The Executive and the Legislature Comparison: USA and Britain

Introduction

The United States of America has a presidential system of government whereas Britain has parliamentary system of government. The presidential system as opposed to the parliamentary system is characterized by strict principle of separation of powers between the executive and the legislature. Consequently, party systems are more powerful and play a critical role in the parliamentary system than in presidential system; in USA, the congress lacks unified degree as compared to parliamentarians and hence it may not be responsible for the survival of government.

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The Executive in USA and Britain

In the presidential system, the president can choose members of the cabinet from outside the congress. This gives the president the liberty to choose competent, experienced, professional and deserving individuals. In the case of parliamentary system, the prime minister depends on parliament to choose ministers. He is required to choose competent individuals at the same time give necessary representation to the underprivileged and the marginalized groups in the nation. The prime minister selects his team from the members of parliament, and this may be influenced by sectarian and party loyalties.

Advantages and disadvantaged of parliamentary and presidential system

The fundamental advantage of the parliamentary system like the Britain system is that the prime minister can be removed without much difficulty. He can be easily forced out of office incase of unpopularity and abuse of office or when he loses the majority support of the members of his/her party that brought him to power. This was evidenced in the year 1990 when Margaret Thatcher was removed from office a scenario which could have been difficult in a presidential system. In a parliamentary system, the prime minister can be removed from office through a vote of no confidence vote by the legislature or a challenge through the ruling party.

The greatest disadvantage of the parliamentary system is that the prime minister reserves the right to dissolve parliament when his/her power comes under a threat.

The removal of the president in a presidential system has proved difficult, in USA the president can be removed from office through impeachment which sets a high threshold of making the removal of the president a reality. This is considered an advantage since the president can discharge his duties effectively and may not be subjected to manipulations.

The presidential system in the USA has few tendencies of the perception that it is dictatorial. This dictatorial proposition is largely associated with the presidential veto. Presidential veto gives the president liberty to make laws through a presidential decree provided by the constitution. These laws may be flawed or desired to serve sectarian interest which may not match public aspirations (Differences, 2011).

The presidential system on the other hand has been criticized because of the problem of dual legitimation. Elections are held separately, one for electing the congress and the other for electing the president. Incase of disagreement between the president and the congress, they may all claim democratic legitimacy, leaving the courts as the only way of resolving the conflict. This has the potential threat of political polarization in the event that the courts are rendered weak and ineffective. Unlike the parliamentary system in Britain where disagreement between the prime minister and the parliament result in the dissolution of the legislature and subsequently new elections held, in a presidential system the president enjoys fixed term incumbency and in the event of any crisis legislative paralysis persists until the end of their term.

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The presidential system has also been criticized as being personal, in the event of voting the voters chose presidents not based on their ideologies but on the individual candidate (Essar & Pfetsch, 2004).

Legislature

The legislative structure of Britain and United States are similar in the sense that both are bicameral. Britain and the United States have a two chamber house. Britain has the House of Lords and the House of Commons whereas the USA has the House of Representatives and the Senate. The names accorded to legislatures vary from one country to another in the USA, for example, it is referred as the congress whereas in Britain it is called parliament.

The upper chamber is always considered a house of wisdom though their influence varies. In Britain the powers of the House of Lords has declined since 1999 and only retain the right to revise or delay legislation, this is as opposed to the senate in the USA and other federal governments where the second chamber is more powerful. In the two countries the upper chamber exists to check on the lower chamber but both bear the responsibility of sharing legislative burden. Furthermore, the upper house has an extended term limits as opposed to the lower house, this is because their long service ensures that there is continuity and stability in the legislative arm of government.

The performance and the duties of the legislative arm of government on the two countries also differ. The house of commons in Britain is the dominant chamber and their responsibility in the process of legislation is to revise bills. The chamber is unable to reject any bill that has been debated and passed by the lower house but they may delay it. This is as opposed to the USA where the senate and the House of Representatives have varying relationships and responsibilities, though the senate occupies a higher status.

The senate performs an active role in the legislation and budgetary process but also has a distinctive role like in the area of foreign policy; it also has the principal role of checking the executive like conducting impeachment and vetting presidential appointments. The congress in the USA has more legislative tasks than in Britain; this is due to the difference in government structure, the USA has federal system hence several legislations (Comparing Executives, 2007).

The procedure of passing bills in the legislature in both countries is also another distinction. In Britain the ministers impart direction into legislative program. Party managers control the timetabling of the bills and voting is taken along party lines, this is a clear indication that bills do not originate from parliament but from government departments and the executive and this creates a likelihood that the bills will pass through and sail in parliament.

This is unlike the case in the USA where legislations are uncertain of sailing through congress since there is weak executive influence due to the strict principle of separation of powers. Although some of the bills originate from the executive, the congress has the liberty to alter the form and the content which creates the risk of bills not being passed in their original form.

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The process of examining the bills in the two countries also vary, in the British parliament, there are eleven processing stages, five stages in each chamber and the last one is the royal assent which makes it a law. In the USA, legislations are introduced simultaneously in the two houses and much of the work is done by the standing committees which unlike in the British system are made up of specialists and experts (Watts, 2004)

Roles of agents of political socialization in creation of political structures

The fundamental agents of political socialization that shape political system in US are the media, family and school. Individuals’ perception on politics in the US is significant. The family makes the children follow the political interest of the parents which is achieved through political discussions between children and parents on items like the government systems fit for the U.S., the school enables the students to widen their scope by having a clear picture of other governments of the world which is fundamental in formulating one that can be adopted in the USA. The media influences the government structure in USA by enlightening people on various forms of government that exist in the world, their strengths and the weakness.

In Britain the important agents of political socialization are the media and the political parties. The two factors have impacted on the commercialization of political campaigns in Britain. Political parties have influenced people’s participation in politics and developed people’s identity with political parties and its leadership (Schwarzer, 2011).

Conclusion

Since the two systems of government are models of representative democracy, they are governments of the people, by the people and for the by the people and it is always expected to be respective to the needs of the people in terms of service delivery and generations of policies.

References

Comparing Executives. (2007). Comparing executives: Presidential and parliamentary systems. Web.

Differences. (2011). Publish your articles; the difference between the parliamentary and the presidential system of government. Web.

Essar, F & Pfetsch, B. (2004). Comparing political communication: theories, cases, and challenges, Communication, society, and politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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Schwarzer, S. (2011). Political socialization as the driving factor for political engagement and political participation. Web.

Watts, D. (2004). Understanding US/UK government and politics: a comparative guide Understanding Politics. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

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