IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

Changing to a presidential system is the best way of ensuring a democracy that works

27th July, 2020 Editorial


Recent issues of switching of MLA in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh is the indication that parliamentary system in India is not working.


  • Our parliamentary system has created a unique breed of legislator, who has sought election only in order to wield executive power.
  • Produced governments dependent on a fickle legislative majority.
  • Obliged government to focus more on politics than on policy or performance.
  • Distorted the voting preferences of an electorate.
  • Spawned parties that are shifting alliances of selfish individual interests, not vehicles of coherent sets of ideas.
  • Forced governments to concentrate less on governing than on staying in office.
  • Obliged governments to cater to the lowest common denominator of their coalitions.
  • Politicians do not want to change the system because they know how to work the present system and do not wish to alter the ways they are used to.
  • The parliamentary system devised in Britain is based on traditions which simply do not exist in India.
  • Voter’s preference is usually based on the basis of their caste, their public image or other personal qualities.
  • India’s many challenges require political arrangements that permit decisive action, whereas ours increasingly promotes drift and indecision.

Requirement of Parliamentary System:

  • Clearly defined political parties, each with a coherent set of policies and preferences that distinguish it from the next.
  • Voters preference based on parties than on individual candidates.

Challenges of Parliamentary System:

  • It limits executive posts to those who are electable rather than to those who are able. The prime minister cannot appoint a cabinet of his choice; he has to cater to the wishes of the political leaders of several parties.
  • It puts a premium on defections and horse-trading.
  • Poor Quality of Legislation: Most laws are drafted by the executive — in practice by the bureaucracy — and parliamentary input into their formulation and passage is minimal, with very many bills being passed after barely a few minutes of debate.
  • The parliamentary system does not permit the existence of a legislature distinct from the executive, applying its collective mind freely to the nation’s laws.
  • For those parties who do not get into government Parliament or Assembly serves not as a solemn deliberative body, but as a theatre for the demonstration of their power to disrupt.

Case for Presidential System:

  • A directly elected chief executive in New Delhi and in each state, would have stability of tenure free.
  • Ability to appoint the cabinet ministers of talent.
  • Devote his or her energies to governance.
  • Vote directly for the individual.
  • President will truly be able to claim to speak for a majority of Indians rather than a majority of MPs.
  • The public would be able to judge the individual on performance in improving the lives of Indians, rather than on political skill at keeping a government in office.
  • The same logic would apply to the directly elected heads of our towns and cities.

Presidential form of government:

  • A presidential system is a system of government where a head of government is also head of states and leads an executive branch that is separate from legislative branch.
  • Presidents take more direct personal charge of policy than the cabinet does in a parliamentary system.

Reference: https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/rajasthan-political-crisis-parliamentary-system-shashi-tharoor-6522100/