Updated Nov 4, 2014

Power in Parliamentary & Presidential Systems of Government

Power in government determines which parts of government can perform certain activities. Power is based on constitutional provisions. There are different systems of government, such as the presidential system and the parliamentary system. These systems differ in terms of where power lies.

Where does power lie in a parliamentary system?

In the parliamentary system, power lies in the lawmakers or legislative body. The parliamentary system focuses on the legislative body. In the parliamentary system, the parliament’s power extends over the executive body. The executive body in the parliamentary system is under the office of the prime minister. However, the prime minister is under the power of lawmakers because the legislature can elect and remove the prime minister in the parliamentary system.

Where does power lie in a presidential system?

In the presidential system, power lies equally among the executive, judicial and legislative bodies. The presidential system gives equal importance to the executive, judicial and legislative bodies. The lawmakers create laws, but the president and the courts can stop these laws from getting implemented. In the presidential system, the president can appoint judges, but lawmakers can reject appointments. Also, the president creates budgets, but the legislature can reject budgets in the presidential system of government.


The presidential system of government gives power to different government branches. This makes the presidential system balanced because government branches can check each other for abuse of power. However, condition is slow in developing new laws.

The parliamentary system of government gives more power to lawmakers. This speeds up the development of new laws, but the legislature can abuse its power in controlling the executive.


  • Considine, M. (1998). Making up the government’s mind: agenda setting in a parliamentary system. Governance11(3), 297-317.
  • Rogers, L. (1937). The American presidential system. The Political Quarterly, 8(4), 517-529.
First published Nov 4, 2014. Updated Nov 4, 2014.