Leadstar International Academy| E-Learning

E-mails us


Call us


Lesson 2: The Necessity of a Democratic System

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to: 

  • explain the principles of democracy.
  • explain the features of a constitutional democratic system.
  • identify between direct and representative democracy.
  • state the differences between parliamentary and presidential democracy.

Why is a democratic system necessary?

  • A democratic system creates the condition for political, economic and cultural equality.
  • It upholds rule of law, human rights and freedom. These are necessary for individual and societal development.
  • Above all, a democratic system upholds constitutionalism as a state ethos. This is so because constitutionalism is the lifeline of democracy.

1.1 Forms of Democracy

Democracy is practiced in two ways: direct and indirect.

  1. Direct Democracy
  • Is the ancient form of democracy which still works among communities of a small size.
  • Can be practiced in today’s world when a referendum is requested by political groups or a community.
  • Requires the direct participation of all peoples of a given country in decision making and formulating laws

Referendum – is a general vote by the electorate on a single political question which has been referred to the people for the direct decision

  1. Indirect Democracy
  • Is the modern form which is widely practiced in today’s world.
  • It is also called representative democracy because people are involved in the political process through representatives they elect.

On the basis of the relationship between the three branches of government, a democratic system runs in three ways —Parliamentary, Presidential, and Combined Parliamentary and Presidential Democracy.

Parliamentary Democracy

  • Is led by a Prime Minister who is appointed from the winning party and has to be a Member of Parliament.
  • The legislative and executive branches of government is combined, that is, members of the executive branch are also members of the legislative branch and exercises collective responsibility
  • The Prime Minister leads the Executive Branch of government and at the same time is the member of the Legislative Branch.
  • The Prime Minister is head of government and the President is head of state.
  • The people elect their representatives and the Prime Minister is elected by the legislative body
  • The mechanism of checks and balances between the three branches of government is weak or is not effective.
  • Enacting laws is much easier when compared with Presidential Democracy.
  • Head of state (the President) performs only ceremonial activity

Britain is a good example of Parliamentary Democracy.

Presidential Democracy

  • It is led by  a President.
  • The legislative and executive branches are separated, that is, members of the executive branch cannot be the legislative members
  • The people choose their  representatives  and  the  President 
  • The President heads the Executive Branch and the representatives  head  the Legislative Branch of 
  • The branches of government  function 
  • Checks and balances  are implemented more effectively than  in a Parliamentary Democracy.
  • The president is head of state and head of government
  • The Legislative and the Executive branches have  the power to  veto  bills forwarded by  the other.  However,  this  leads to negotiation and compromise  to  pass  the vetoed bills between the branches  of 

The United States  of  America is  a good example of  a Presidential Democracy.  In USA, the President has the power to 

  • set the annual budget  but  this  must  be  approved  by  the Parliament.
  • nominate judges who need to  be  approved  by   

On  the other hand, the Parliament  has the right

  • to formulate laws  that  must  be  implemented  by  the  Executive,  e., the President.
  • Approve the appointment of judges and the allocation of budgets. 

The Judiciary is  entitled to  interpret the  constitutionality  of  these  laws  formulated  by  the Parliament  and  the acts  of  the Executive.

Moreover, although  the President has the power to  make  treaties  with  other  countries,  if  the  Senate does  not agree,  then he  has to  change  his action until  it  is  approved.   He  can  also  refuse  to  sign  a bill  that  has  been  passed  by  both  houses  (Senate  and House of  Representatives), but must  explain why, before the bill  is  returned for a further vote in  each house.  A  majority  vote  in  both  houses  will  ensure the bill  becomes law,  even if  the President does  not approve.

The Hybrid Democracy

  • It is also called combined Parliamentary and Presidential  
  • The people, through a separate process, elect the President in this  The members of the legislature are elected by  another process. 
  • The Prime Minister, being a Member of Parliament, is elected from  the winning party. 
  • The President is head of  state with  defined power and authority. 
  • The Prime Minister is head  of  government  and works under close supervision of  the President. 

France exemplifies the hybrid  system of  democracy.


Thomas Jefferson

  • Was he Author of Declaration of Independence
  • Was the second President of the USA and known as one of the founding fathers of America’s democracy.
  • Wrote the famous document called ‘Declaration of Independence’, a portion of which reads as follows:
  • We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness….
  • Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
  • Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new Government…