In both parliamentary systems and presidential systems there are structural disadvantages. We can take notice that in parliamentary systems (mainly in European parliaments) party discipline is strong, and hence legislators obey party whips and the parliamentary affairs does not seem to be interesting in the eyes of the mass media and public. Unless coalitions break up or when members of one party defect to another, things can be predictable and uninteresting. Though the European parliaments are more rational and efficient than the U. S. Congress, they are less influential and exciting.
By way of contrast, in the U. S. Congress the party discipline is weak, and legislators can deadlock with the executive. Therefore, Congress is lively and important though it is inefficient. But owing to the legislators have right to “talk back” to the executive and even override a presidential veto, there are problems in reaching agreements; this delays and often prevents agreement. But the final decision rests on the shoulder of presidents. Therefore, based on these two parliamentary systems, the structural disadvantages have impact on the decline of legislatures.
(Roskin, 2008) When it comes to dealing with technical, military, economic, and social problems, only few legislators in the position to cope with these issues. Apart from European parliaments, which have fewer lawyers and more schoolteachers, journalists, and full-time party people, most of the parliaments’ legislators are not experts and only few professionals are assigned to deal with matters such as intelligence estimates, medical care, international currency fluctuations, and environmental pollution.
As a result, the legislators have to rely on experts from the executive branch or interest groups in times of conducting research or applying laws due to being lack of expertise. Then it gives ways for the executive branch and interest groups to obtain the roles and power from the legislatures, and thus they end up losing their roles and power gradually. (Roskin, 2009) The roles of legislatures are also affected by the psychological disadvantages. People appear to be more impressed with presidents or prime ministers rather than with parliaments (Roskin, 2008). A president can have charisma but a legislator cannot-to all appearances.
In parliamentary systems, members of the parliaments have tendency to follow their party leaders, and hence this behavior lead them to become “president worship. ” Therefore, the roles of legislatures become smaller and smaller as a result of losing the attention from people and following the head of the largest party. Most of the legislators are not in the mood of giving time to be in session because of having many other things to do such as helping, visiting constituents, and talking with interest groups. According to various parliamentary systems, whether or not being present is not a problem; what legislatures have to do is only to vote.
Hence, the legislators do not bother to be present. However, here the impact is so huge: the legislatures end up either saying that they do not regard legislating as their chief function or admitting that they are not important. (Roskin, 2008) The roles of legislature might be in decline due to being lack of turnover as well. Although there are the limits on congressional terms only few members put them into practical practice. In both parliamentary systems and presidential systems, the members of parliaments consider themselves as career lifetime legislators and once elected they usually get reelected as long as they wish to serve.
The opportunity for newcomers to enter parliament with new ideas seems to be out of consideration; the newcomers only have little chance to win a place in parliament. In consequences, in time of having to innovate and respond to new currents in public opinion the legislators become inefficient. (Roskin, 2008) From my own personal viewpoint, I feel inclined to claim that lawmaking and the so-called overseeing function are the most important roles for legislatures to play in the political process even though there are many salient functions for legislatures.
The reason why these two functions become more important than other roles is that: unless legislatures get engaged in lawmaking and become involved in supervising and criticizing the executive branch, we can say that the legislatures are only existing but not alive. The more chances and opportunities legislatures acquire in lawmaking and overseeing the government, the better chances for them to maintain their roles and power, and be able to make them alive. As a direct, the roles of legislature definitely will be in decline.
In this respect, according to Handbook of National Legislatures (2009), the legislatures in Germany, Italy and Mongolia significantly have powerful roles in their political systems in comparison with other countries. In these countries, legislatures not only can have effective powers oversight over the agencies of coercion and can establish committees of inquiry to investigate the executive or prime minister but also vote no confidence in the government and can remove the prime minister or the executive without a vote of no confidence.
In addition, in these countries, in terms of lawmaking, the legislature also are in the position to control the resources that finance its own internal operation and provide for the perquisites of its own members as well as any executive initiative on legislation requires ratification or approval by the legislature before it takes effect and laws passed by the legislature are veto-proof.
Therefore, lawmaking and overseeing functions are vitally important for legislatures to preserve their roles and power and make their statuses alive. In short summary, I am sure to state that even though the legislature plays important roles as the executive does in the political processes, the legislature does not possess power as much as the executive possesses.
In my essay, I have mentioned the roles of legislatures concerning: Lawmaking, Constituency Work, Supervision and Criticism of Government, Education, and Representation, and then analyze the roles of legislatures are in decline owing to: Structural Disadvantages, Lack of Expertise, Psychological Disadvantages, Absentee Problem, and Lack of Turnover, in addition to discussing the most important roles for legislatures, in particular, Lawmaking and Overseeing, and why they are crucial in the political process compared to other factors.
References: Michael G. Rosking, R. L. (2008). Political Science. New Jersey: Pearson Education. Chuang, R. Y. (2009). SS201. Hong Kong: The Open University of Hong Kong. Handbook of National Legislatures. (2009). Retrieved August 7, 2010, from http://www. netlibrary. com. ezproxy. lib. ouhk. edu. hk. html