parliamentary system
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A parliamentary system, or parliamentarian democracy, is a system of
democratic
democratic
governance Governance is the process of interactions through the laws, norms, power or language Language is a structured system of communication. The structure of a language is its grammar and the free components are its vocabulary. Languages ar ...

governance
of a
state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, U ...
(or subordinate entity) where the
executive Executive ( exe., exec., execu.) may refer to: Role or title * Executive, a senior management Senior management, executive management, upper management, or a management is generally individuals at the highest level of management of an organizat ...
derives its democratic legitimacy from its ability to command the support ("confidence") of the
legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, political entity such as a Sovereign state, country or city. They are often contrasted with the Executive (government), executive and Judiciary, ...
, typically a
parliament In modern politics, and history, a parliament is a legislative body of government. Generally, a modern parliament has three functions: Representation (politics), representing the Election#Suffrage, electorate, making laws, and overseeing ...

parliament
, to which it is accountable. In a parliamentary system, the
head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state (polity), state#Foakes, Foakes, pp. 110–11 "
he head of state He or HE may refer to: Language * He (pronoun), an English pronoun * He (kana), the romanization of the Japanese kana へ * He (letter) He is the fifth Letter (alphabet), letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician alphabet, Phoenic ...
being an embodiment of the State itself or representatitve of its international p ...
is usually a person distinct from the
head of government The head of government is the highest or the second-highest official in the Executive (government), executive branch of a sovereign state, a federated state, or a self-governing colony, autonomous region, or other government who often presid ...
. This is in contrast to a
presidential system A presidential system, or single executive system, is a form of government in which a head of government, typically with the title of President (government title), president, leads an Executive (government), executive branch that is separate from ...
, where the head of state often is also the head of government and, most importantly, where the executive does not derive its democratic legitimacy from the legislature. Countries with parliamentary systems may be constitutional monarchies, where a
monarch A monarch is a head of stateWebster's II New College DictionarMonarch Houghton Mifflin. Boston. 2001. p. 707. Life tenure, for life or until abdication, and therefore the head of state of a monarchy. A monarch may exercise the highest authority ...

monarch
is the head of state while the head of government is almost always a
member of parliament A member of parliament (MP) is the representative in parliament of the people who live in their electoral district. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, this term refers only to members of the lower house since upper house members o ...
, or
parliamentary republic A parliamentary republic is a republic that operates under a parliamentary system of government where the Executive (government), executive branch (the government) derives its legitimacy from and is accountable to the legislature (the parliame ...
s, where a mostly ceremonial president is the head of state while the head of government is regularly from the legislature. In a few parliamentary republics, among some others, the head of government is also head of state, but is elected by and is answerable to parliament. In
bicameral Bicameralism is a type of legislature, one divided into two separate Deliberative assembly, assemblies, chambers, or houses, known as a bicameral legislature. Bicameralism is distinguished from unicameralism, in which all members deliberate and ...
parliaments, the head of government is generally, though not always, a member of the lower house.
Parliamentarianism Parliamentary sovereignty, also called parliamentary supremacy or legislative supremacy, is a concept in the constitutional law of some parliamentary democracies. It holds that the legislative body has absolute sovereignty and is supreme over all ...
is the dominant
form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state. In the case of its broad associative definition, government normally consists of legislature, executive, and judiciary. Government ...
in
Europe Europe is a large peninsula conventionally considered a continent in its own right because of its great physical size and the weight of its history and traditions. Europe is also considered a Continent#Subcontinents, subcontinent of Eurasia ...

Europe
, with 32 of its 50 sovereign states being parliamentarian. It is also common in the
Caribbean The Caribbean (, ) ( es, El Caribe; french: la Caraïbe; ht, Karayib; nl, De Caraïben) is a region of the Americas that consists of the Caribbean Sea, its islands (some surrounded by the Caribbean Sea and some bordering both the Caribbean ...
, being the form of government of 10 of its 13 island states, and in
Oceania Oceania (, , ) is a region, geographical region that includes Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. Spanning the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and Western Hemisphere, Western hemispheres, Oceania is estimated to have a land area of ...

Oceania
. Elsewhere in the world, parliamentary countries are less common, but they are distributed through all continents, most often in former colonies of the
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. I ...

British Empire
that subscribe to a particular brand of parliamentarianism known as the Westminster system.


History

Since ancient times, when societies were tribal, there were councils or a headman whose decisions were assessed by village elders. Eventually, these councils have slowly evolved into the modern parliamentary system. The first
parliament In modern politics, and history, a parliament is a legislative body of government. Generally, a modern parliament has three functions: Representation (politics), representing the Election#Suffrage, electorate, making laws, and overseeing ...

parliament
s date back to Europe in the Middle Ages: specifically in 1188 Alfonso IX, King of Leon (Spain) convened the three states in the
Cortes of León Cortes, Cortés, Cortês, Corts, or Cortès may refer to: People * Cortes (surname), including a list of people with the name ** Hernán Cortés (1485–1547), a Spanish conquistador Places * Cortes, Navarre, a village in the South border of N ...
. An early example of parliamentary government developed in today's Netherlands and Belgium during the
Dutch revolt The Eighty Years' War or Dutch Revolt ( nl, Nederlandse Opstand) (Historiography of the Eighty Years' War#Name and periodisation, c.1566/1568–1648) was an armed conflict in the Habsburg Netherlands between disparate groups of rebels and t ...
(1581), when the sovereign, legislative and executive powers were taken over by the
States General of the Netherlands The States General of the Netherlands ( nl, Staten-Generaal ) is the Parliamentary sovereignty, supreme Bicameralism, bicameral legislature of the Netherlands consisting of the Senate (Netherlands), Senate () and the House of Representatives (Neth ...
from the monarch,
King Philip II of Spain Philip II) in Spain, while in Kingdom of Portugal, Portugal and his Italian kingdoms he ruled as Philip I ( pt, Filipe I). (21 May 152713 September 1598), also known as Philip the Prudent ( es, Felipe el Prudente), was King of Spain from 1556, K ...
. The modern concept of parliamentary government emerged in the
Kingdom of Great Britain between 1707 and 1800
Kingdom of Great Britain between 1707 and 1800
and its contemporary, the Parliamentary System in Sweden between 1721 and 1772. In England, Simon de Montfort is remembered as one of the fathers of
representative government Representative democracy, also known as indirect democracy, is a types of democracy, type of democracy where elected people Representation (politics), represent a group of people, in contrast to direct democracy. Nearly all modern liberal democr ...
for convening two famous parliaments. The first, in 1258, stripped the king of unlimited authority and the second, in 1265, included ordinary citizens from the towns. Later, in the 17th century, the
Parliament of England The Parliament of England was the legislature of the Kingdom of England from the 13th century until 1707 when it was replaced by the Parliament of Great Britain. Parliament evolved from the great council of bishops and peers that advis ...
pioneered some of the ideas and systems of
liberal democracy Liberal democracy is the combination of a liberalism, liberal political ideology that operates under an representative democracy, indirect democratic form of government. It is characterized by elections between Pluralism (political philosophy), ...

liberal democracy
culminating in the
Glorious Revolution The Glorious Revolution; gd, Rèabhlaid Ghlòrmhor; cy, Chwyldro Gogoneddus , also known as the ''Glorieuze Overtocht'' or ''Glorious Crossing'' in the Netherlands, is the sequence of events leading to the deposition of King James II and ...
and passage of the
Bill of Rights 1689 The Bill of Rights 1689 is an Act of the Parliament of England The Parliament of England was the legislature of the Kingdom of England from the 13th century until 1707 when it was replaced by the Parliament of Great Britain. Parliam ...
. In the
Kingdom of Great Britain The Kingdom of Great Britain (officially Great Britain) was a Sovereign state, sovereign country in Western Europe from 1 May 1707 to the end of 31 December 1800. The state was created by the 1706 Treaty of Union and ratified by the Acts of ...

Kingdom of Great Britain
, the monarch, in theory, chaired cabinet and chose ministers. In practice, King George I's inability to speak English led the responsibility for chairing cabinet to go to the leading minister, literally the ''
prime A prime number (or a prime) is a natural number greater than 1 that is not a product of two smaller natural numbers. A natural number greater than 1 that is not prime is called a composite number. For example, 5 is prime because the only wa ...
'' or first minister,
Robert Walpole Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford, (26 August 1676 – 18 March 1745; known between 1725 and 1742 as Sir Robert Walpole) was a Kingdom of Great Britain, British statesman and Whigs (British political party), Whig politician who, as First Lor ...

Robert Walpole
. The gradual democratisation of parliament with the broadening of the voting franchise increased parliament's role in controlling government, and in deciding whom the king could ask to form a government. By the 19th century, the
Great Reform Act The Representation of the People Act 1832 (also known as the 1832 Reform Act, Great Reform Act or First Reform Act) was an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the Parliamentary sovereignty in ...
of 1832 led to parliamentary dominance, with its choice ''invariably'' deciding who was prime minister and the complexion of the government. Other countries gradually adopted what came to be called the Westminster system of government, with an executive answerable to the lower house of a bicameral parliament, and exercising, in the name of the head of state, powers nominally vested in the head of state – hence the use of phrases such as ''Her Majesty's government'' (in constitutional monarchies) or ''His Excellency's government'' (in parliamentary republics). Such a system became particularly prevalent in older British dominions, many of which had their constitutions enacted by the British parliament; such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the
Irish Free State The Irish Free State ( ga, Saorstát Éireann, , ; 6 December 192229 December 1937) was a State (polity), state established in December 1922 under the Anglo-Irish Treaty of December 1921. The treaty ended the three-year Irish War of Independ ...
and the
Union of South Africa The Union of South Africa ( nl, Unie van Zuid-Afrika; af, Unie van Suid-Afrika; ) was the historical predecessor to the present-day South Africa, Republic of South Africa. It came into existence on 31 May 1910 with the unification of the Briti ...
. Some of these parliaments were reformed from, or were initially developed as distinct from their original British model: the
Australian Senate The Senate is the upper house of the Bicameralism, bicameral Parliament of Australia, the lower house being the House of Representatives (Australia), House of Representatives. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Chapter ...
, for instance, has since its inception more closely reflected the
US Senate The United States Senate is the Upper house, upper chamber of the United States Congress, with the United States House of Representatives, House of Representatives being the Lower house, lower chamber. Together they compose the national Bica ...
than the British
House of Lords The House of Lords, also known as the House of Peers, is the Bicameralism, upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Membership is by Life peer, appointment, Hereditary peer, heredity or Lords Spiritual, official function. Like the ...

House of Lords
; whereas since 1950 there is no upper house in New Zealand. Many of these countries such as
Trinidad and Tobago Trinidad and Tobago (, ), officially the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, is the southernmost island country in the Caribbean. Consisting of the main islands Trinidad and Tobago, and numerous much List of islands of Trinidad and Tobago, small ...

Trinidad and Tobago
and
Barbados Barbados is an island country in the Lesser Antilles of the West Indies, in the Caribbean region of the Americas, and the most easterly of the Caribbean Islands. It occupies an area of and has a population of about 287,000 (2019 estimate). ...

Barbados
have severed institutional ties to Great Britain by becoming republics with their own ceremonial Presidents, but retain the Westminster system of government.
Democracy Democracy (From grc, δημοκρατία, dēmokratía, ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form of government in which people, the people have the authority to deliberate and decide legislation ("direct democracy"), or to choo ...

Democracy
and
parliamentarianism Parliamentary sovereignty, also called parliamentary supremacy or legislative supremacy, is a concept in the constitutional law of some parliamentary democracies. It holds that the legislative body has absolute sovereignty and is supreme over all ...
became increasingly prevalent in Europe in the years after
World War I World War I (28 July 1914 11 November 1918), often abbreviated as WWI, was List of wars and anthropogenic disasters by death toll, one of the deadliest global conflicts in history. Belligerents included much of Europe, the Russian Empire, ...

World War I
, partially imposed by the democratic victors, the United States, Great Britain and France, on the defeated countries and their successors, notably Germany's Weimar Republic and the
First Austrian Republic The First Austrian Republic (german: Erste Österreichische Republik), officially the Republic of Austria, was created after the signing of the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye (1919), Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye on 10 September 1919—the se ...
. Nineteenth-century
urbanisation Urbanization (or urbanisation) refers to the population shift from Rural area, rural to urban areas, the corresponding decrease in the proportion of people living in rural areas, and the ways in which societies adapt to this change. It is predo ...
, the
Industrial Revolution The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in Great Britain, continental Europe, and the United States, that occurred during the period from around 1760 to about 1820–1840. This transition included going fr ...
and
modernism Modernism is both a philosophy, philosophical and arts movement that arose from broad transformations in Western world, Western society during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The movement reflected a desire for the creation of new fo ...
had already made the parliamentarist demands of the Radicals and the emerging movement of
social democrats Social democracy is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations among individuals, such as the distribution of resources or status. ...
increasingly impossible to ignore; these forces came to dominate many states that transitioned to parliamentarism, particularly in the
French Third Republic The French Third Republic (french: Troisième République, sometimes written as ) was the system of government adopted in France France (), officially the French Republic ( ), is a country primarily located in Western Europe. It a ...
where the Radical Party and its centre-left allies dominated the government for several decades. However, the rise of
Fascism Fascism is a far-right, Authoritarianism, authoritarian, ultranationalism, ultra-nationalist political Political ideology, ideology and Political movement, movement,: "extreme militaristic nationalism, contempt for electoral democracy and pol ...

Fascism
in the 1930s put an end to parliamentary democracy in Italy and Germany, among others. After the
Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a world war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the World War II by country, vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the great power ...
, the defeated fascist Axis powers were occupied by the victorious Allies. In those countries occupied by the Allied democracies (the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
,
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a country in Europe, off the north-western coast of the European mainland, continental mainland. It comprises England, Scotlan ...

United Kingdom
, and
France France (), officially the French Republic ( ), is a country primarily located in Western Europe. It also comprises of Overseas France, overseas regions and territories in the Americas and the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic, Pacific Ocean, Pac ...

France
) parliamentary constitutions were implemented, resulting in the parliamentary constitutions of Italy and
West Germany West Germany is the colloquial term used to indicate the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG; german: Bundesrepublik Deutschland , BRD) between its formation on 23 May 1949 and the German reunification through the accession of East Germany on 3 O ...
(now all of Germany) and the 1947
Constitution of Japan The Constitution of Japan (Shinjitai: , Kyūjitai: , Hepburn romanization, Hepburn: ) is the constitution of Japan and the supreme law in the state. Written primarily by American civilian officials working under the Allied occupation of Japa ...
. The experiences of the war in the occupied nations where the legitimate democratic governments were allowed to return strengthened the public commitment to parliamentary principles; in
Denmark ) , song = ( en, "King Christian stood by the lofty mast") , song_type = National and royal anthem , image_map = EU-Denmark.svg , map_caption = , subdivision_type = Sovereign state , subdivision_name = Danish Realm, Kingdom of Denmark ...

Denmark
, a new constitution was written in 1953, while a long and acrimonious debate in Norway resulted in no changes being made to that country's strongly entrenched democratic constitution.


Characteristics

A parliamentary system may be either
bicameral Bicameralism is a type of legislature, one divided into two separate Deliberative assembly, assemblies, chambers, or houses, known as a bicameral legislature. Bicameralism is distinguished from unicameralism, in which all members deliberate and ...
, with two chambers of parliament (or houses) or
unicameral Unicameralism (from ''uni''- "one" + Latin ''camera'' "chamber") is a type of legislature, which consists of one house or assembly, that legislates and votes as one. Unicameral legislatures exist when there is no widely perceived need for multic ...
, with just one parliamentary chamber. A bicameral parliament usually consists of a directly elected
lower house A lower house is one of two Debate chamber, chambers of a Bicameralism, bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the upper house. Despite its official position "below" the upper house, in many legislatures worldwide, the lower house has co ...
with the power to determine the executive government, and an
upper house An upper house is one of two Debate chamber, chambers of a bicameralism, bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the lower house.''Bicameralism'' (1997) by George Tsebelis The house formally designated as the upper house is usually smalle ...
which may be appointed or elected through a different mechanism from the lower house.


Types

Scholars of democracy such as Arend Lijphart distinguish two types of parliamentary democracies: the Westminster and Consensus systems.


Westminster system

* The Westminster system is usually found in the
Commonwealth of Nations The Commonwealth of Nations, simply referred to as the Commonwealth, is a political association of 56 member states, the vast majority of which are former territories of the British Empire. The chief institutions of the organisation are the C ...

Commonwealth of Nations
and countries which were influenced by the British political tradition. These parliaments tend to have a more adversarial style of debate and the
plenary session A plenary session or plenum is a Session (parliamentary procedure), session of a Convention (meeting), conference which all members of all parties are to attend. Such a session may include a broad range of content, from keynotes to panel discuss ...
of parliament is more important than committees. Some parliaments in this model are elected using a
plurality voting system Plurality voting refers to electoral systems in which a candidate, or candidates, who poll more than any other counterpart (that is, receive a plurality (voting), plurality), are elected. In systems based on single-member districts, it elects j ...
(
first past the post In a first-past-the-post electoral system An electoral system or voting system is a set of rules that determine how elections and Referendum, referendums are conducted and how their results are determined. Electoral systems are used in poli ...
), such as the United Kingdom, Canada, India and Malaysia, while others use some form of
proportional representation Proportional representation (PR) refers to a type of electoral system under which subgroups of an electorate are reflected proportionately in the elected body. The concept applies mainly to geographical (e.g. states, regions) and political divi ...

proportional representation
, such as Ireland and New Zealand. The
Australian House of Representatives The House of Representatives is the lower house of the bicameralism, bicameral Parliament of Australia, the upper house being the Australian Senate, Senate. Its composition and powers are established in Chapter I of the Constitution of Austra ...

Australian House of Representatives
is elected using
instant-runoff voting Instant-runoff voting (IRV) is a type of Ranked voting, ranked preferential Electoral system, voting method. It uses a Majority rule, majority voting rule in single-winner elections where there are more than two candidates. It is commonly referr ...
, while the
Senate A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house An upper house is one of two Debate chamber, chambers of a bicameralism, bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the lower house.''Bicameralism'' (1997) by George Tseb ...
is elected using proportional representation through
single transferable vote Single transferable vote (STV) is a multi-winner electoral system in which voters cast a single vote in the form of a ranked-choice ballot. Voters have the option to rank candidates, and their vote may be transferred according to alternate ...
. Regardless of which system is used, the voting systems tend to allow the voter to vote for a named candidate rather than a
closed list Closed list describes the variant of party-list systems where voters can effectively only vote for political parties as a whole; thus they have no influence on the party-supplied order in which party candidates are elected. If voters had some inf ...
.


Consensus system

* The Western European parliamentary model (e.g., Spain, Germany) tends to have a more consensual debating system and usually has semi-circular debating chambers. Consensus systems have more of a tendency to use
proportional representation Proportional representation (PR) refers to a type of electoral system under which subgroups of an electorate are reflected proportionately in the elected body. The concept applies mainly to geographical (e.g. states, regions) and political divi ...

proportional representation
with open party lists than the Westminster Model legislatures. The committees of these Parliaments tend to be more important than the
plenary chamber A debate chamber is a room for people to discuss and debate Debate is a process that involves formal discourse on a particular topic, often including a Discussion moderator, moderator and audience. In a debate, arguments are put forward fo ...
. Some Western European countries' parliaments (e.g., in the
Netherlands ) , anthem = ( en, "William of Nassau") , image_map = , map_caption = , subdivision_type = Sovereign state , subdivision_name = Kingdom of the Netherlands , established_title = Before independence , established_date = Spanish Neth ...
,
Luxembourg Luxembourg ( ; lb, Lëtzebuerg ; french: link=no, Luxembourg; german: link=no, Luxemburg), officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, ; french: link=no, Grand-Duché de Luxembourg ; german: link=no, Großherzogtum Luxemburg is a small land ...
and
Sweden Sweden, formally the Kingdom of Sweden,The United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names states that the country's formal name is the Kingdom of SwedenUNGEGN World Geographical Names, Sweden./ref> is a Nordic countries, Nordic c ...
) implement the principle of dualism as a form of
separation of powers Separation of powers refers to the division of a state (polity), state's government into branches, each with separate, independent power (social and political), powers and responsibilities, so that the powers of one branch are not in conflic ...

separation of powers
. In countries using this system, Members of Parliament have to resign their place in Parliament upon being appointed (or elected) minister. Ministers in those countries usually actively participate in parliamentary debates, but are not entitled to vote.


Election of the head of government

Implementations of the parliamentary system can also differ as to how the prime minister and government are appointed and whether the government needs the explicit approval of the parliament, rather than just the absence of its disapproval. Some countries such as India also require the prime minister to be a member of the legislature, though in other countries this only exists as a convention. * The head of state appoints a prime minister who will likely have majority support in parliament. While in practice most prime ministers under the Westminster system (including Australia, Canada, Malaysia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom) are the leaders of the largest party in parliament, technically the appointment of the prime minister is a prerogative exercised by the monarch, the governor-general, or the president. * The head of state appoints a prime minister who must gain a vote of confidence within a set time. Examples: Italy, Thailand. * The head of state appoints the leader of the political party holding a plurality of seats in parliament as prime minister. For example, in Greece, if no party has a majority, the leader of the party with a plurality of seats is given an ''exploratory mandate'' to receive the confidence of the parliament within three days. If this is not possible, then the leader of the party with the second-highest seat number is given the ''exploratory mandate''. If this fails, then the leader of the third-largest party is given it, and so on. * The head of state ''nominates'' a candidate for prime minister who is then submitted to parliament for approval before appointment. Example: Spain, where the King sends a proposal to the
Congress of Deputies The Congress of Deputies ( es, link=no, Congreso de los Diputados, italic=unset) is the lower house of the Cortes Generales, Spain's legislative branch. The Congress meets in the Palacio de las Cortes, Madrid, Palace of the Parliament () in Ma ...

Congress of Deputies
for approval. Also, Germany where under the German Basic Law (constitution) the
Bundestag The Bundestag (, "Federal Diet (assembly), Diet") is the German Federalism, federal parliament. It is the only federal representative body that is directly elected by the German people. It is comparable to the United States House of Representat ...

Bundestag
votes on a candidate nominated by the federal president. In these cases, parliament can choose another candidate who then would be appointed by the head of state. * Parliament ''nominates'' a candidate whom the head of state is constitutionally obliged to appoint as prime minister. Example: Japan, where the
Emperor An emperor (from la, imperator, via fro, empereor) is a monarch, and usually the sovereignty, sovereign ruler of an empire or another type of imperial realm. Empress, the female equivalent, may indicate an emperor's wife (empress consort), ...
appoints the
Prime Minister A prime minister, premier or chief of cabinet is the head of the Cabinet (government), cabinet and the leader of the Minister (government), ministers in the Executive (government), executive branch of government, often in a parliamentary syst ...
on the nomination of the
National Diet The is the national legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, political entity such as a Sovereign state, country or city. They are often contrasted with the Executive ...

National Diet
. Also Ireland, where the
President of Ireland The president of Ireland ( ga, Uachtarán na hÉireann) is the head of state of Republic of Ireland, Ireland and the supreme commander of the Defence Forces (Ireland), Irish Defence Forces. The president holds office for seven years, and can ...
appoints the
Taoiseach The Taoiseach is the head of government, or prime minister, of Republic of Ireland, Ireland. The office is appointed by the president of Ireland upon the nomination of Dáil Éireann (the lower house of the Oireachtas, Ireland's national legisl ...
on the nomination of
Dáil Éireann Dáil Éireann ( , ; ) is the lower house, and principal chamber, of the Oireachtas (Irish legislature), which also includes the President of Ireland and Seanad Éireann (the upper house).Article 15.1.2º of the Constitution of Ireland reads: ...

Dáil Éireann
. * A public officeholder (other than the head of state or their representative) ''nominates'' a candidate, who, if approved by parliament, is appointed as prime minister. Example: Under the Swedish
Instrument of Government (1974) The Basic Laws of Sweden ( sv, Sveriges grundlagar) are the four constitutional laws of the Sweden, Kingdom of Sweden that regulate the Politics of Sweden, Swedish political system, acting in a similar manner to the constitutions of most countries ...
, the power to appoint someone to form a government has been moved from the monarch to the Speaker of Parliament and the parliament itself. The speaker nominates a candidate, who is then elected to prime minister (''statsminister'') by the parliament if an absolute majority of the members of parliament does not vote against the candidate (i.e. they can be elected even if more members of parliament vote ''No'' than ''Yes).'' * Direct election by popular vote. Example: Israel, 1996–2001, where the prime minister was elected in a general election, with no regard to political affiliation, and whose procedure can also be described as of a semi-parliamentary system.


Power of dissolution and call for election

Furthermore, there are variations as to what conditions exist (if any) for the government to have the right to dissolve the parliament: * In some countries, especially those operating under a Westminster system, such as the United Kingdom, Denmark, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand, the prime minister has the ''de facto'' power to call an election, at will. In Spain, the prime minister is the only person with the ''de jure'' power to call an election, granted by Article 115 of the
Constitution A constitution is the aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents that constitute the legal basis of a polity A polity is an identifiable Politics, political entity – a group of people with a collective identity, who ...
. * In Israel, parliament may vote to dissolve itself in order to call an election, or the prime minister may call a snap election with presidential consent if his government is deadlocked. A non-passage of the budget automatically calls a snap election. * Other countries only permit an election to be called in the event of a
vote of no confidence A motion of no confidence, also variously called a vote of no confidence, no-confidence motion, motion of confidence, or vote of confidence, is a statement or vote about whether a person in a position of responsibility like in government or mana ...
against the government, a supermajority vote in favour of an early election or prolonged deadlock in parliament. These requirements can still be circumvented. For example, in Germany in 2005,
Gerhard Schröder Gerhard Fritz Kurt "Gerd" Schröder (; born 7 April 1944) is a German lobbyist and former politician, who served as the chancellor of Germany from 1998 to 2005. From 1999 to 2004, he was also the Leader of the Social Democratic Party of Germany ...

Gerhard Schröder
deliberately allowed his government to lose a confidence motion, in order to call an early election. * In Sweden, the government may call a snap election at will, but the newly elected
Riksdag The Riksdag (, ; also sv, riksdagen or ''Sveriges riksdag'' ) is the legislature and the Parliamentary sovereignty, supreme decision-making body of Sweden. Since 1971, the Riksdag has been a unicameral legislature with List of members of th ...

Riksdag
is only elected to fill out the previous Riksdag's term. The last time this option was used was in
1958 Events January * January 1 – The European Economic Community (EEC) comes into being. * January 3 – The West Indies Federation is formed. * January 4 ** Edmund Hillary's Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition completes the third ...
. * In
Greece Greece,, or , romanized: ', officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country in Southeast Europe. It is situated on the southern tip of the Balkans, and is located at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Greece shares land borders with ...

Greece
, a general election is called if the
Parliament In modern politics, and history, a parliament is a legislative body of government. Generally, a modern parliament has three functions: Representation (politics), representing the Election#Suffrage, electorate, making laws, and overseeing ...

Parliament
fails to elect a new
head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state (polity), state#Foakes, Foakes, pp. 110–11 "
he head of state He or HE may refer to: Language * He (pronoun), an English pronoun * He (kana), the romanization of the Japanese kana へ * He (letter) He is the fifth Letter (alphabet), letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician alphabet, Phoenic ...
being an embodiment of the State itself or representatitve of its international p ...
when his or her term ends. In January 2015, this constitutional provision was exploited by
Syriza The Coalition of the Radical Left – Progressive Alliance ( el, Συνασπισμός Ριζοσπαστικής Αριστεράς – Προοδευτική Συμμαχία, Synaspismós Rizospastikís Aristerás – Proodeftikí Simachía), ...
to trigger a snap election, win it and oust rivals
New Democracy New Democracy, or the New Democratic Revolution, is a concept based on Mao Zedong's Bloc of Four Social Classes theory in Chinese Communist Revolution, post-revolutionary China which argued originally that democracy in China would take a path ...
from power * In Italy the government has no power to call a snap election. A snap election can only be called by the
head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state (polity), state#Foakes, Foakes, pp. 110–11 "
he head of state He or HE may refer to: Language * He (pronoun), an English pronoun * He (kana), the romanization of the Japanese kana へ * He (letter) He is the fifth Letter (alphabet), letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician alphabet, Phoenic ...
being an embodiment of the State itself or representatitve of its international p ...
, following a consultation with the presidents of both houses of parliament. * Norway is unique among parliamentary systems in that the
Storting The Storting ( no, Stortinget ) (lit. the Great Thing (assembly), Thing) is the supreme legislature of Norway, established in 1814 by the Constitution of Norway. It is located in Oslo. The Unicameralism, unicameral parliament has 169 members and ...

Storting
always serves the whole of its four-year term. * Australia uniquely under certain conditions allows the
prime minister A prime minister, premier or chief of cabinet is the head of the Cabinet (government), cabinet and the leader of the Minister (government), ministers in the Executive (government), executive branch of government, often in a parliamentary syst ...
to request of the
Governor General Governor-general (plural ''governors-general''), or governor general (plural ''governors general''), is the title of an office-holder. In the context of governors-general and former British colonies, governors-general are appointed as viceroy t ...
a
double dissolution A double dissolution is a procedure permitted under the Constitution of Australia, Australian Constitution to resolve deadlocks in the bicameral Parliament of Australia between the Australian House of Representatives, House of Representatives ( ...
, whereby all rather than only half of the
Senate A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house An upper house is one of two Debate chamber, chambers of a bicameralism, bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the lower house.''Bicameralism'' (1997) by George Tseb ...
, is dissolved - in effect electing all of the Parliament simultaneously. The parliamentary system can be contrasted with a
presidential system A presidential system, or single executive system, is a form of government in which a head of government, typically with the title of President (government title), president, leads an Executive (government), executive branch that is separate from ...
which operates under a stricter separation of powers, whereby the executive does not form part of—nor is appointed by—the parliamentary or legislative body. In such a system, parliaments or congresses do not select or dismiss heads of governments, and governments cannot request an early dissolution as may be the case for parliaments (although the parliament may still be able to dissolve itself, as in the case of
Cyprus Cyprus ; tr, Kıbrıs (), officially the Republic of Cyprus,, , lit: Republic of Cyprus is an island country located south of the Anatolian Peninsula in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Its continental position is disputed; while it is geo ...

Cyprus
). There also exists the
semi-presidential system A semi-presidential republic, is a republic in which a President (government title), president exists alongside a prime minister and a Cabinet (government), cabinet, with the latter two being responsible to the legislature of the State (polity ...
that draws on both presidential systems and parliamentary systems by combining a powerful president with an executive responsible to parliament: for example, the
French Fifth Republic The Fifth Republic (french: Cinquième République) is France France (), officially the French Republic ( ), is a country primarily located in Western Europe. It also comprises of Overseas France, overseas regions and territories i ...
. Parliamentarianism may also apply to
regional In geography, regions, otherwise referred to as zones, lands or territories, are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics (physical geography), human impact characteristics (human geography), and the interaction of humanity and t ...
and local governments. An example is the city of Oslo, which has an executive council (Byråd) as a part of the parliamentary system. The Devolution in the United Kingdom, devolved nations of the United Kingdom are also parliamentary and which, as with the Parliament of the United Kingdom, UK Parliament, may hold early elections - this has only occurred with regards to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2017 Northern Ireland Assembly election, 2017 and Next Northern Ireland Assembly election, 2022.


Anti-defection law

A few parliamentary democratic nations such as Anti-defection law (India), India, Pakistan, Bangladesh etc. have enacted laws which prohibit floor crossing or switching parties after the election. Under these laws, elected representatives will lose their seat in the parliament if they go against their party in votes. In the UK parliament, a member is free to cross over to a different party. In Canada and Australia, there are no restraints on legislators switching sides.


Parliamentary sovereignty

A few parliamentary democracies such as the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a country in Europe, off the north-western coast of the European mainland, continental mainland. It comprises England, Scotlan ...

United Kingdom
and New Zealand have weak or non-existent checks on the legislative power of their Parliaments, where any newly approved Act shall take precedence over all prior Acts. All laws are equally unentrenched, wherein judicial review may not outright annul nor amend them, as frequently occurs in other parliamentary systems like Constitutional review in Germany, Germany. Whilst the head of state for both nations (Monarchy of the United Kingdom, Monarch, and or Governor-General of New Zealand, Governor General) has the de-jure power to withhold Royal assent, assent to any bill passed by their Parliament, this check has not been exercised in Britain since the Scottish Militia Bill, 1708 Scottish Militia Bill. Whilst both the UK and New Zealand have some Acts or parliamentary rules establishing Supermajority, supermajorities or additional legislative procedures for certain legislation, such as previously with the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 (FTPA), these can be bypassed through the enactment of another that amends or ignores these supermajorities away, such as with the Early Parliamentary General Election Act 2019 - bypassing the 2/3rd supermajority required for an early dissolution under the FTPA -, which enabled the early dissolution for the 2019 United Kingdom general election, 2019 general election.


Metrics

Parliamentarism metrics allow a quantitative comparison of the strength of parliamentary systems for individual countries. One parliamentarism metric is the Parliamentary Powers Index.


Advantages


Adaptability

Parliamentary systems like that found in the United Kingdom are widely considered to be more flexible, allowing rapid change in legislation and policy as long as there is a stable majority or coalition in parliament, allowing the government to have 'few legal limits on what it can do' Due to the first-past-the-post voting method, this system produces the classic "Westminster Model" with the twin virtues of strong but responsive party government. This electoral system providing a strong majority in the House of Commons, paired with the fused power system results in a particularly powerful Government able to provide change and 'innovate'.


Scrutiny and accountability

The United Kingdom's fused power system is often noted to be advantageous with regards to accountability. The centralised government allows for more transparency as to where decisions originate from, this directly contrasts with the United States' system with former Treasury Secretary C. Douglas Dillon saying "the president blames Congress, the Congress blames the president, and the public remains confused and disgusted with government in Washington". Furthermore, ministers of the U.K. cabinet are subject to weekly Question Periods in which their actions/policies are scrutinised; no such regular check on the government exists in the U.S. system.


Distribution of power

A 2001 World Bank study found that parliamentary systems are associated with less corruption.


Calling of elections

In his 1867 book ''The English Constitution'', Walter Bagehot praised parliamentary governments for producing serious debates, for allowing for a change in power without an election, and for allowing elections at any time. Bagehot considered the four-year election rule of the United States to be unnatural, as it can potentially allow a president who has disappointed the public with a dismal performance in the second year of his term to continue on until the end of his four-year term. Under a parliamentary system, a prime minister that has lost support in the middle of his term can be easily replaced by his own peers with a more popular alternative, as the Conservative Party in the UK did with successive prime ministers David Cameron, Theresa May, Boris Johnson, and Liz Truss. Although Bagehot praised parliamentary governments for allowing an election to take place at any time, the lack of a definite election calendar can be abused. Under some systems, such as the British, a ruling party can schedule elections when it believes that it is likely to retain power, and so avoid elections at times of unpopularity. (from 2011, election timing in the UK was partially fixed under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, which was repealed by the Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Act 2022.) Thus, by a shrewd timing of elections, in a parliamentary system, a party can extend its rule for longer than is feasible in a presidential system. This problem can be alleviated somewhat by setting fixed dates for parliamentary elections, as is the case in several of Australia's state parliaments. In other systems, such as the Dutch and the Belgian, the ruling party or coalition has some flexibility in determining the election date. Conversely, flexibility in the timing of parliamentary elections can avoid periods of legislative gridlock that can occur in a fixed period presidential system. In any case, voters ultimately have the power to choose whether to vote for the ruling party or someone else.


Disadvantages and criticisms


Incomplete separation of power

According to Arturo Fontaine Talavera, Arturo Fontaine parliamentary systems in Europe have yielded very powerful heads of government which is rather what is often criticized about presidential systems. Fontaine compares United Kingdom's Margaret Thatcher to the United States' Ronald Reagan noting the former head of government was much more powerful despite governing under a parliamentary system. The rise to power of Viktor Orbán in Hungary has been claimed to show how parliamentary systems can be subverted. The situation in Hungary was according to Fontaine allowed by the deficient separation of powers that characterises parliamentary and semi-presidential systems. Once 2010 Hungarian parliamentary election, Orbán's party got 70% of the vote in a single election there was no institution that was able to balance the concentration of power. In a presidential system it would require two or three separate elections to create the same effect; the presidential election, the lower chamber election and the upper chamber election. Fontaine also notes as a warning example of the flaws of parliamentary systems that if the United States would have had a parliamentary system Donald Trump could, as head of government, have dissolved the United States Congress.


Legislative flip-flopping

The ability for strong parliamentary governments to push legislation through with the ease of fused power systems such as in the United Kingdom, whilst positive in allowing rapid adaptation when necessary e.g. the nationalisation of services during the world wars, in the opinion of some commentators does have its drawbacks. The flip-flopping of legislation back and forth as the majority in parliament changed between the Conservatives and Labour over the period 1940–1980, contesting over the nationalisation and privatisation of the British Steel Industry resulted in major instability for the British steel sector.


Political fragmentation

In R. Kent Weaver's book ''Are Parliamentary Systems Better?'', he writes that an advantage of presidential systems is their ability to allow and accommodate more diverse viewpoints. He states that because "legislators are not compelled to vote against their constituents on matters of local concern, parties can serve as organizational and roll-call cuing vehicles without forcing out dissidents."


Democratic unaccountability

All current parliamentary democracies see the indirect election or appointment of their head of government. As a result, the electorate has limited power to remove or install the person or party wielding the most power. Although strategic voting may enable the party of the prime minister to be removed or empowered, this can be at the expense of voters first preferences in the many parliamentary systems utilising First-past-the-post voting, first past the post, or having no effect in dislodging those parties who consistently form part of a coalition government, as with the current Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte and his party the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy, VVD's 4 terms in office, despite their peak support reaching only 2012 Dutch general election, 26.6% in 2012, earning him the epithet 'Teflon Rutte' for his ability to survive elections.


Countries


Africa


Americas


Asia


Europe


Oceania


See also

* Law reform * List of legislatures by country * List of political systems in France * Parliament in the Making * Parliamentary leader * Rule according to higher law * Rule of law * Parliamentary Monarchy, Parliamentary monarchy * Parliamentary republic * Strengthened parliamentary system


References


External links

{{DEFAULTSORT:Parliamentary System Parliamentary procedure Liberalism Political terminology Types of democracy