Parliamentary System Versus the Presidential System

A nation’s type of government indicates how its executive, legislative and judicial levels are organized. There are various constitutional structures of national government throughout the world. The most popular models are the presidential system and the parliamentary system. Both systems are democracies, meaning that citizens have the power to make governmental decisions through their vote. It is critical for citizens to understand the differences between these two systems of government so that they understand the full potential of their votes, as well as their representation. To better understand the parliamentary system versus the presidential system, it’s important to examine how these systems operate within each branch of government.

The Executive Branch

Presidential systems have an executive branch that consists solely of the president. The president is an individual elected by citizens to be head of government and state for a maximum of two terms in office. The President is independent of the legislative branch. Some common responsibilities of the president are to:

  • execute and enforce laws of Congress,
  • sign the legislation into law,
  • veto bills enacted by Congress and
  • conduct diplomacy with foreign nations.

In contrast, parliamentary systems have a clear distinction between the head of government and head of state. In this system, the head of government and parliament is the Prime Minister. Rather than participating in a general election, Parliament elects the Prime Minister. Citizens elect the members of Parliament. Additionally, Parliament makes up the legislative branch of government.

The Prime Minister typically has no limit to the time they can stay in office. However, this means that they are dependent on the satisfaction of Parliament, which has the power to remove the Prime Minister from power. This can be accomplished through a no-confidence vote.

Meanwhile, within a parliamentary system, the head of state may be an elected president. But, the head of state is also commonly a hereditary monarch and acts as a figurehead for the nation.

The Legislative Branch

The legislative branch of the parliamentary system versus the presidential system may either be unicameral or bicameral. Unicameral contains one house, whereas two houses make up a bicameral system. A bicameral legislative system consists of a lower house and upper house. The lower house is where most law-making occurs. Many governments opt for a two-house legislative branch to avoid the concentration of power in one body and ensure the federal government is held accountable.

In presidential systems, the legislative branch will write law for a president to ultimately approve. Though the president may suggest laws, it is ultimately the legislative branch that will write them. In contrast, a Prime Minister will write laws along with the legislature and pass them.

The Judicial Branch

Judicial systems across parliamentary system versus the presidential system have a similar structure. Their structures are similar in that they both strive to create a separation of powers between the judiciary branch and other branches of government. However, the exact structure of these systems varies widely across various countries.

Is One Better Than The Other?

Both forms of government are organized in such a way that they both have various strengths. Due to the vote of no-confidence, it is easy to end the term of a Prime Minister within a parliamentary system. Meanwhile, it is much harder to impeach a president. However, Prime Ministers are dependent on the legislature. In contrast, presidents are completely independent of their legislative branches. They are able to make decisions that they believe are best in the nation’s interest without the influence of outside parties.

Despite all the differences between the parliamentary system versus the presidential system, it is ultimately the members of a nation who hold power. By voting, citizens can express their voice and effect change in their respective countries, no matter their system of government.

– Shreya Gaddipati
Photo: Flickr

qualifications to become a senator

The legislative branch of the U.S. government, known as Congress, is made up of two different chambers. The lower chamber, the House of Representatives, is made up of 435 representatives who are also called Congressmen and Congresswomen. The number of Congressmen and Congresswomen in the House of Representatives is determined by the population in each congressional district.

The upper chamber, the Senate, is made up of 100 senators. Each state elects only two senators to ensure each state has equal representation. The Senate is meant to be the check to the House of Representatives.

Many people who wish to make a difference in their communities and country would wish to run for a political office, such as senate. However many ask, what are the qualifications to become a senator?


Age Requirement

Despite being the least known of the qualifications to become a senator, any person wanting to run for Senate must be at least 30 years old. This rule has been in place since the conception of the Senate with the creation of the constitution in 1787. However, in our history, the United States has had a couple of noticeable exceptions — the youngest senator to ever serve was Senator John Henry Eaton of Tennessee who was sworn in on November 17, 1818.

Senator Eaton was only 28 years old at the time, but due to inefficient birth records, this fact was not realized until after he took the oath. Senator Joe Biden of Delaware was the youngest to be sworn in while still aligning with all the qualifications to become a senator; when he was sworn in on January 1973, Senator Biden was 30 years old and 45 days.


United States Citizenship

To become a senator, a candidate must be a United States citizen for at least nine years. In this sense, they must be a legalized citizen but they can be from any other country in the world.

Some United States senators who were not born in the United States include Colorado’s Senator Michael Bennet who was born in India, Texan Senator Ted Cruz who was born in Canada and Senator Tammy Duckworth from Illinois who was born in Thailand.


Which State to Represent

When a person runs for Senate, they run for a certain state, such as Senator of Indiana or Senator of Florida. He or she must live in the state that they run for, not necessarily the state they were born in. For example, Former president and Senator Barack Obama was born in Hawaii but campaigned for Senate in the state of Illinois, where he was currently living.

There is no set amount of time that a person must live in the state he or she wishes to represent before running for Senate, just that the candidate must be a legal resident of that state.


Making a Difference

These constitutional requirements answer the question: “What are the qualifications to become a senator?” Many citizens who have run for Congress in the past have studied law, political science and public service, though a degree is not required. Also, many Congressmen and Congresswomen have military experience, though this is not required either.

These are some of the answers to the question of “what are the qualifications to become a senator?” Anyone who fits these qualifications can legally run for Senate in the United States and have the possibility to make a difference in their communities and the country as a whole.

– Courtney Wallace

Photo: Flickr


Read: How many Senators are there


What is a Senator?
Since 1787, the U.S. Senate has existed to bring representation to individual states and a minority opinion to the United States of America. Senators are an integral part of the news cycle. They are a voice for the electorate. They are composers of history. But what is a senator?

America is a country of democracy and relative stability in spite of bipartisanship. Surrounded by a world in which many are starving and living in poverty, however, it is important to look at the basics. Doing so gives Americans the ability to make a difference to those less fortunate. This is made possible by having a population of 323 million speak through elected representatives.

Qualifications of a U.S. Senator

The qualifications of a U.S. senator are simple. A senator must be at least 30 years old, must have been a U.S. citizen for nine years and must be a resident of the state which he or she is elected to represent. Their terms last for six years and there is no limit to the number of terms, as long as it is the will of the population in the senator’s state. Each state has two elected senators, who exist to bring individual voice and to be a part of the vital checks-and-balances system. This goes some of the way to answering the question ‘what is a senator?’.

Responsibilities of a Senator

The most important job of a U.S. senator is to be the voice of his or her constituents. As the accountable party to the state, a U.S. senator is responsible for voting on legislation that is to the benefit of the state as a whole. It also means that senators are responsible for taking phone calls, reading letters and meeting with his or her constituents.

In addition to their responsibility to the state, senators also serve on committees. Committees exist to examine major sectors of American life, including energy, health and the U.S. budget. It is a Senator’s responsibility to meet with lobbyists and determine amendments to existing legislation through the committee on which they serve.

U.S. senators also introduce and vote on legislation. Once a bill is introduced, it must be examined by the Senate. If it passes muster, the bill will then go to the House of Representatives (or vice versa). If the bill passes both houses of Congress, it will then go to the President of the United States to become a law.

What is a Senator?

So, what is a senator? A senator is someone that individuals elect to ensure that the country is going in a direction in which they want it to go. A senator is a voice for the state; an elected official responsible for ensuring the protection of human rights.

Unfortunately, much of the world does not have that same representation. The U.S has the power to create change and it starts with individual voices.

It is essential to exercise the right to vote and voice opinions through elected officials. Once senators are in office, citizens can write letters, email or call them to hold them accountable. They can make sure they are carrying out the state’s interest as well as using their position for good in the world.

– Eric Paulsen

Photo: Flickr