Parliamentary system of government may be defined as one in which the head of government is distinct from the head of state. All offices and functions attached to them are in the hand of two individuals, unlike in presidential system of government where both offices (head of state and head of government ) are fused. For the powers to be fused means that they are undertaken by the same individual.parliamenrtary system of government as proved to be a very good way of governance in different countries. These countries that practice parliamentary system have shown through their governmental growth and development that the system is as good as other systems of government. Examples of countries that practice parliamentary government includes: Britain, Canada, Italy, India, Australia etc. These aforementioned countries and more are no doubt one of the most developed countries in the whole world. Britain for example as made her marks by colonising many african countries including Nigeria, our great nation. Nigeria has also as a matter of fact, practiced parliamentary system of government in her first republic before moving on to the presidential system. Like other systems, parliamentary system have its own advantages and disadvantages. But i’ll like firstly to describe its features.
FEATURES OF PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT
1. The head of state: In the parliamentary system, the head of state is either the queen or the president. The president in this case is a ceremonial president with no direct executive power whatsoever. In the first Republic of Nigeria, the queen of England, who is the head of state was represented by the governor general and then by the president. Nnamdi Azikwe was the first parliamentary president of Nigeria.
2. The head of Government: The prime minister is the head of Government, and he exercises the executive power. The prime minister is not responsible to the people, but to the parliament. The prime ministers must choose other ministers as members of his cabinet from the parliament. This is why parliamentary system of government is also called cabinet system of government. The prime minister as the power to remove any minister from his cabinet. Also, the parliament can dismiss the entire cabinet with its vote of no confidence.
3. Not popularly Elected: The prime minister is not popularly elected, he is elected by the queen or president if his party takes the majority seat in the parliament. The party with the highest number of seats in the parliaments leads with a minister as the prime minister. The masses have no direct control on the election of the president and the prime minister as in presidential system of government.
4. Ministerial Appointment.: The prime minister as the power to choose his minsters from members of his party in the parliament only. The prime minister with all the executive power vested in him cannot choose members of his cabinet outside the parliament.
5. Collective Responsibility.: The principle of collective responsibility is when all executive members are responsible for any decision taken by them. This collective system of operation is a key feature of the parliamentary system. Cabinet meetings are held regularly and decision making are not published. Collective responsibility connotes that all the minister are collectively responsible for any decision or action taken by them. It makes members of the cabinet to work as a team. Collective responsibility encourages reasonable ideas and actions. it ensures stability of government. Collective responsibility compels ministers to be tactful. It also prevent appropriation of blame or shift of blame.
Anyway, collective responsibility as a feature of parliamentary government have is own disadvantages. It does not allow ministers to be accessed individually. It encourages collective sharing of blame at praises of individual member of the cabinet. It does not allow the blunder of a minister or his ministry to be exposed and criticised. A minister or his ministry cannot be singularly held responsible for any action. It does not allow the parliament to question any minister one on one about his ministry.
In all, parliamentary system of government is one of the best system of government ever. Its disadvantages and merits will be mentioned and explain in our next class. Thanks..