Presidential form of government , is a government in which the chief executive is not responsible to the legislature. Bagehot, ” the independence of the legislative and the executive powers is the specific quality of presidential government just as fusion and combination is the principle of cabinet government”. If we compare cabinet and presidential systems , we can find that they are both representative in character, but in cabinet system the executive is a part of legislature and responsibility of executive
to legislature is sine quo non . In presidential form of government the executive, i.e., PRESIDENT is constitutionally independent of legislature. They are two distinct organs more or less separated from each other. The executive is not the creature of legislature, nor is it responsible for its public acts or dependent for its seat. The head of the state exercise real power, as it derives from the constitution and as such there is no distinction between a executive and the executive.
Dr.Garner,”What has been called ‘Presidential’ government as contra-distinguished from cabinet or parliamentary government, is that system in which the executive (including both the Head of the state and his ministers) is constitutionally independent of the legislature in respect to the duration of his or their tenure and irresponsible to it for his or their political policies. In such a system the chief of the state is not merely the titular executive but he is real executive and actually exercises the powers which the constitution and laws confer upon him”.
HIGHLIGHTS OF SYSTEM:(ALSO COMPARING WITH PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT).
1) SEPARATION OF POWERS
Unlike the parliamentary system of government where executive is a part of legislature, in presidential form of government there is separation of powers. In this system the executive and legislature are separate from each other and they have equal status. But in a parliamentary government, there is no separation of powers. In this system the executive is under the legislature.
2) I n a presidential form of government , the president is the Head of the state as well as of the government.. While in a parliamentary government, the Head of the state is President, or king or, Governor-General and the Prime minister is the Head of the government. It must be noted that the position of the Head of the state in a parliamentary government is nominal . He/ she holds the power in theory. They are either wielding this position by hereditarily or through in direct election or by nomination.
3) In a presidential government, the President is elected for a fixed tenure and except impeachment for the violation of the constitution; he cannot be removed from his office before the expiry of his term. In a parliamentary government, though similar is the position of the President, yet the Prime minister can be removed only through a vote of no- confidence by the Parliament.
4) In a presidential government, the president enjoys real powers of the administration and he exercises all the powers, which are given to him under the constitution and the law. In a presidential government there is no prime minister. The secretaries help the president in the administration and they are appointed by the him on the basis of ability. It depends upon the will of the president to accept or reject their service. In a parliamentary government, though constitutionally the Head of the state has many powers, yet in practice these powers are enjoyed by his ministers. Thus in practice the president has only nominal powers and real powers lie with the prime minister or his ministers.
5) In a presidential government the president and his secretaries are not responsible to the legislature. The legislature cannot remove them through a vote of no- confidence. More over, an adjournment motion or a censure motion cannot be brought against him .The president and his secretaries are not the members of the legislature and they do not attend its sessions.
In a parliamentary government the prime minister and other ministers are the members of either house of the parliament and any one who is not the member of the parliament has to seek the membership within a specified period of time. They attend the session of the parliament and answer the questions and supplementary questions. They place bills before the parliament and make statements relating to policies. A vote of no – confidence, adjournment motion and censure motion can be brought against them. In a parliamentary government only the president, king or governor – general make a speech at the time of the inauguration of the parliament. They are neither members of the house nor they take part in its deliberation. The Head of the state is not responsible to the parliament.
PRESIDENTIAL GOVERNMENT: retrospection
In the United States Of America, in the 17th century there existed 13 small colonies populated by English men and were independent and self- governing, acknowledging the nominal supremacy of the British crown. They set up their own assemblies, councils, and boards to govern themselves. In July 4th 1776, the leaders of these colonies met at Philadelphia and adopted ‘ DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE “. In 1777, the colonies gave themselves a legal charter by framing “ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION AND PERPETUAL UNION”. But the British parliament was on collision course with these colonies and American War Of Independence broke out which ended on 1783 with the acceptance of Britain the independence, sovereignty , and freedom of the colonies .But other problems like defending against external aggression , regulation of trade and commerce, relation between outside world , finding satisfactory solution to problems made the colonies to decide to have , “a more perfect union to protect themselves from foreign aggression and to secure blessings of liberty to themselves and their posterity”.
It was at this time that Monstesquiau , a French jurist published a book known as “ESPRIT DES LOIS” , in which he put forward the Theory Of Separation Of Powers . This had a profound impact on the colonies. In that he says,” whenever the executive and the legislative powers are united in the same person , or in the same body of magistrates , there can be no liberty. Again, there can be no liberty if the judicial power be not separated fro the legislative and executive; were it joined with the legislative , the life and liberty of the subject would be exposed to arbitrary control , for the judge would then be a legislator ; were it joined to the executive , the judge might behave with violence and oppression . There would be an end of everything were the same men or the same body whether of nobles or the people were to exercise these three powers that of enacting laws, that of executing the public resolutions and trying the causes of individuals”.
This along with the views of John Locke which was put forward by him prior to Montesquieu in Second Treatise on Civil Government in the year 1690 in which he said : ” it might be too great a temptation to human frailty , apt to grasp at power , for the same person who have power of making laws , who have also in their hands the power to execute them whereby they may exempt themselves from the burdens of the laws they make , and suit the law both in its making and execution , to their own private advantage “.
These all made Madison , a great lover of democracy and one of the founding fathers of American Constitution to observe: “accumulation of powers in a single hand is a very definition of tyranny”.
As a result of this several colonies adopted Theory Of Separation Of Power in their own constitutions. Having found that it could work well they thought whether they could transplant these theory from colonial to the national field . They hit upon an idea of creating three coordinate independent authorities namely, the legislature, the executive , the judiciary, and endowing them with full powers in their own spheres , with in limits of constitution . In fact in the US constitution several provisions have been provided to ensure this .
* Section (1) : Article(1): of the constitution vests all legislative powers in the Congress of United States consisting of a Senate and House of Representatives.
· Section (1) : Article(2) : of the constitution vest all executive powers with the President of United States of America.
· Section(1) : Article (3) : of the constitution vests all judicial powers in the Supreme court.
The framers of the constitution were careful not to allow any branch to gain control or usurp the power of others. Further to strengthen the Theory Of Separation Of Powers and to prevent any arbitrary or despotic exercise of powers by these branches , the founding fathers provided certain inbuilt checks over each other. They are :
· If congress wanted to make any law , it needed President’s approval to be effective . If he refuses to approve the congress could re-pass the bill with 2/3 majority of the two houses under section(7) :article(1) – paragraph -3 of the US constitution. This means that even though the constitution had provided for Presidential veto, it’s misuse is being checked with this safeguard. Under section(3): article(1): paragraph-6 , of the constitution , empowers the congress the power to impeach high officials including the President .
· Section (2): article(2) : paragraph – 2 , empowers President to make treaties , under concurrence or ratification of the senate with a 2/3 majority of majority of senators present . President is also empowered to appoint any high ranking officials like judges of federal court , secretaries with the advice and consent of senate.
· The judiciary has also been vested with powers like any laws passed by either congress or by the president can be declared invalid by the court .This is known as “judicial review” , and because of these powers the US judiciary is being regarded as one of the powerful judiciaries in the world .
Thus one department has been juxtaposed with each other so as to act as a check on the exercise of powers of each so as to maintain the balance of power. This system is called ‘ the system of CHECKS AND BALENCES”. This is an integral part of the US constitution. The whole structure is built on ‘ SEPARATION OF POWERS”, and CHECKS AND BALENCES, which is a part and parcel of it .This is to ensure that no part would arbitrarily or in a capricious manner danger the liberties of the people. The US , constitution vests executive powers in the hands of one individual ,- the President of United States Of America.
His powers are so enormous , wide and overwhelming that he has been described as the , “foremost ruler of the world”. The American President is not bound down by any cabinet . He chooses his own cabinet , which is at best his personal team of advisers . It has been characterized as the ‘president’ s family, and the head of the family , the president , inevitably dominates them. Ogg rightly describes him as the , “greatest ruler of the world”. According to Henry he exercises , ” the largest amount of authority ever and as wielded by any man in democracy”. This system is called PRESIDENTIAL SYSYEM OF GOVERNMENT.
The American President in respect of his powers is best compared to the Prime minister of the parliamentary democracies enjoying the support of a stable majority in the legislature, he is rather head of the state and the responsible head of the government. In many other nations , there is a chief of state whose duties are largely protocol in nature while the Prime Minister is the center of power . But the American President is the nation’s principal spokesman of both domestic and foreign policy .
Laski has rightly remarked , There is no foreign institution with which in any strict sense, it can be compared because basically there is no comparable foreign institution . The President of United States is both more and less than a king , he is also both more and less than a Prime Minister”.