Parliamentary Democracy Government
There are several types of democracies, and here we will explain what a parliamentary democracy is by comparing it to a presidential democracy, which we have in the United States.

In short, a parliamentary democracy is a system of government in which citizens elect representatives to a legislative parliament to make the necessary laws and decisions for the country. This parliament directly represents the people.

In a presidential democracy, the leader is called a President, and he or she is elected by citizens to lead a branch of government separate from the legislative branch. If you remember back to government class, you will remember that the United States has three branches of the government: the executive, the judicial, and the legislative. The President leads the executive branch of government.


Role of Parliamentary Democracy


In a parliamentary democracy, you have a Prime Minister, who is first elected as a member of parliament, then elected Prime Minister by the other members of the parliamentary legislature. However, the Prime Minister remains a part of the legislature. The legislative branch makes the laws, and thus the Prime Minister has a hand in law-making decisions. The Prime Minister works directly with other people in the legislature to write and pass these laws.

In our presidential democracy, we still have a legislature, but we also have a president. He is separate from the legislature, so although he works with them, it is not as direct as if he were a Prime Minister. The laws that the legislature wants to pass must first go through the president; he can sign them into being or he can veto them. The President can go to the legislative branch and suggest laws, but they ultimately write them for his approval.

Furthermore, in parliamentary systems, the legislature has the right to dismiss a Prime Minister at any time if they feel that he or she is not doing the job as well as expected. This is called a “motion of no confidence,” and is not as much of a drawn out process. In the US, impeachment is an extensive, formal process in which an official is accused of doing something illegal.

Some countries with a parliamentary system are constitutional monarchies, which still have a king and queen. A few examples of these are the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Japan.

It is important to remember that both of these systems of government are democracies. Ultimately, the citizens who vote have the voice.

– Alycia Rock

Sources: Wise Geek, Scholastic, How Stuff Works
Photo: Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants


parliamentary democracy government

In March, The Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome Prevention and Control Bill Bil was passed by the Indian Parliament. The HIV equality bill in India outlaws discrimination against those directly affected by the disease.

At its most basic level, the law will ensure that Indians suffering from HIV/AIDS are given equal access to medical treatment, housing, education and burial sites. The bill also makes public expressions of hatred and discrimination toward people with HIV punishable by law. Doctors are prohibited from sharing the HIV status of any patient, and patients must always sign consent forms before receiving tests or medications.

Although HIV prevalence in India is relatively low, there are concentrated areas in the southwest and northeast corners of the nation. Even relatively low percentages of infection still translate into large numbers of people, as India is a country consisting of more than one billion people. The World Bank identifies several risk factors in India including low condom use, widespread drug use, migration and the low status of women. The impact of HIV can be devastating, especially for women in rural families. Infection is often stigmatized, and treatment is difficult to find and access.

The LGBT community still suffers from discrimination in India, and nearly half of transgender children are subject to violence before they turn 18. The new HIV equality law in India was widely celebrated by LGBT members, and it is hoped that the legislation will contribute to a decrease in violence and stigma.

J.P. Nadda, the Indian Health Minister, stated that the government “stands committed to free treatment for HIV patients and that this is what drove the passing of the HIV equality bill in India. Nadda also stated that the bill will establish guidelines for reporting discrimination and create a platform for the protection of patient rights.

Nadda also promised that the government will move forward in researching strategies for counseling, testing and prevention in high-risk areas in India.

Steve Kraus, the Director of UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Asia and the Pacific, said that the bill was “an important step forward for people living with and affected by HIV in India and around the world.”

The bill is the first national law pertaining to HIV/AIDS in South Asia, and many are hoping that the law will set precedent for other nations to follow suit. The new HIV equality law in India will hopefully protect the marginalized community in the country.

Peyton Jacobsen

Photo: Flickr

As Rwanda remembered the 20th anniversary of the horrifying genocide against the Tutsi, Rwanda’s first lady—Jeanette Kagame—wrote a moving piece stating that women bore the heaviest burden of Rwanda’s history. However, modern Rwanda now leads the world’s revolution for female political representation.

Aloysia Inyumba, Rwanda’s former minister of gender reveals that “there is a general understanding and appreciation that if things are going to be better in Africa, women are going to have a key role.” Rwandan women played a crucial role in rebuilding the country after the war—many women were obligated to step up to assume the roles formerly occupied by men. Out of necessity, women found a venue to demonstrate their capabilities.

Women hold 51 out of 80 seats in the Rwandan Chamber of Deputies; that is 64 percent. Not only that, 24 seats in the Chamber are also reserved exclusively for women. The country now has more women in the parliament than any other country in the world. Furthermore, the Rwandan constitution also guarantees both genders no less than 30 percent representation in all decision-making bodies of the country.

What does a female majority parliament mean? It means that gender parity and women’s empowerment are prioritized on the national agenda. Rwanda legislated many laws aiming at empowering women and protecting their rights and interests. Gender violence, women’s health and choice, gender imparity and imbalance are all highly prioritized issues. Furthermore, the Rwandan political culture also favors female representation; as can be seen from the fact that the even more women have been elected than what the quota system guarantees.

Nevertheless, for many Rwandans there are still many areas that could still use some improvement. In public sectors, women hold only 15.7 percent of positions, 54.5 percent of all civil servants are still male and 36.8 percent of ministers are women. Furthermore, more girls and women in Rwanda still need to be enrolled in school. However, Connie Bwiza Sekamma, one of Rwanda’s female MPs, believes that female empowerment and equality can be brought about via the quantitative expansion of female representation. She believes that gender equality can then be attained once enough women have a chance to show their potential.

Nonetheless, Rwanda’s success in moving from the state in which it found itself in the 90s to a leading country in gender equality is an admirable achievement. The seriousness with which they endeavor to make this issue a national priority is certainly worth emulating.

-Peewara Sapsuwan

Sources: Voice of America, Thomson Reuters Foundation , The New Times, Institue for Security Studies, NTV Kenya, The New York Times, Republic of Rwanda
Photo: Lateline 

On May 15th, hundreds of religious leaders from 170 difference spiritual organizations will unite in combating the issue of global hunger by lobbying parliament. The Catholic Agency For Overseas Development (CAFOD) has organized the mass lobby on behalf of the “Enough Food for Everyone IF” campaign. This campaign has a strong message encompassed by four IFs.

Enough food for everyone…

IF governments keep their promises on aid, invest to stop children dying from malnutrition and help the poorest people feed themselves through investment in small farmers.
IF governments stop big companies dodging tax in poor countries, so that millions of people can free themselves from hunger.

IF we stop poor farmers being forced off their land, and use the available agricultural land to grow food for people, not biofuels for cars.
IF we force governments and investors to be honest and open about the deals they make in the poorest countries that stop people getting enough food.

These hundreds of monks, nuns, priests, and others will meet with members of Congress to discuss the reasons behind world hunger and ways to end the epidemic. Many of these religious leaders have first hand experience in third world countries working with people suffering from hunger and malnutrition.

One of the campaign’s organizers, Sister Pat Robb CJ, plans to inform members of Congress about her time in developing countries where she witnessed children dying from lack of food. She also hopes that the large scale of this lobby will put pressure on Congress to not merely listen, but to take action against world hunger.

Other groups that support the IF campaign are JPIC Links (Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation), the Africa Europe Faith and Justice Network (AEFJN), the Conference of Religious (COR), Progressio, Trocaire, Church Action on Poverty and SCIAF.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu hopes that this anti-hunger movement will be as successful as the anti-Apartheid campaign that happened several decades ago. He is confident that if people can unite over the issue of hunger, then the campaign will be a victory. One of the ways to reach this goal, he says, is for wealthy countries to commit to invest 0.7 percent of their gross national incomes in foreign aid. However, it is also important to change the systems that created extreme poverty in the first place.

These religious leaders are hoping that their influence will sway the minds of politicians to support foreign aid legislation. In the words of Sister Pat Robb, “As long as one person is still hungry, our work is not over.”

– Mary Penn

Source: INC
Photo: Theatre Goodman