Saturday, June 03, 2006

Presidential versus parliamentary system

Professor Winnie Monsod reviews the academic literature comparing the presidential with the parliamentary systems. Read them here and here. Conclusion: no clear evidence in favor of one or the other system, whether in terms of corruption or economic performance. Parliamentary systems though are more readily associated with structural reform, but also with greater government spending. Professor Monsod concludes that we avoid "indecent haste" in pursuing a shift in system.

When the data is ambiguous, we need to substitute intuition and experience for number-crunching. Look at the recent history of this country. After three People Powers, and nearly a fourth, shouldn't we rethink the idea of a fixed term for the President? Lay to rest the persistent calls for "snap elections" by (con/in)stitutionalizing the "snap election"?

Parliamentary systems are of course fraught with their own risk and sources of instability. It's no magic bullet. Nothing is. But perhaps it would, overall, hasten the pace of development. What do you think?

16 comments:

Rizalist said...

I have a suspicion that the Philippines is the only country with SERIAL CONSTITUTIONS. Like, I don't think the Americans call theirs the 1776 Constitution and the British, I guess, don't even have one.

We on the other hand have Malolos 1897, 1935, 1972, 1987 and now possibly the 2006 constitution.

It's Nuts.

Willy B. Prilles, Jr. said...

But why limit our choice to presidential vs. parliamentary as if they are the only choice? Remember that GMA's regime successfully coopted most LGUs because of the promise of federalism.

Iloilo City Boy said...

I am for a parliamentary form of government. Di ba they say that give an economist some data and he will be able to interprete it both ways (he he)? In the end, it all depends on what you believe. As a political scientist and political operator 10 years, I have seen firsthand the limitations of our electoral politics. The system is stacked against decent politicians (I worked for Roco during the 2004 elections). Politicians did not support Roco coz he had no money and voters opted for GMA instead of Roco coz "dadayain lang daw sya, sayang ang boto." If elections are held only in the local level (as in a Parliamentary system), politicians need not spend as much. The high cost of elections here is, in my opinion, the root of all evil.

Econblogger said...

Hey guys, thanks for all the comments.

Rizalist, I agree that going through multiple constitutions undermines the very idea of a constitution. But given the obvious limitations of the 1987 monstrosity, I am coming to see it as unavoidable. However the point should be to stress continuity by way of a continuous duly constituted government. So call it a 2006 or 2007 revision or amendment, not a new constitution. (I prefer 2007 to avoid nasty accusations that GMA is just trying to save her job, ooops.)

Willy, whatever we decide about federalism, a choice has to be made whether to stick to the current presidential system, or change it. The next most likely alternative is parliamentary. Various combinations of presidential, parliamentary, bicameral, unicameral, and federal, are possible. BTW in the proposed revision, Parliament is given a lot of leeway in determining the mechanics of federalism. Which poison to pick?

Iloilocityboy,

Ganun talaga, kasi the data is inherently ambiguous. Economies are complex and noisy systems. Of course parliamentary system cannot solve our electoral ills, but perhaps it could make reforms easier.

Willy B. Prilles, Jr. said...

What I meant to say is we should not limit the discussion to presidential vs. parliamentary in talking about charter change. My other intuition tells me that these instabilities have arisen because our system is too Metro Manila-centric. We need a flatter system that will absorb the shocks more effectively than our present setup can.

Anonymous said...

With the kind of politicians we have now, it's irrelevant or useless discussing now which is better, parliamentary or presidential form of goverment.

hermione said...

ei,,im 15 but i im aware of these things.i think phil must junk parliamentary government..GMA and her allies insist that a parliamentary government is the only hope for the Philippines to achieve development, pointing to progressive countries run by parliamentary governments. They suggest no proof however that those countries are advanced because they operate on the parliamentary system. The richest country in the world, the United States runs on the presidential system, after which the Philippine presidential system is patterned. In the United States however, the government creates the system work for the common good. In the Philippines, government works only for the good of the few- the politicians, their relatives and big business-leaving the masses to fend for themselves. Now the Philippine’ leaders are blaming the presidential system for their own failure to lead the country under the rule of Ferdinand Marcos. The politicians are requesting the people to support the propose move to parliamentary without telling the people how a new form of government run by the same officials who have failed them, will work for them this time. According to Social Weather Station (SWS) survey, three out of four Filipinos are not aware and know nothing about parliamentary government.

hermione said...

wat i min is,sum phil. leaders are blaming presidential govt for their own failure to lead the country into progress.without trying to think bout parliamentary system which already failed in ths country under the rule of marcos

BJ Feng said...

I think a winner-take-all electoral Presidential system like the one we have in the United States works best of all. Parliamentary systems that give seats in proportion to the percentage of votes usually produce weak governments that have to build an alliance of different factions to retain their majority. That means horse-trading of laws and regulations that the majority might oppose, and would have no chance of being passed under a system such as ours.

Parliamentary systems also give far too much power to small minorities as they can threaten to leave and bring down the current government, forcing new elections. That means the toughest issues are either blocked, or that concessions given to all the people who have a problem so that, in the end, you're faced with a whole host of new problems.

The winner take all system we have in the United States forces our government branches to remain centralist as no extremist (extreme for their state or given district) will be elected. Yet due to differences across regions, we do get a wide range of opinions and policies that are debated, then, if passed by the legislature, must be signed by the centralist President. Anything too extreme will usually be vetoed by the President as he must be pretty close to the center for all of America to be elected or re-elected. This is a great system that more countries should adopt. It is almost unique too, which may help to explain the unique position the United States is in, that of #1.

Jefferson said...

It's not like that I guess parliamentary system does not mean that a country is ruled by different parties in coalition with each other, Such multi-party arrangements are usually the product of an electoral system known as proportional representation,, mind guys that there is always an advantage of having parliamentary system, don't you know that in parliamentary the executive is often chosen independently from the legislature nnow if the executive and legislature in such a system include members entirely or predominantly from different political parties, then stalemate can occur,,,I hope you understand me guys....having a parliamentary system is just like setting in a wide pillow...ahehehe

snickerrrz said...

i would really prefer to stay in this type of government we have right now. it would really be advantageous to the minor groups in the philippines, especially to mindanao. they would have congressmen who would represent their province. this should be the first step we should take note of, especially in the state of the philippines that we do not have unity. if all we would think about is money, we should remember that money may come and go. and we are forgetting why we really are a country- it is because we are one. we are broken and torn apart by money, money, money. our decision to change and be more responsible people all starts within ourselves.

Anonymous said...

sht up

Anonymous said...

Philippine Gov't suXX!! that explains it all. it doesn't matter whatever kind of system we have for as long as the same "people" runs it!! screw political dynasty!!!!

Anonymous said...

PHILIPPINES IS A COUNTRY WHERE WE ARE RESIDENTS SO WE KNOW THAT IT DEPENDS ON HOW IS THE PRESIDENT GOVERNED US!

Anonymous said...

Where can i see the entire article?

Anonymous said...

where can i find the entire article?