This is a system of government where the President is both the Head of State and also head of government. In other words, the President is the Chief Executive of the country. This system of government is based on the principles of separation of power. Under this system of government, the president and his ministers or advisers do not belong to the legislature.
The president is elected into office by the electorate during a general election. After his election, he appoints his ministers who in most cases are from outside the legislature. If a legislator is appointed, he must resign his seat.
In this system, the Ministers chosen are responsible only to the President and not to the legislature. There is the principle of checks and balances. The President, who is the Chief Executive, must have his actions approved by the legislature to ensure that he does not abuse his office. For instance, in Nigeria, the constitution requires that the Senate should approve the appointment of Ministers and Advisers to the President before they take office. In the same vein, the President has the right to reject any bill passed by the Congress or Parliament which does not favour his government.
A good example of the Presidential system of government is the United States of America and Nigeria during the second and fourth republic.
Features of the Presidential System of Government
1. The Head of State is both Executive and ceremonial leader.
2. Members of the cabinet are not members of the legislature.
3. There is absence of collective responsibility, instead there is individual responsibility of ministers for their actions in government.
4. The term of office of the Chief Executive or President is fixed or limited by law. The President has a fixed tenure usually four or five years as the case may be and is subject to re-election for another term of office if he continues to enjoy the support of the electorates.
Advantages of the Presidential System of Government
1. It offers greater political stability since there is absence of friction or rivalry between the ceremonial and executive head of state as obtained under the parliamentary system of government.
2. It facilitates prompt decision-making. The concentration of governmental powers in a single president makes for dispatch in decision-making. The president, being the chief executive, may or may not consult his ministers before taking certain decisions.
3. The operation of the presidential system of government is based on the principles of separation of powers, and checks and balances which are very essential in a democracy.
4. The president once he is elected and sworn into office is isolated from petty partisanship. He is in office to protect the interest of everyone, regardless of party affiliation.
5. It makes for strong leadership with the president being effectively in control of government.
6. It does not allow the chief executive to abuse his office freely.
Disadvantages of the Presidential System of Government
1. This system of government could lead to dictatorship. The president can become too powerful and dictatorial in approach.
2. The presidential system of government could lead to corrupt leadership, especially if the president starts feeling that he is indispensable.
3. This system of government sometimes leads to conflicting roles of the president as either party leader or national leader.
4. The president can isolate himself from the people he is expected to serve once he has been elected into office.
5. The presidential system of government is more expensive than the parliamentary system of government. This can be seen in the enormous amount of money put at the disposal of the president and other state functionaries.