A parliamentary system is a form of democratic governance of states. The system stands on a close collaboration of the executive and legislative powers.
The executives gain legitimacy to govern by attaining confidence from the legislators (elected members of parliament). Whenever during the election season, members of parliament can vote on confidence. It is called the vote of no confidence. Therefore, the parliament holds the government accountable. The government’s head is usually a prime minister, premier, or chancellor. Hence, possessing executive power.
The government, or cabinet, can be formed in three ways. In some countries, members of the cabinet cannot be members of the parliament at the same time. Elsewhere, it is the other way round. Hence, every cabinet member must also be an elected legislator. Third, no rules describe whether the cabinet members can or cannot be parliament members.
Regarding the official head of state, parliamentary systems can be divided into constitution monarchies with a monarch, such as the United Kingdom, or parliamentary republics such as Germany. In both of these types of systems, the head of state holds mostly ceremonial and formal authorities. Unlike in a presidential system, the head of the government is a separate person from the head of state.
Depending on the party system and the representation’s size, a government is formed by a single party or coalition of multiple parties. However, a multi-party system tends to be unstable—a common problem in mainland Europe.
The parliament, responsible for making laws, can be unicameral, with only one house – house of commons or equivalent. Or bicameral with two houses – a lower house (i.e., House of Commons) and an upper house (i.e., Senate or House of Lords). Generally, a supreme court holds the judicial review power over the parliament. Therefore, it can declare laws unconstitutional.
The upswing of the parliamentary system was the 19th century. Since then, it has evolved into one of the most common forms of government.
Parliamentary system by typology
Furthermore, the parliamentary systems divide into typologies by which institution has the crucial role:
- Sartori’s typology
- Blondel’s typology with Siaroff’s extension
- Duverger’s typology