13: Regimes: Presidents, Ministers and Parliaments Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in 13: Regimes: Presidents, Ministers and Parliaments Deck (15):

Elements of the executive (government)

- Head of government e.g. president, PM, chancellor
- Cabinet Ministers e.g. Foreign minster, finance minster
- junior ministers (outside cabinet)
- civil servants in ministries, departments and agencies


what are the two main powers in government

leadership (foreign policy, budget, legislative proposals) and management (implantation of policy)


Is executive power concentrated in the hands of one individual or of many?

it depends on:
1. how the head of the executive is chosen? directly elected, elected by special college or elected by a parliament
2. how the head of the executive can be removed? impeachment by a court, censure by a parliament, removed by a political party etc.
3. How cabinet ministers are appointed and removed? by the president or PM or the parliament or congress


attributes of a parliamentary system:

- government is responsible to the elected legislature
- there can be an independently elected president (parliamentary republic like in Germany) but mostly no independently elected president (parliamentary monarchy e.g UK)
- usually the government has a majority in parliament
- PM is appointed by monarch/head of state
- PM appoints cabinet
- PM and cabinet can be removed by Parliament (e.g. looses a vote of confidence
- PM/Cabinet can dissolve Parliament

- AGENDA SETTER: government (usually) a monopoly (because it controls legislative timetable, limits time spent on non-government bills)
- VETO: Majority in parliament (and head of state, officially)


attributes of a presidential system:

- government is not responsible to elected legislature
- president and parliament (congress) are elected separately, and sometimes at different times (fixed terms)
- president appoints the cabinet (who may require indiv approval by Congress)
- president and cabinet cannot be removed by Congress
- president and cabinet cannot dissolve congress
- the government can enforce party cohesion (via incentive of ministerial promotion or threat of parliamentary dissolution)

- AGENDA SETTER: any member of parliament (and sometimes president)
- VETO: majority in parliament and president

Examples: USA


attributes of a semi-presidential system:

- president appoints PM, but PM appoints Cabinet
- PM and Cabinet can be removed by either the president of the parliament
- president can dissolve parliament - new elections
- president is directly elected, usually at the same time as a parliamentary election, or just before a parliamentary election
- president or parliament proposes, Parliament accepts/rejects

- AGENDA SETTER: President via government
- VETO: majority in parliament

- (e.g. FRANCE)


Austin Mitchel (Labour) on being a backbencher MP

"my career in parliament has been spent throwing paper aeroplanes at a bulldozer"


What is policy-making like in a presidential system?

- if the government is unified: the president's party/coalition commands a majority in the Parliament, then the President can set the legislative agenda. Legislative proposals are made by senior members of the President's party, on behalf of the President. Unlike in parliamentary systems, coalitions have to be built issue by issue, because the President cannot enforce party cohesion.

- if the government is divided: the president's party/coalition does not command a majority in the parliament, then either the parliament dominates or there is a gridlock. the leader of the majority party/coalition parliament can set the legislative agenda, and the president will not veto if the proposal is closer to the president's ideal point than the status quo. but GRIDLOCK will occur is parliament tries to change policy in one direction, and the president tries to change policy in the other direction.


why and how can governments enforce party cohesion in a parliamentary system?

Carrots: promotion to ministerial office
Sticks: 'votes of no confidence' or parliamentary dissolution
Party leaders can prevent MPs from standing at the next election
MPs depend on the performance of their government fro their re-election (whip removed)
MPs are scared of party whips


why CAN'T governments enforce party cohesion in presidential systems?

no possibility of promotion to higher position.
president cannot dissolve the parliament or ask for a 'vote of no confidence'
separate election => members of Parliament are less dependent on the performance of the President for their re-election


who are "the rejected, the ejected, and the dejected" (Benedetto and Hix 2007) Why are they significant?

Rejected: non-promoted backbench MPs who become disillusioned by the promise (carrot) of ministerial positions
Ejected: former ministers - can vote against party freely
Dejected: policy outliers - disagree ideologically

These groups can be influential if they are really big which means that the longer a party is in government the more likely MPs are to rebel (because the above groups will grow)


how does the safe-seat/ marginal-seat distinction affect the probability a MP will rebel?

(Benedetto and Hix 2007) more likely to rebel if in a safe seat because almost guaranteed to be in party and in seat at next election (less scared of the government collapsing). However only if you are ideologically far from leaders
marginal seats


which is more prone to political breakdown a presidential system or a parliamentary system? Why?

Linz (1990): presidential systems are more prone to political breakdown (e.g. Latin America). This is because:
- the fusion of executive and legislative power in parliamentary systems generates governments capable of governing because they are supported by a majority in parliament and highly disciplined parties
- presidential regimes generate presidents who cannot count on a majority in parliament, and parliament is composed of individual legislators rather than cohesive parties - stalemate / grodlock
- presidential regimes lack a mechanism to resolve conflicts between governments and parliaments (e.g. vote of no confidence), so divided government drives actors to extra-constitutional means of resolving conflicts (societal breakdown) -> regime collapse.

BUT: Cheibub and Limongi (2007) proved him wrong - most of the time in a presidential system , the president is able to control the majority in the legislature


Pros and cons of presidential systems

- directly accountable executive
- strong ('working') parliament - more scrutiny
- checks-and-balances - prevents majority dictatorship
- more deliberative decision-making

- Prone to legislative 'gridlock'
- weak executive
- weak parties
- regime instability


Pros and cons of parliamentary systems

- one election
- powerful executive
- cohesive parties
- mandate to govern

- indirectly accountable government
- weak parliament ('talk shop')
- powerful party whips
- policy change can be too quick