Parliamentary vs. Presidential Democracy Explained
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Parliamentary vs. Presidential Democracy Explained

August 27, 2019


This is an explanation of the two main systems
of democratic government: Presidential and Parliamentary. Around the world there are many variations
of these two types, but we’re going to focus on the United States and the United Kingdom
because they exist on the opposite ends of the democratic spectrum, and they’ve been
the most influential to other countries around the world. Every four years the American people elect
a president. But it’s not a direct election where the winner of the overall nationwide
vote wins the White House. The U.S. is the only country to have an electoral college
system, where each state has a number of electors based on the size of its relative population.
Every state, except Maine and Nebraska, awards all of their electors to the candidate that
received the most votes in that state, with an overall 270 needed to win. This more complicated
system exists to give the states a little more control over the process. The constitution
limits the President to just two, four year terms in office. In the UK, the people directly elect a representative
from their geographic constituency, of which there are a total of 650 throughout England,
Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. These representatives make up the house of commons
in Parliament. The leader of whichever party wins the most seats in this General Election,
which occurs every five years, becomes the Prime Minister, who has no term-limits. The
Prime Minister then forms a government. The members of parliament from parties not in
power are called the opposition. Once inaugurated, the President appoints 15
cabinet officers to run the various departments of the executive branch of government. Nominees
have to be confirmed by the Senate. However, the Prime Minister’s appointments
for the 21 different cabinet positions need no confirmation, although they must be currently
serving in either the House of Commons or the House of Lords. In the American Presidential system, the power
to create laws is split between the President and the Lower (the House) and Upper (the Senate)
chambers of Congress. In America, both houses of Congress must pass a version of a bill.
But, for a passed bill to become a law, the President must sign it. If the President refuses,
called a veto, the Congress can try and override the veto with a 2/3ds majority vote in each
Chamber. The Congress is the second branch of the Federal government. The third is the
Supreme Court, a nine-member body, whose members are nominated by the President and confirmed
by the Senate, and serve life terms. The Supreme Court is the court of last appeal and decides
if state and federal laws are legal under the constitution. The legislative body is a bit more complicated
in the UK’s Parliament, although it also has an upper and a lower chamber. Both the
lower, elected House of Commons and the upper House of Lords make and shape the laws, but
the House of Lords isn’t elected and is made up of officials appointed by the Queen,
Bishops from the Church of England, and Hereditary peers, many of whom inherit their positions.
Lords, play a wise-man’s role as an unelected check on decisions made by the House of Commons.
Bills are presented by the Prime Minister’s government, debated and changed by both Houses
in the Parliament, who must then both agree on a bill for it to become law. A Supreme
Court, with less power than the American version, was created in 2009. In addition to being the Head of Government,
the American president is also the Head of State, and is the official representative
of the country to the rest of the world, although this role often falls to the president’s
Secretary of State. The President is the Commander-In-Chief of the military of the United States, although
only the Congress can formally declare war. The President lives at the White House at
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in the heart of the District of Columbia. In the UK’s system, the Monarch is the official
Head of State. Legally, the Monarch still has many powers like giving final approval
on all laws, but in the reality of modern times, the Prime Minister and the Cabinet
run the country. The Prime Minister is also the Commander-In-Chief in all but name. The
Monarch still meets weekly with the Prime Minister and has the constitutional right
to “warn, encourage, and to be consulted.” The ability of the Monarch to influence the
decisions of the Prime Minister varies depending on the relationship between the two leaders.
It’s worth noting here that that the current Queen of England, Elizabeth II has been on
the throne for 63 years and is 89 years old. Her son, Charles, Prince of Wales is her heir
apparent. The Monarch resides in Buckingham Palace in London, while the Prime Minister
lives at 10 Downing Street. Once a year, the President delivers a State
of the Union Address to the joint Congress and the nation in which they lay out their
governing priorities. Since the members of the House of Representatives are elected every
two years, the President faces a referendum on their performance halfway through each
term. If their party loses seats in a midterm election, their ability to enact their agenda
for the rest of the term is weakened. Every week the Prime Minister answers questions
from other members of parliament while simultaneously debating the leader of the opposition. This
is a televised way for the people’s representatives to directly challenge the Prime Minister on
a whole host of issues. Besides resignation, the only way a President
can be removed from office is impeachment, which is done by the House of Representatives.
This is like a prosecutor bringing official charges against a defendant. If a vote to
confirm the charges passes the House, the President is “impeached.” The Senate will
then try the impeachment, but in order to convict, a 2/3ds vote must be achieved by
the Senators. If this happens, which it never has in American history, the President is
removed from office. In the UK, if the House of Commons passes
a no confidence vote in the Prime Minister or if the Prime Minister’s party loses a
vote on a budget, they are seen as politically weakened and will call a General Election. So that’s the basic differences between
the American Presidential and UKs Parliamentary system. The President is the Chief Executive,
while the Prime Minister — who is also a member of Parliament — officially shares
some power with the Monarch. The UK’s legislature, because of the House of Lords and the longer
time between elections, is less responsive to the changing will of the people. And it
is slightly easier to force a Prime Minister out of office than a President. You can see from this map how many countries
have been influenced by the American and British forms of government. Thanks for watching. Like this video to help
it spread. You can watch our explanation of the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict by clicking the link on the screen, or check out our visualization of the top
ten immigrant countries in the world. For The Daily Conversation, I’m Bryce Plank.
This video was edited by Brendan Plank. Until next time.

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  1. One thing I like about our system in America is that it doesn't lock in that political parties legally have recognition in the government itself like it seems like with all the parliamentary

  2. 5:11 Narrator correctly said Andrew JOHNSON was impeached (but not convicted) in 1868, but caption reads Andrew JACKSON, who served in the 1830s and died before the Civil War started in 1861.

    Edit: narrator never mentioned the name of either impeached President, so the caption on the picture is even more misleading. The only other impeached President was Bill Clinton in the 1990s; neither case of impeachment resulted in conviction.

  3. Sadly the parliamentary System is an outdated system that undermines democracy in so many ways when it is in theory supposed to be more accountable.
    I live in south africa and we have a semi-hybrid system of the parliamentary and Presidential systems (not a semi presidential system) and its a complete clusterfuck

  4. What I don't get is why parliamentary systems always have a monarch or president in a ceremonial role. If their powers are usually only ceremonial in parliamentary systems then what's the point? You're just wasting money on an extra political office. Just have the prime minister serve as both head of government and head of state.

  5. This consistently happens and is really annoying. The title is not "Queen of England" That title has not existed since 1707. The correct short form of the title is "Queen of the United Kingdom"

  6. Apparently the USA form of government is getting more and more corrupt by the upper one-percent who own much of the money in the US and Corporate Lobbyist!!!!!

  7. In UK there is no fudalism while in pk fudalism is strong. So uk system never work in Pakistan but presidential system like turkey

  8. Personally I’m a monarchist so this comment is clearly bias but I think the royals should have more involvement in the military. They’re technically run it but they don’t actually in reality. Why not? It means they aren’t just figure heads

  9. The UK system sounds like its weaker and less balanced with more mess. The US sounds stronger and more strict or balanced. I’m Canadian so this is new

  10. In Uk’s parliament can both house present a bill or only the House of Common can present a bill? Also since the monarch is the headstate does she sign the bill into law and what role does the prime minister do when it come to creating law?

  11. America, is not a democracy!!!! Its a Republic!!!!! Totally different things….. Get your facts straight. We, (America), are a constitutional, republic!

  12. So, I love this video, very informative but 5:12: Andrew JOHNSON, bud. Andrew Jackson came about 40 years earlier

  13. People are saying the UK parliamentary system is more democratic than the U.S's which might very well be true however the UK voted to LEAVE the EU and yet they want to take another vote to decide. That's not very democratic, leave means leave you cant just hold another election because you dont like the results

  14. France had the biggest influence on the World (and I’m not French) through French Revolution and Napoleon. Uk was “too island” as it is still today and US was “too far” to have any real impact on Europe and its countries’ colonies.

  15. damn 3:58 4:02 same Woman. It's amazing that we (well I mean yall) still have the same person that ruled with Churchill. That's just….kinda cool.

  16. Sorry but you got something wrong! The PRESIDENT declares war! It doesn't matter what act was passed. The Constitution still stands. The President has that power and Congress can't take that away.

  17. It may be worth noting that the British equivalent of the State of the Union is the queens speech, and that a general election can take place sooner with the Parliaments consent.

  18. This video is terrible for crying out loud. Turns the interesting question of Parliamentary vs Presidential system into US vs UK. It gives a lot of details that have nothing to do with Presidential vs Parliamentary (how long are the terms, when are the elections, the Judiciary branch, the UK Monarch…) and does not clarify the fundamental difference between the two systems, ie the specific relations between the Executive branch and the Legislative branch. You leave it really unclear what the decisive aspects are and how people can then apply that comparison to the dozens of countries out there that are not the US or the UK.
    You could have at least clarified:
    – In a presidential system, the President is normally elected through a specific election (often called "Presidential election"). They are considered to be responsible only before the electors (except in very rare and specific cases of treason or felony, such as a POTUS Impeachment). They are at the same time Head of State and Chief of the Executive branch and therefore generally have a lot of power.
    – In a parliamentary system, the Head of State can either be a weak President (eg Germany's Bundespräsident) or a Monarch. They have a rather symbolic role. The Chief of the Executive branch is generally called a Prime minister. The PM is not elected through a specific election: they are elected by the Lower House, which is elected by the people. Therefore in a lot of systems the Lower House may sometimes not elect as a PM the head of the party with the most votes: they elect whoever is capable of gathering an absolute majority in the House (generally the head of the party with most votes). PMs are responsible before the Lower House who can replace them, but in general the PM also has the power to dissolve the Lower House (checks and balances principle).

  19. In the US the leader of the country literally has to become a convicted criminal to be removed from office. Trump would have been out as soon as he failed to pass a budget in Canada or the UK (or never even elected in the first place).

  20. This is what happens when an American tries to explain how our country's democratic systems works…they get it wrong. Clearly, the United Kingdom's system works much better!

  21. The Americans look more democratic in the Legislative process. While the British seems more democratic in assigning a Prime Minister.

  22. I like how you get to elected the president more directly in the US system even if its not the popular vote i feel this is a good system as it avoids mob rule. Also with Hilary and trump trump doesn't try to win in California so you can't say trump would of lost it was a popular vote. In the UK system the problem is that many think of voting for the prime minister but they are actually voting for their own mp which is a problem when you want a certain prime minister to win but may like a candidate from another part of independent. I like that in the UK you can get rid of the rim minister much more easily than the US president and that the prim minster wields far more power than a president but is kept in check by the fact they they can removed. Im also interested int eh France system. Also other parties can also become major parties rather than just 2.

  23. It's absurd how the House of Lords still exists in the way that it does. How about a roomful of political/economic/industry experts rather than Prime Ministers' chums, hereditary peers, and bishops.

  24. The Prime minister is not the commander in chief, the Queen is. There was a bill proposed by a previous government allowing them to act as the commander in chief but was not given royal assent by the Queen, therefore did not become law!

  25. Another fact to add is the Queen can dissolve parliament. The information provided here about the UK parliamentary system of government is highly inaccurate!

  26. 5:31 actually i'm pretty sure there were 2 presidents impeached:
    Bill Clinton
    Andrew Johnson
    Although i'm not 100% sure on what you meant by that.

  27. Uh, the first map you showed was a little flawed. One of the countries in red isn't an authoritarian one.

  28. Other facts about u.s. government:
    We’ve had a couple of close calls to impeachment.
    Andrew Jackson and Richard Nixon.
    Nixon was told to resign or be impeached because they had voted for him to be impeached. As a threat because of his abuse of power, corruption, obstruction of justice, contempt of Congress and much more they told him resign or be impeached.

  29. The queen is the commander in chief actually of the armed forces; of the entire commonwealth… the queen is boss!!!

  30. LOL. As an American, I would say ANY SYSTEM, ANY SYSTEM AT ALL , that doesn't include an electoral college system in its Constitution is automatically WAAAAAAAY better than ours. Also additionally, any system that requires such a huge majority to abolish or add a new amendment to the Constitution is better. And finally…of course….. ANY CONSTITUTION that doesn't include the right to arm oneself with a deadly weapon is DEFINITELY already way better than ours.

  31. Talking about House of Lords: Made up of lords, bishops, and hereditary peers, many of whom inherit their positions.
    There are now only 92 hereditary peers in there after 1997 act, but ALL of them inherit their positions, that's literally the definition of hereditary.
    Also, I'm not even going not mention the mispronunciation of Buckingham Palace (it ends -um not -ham).

  32. America is superior because it promotes democracy with appropriate checks and balances that Britain and other parliamentary systems do not have.

  33. Impeachment & resignation are not the only ways to remove a President. If a majority of the President's cabinet alongside the Vice President deem the President is unable or unwilling to discharge the powers and duties of the office, they can remove the President from power thus advancing the VP under Section 4 of the 25th amendment (this will probably never happen, but you never know!)

  34. All this formality so that corporate oligarchs can keep their money and status in tact. And as long as their marketing symbols are everywhere, all is well with the world.

  35. The US is an outlier in that neither its citizens elect the president directly nor do the legislature do so. The electoral college takes care of that. All other presidential republics have the people directly electing the president, which could sometimes prove to be a recipe for disaster. Unless there is a proper degree of federalism, a presidential with dictatorial behavior can prove to be dangerous. A chief executive of a ward should be able to check a city mayor. A city mayor should be able to keep a state governor in check, just like a state governor, a national president.

  36. I have been looking at the differences myself. Just look at the idiots who marry and have kids other idiots. I believe we should have institutionalized marriage again and looks or beauty should not be on the top of the list. I believe marriage should have standards that should be enforced and punished by law. Just look at how these idiots affect everyone else in society. Some people shouldn't be allowed to reproduce. You can be good looking and still produce good for nothing kids.

  37. Your wrong, the sovereign is the Commander-in-Chief of Armed forces. Every soldier and sailor swears allegiance to the Queen, not the Prime Minister. Also, impeachment isn't the only way a President can be removed. Under the 25 Amendment of the US Constitution section 4, it states the if the Vice President and Cabinet believe the President is unfit for office, he can be removed with a majority vote. After he is removed for office the Vice President becomes President.

  38. US system gives too much power to one man
    British commonwealth countries dont. They follow peoples choice. And we can abort PM. Not same as impeachment.

    We can directly challenge the PM and his party by means of popular demand.

    The supreme court comes into play.

    Lesson: more power to individual not a party.

  39. how in gods name anyone thought and still thinks it make sense/is a good idea to set up a government that can literally shut down baffles logic and common sense.

    The UK Parliamentary system has been proven to be more efficient and more productive form of government. Its also quite understood that its more "fair" in terms of democratic voting. I mean the electoral college is a ridiculously stupid and outdate system

  40. You got the uk government completely wrong
    1. The queen has to approve a new Cabinet by inviting the PM to create a new government
    2. The queen has to approve a new law which is called royal assent
    And there is no such thing as ‘the prime ministers government’ its ‘HM government’
    Next time do your homework before you do a video on our government

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