The Perils Of Presidentialism By Juan Linz Essay

The Perils Of Presidentialism By Juan Linz Essay

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Juan Linz – The Perils of Presidentialism

Discussions of which constitutional form of government best serves the growing number of democratic nation’s are in constant debate all over the world. In the essay “The Perils of Presidentialism”, political scientist, Juan Linz compares the parliamentary system with presidential democracies. As the title of Linz’s essay implies, he sees Presidentialism as potentially dangerous and sites fixed terms, the zero-sum game and legitimacy issues to support his theory. According to Linz, the parliamentary system is the superior form of democratic government because Prime Minister cannot appeal to the people without going through the Parliament creating a more cohesive form of government. By contrast, a President is elected directly by the people and often presidential elections are often divisive creating bad blood between parties.
Linz points out that the “the president 's relatively fixed term in office is also not without drawbacks.” The term limits create a rigidity of a time period which do not allow for the natural adjustments that may be needed as a result of an ongoing events. It is not uncommon for the President to adapt his/her policy agenda to meet their personal time frame. Additionally, to remove a President from office requires a lengthy process. A successor will likely political legitimacy and may have their own agenda causing further discontinuity. On the other hand, Linz describes the fixed term for parliamentary leaders as stable because they can be removed from office easily and replaced seamlessly.

Linz writes that “Presidentialism is ineluctably problematic because it operates according to the rule of "winner-take-all-arrangement” that tends to make democratic pol...


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...rliamentary system is the majority form of government in democracies around the world. Linz points out that the United States is oldest presidential democracy of its kind but takes the time to note that the uniqueness of the American political party system likely has something to do with it.
Linze does not claim that parliamentary systems are by any means bullet proof and can be unstable but states that “… periodic parliamentary crises need not turn into full-blown regime crises and that the ousting of a prime minister and cabinet need not spell the end of democracy itself.” He goes on to say that “...the superior historical performance of parliamentary democracies is no accident.”
A careful comparison of parliamentarism as such with presidentialism as such leads to the conclusion that, on balance, the former is more conducive to stable democracy than the latter.”

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