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Systems of Governance – Free JAMB Tutorial on Government

This Government Tutorial will focus on the Systems of Governance. At the end of the tutorial, you can download it for FREE. Please share this page with your friends who may need it.

Systems of governance refer to the broader frameworks and principles that guide the organization and functioning of political, social, or economic entities.

The type of governance system in place can significantly impact the distribution of power, decision-making processes, and the overall functioning of a society or organization.

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This tutorial is going to explain the three systems of governance; Presidential, Parliamentary, and Monarchical.

At the end of this tutorial, you should be able to distinguish between the different systems of governance.

Let’s start with the presidential form of governance.

Presidential

The presidential system is a form of government in which the executive branch is separate from the legislative branch, and the head of state is also the head of government.

The president is typically elected by the people and serves a fixed term in office.

Countries currently practicing the Presidential system of governance are Nigeria, the United States, France, Brazil, Poland, Ukraine, etc.

Key features and characteristics of a presidential system:

  1. Separation of Powers:
    • In a presidential system, the executive, legislative, and often the judicial branches of government are separate and independent of each other.
    • The president, who is the head of state and head of government, is elected independently of the legislature.
  2. Executive Branch:
    • The president is the chief executive and is responsible for implementing and enforcing laws.
    • The president may have a cabinet or advisory council consisting of appointed officials to assist in decision-making and administration.
  3. Election of the President:
    • The president is typically elected through a direct popular vote or an electoral college system.
    • The term of office is usually fixed and predetermined, often four to six years.
  4. Legislative Branch:
    • The legislature (such as a congress or parliament) is a separate and independent branch with its own powers and responsibilities.
    • Members of the legislature are elected independently of the president.
  5. Checks and Balances:
    • The separation of powers in a presidential system is designed to provide a system of checks and balances, preventing any one branch from gaining too much power.
  6. Stability and Continuity:
    • The fixed term of office for the president provides stability and continuity in governance, as the president cannot be easily removed from office.
  7. Limited Direct Influence of the Legislature on the Executive:
    • Unlike parliamentary systems, where the executive branch is drawn from the legislative branch, the president in a presidential system is not directly accountable to the legislature.
  8. Potential for Gridlock:
    • In situations where the president and the legislative majority are from different political parties, there is a potential for legislative gridlock and challenges in passing legislation.
  9. Impeachment:
    • In some presidential systems, there is a provision for the impeachment and removal of the president for “high crimes and misdemeanors.” This process is separate from the regular electoral cycle.

Parliamentary

A parliamentary system of governance is a form of government where the executive branch derives its legitimacy and authority from the legislative branch (parliament) and is accountable to it.

Unlike a presidential system where the executive and legislative branches are separate, in a parliamentary system, the executive branch is drawn from the legislative branch.

According to the data from the IPU (Inter-Parliamentary Union), as of 2021, 29 countries practice a parliamentary form of governance, including major economies such as the United Kingdom, India, Canada, and Australia.

Below are the key features and characteristics of a parliamentary system:

  1. Fusion of Powers:
    • In a parliamentary system, there is a fusion of powers between the executive and legislative branches. Members of the executive (cabinet ministers) are also members of the legislature.
  2. Head of State and Head of Government:
    • The head of state and head of government roles are often separate. The head of state may be a monarch or a ceremonial president, while the head of government is usually the prime minister.
  3. Appointment of the Executive:
    • The head of government (prime minister) is typically the leader of the political party that has the most seats in the lower house of parliament. The prime minister is appointed by the head of state or a ceremonial president.
    • The other members of the executive (cabinet) are chosen from the members of the parliament and are responsible for specific government functions.
  4. Collective Responsibility:
    • The cabinet operates on the principle of collective responsibility, meaning that all cabinet members are collectively responsible for government policies and decisions. If a minister disagrees with a decision, they may be required to resign.
  5. Vote of No Confidence:
    • The parliament can express a lack of confidence in the government through a vote of no confidence. If the government loses such a vote, it may be required to resign, leading to the formation of a new government or new elections.
  6. Term of Office:
    • The term of office for the head of government (prime minister) is not fixed and depends on the parliamentary majority. If the ruling party loses majority support in the parliament, a new government may be formed or new elections called.
  7. Flexibility and Adaptability:
    • Parliamentary systems are often considered more flexible and adaptable to changing political situations compared to presidential systems. Changes in leadership can occur more swiftly.
  8. Bicameral or Unicameral Legislature:
    • A parliamentary system can have a unicameral (one chamber) or bicameral (two chambers) legislature. The structure varies from country to country.
  9. Weak Separation of Powers:
  • Unlike presidential systems, where the executive and legislative branches are more clearly separated, parliamentary systems have a weaker separation of powers, as members of the executive are also members of the legislature.

Monarchical

A monarchical system of governance is a form of government in which a single individual, known as a monarch, serves as the head of state for life or until resignation.

The position of the monarch is typically hereditary, meaning that it is passed down within a royal family. Monarchies can take various forms, including absolute monarchies and constitutional monarchies.

Several countries around the world currently practice the monarchical system of governance. Some of the well-known countries include Spain, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Belgium, Japan, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, and Norway.

Countries with absolute monarchies are less common today but include Saudi Arabia and Brunei.

Here are key features and characteristics of monarchical systems:

  1. Monarch’s Role:
    • The monarch is the central figure in the state and serves as the symbolic and often ceremonial head of state.
    • The role and powers of the monarch can vary widely, depending on the type of monarchy.
  2. Absolute Monarchy:
    • In an absolute monarchy, the monarch holds supreme and unrestricted powers, making decisions without the need for parliamentary or legislative approval.
    • Historically, absolute monarchies were more common, but in modern times, many monarchies have transitioned to constitutional forms.
  3. Constitutional Monarchy:
    • In a constitutional monarchy, the powers of the monarch are limited by a constitution or laws, and there is often a separate legislative body, such as a parliament.
    • The monarch’s role is usually more ceremonial, and the day-to-day affairs of the government are typically managed by elected officials.
  4. Hereditary Succession:
    • Monarchies often feature hereditary succession, where the position of the monarch is passed down from one generation to the next within a royal family.
    • In some cases, the successor is determined by primogeniture (the eldest child inherits), while in others, it may be determined by other rules of succession.
  5. Ceremonial Duties:
    • Monarchs often perform ceremonial duties, such as state visits, awarding honors, and representing the country on the international stage.
    • The monarch may also have a role in the formalities of government, such as the opening of parliament.
  6. Symbolic Head of State:
    • In constitutional monarchies, the monarch is the symbolic head of state, while the head of government (prime minister) is responsible for the day-to-day administration of the country.
  7. Abdication:
    • Monarchs may choose to abdicate, stepping down from the throne. Abdication can occur for various reasons, such as old age, health issues, or personal choice.
  8. Popular Support and Public Opinion:
    • The degree of popular support for a monarchy can vary. In some countries, the monarchy enjoys widespread public support and serves as a unifying symbol, while in others, there may be debates over the role and relevance of the monarchy.

That’s all we have for you on the systems of governance.

It’s our favorite part; Questions Time.

Now take out your pen and biro, then answer these questions.

Practice Questions on Systems of Governance

  1. In a presidential system, who is responsible for implementing and enforcing laws?
    A) Prime Minister
    B) President
    C) Head of Parliament
    D) Chief Justice
  2. What principle does the cabinet operate on in a parliamentary system?
    A) Individual Responsibility
    B) Collective Responsibility
    C) Executive Privilege
    D) Ministerial Autonomy
  3. In a constitutional monarchy, what limits the powers of the monarch?
    A) Royal Decree
    B) Parliamentary Approval
    C) Magna Carta
    D) Monarch’s Will
  4. What distinguishes a presidential system from a parliamentary system?
    A) Fusion of Powers
    B) Separation of Powers
    C) Absolute Monarchy
    D) Hereditary Succession
  5. Which governance system emphasizes a stronger system of checks and balances to prevent the concentration of power?
    A) Parliamentary
    B) Monarchical
    C) Absolute Monarchy
    D) Presidential
  6. How is the president typically elected in a presidential system?
    A) Indirect Electoral College
    B) Appointment by Parliament
    C) Direct Popular Vote
    D) Royal Decree
  7. Which system is considered more flexible and adaptable to changing political situations?
    A) Absolute Monarchy
    B) Presidential
    C) Parliamentary
    D) Constitutional Monarchy
  8. In a presidential system, how directly accountable is the president to the legislature?
    A) Directly Accountable
    B) No Accountability
    C) Indirectly Accountable
    D) Through Royal Advisors
  9. In which governance system is there a provision for the impeachment and removal of the head of state?
    A) Absolute Monarchy
    B) Parliamentary
    C) Presidential
    D) Constitutional Monarchy
  10. How is the successor to the monarch determined in a hereditary monarchy?
    A) Popular Vote
    B) Primogeniture
    C) Appointment by Parliament
    D) Executive Decree
  11. In a parliamentary system, who is usually the head of government?
    A) President
    B) Monarch
    C) Prime Minister
    D) Chief Justice
  12. How is the term of office for the head of government determined in a parliamentary system?
    A) Fixed Term
    B) Life Term
    C) Depends on Parliamentary Majority
    D) Determined by the Monarch
  13. What restricts the powers of the monarch in a constitutional monarchy?
    A) Royal Decree
    B) Parliamentary Approval
    C) Divine Right
    D) Monarch’s Will
  14. In an absolute monarchy, what is the primary role of the monarch?
    A) Ceremonial Duties
    B) Legislative Decision-Making
    C) Supreme Decision-Making
    D) Constitutional Oversight
  15. How does the degree of popular support for a monarchy impact its role in a country?
    A) No Impact
    B) Reduces Monarch’s Powers
    C) Increases Monarch’s Powers
    D) Influences Abdication Decision

It’s time to know your score. Before you check the answers, make sure you attempted to answer all the questions. This will really help you understand the systems of governance.

Answers to Practice Questions on Systems of Governance

  1. Answer: B) President
    • Explanation: In a presidential system, the president is responsible for implementing and enforcing laws.
  2. Answer: B) Collective Responsibility
    • Explanation: The cabinet in a parliamentary system operates on the principle of collective responsibility, where all cabinet members are collectively responsible for government policies and decisions.
  3. Answer: B) Parliamentary Approval
    • Explanation: In a constitutional monarchy, the powers of the monarch are limited by a constitution or laws, often requiring parliamentary approval.
  4. Answer: B) Separation of Powers
    • Explanation: The key feature distinguishing a presidential system is the separation of powers, whereas a parliamentary system has a fusion of powers.
  5. Answer: A) Parliamentary
    • Explanation: Parliamentary systems often emphasize a stronger system of checks and balances compared to presidential systems.
  6. Answer: C) Direct Popular Vote
    • Explanation: In a presidential system, the president is typically elected through a direct popular vote or an electoral college system.
  7. Answer: C) Parliamentary
    • Explanation: Parliamentary systems are often considered more flexible and adaptable to changing political situations compared to presidential systems.
  8. Answer: C) Indirectly Accountable
    • Explanation: In a presidential system, the president is not directly accountable to the legislature, unlike in parliamentary systems.
  9. Answer: C) Presidential
    • Explanation: In some presidential systems, there is a provision for the impeachment and removal of the president for “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
  10. Answer: B) Primogeniture
    • Explanation: In hereditary monarchies, the successor is often determined by primogeniture, where the eldest child inherits the throne.
  11. Answer: C) Prime Minister
    • Explanation: In a parliamentary system, the head of government is usually the prime minister, while the head of state may be a monarch or ceremonial president.
  12. Answer: C) Depends on Parliamentary Majority
    • Explanation: The term of office for the head of government in a parliamentary system depends on the parliamentary majority. If the ruling party loses majority support, a new government may be formed or new elections called.
  13. Answer: B) Parliamentary Approval
    • Explanation: In a constitutional monarchy, the powers of the monarch are restricted by parliamentary approval and constitutional limitations.
  14. Answer: C) Supreme Decision-Making
    • Explanation: In an absolute monarchy, the monarch holds supreme and unrestricted powers, making decisions without the need for parliamentary or legislative approval.
  15. Answer: C) Increases Monarch’s Powers
    • Explanation: The degree of popular support for a monarchy can influence the role of the monarch. Higher support may increase the monarch’s influence, while lower support could lead to debates over the monarchy’s relevance.

So how many did you score?

If your score is low, consider going through everything again.

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