Characteristics of a Parliamentary System of Government | Social Studies
Recently, we discussed the difference between limited and unlimited governments. Countries – like the United States – who have a limited form of government can differ in how their government functions. For example, according to the Annenberg Classroom, the United States uses a presidential system of government, and countries like Canada and Great Britain use a parliamentary system of government.
Follow along as we discuss three distinguishing characteristics of parliamentary governments in preparation for the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™ Social Studies subtest.
1. Prime Minister and Head of State
According to eHow Contributor Jessica Morelock, the Head of State and the Prime Minister are two different roles. The Prime Minister leads the government (similar to the President of the United States), and the Head of State leads the monarchy. In the United Kingdom, David Cameron is the Prime Minister, and the Queen of England is the Head of State.
Typically, the Head of State is a symbolic leader for a country, upholding tradition and history.
In parliamentary systems of government, the parliament is what we know as the legislative branch.
According to the University of North Carolina Wilmington:
- Parliament representatives are voted in by the citizens.
- Parliament is the only branch of a parliamentary system of government that is elected by the citizens.
- Parliament writes and votes bills into law.
- Parliament functions between two (bicameral) houses or chambers in large countries, and one (unicameral) house or chamber in small countries.
The cabinet is the executive branch of a parliamentary system of government. The Prime Minister and a group of advisors make up the cabinet. According to Jessica Morelock:
- The cabinet is appointed by the majority party of parliament.
- Cabinet members have roles in the executive and legislative branch.
- Individuals can be removed from the cabinet by parliament.