By Amanda Salas Calderón - International Relations student
Democracy is complicated. For decades, countries around the world have experienced countless governments, some even a change in the organization in general then went back to how they were, but the fact remains that the dominant political system is the democratic one. Years have gone by, however, and still there is no such thing as a perfect democracy, nor will there ever really be given human being’s nature, yet still people dream of achieving that level of perfection that is becoming more utopic than anything. Presidentialism is also a common factor in democracies around the globe, and while it’s supposed to be a legitimate system, we are facing the reality–or rather, coming to terms with it– of how easily manipulated and manipulative this system is.
“The presidential system grants limited powers, empowers state governments, separates the three branches into different institutions, enables the minority to make laws, grants judiciary the power of review, and above all, gives the people a direct say.” (Dhamija, 2016), and though this is focused on the original presidential system–the United States’– it’s not hard to associate certain behaviors in said country with others, since they all suffer the same symptoms that have plagued the structure for what is easy to believe the beginning of it.
Granted, the statement that the people have a say in the decisions of the government would make us think that yes, indeed the citizens have a voice to call out actions their politicians are making that they don’t agree with, that they do have the capability to stop their leaders of doing something that they believe isn’t what the country needs, but is that really happening, or have those in power fooled the public? The following declaration brings something to mind that can be significant, if viewed in a certain way: “Speed and determination can be seen as a positive feature of the presidential system, as presidents usually have more enduring constitutional powers that allow them to push ahead with reform and bring about change quickly.” (Dhamija, 2016). It’s the last words that make a perhaps considerable assertion, which is how swiftly a presidential government can bring about transformations inside the country, and not always for the better.
Yes, it’s true that the separation of powers makes the presidential system somehow idolized over how that can maintain, in simple terms, corruption out or prevent it from seizing control of the nation, yet again, it’s merely an ideal. There’s always the possibility of one branch to be stronger than another, say, it has much more influence over the rest of the administration than the other two, as Patrick asserts: “The separate and independent legislative and judicial branches of government, which share power with the executive, prevent the strong executive authority of the presidential system of democracy from becoming excessive or abusive.” (para. 5). In history, there have been cases of democratic states falling into authoritarianism due to the exploitation the leaders do of certain feelings spreading within the society, and, nowadays, it’s easy to pinpoint particular democracies that are falling victim to the power of persuasion; who’s to say some are not already down?
In general, there’s no such thing as an ideal democracy, not even within the original one that is the United States, and it’s important that people are able to distinguish the fanaticism they may be subjects to, and the reality that they are living. At the moment, there’s nothing the public can do other than to keep a watchful eye on the government, and seek the truth no matter what and reject any kind of control that is not always positive. The population of a country needs to be able to also admit and recognize that the presidential system isn’t flawless and is always subject to following the wrong path, so to speak. It’s on them that their country remains just and provides them what they need.
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Dhamija, B. (2016). What is the Presidential System? The Presidential System. Retrieved from https://presidentialsystem.org/2016/04/30/what-is-the-presidential-system/
Patrick, J. (n.d.). Presidential System. Understanding Democracy, A Hip Pocket Guide.https://www.annenbergclassroom.org/glossary_term/presidential-system/