9 Meaningful Pros and Cons of Parliamentary Democracy

Many nations follow a democratic form of government. These include the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, South Korea, France, Philippines and Uruguay, to name a few.

What Does Democracy Mean?

Democracy is a loosely defined form of government that needs to be implemented in just one way or not at all. By definition, democracy means a government by the people. This means that the citizens of the nation will have a say in one way or the other in everything that could have an effect in their lives, whether directly or indirectly. This right can be exercised directly (Direct Democracy) or through representatives or members of a legislative body (Representative Democracy).

In a representative democracy, the focus will on a strong president (Presidential Democracy) or on parliament (Parliamentary Democracy). The former form of democracy is practiced by the United States and France, while latter by the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain and Italy.

In the parliamentary form of government, the coalition or political party with the most number of delegates form the government. The chancellor or prime minister will then be chosen from the leader of the winning party, until the next election.

In a parliamentary democracy, the government is composed of delegates from various parties, so it falls to the minority party to oppose the majority and challenge it. This results in the government being a place that allows for healthy discussions regarding the laws.

Given this information, do you think that Parliamentary Democracy is better than other types of democracy? Here are the lists of pros and cons of this form of government to help you decide whether you for it or against it.

List of Pros of Parliamentary Democracy

1. It minimizes political polarization.
For many years now, unprecedented levels of political polarization can be observed in people from either party. The problem with political polarization is that people tend to base their opinions or stance on issues or policies on their political affiliation. Yet a government can only be truly functional if everyone on both ends of the spectrum agrees to work together for the betterment of the nation. With a Parliamentary Democracy, all parties are forced to work harmoniously together and for the majority group to be constantly challenged, not trying to please specific groups to gain support.

2. It allows for a quick and easy passage of legislation.
A parliamentary system can make the passage of legislation faster through the support of a legislative body. This is because the executive is elected into office according to the party’s manifesto. As a result, the will of the people has more power than any political system.

3. It will require a coalition in order to pass legislations.
Partisanship has to be abandoned while a coalition of parties must be brought together before legislation can be passed. This means that no single party is capable of passing legislation without the support of a large majority. This can result in ensuring no special interests or minority groups will be favored over the other. The UK is a good example of why a Parliamentary Government is beneficial to a nation.

4. It is more beneficial to nations with a racially, ethnically or ideologically diverse population.
Unlike in a presidential form of government, power is divided and even evenly spread, making Parliamentary Democracy more suitable to ethnically, racially or ideologically diverse countries. In this type of democracy, a prime minister does not have as much influence or power as a president, allowing the people to elect a party and not a single person to make crucial decisions.

5. It is easy to create parties.
Any group or organization can form a party or coalition that reflects a shared personal view, and then have it represented in the government. In the US, it can be difficult to gain any traction. Subsections of the two major political parties, like the Tea Party of the Republican Party, find it challenging to be represented. In fact, no third party has made any significant impact on a Presidential election since 1992.

List of Cons of Parliamentary Democracy

1. It doesn’t offer as much representation on a direct level.
Unlike a presidential democracy or other forms of government, individual regions don’t receive the same amount of representation in this form of democracy. This is because coalitions are formed, making difficult for politicians to be held responsible for their personal conduct.

2. It allows legislations to be passed without minority approval.
The coalition that gets true majority has the power to do what they wish, pass any legislation without consulting or asking for the approval of the minority. This is what happened in the United Kingdom recently. With the conservative part gaining complete majority in parliament, the opposition does not have the power to create more balanced legislation. The majority can even ignore them if it suits them.

3. It allows the legislature to vote for the head of state or prime minister and not the electorate.
In a Parliamentary Democracy, an electorate is not required to vote for the head of state or prime minister. This is why this form of government is highly criticized by many. Aside from that, even before the legislature could pick the head of the government, there is already a degree of certainty as to who will win because of the party’s campaigns.

4. It is often unstable.
When governance is often challenged by demanding minority, unstable coalitions and the like, this form of government could become unstable. Although many proponents contend that political culture, highly polarized votes and proportional representation all cause instability in a government, the practice of flexible election scheduling in a parliamentary and a ruling party delaying elections could also destabilize the government.

No government is perfect. In fact, the advantages and disadvantages of parliamentary democracy is the same as other systems. However, any form of government can be a problem if the supposed democratic system fails or refuses to work for the people. When that happens, it would be worth reconsidering the circumstances.

Author Bio
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.