Pre-University (CIE) Comparative Government: Specimen Questions with Answers 43 - 43 of 53

Question 43

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“The American President is both more and less than the king”. Explain.

Explanation

More than the King:

It has been rightly said by Laski that the President is both more and less than the King of Great Britain.

  • The President is more than the King because he is both the head of the State and head of the government. He is the real executive. His powers are enormous and authorities onerous. The King/Queen, on the other hand, is only the head of the State. The governmental powers are exercised by the Council of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister.

  • Secondly, the President is the boss over Cabinet. He constitutes a Cabinet of his choice. He can include even non-party men in the Cabinet. The Cabinet is considered as a body of his errand-boys. He can oust them whenever he so likes. The Queen cannot take decisions of her own ignoring and advice of Ministers. The Ministers in UK are real executive, and the Queen, being a nominal head, has the only right to be consulted, right to encourage and right to warn. Bagehot attaches great importance to these rights but they do not matter much.

  • Thirdly, the President is Commander-in-Chief. He can assume even the command of the forces. In UK, the crown is the supreme command of the forces and not the King. War is decided by the Crown. The King is only a formal approval agency. The decision is that of the Ministers and their leader, the Prime Minister.

  • Fourthly, the President possess the veto power over the bills. His veto and Pocket Veto along with his messages to the Congress, informal conferences with the Congressmen, threat to call special sessions of the Congress and also veto suspensive as well as absolute, his authority to issue executive orders in case of emergencies or when the Congress is not in session, make him the chief legislator. The monarch does not exercise any such authority. She (presently Queen is the Monarch) does however, read speech on the opening day of the session but even that speech is a document written and designed by the Prime Minister. The Monarch signs on the dotted lines. Even she has ceased to be a signing machine as the Commissioners do the job for her as they affix stamp of the Monarch on the relevant documents.

  • Fifthly, Bureau of Budget frames the budget under the President’s guidance which is generally accepted by the Congress. The King/Queen has nothing to do with the budget. It is the prerogative of the Ministers.

Less than the King:

  • In certain respects, the USA President is less than the Monarch of Britain. Britain Monarch holds office for life on hereditary basis whereas the President can hold office for a maximum of ten years.

  • Secondly, the Monarch is the head of the society, head of the church, head of the nation, being non-partisan. The President being an elected functionary is basically a party man.

  • Thirdly, the Queen addresses the Parliament, can prorogue it and dissolve the House of Commons. No such power is vested with the President. In fact, the Americans believed in the theory of Separation of Powers.

It can, therefore, be concluded that the American President holds the greatest and the highest political office in the world. The American President does have a halo of glory though not of sanctity round him. According to Sidney Hayman, he combines the sentimental aura of the Crown with the workday labours of a unitary Prime Minister ship.

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