Short essay on the Presidential Form of Government

The State governments do not enjoy stability. Chief Ministers have to be changed very often. Caste and communal factors are playing havoc with national integration. The Prime Minister has to decide things with the elections in mind.

Many decisions favourable for the economy of the country in the long run cannot be taken because they may put the people to temporary hardship. Therefore, the economic progress is not as high as it should be.

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One of the major consequences of the Presidential system will be that politics will become genuinely national. The President will be elected by the entire nation and will be the elected leader of the country.

It will be national and not local issues that will dominate the elections. The Presidential candidates will have to develop a national outlook in order to be acceptable to the various regions.

More important, it will lead to a two-party system beginning with a broad alliance of like- minded parties. This will cause a dramatic change in the political scene. The small regional and local parties will in course of time disappear.

They will either merge or be absorbed by the national parties. At the same time, those national parties will not be able to ignore local or regional problems. It is the interaction of national, regional and local issues that will decide the texture of politics.

A candidate will have to adopt a platform which will mean all things to all men. That would mean diluting of ideologies.

This can be illustrated by what happened sometime back in- France. Mitterrand was elected to the Presidency by the alliance of Socialists and Communists. He was committed not only to the two parties but to his electorate to carry out a specific programme.

But within three years of his seven-year terms, he had abandoned socialism. In the name of restructuring the economy, he adopted policies which would gladden the hearts of Mrs. Thatcher or Mr. Reagan. Socialism no longer figured in his vocabulary.

Although the Communists and a certain section of Socialists protested against what they called betrayal, there was very little they could do about it. Indeed one of the advantages of the Presidential system is that the President enjoys a great deal of flexibility.

He can shift his policy to meet the changed convenience in the name of realism. In short, a President, once he takes over, is a monarch. But then, there are checks and balances to prevent the President from behaving like a monarch.

A Presidential system means a strong executive and the power of the executive cannot be affected under any circumstances. A Presi­dent normally has a cabinet and staff officers who exercise real power. Neither the one nor the other is really responsible to the elected representa­tives of the people.

They retain office as long as they enjoy the confidence of the President. This has its advantages as well as weaknesses. He can appoint anyone whom he finds suitable. As ideology weakens he can even appoint a person who belongs to the opposition party.

A national constituency means that the image builders will have a field day. The television will play a leading role in the making of the President. The PR. men and the advertising people will dominate the electoral campaign. The purpose of this campaign will be the selling of the President to the national market.

Thus, the style of politics will be changed. But the advantage will be that politicians, who have been accustomed to concentrating on local issues, will find it difficult to adjust.

The importance of a national constituency would mean that the candidates will have to pay particular attention to the majority community on a national scale. Any party which appears to be specifically linked to minority groups will be at a disadvantage.

This should not be exaggerated for the parties will become broad coalitions of interests. No party will be able to ignore the wider interests of any group. But, at the same time, the courting of castes and communities in areas where they are dominant will not pay dividends.

A Presidential system is generally combined with elected assemblies. The relation between the executive power and the legislature can create problems. It might happen that the President does not have a majority in the legislature to carry out his legislative programmes.

This is the real crux of the problem and can make for a total stalemate. It is however not an unsurmountable problem. There are Presidential governments in the world, functioning smoothly.

A distinct advantage for India, if it goes for Presidential system, would be that the States will have elected governors. An elected governor is a powerful figure. He would bring stability in the States which generally face political upheavals and where the Chief Ministers do not last in office for long.

A Governor, if elected for five years, will be expected to remain in office for the whole period. He will, therefore, be able to initiate and implement the development programmes without interruption and the State will stand to benefit.

The Centre under the presidential system will be strong. But a strong Centre does not necessarily mean weak State. The strengthening of the executive power under a Presidential system will also strengthen the executive in the States.

Sometimes, a weak but popular President may get elected, as it has happened in the United States. But the bureaucracy under this system becomes strong. It continues to function as competently even if the President happens to be weak and incompetent.

Of course, there is a lot of scope even under Parliamentary system for the government to acquire power and become strong within the constitutional framework. Moreover, the government is always answerable to Parliament.

Nevertheless the functioning of the Parliamentary system in India has resulted in several problems. These problems are causing instability and insecurity. As discussed above, the Presidential system will eliminate many of the ills India is afflicted with at present. Therefore, it is advisable for India to go in for this form of government.