All executive authority is vested at one-centre and the head of the State is an executive as well as the executive. He is, in a word, the generalissimo of administration and, as such, there can be no question of divided policy. His Secretaries or ‘ministers’ follow the policy initiated by him.
Unity of control, quickness in decision, and concerted policy, which emergency of any kind may demand, can best be obtained in the Presidential system. The head of the State is the chief foreign policy maker and the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces of the country.
As Commandeering-Chief, he may even take, in case of war, the command of military operations and effectively control matters of vital importance in domestic and foreign affairs, just as Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt did in the United States in the two World Wars.
What President Roosevelt did, during the economic crisis of the thirties of the present century and George Bush in the Gulf War in 1991, are matters of contemporary history. All this is not possible in a Cabinet system of government.
Even Winston Churchill, who attained new heights of power and authority, had not the personal powers of the President of the United States.
To illustrate the difference in the position and powers of the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Britain, Jennings writes that “the President pledged the United States to the realization of the objectives of the Atlantic Charter while the War Cabinet, not the Prime Minister, pledged the United Kindgom.”
The President is also head of the nation and is not merely a party leader. This gives him greater dignity, prestige and authority. The nation looks to him to steer the country through any kind of national emergency.
The Presidential system also makes possible the appointment of experts to head the various departments of the government without consideration of their party affiliations. President Cleveland, a Democrat, appointed Waiter G Gresham as Secretary of State and he had been thought of as a Republican candidate for the Presidency.
Theodore Ronosevelt and Taft each appointed a Democrat Secretary of War and Hoover made a Democrat Attorney-General. Roosevelt’s choice of Henry L Stimsen as Secretary of War and of Franklin as Secretary of Navy in 1940, both prominent Republicans, is two more notable examples.
A Prime Minister in a parliamentary system cannot normally do this. If the Cabinet is to work as a team, it must consist of persons who think alike and belong to the same party to act alike. Again, though a Prime Minister has a choice in selecting his colleagues, yet his party expects certain men to be in the Cabinet and the country, too, expects them to be there.
Then, the allotment of various departments to Ministers is a matter of political consideration and expediency rather than of aptitude for the work they are expected to perform. There is no political expediency which may weigh with the President and there is no party crisis which he may be afraid of.
Since the President’s Secretaries or ‘Cabinet ministers’ have no berth in the legislature, the congressional load of work with them is negligible. Nor have they any constituency to nurse or to look forward to the day of election.
They have, thus, the time and energy to devote them exclusively to administrative work and pursue the policies of the government unaffected by political exigencies.
There is another advantage too. Since the executive is not responsible to the legislature and its adverse vote does not bring about a crisis in the government, the tumult of the party spirit is less in evidence. It is also claimed that due to the presence of the system of checks and balances there prevails a greater sense of stability and the administrative machine works more efficiently and effectively.
The advocates of the Presidential form argue that such a system is best suited for countries inhabited by different communities with diverse interests. Homogeneous dual party system, which is so essential for the success of a Cabinet government, cannot be secured under these conditions.
Multiple party systems are the general outcome, when the people are divided both horizontally and vertically. But a government formed out of heterogeneous elements is a weak and unstable government. Under the Presidential system there is a “solidarity” executive.
The President is the unmistakable focus of responsibility. Government, either for its creation or for existence, does not depend upon the complexion of the legislature. In the United States, however, two-party system is firmly rooted.