state and head of government are in the hands of two individuals. In parliamentary system, the head of state is the monarch or president and head of government is the prime minister who exercise executive functions. The prime minister and his cabinet are drawn from the parliament making them members of the executive as well as the parliament.
Examples of country that practise parliamentary or cabinet system of government is Britain. In Britain, the head of the state is the Queen (i.e The monarchy) and the head of government is the prime minister in Nigeria operated a parliamentary system of government in which Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe was the first president of Nigerian Republic (Ceremonial) and Sir Abubakar Tafawa Belewa was the prime minister.
Features Or Characteristics Of Parliamentary Or Cabinet System Of Government
1. The head of state is either the queen or president.
2. The prime minister is the head of government and he exercise executive function.
3. The prime minister is appointed by the president or queen (not elected) if his party wins the majority of seats in the parliament.
4. There is fusion of power between the executive and the legislature.
5. There exist the principle of collective responsibility. All members of the executive are collectively responsible for any decision taken by them. Anything affecting a member of the parliament affects all. Example, If the prime minister dies or resigns, the whole members of the council of ministers must resign with him and the government automatically ceases to be in power.
6. Existence of opposition party is loyally and officially recognised. The party that has the second highest number of seats in the parliament from the opposition party.
7. Coalition government is formed if no party had an absolute victory in the general election. E.g in Nigeria (1963-1966) NPC and NCNC formed a coalition government (Nigeria then was operating a parliamentary system of government).
8. The prime minister is controlled by the party and is expected to obey party directives.
Merits Of Parliamentary/Cabinet System Of Government
1. Mutual Understanding: This exist between the legislature and the executive.
2. Dedication And Efficiency: The ruling party should be dedicated and efficient in the administration of the country because failure to do that result to their removal by the opposition party.
3. Efficiency is ensured due to collective responsibility by cabinet members in decision reached.
4. Decisions are taken faster because member of the executive are equally members of the legislature.
5. No room for arbitrary rule because issues of the country is collectively taken. There is no individual exercise of power arbitrarily.
6. Absence Of Conflicts: Fusion of power arbitrarily system has helped it reduce conflict. E.g The executive and the legislature are complementary to each other.
7. In Defence Of Policies: The system allows ministers to defend their policies in parliament since they are also members of the parliament.
Demerits Of Parliamentary System
1. The poor performance of a minister can cause the fall of government due to collective responsibility.
2. The fusion of power in the cabinet system is a negation to the principle of separation of power which states that each organ should function separately.
3. Restriction of ministerial appointment may bring about not having best people in government since the appointment is only from the ruling party.
4. A vote of no confidence initiated against the executive could be ill-motivated and uncalled for in this system.

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