Parliamentary vs Presidential Governments

Parliamentary vs Presidential Governments

Parliamentary system of Germany

Germany maintains a parliamentary system that has numerous points or checks, along with a federal system of government. In the parliamentary system, policies may go through a series of checks before implementation. The parliamentary system was first established in West Germany in 1949 before spreading to the eastern area of Germany in 1990. The major aim for establishing this system of government was to distribute power and ensure that power does not rest solely on a particular individual. This is critical since it helps avert abuse of power through dictatorship. It is worth noting that the main motivation behind establishing the parliamentary system was to prevent a repeat of Hitler-style rule in future. Power fragmentation introduces checks and balances ensuring that no person can have total authority to make decisions without the approval of another body.

Key characteristics and functions of Germany’s parliament

Germany’s parliament is not entirely supreme since the country has a federal system in place. This means that parliament controls a few areas of interest while the rest are under control of the federal government. Germany’s parliament has two major divisions namely the lower house (Bundestag) and the upper house (Bundesrat). The upper house is more powerful and can dictate to the lower house on what to do. The upper house has the power to reject bills of various kinds. In addition, the upper house must give consent for any constitutional amendments to take effect. State cabinets appoint members to represent them in the upper house. The members representing each state vary depending on the respective size of the state. Members in the lower house are elected for a term lasting four years. Another characteristic is numerous checks and balances. For instance, parliament comprises of numerous committees made of professional staffs that examine bills before they move to the full house.

One of the functions of Germany’s parliament is to ensure that the rights of newly found states are protected as enshrined in the constitution. The upper house checks on any proposed amendments to the constitution and gives the final say. The upper house participates in matters involving the European Union (“Bundesrat,” n.d). The upper house holds plenary sessions to discuss various legislations.

The lower house is responsible for electing the head of state in Germany. A special college of electors drawn from the lower house elects the head of state. The lower house is charged with the making of laws. It may introduce new laws or an amendment of existing law as a bill, which is subject to scrutiny even by the upper house and the Federal Government (“Deutscher Bundestag,” n.d). The lower house scrutinizes the Federal Government. This oversight function involves looking at the works or activities of the Federal Government. The lower house elects the Federal Chancellor, from among individuals proposed by the Federal Government. The lower house adopts the federal budget and evaluates the way the way it is implemented by the Federal Government (“Deutscher Bundestag,” n.d). The lower house also determines party funding, which correlates with the number of members.

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Strengths and weaknesses

One of the major strengths of Germany’s parliamentary system is consensual decision making. Once a bill is proposed, it goes through rigorous check and balances, ranging from professional staffs, Bundestag, and Bundesrat. Power in parliamentary system is more divided or does not rest on a single individual. Power is also distributed fairly across the power structure, such that no single state, religion or ethnic tribe yields total control over others. A parliamentary system has many checks and balances meaning that it is impossible to pass a discriminatory law. Bills are extensively debated, which is another strength of such a system. These strengths align with the advantages described in the textbook in that, a parliamentary system provides many checks and balances. The textbook highlights the possession of critical oversight duties by parliament as one of the major strengths of the system.

A major weakness of the parliamentary system is the tendency to be unstable. Like all other parliamentary systems, the government may collapse if it loses the majority in parliament. Another weakness is that the decisions making process tends to be opaque. The opposing members engage in backroom politics where a small fraction of members from either side meets to establish consensus over contentious issues. Once they agree, other members in the lower house will have no other choice but to go with the decision made. Another weakness is the possibility of a gridlock occurring during passing of bills. For instance, the lower house may pass a bill, only for the bill to be rejected in the upper house. The upper house may in turn offer a counterproposal, which may be rejected in the lower house. the textbook outlines instability as one of the major challenges facing parliamentary systems.

Presidential system of Mexico

Mexico has a presidential system that arose in 1925. This system came in place following 15 years of civil war. From the period following establishment of the presidential system in 1925 to 1990s, the president had great power and authority over the running of the country. The Congress and the Supreme Court, although in existence, were mainly under the president’s control. The members of Congress were mainly drawn from the ruling party, with only a few from other parties. The elected president served for a period of 6 years, after which another was elected. The incumbent president had a greater say as to the next person to rule for the next 6 years.

One of key characteristics of the system is that the president yields great power and influence. As such, he can influence decision making and passing of bills. The other characteristic is that there is a dominant party. The lower house of Congress is currently independent of the president. However, the Senate remains under president’s control. It is not necessary that the president have the majority of Congress members. The president acts as the head of state as well as the head of government. The federal government is divided into three arms: the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary. The president heads the executive, which is independent of the legislature. The president can appoint cabinet members, diplomats, attorney general, Supreme Court judges, and high-ranking military officials. The president can issue executive decrees. Bills must pass through the Senate and Chamber of Deputies.

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Strengths and weaknesses

One of the strengths of Mexico’s presidential system is a check on the majority rule. For instance, for a bill to pass into law it has to pass through Senate and Chamber of Deputies. The legislative arm and the executive arm share the mandate of introducing bills. Another strength is that in the presidential system, the government cannot dominate the passing of laws. In 2000, for instance, Vincent Fox became the president but had the minority members in Congress. This ensured that some of his proposals did not pass through congress, and thus propagation of democracy. In presidential systems, the executive and legislature are independent, which gives room for the two to place checks on each other. Some strengths align with those identified in the textbook. These are government’s inability to dominate passing of laws and the independence of executive and legislature.

A major weakness of a presidential system is the issue of accountability. On many occasions, the Mexican government has been accused of corruption. Another weakness is the tendency of the head of state to develop authoritarianism, which characterized Mexico up to 1997. Another weakness is political gridlock between the president and the legislature. For instance, the president and legislature can shift blame on each other. The issue of accountability aligns with that identified in the textbook.

The system that I would prefer is a parliamentary system. This system seems to have multiple checks and balances for passing bills. As such, it would be almost impossible to pass a law that marginalizes a group of people. The presidential system lacks multiple checks. Another reason I would prefer the parliamentary system is that it eliminates the issue of discrimination based on race, religion, party affiliation, ethnicity, gender, or color.


Bundesrat. (n.d). Roles and functions. Retrieved from

Deutscher Bundestag. (n.d). Function and role. Retrieved from

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