What Is a Parliamentary System in Government?

As citizens of our own country, we often tend to read or learn about our home country’s type of government. In most odd cases, we are ignorant of any other kind of government functional in other countries. This article here will help you acquaint yourself with the basics of a Parliamentary System in a Government.

Here is a brief outline of what to expect from this article:

  • What is a Parliament?
  • How does a Parliamentary System form in a Government? 
  • What makes up a Parliamentary System in Government?
  • Elections in a Parliamentary system Government

What is a Parliament?

Oxford dictionary describes Parliament as “the group of people who are elected to make and change the laws of a country.” The other name of the Parliamentary System is Parliamentary democracy.

The requisite of any modern democracy is a Government. A legislative body comprising of government is what makes up the Parliament in modern-day history. 

How does a Parliamentary System form in a Government? 

In a Parliamentary type of government, a national election is the only way to select the members of the Parliament. 
The members of the Parliament are members of the winning party. Any political party that wins the highest number of winning seats forms the government. 

In some cases, if two political parties have equal votes, there can be a coalition. The coalition of which can be of two or more political parties. Whichever of the two – a single or coalition party wins the majority of seats becomes the ruling party. 

One important point to remember is that, in a parliamentary system of government, the ruling political party holds the real power and not an individual. 

What makes up a Parliamentary System in Government?

  • Head of State

Traditionally, the Prime Minister takes the post of the head of the government. The Prime Minister of any country takes the title of being the head of the country.

He/she is a member and usually the most potent contender/leader of the winning or coalition political party. The ruling party makes the appointment of the Prime Minister after a unanimous vote. The ruling party here is not to be confused; it is none other than the winning party.

In contrast, some countries follow a constitutional monarch, particularly evident in the United Kingdom. Here, the Monarch takes the role of titular head of the State. The elected members of the Parliament have to swear an oath towards loyalty to the Monarch. In addition, the Monarch has the authority to dissolve a government. 

Some other countries, such as Africa, have a republican government. Here, the leader of the government is not the Prime Minister. Instead, the President serves as head of State as well as the leader of the government. 

  • Legislation

The primary function of a Parliament is to make, decide and approve laws for the country. Any legislative proposals proceed to the Parliament in the form of Bills. 

For the Bills to pass as a law, it requires the approval of the Parliament’s legislation. Most countries with a parliamentary system in a government have two houses for legislation. The legislators of the Parliament take place in a House. 

Most countries follow a bicameral house system, meaning it has an Upper House and a Lower House. In the bicameral house, the passing of the law requires the approval of both the Upper and Lower house. Although, in the end, Parliament has a more significant say for passing any bill.

The upper house in a bicameral parliament consists of fewer members. In the UK, the House of the Lords makes up the upper house. In the US, the upper house is the Senate. Some countries have a unicameral house, meaning a single house.

  • Cabinet

While the legislation is the cumulative responsibility of the Parliament, there are everyday matters that need attention and focus. For which the head of State appoints cabinet ministers. These cabinet ministers take charge and overlook the issues and functions of separate departments. 

Elections in a Parliamentary system Government

In a Parliamentary system Government, elections take place at routine intervals. The most common time frame between elections ranges from four to five years. However, in some countries, the Prime Minister has the authority to dissolve a Parliament. If that happens, the Prime Minister can hold a proposed election before the routine time.

In addition, a Parliament can remove a ruling Prime Minister during its tenure at the post. The dissolving of a government can take place through a “no confidence” vote by the Parliament legislature. In such cases, new elections occur for the re-election of the Head of State/Prime Minister. Of course there has been controversy in this regard, one such instance being when an elected official was caught on a free milf dating app attempting to find an extramarital affair. However, there are many such cases in which a no confidence vote has been threatened, but never actually enacted. Either way the mechanism allows for a balance of power in theory.