Presidential system of government is a form of government in which all executive powers are vested in one person called the president and which the executive arm of government is separated from the legislature. It can also be defined as a system in which the head of state is different from the head of government.
The president who is elected by the electorate either directly or indirectly through an electoral collage and not chosen by the legislature and not a member of the legislature, is usually the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. He appoints members of his cabinet who are also not members of the parliament.
Over the years, presidential system has been criticized for many reasons. But that doesn’t mean that it is not advantageous in some way. This article therefore discusses the meaning, features, advantages and disadvantages of presidential system of government. I strongly enjoin you to read this work assiduously so that you will be able to grasp everything contained here.
For a better explanation of the the meaning of a presidential system of government, i recommend that you watch the video below.
Table of Content
Features or characteristics of presidential system of government
1. In a presidential system of government, the president is both the head of state and the head of government.
2. The principle of separation of powers where the executive arm of government is separated from the legislature and the judiciary applies in the presidential system of government.
3. The principle of collective responsibility that takes place in the cabinet system does not apply in the presidential system
4. The president is elected by the electorates either directly or indirectly through an electoral collage and not chosen by the legislature.
5. Supremacy of the constitution and rule of law in the country.
6. There is a fixed tenure of office for the president
7. There is the principle of checks and balances
Merits or advantages of presidential system of government
1. Absence of collective responsibility: Unlike the collective responsibility in the cabinet system, in the presidential system of government, every individual is accountable to his actions which may led to his own resignation and not the entire cabinet.
2. Separation of powers: One of the major advantages of presidential system is that, there is a clear separation of powers among the three organs of government which prevents misuse of powers since power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
3. Democracy: Presidential system of government tends to be more democratic than the cabinet system. For instance, the president is elected by the people, members of the legislature are free to vote according to their will and not by the dictate of party loyalties or party whims etc.
4. Stability in politics: This is mainly as a result of the constitutional provision that the president cannot be removed from office before the end of his tenure of office unless impeached as a result of violation of the constitution or through death.
5. Checks and balances: The application of the principle of checks and balances in the presidential system makes the government officials including the president cautious and meticulous in carrying out their functions which makes government very efficient and orderly.
6. Fixed tenure of office of the president: The system fixes a limited period for the president to rule and give chance to others and this prevents the emergence of a President who will rule for life. In Nigeria for instance, the president is expected to stay in office for just 4 years. After his first tenure of office, he can decide to come out for another election or not.
7. Full control of the executive arm: Unlike what happens in a cabinet system where the prime minister is weak, in a presidential system of government, the president has effective control of the executive arm of the government. He the president, has the power to discipline any minister who is not performing we.
8. Independence of the president: Once elected, the president is above his party and its pressure. Hence, he can decide not to subject to the whims and caprice of his party members. He stands as the symbol of one nation and the father of the nation.
9. Political participation in politics: In a presidential system, more people are given the opportunity to participate in government even though it is expensive to operate. This is as a result of the fact that members of the legislature are different from members of the cabinet.
10. It encourages good policy making: Good policies seem to be made in a presidential system as a result of the fact that the legislature which is a different organ approves some of the policies of the cabinet arm and again the two organs can be controlled by different parties.
Also see: Ways of acquiring citizenship in Nigeria
Demerits or Disadvantages of presidential system of government
1. It is Expensive: One of the problems of presidential system is the fact that it is expensive to run the system. This is so because of the fusion of the executive and the legislature.
2. It leads to high rate of corruption: Lobbying which is a feature of the presidential system is interpreted by some legislators as bribery, hence legislators must wait to be bribed before passing any bill initiated by the president.
3. It is difficult to control the president: Since the president is both the head of state and a government, it may be difficult to control him. Another reason for this is because, he is not responsible to the parliament.
4. It may lead to dictatorship: Since powers corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, the over concentration of powers in the president can corrupt him and make him to be a dictator.
5. Arbitrary dismissal: Since the president has the right to dismiss any member of his cabinet, there is the likelihood that the president will use such power as and instrument of political vendatta and victimization.
6. Frequent friction: There is always friction between the executive and the legislature as a result of the separation of powers of the two arms of the government. When the legislature is controlled by another party, it may use the passing of bills initiated by the executive to hold the executive to ransom and in retaliation, the president will withhold his assent to bills passed in the legislature.
So far, we have looked at the meaning, features, merits (advantages) and demerits (disadvantages) of presidential system of government. Hope this was insightful? Do let me know using the comment section below this article.
Edeh Samuel Chukwuemeka ACMC, is a Law Student and a Certified Mediator/Conciliator in Nigeria. He is also a Developer with knowledge in HTML, CSS, JS, PHP and React Native. Samuel is bent on changing the legal profession by building Web and Mobile Apps that will make legal research a lot easier.