Two Nations Divided by Democracy: Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’

Although I am not in favor of impeaching president Trump nor is there any possibility of his impeachment, he would have certainly been removed from the office by now under the British parliamentary system. Though both UK and USA are democracies, yet they have wide fundamental differences as the latter follows a presidential form of government. In the presidential system, once elected, the incumbent escapes the public grilling and day to day accountability as happens in a Parliamentary System.

The House of Commons is an arena where the strength or the weakness of a leader gets quickly exposed with many a stalwart having had to resign on the floor of the house.
The list of Prime Ministers who had to resign despite having a majority in the house, is a fairly lengthy one, indicating the strength of a parliamentary democracy. Tony Blair despite winning three consecutive elections for the Labor Party faced criticism for his support to the US for the invasion of Iraq. In the face of mounting criticism, he had to resign midway through his third term, while President George W Bush went on to complete his second term virtually unscathed.

Following Mr. Blair, David Cameron resigned because the British people voted for Brexit despite his opposition to it. Cameron said, “The will of the British people is an instruction that must be delivered.”

While almost a dozen of British prime ministers had to resign because they lost no-confidence motion in the parliament including the stalwart like Benjamin Disraeli, in contrast, except in case of Richard Nixon, there have been virtually no resignations from the top office. Nixon had to go for criminal obstruction of justice in the Watergate affair, several of his staffers having been already jailed.

Bill Clinton went on to serve two full terms despite being only the second U.S president to be ever impeached. He went on to complete his second term despite the impeachment. He won’t have survived the House of Commons, had he been in UK, facing a similar situation.

Despite serious foreign policy issues, Jimmy Carter went on to complete his first term, albeit with difficulty and failed to get reelected. US Presidents thus have a certain degree of insularity.

A strong political party system with emphasis on discussion and debate and even occasional dissent, has been the strength of the House of Commons in Britain.

It is difficult to say which system is better. The British parliamentary system threatens the stability of the government without giving a chance to the prime minister to show the long-term benefits of his or her policies. At the same token, a misguided president may paralyze a nation without much fear of removal from the office causing dire consequences to the nation.

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