In one Facebook group, someone asked the following question: “Why are you against parliamentary system?”
I replied: it’s because the argument, which is not even an argument, that parliamentary system is the driver- the cause of the cause– of economic progress is a gigantic fallacy concocted by irrational men. Such an anti-argument is full of fallacies. It’s a big package-deal fallacy. It actually fogs or hides the actual issue: that economic success or progress requires freedom.
The questioner replied: “The problem with our presidential system is that it’s being reduced to a popularity contest. People tend to elect popular candidates.”
I said that all elections can be treated as popularity contests. That’s why the people must be informed properly, because a free society simply means an informed society. You cannot legislate people’s minds. Are elections in parliamentary states not being treated as “popularity contests”? The issue raised by these pro-parliamentary system folks is INVALID.
The pro-parliamentary statists actually committed one big fallacy when they claimed that most rich and developed countries are parliamentary systems, therefore this form of government is more superior to presidential system. This logical fallacy is called “correlation does not imply causation” fallacy, which means “that correlation between two variables does not automatically imply that one causes the other.”
The pattern of pro-parliamentary people’s illogic is as follows:
- Most rich and developed countries (A) adopt parliamentary system (B).
- Therefore parliamentary system (B) causes countries to be rich and developed (A).
In this particular type of logical fallacy, these folks certainly made a premature conclusion about causality after naively observing only a correlation between two factors. Naturally, since they merely observed one factor (A) to only be correlated with another factor (B), they then assumed with finality that A is causing B even when no solid real-world evidence supports this conclusion. Certainly this is a good example of logical fallacy because there are other possibilities.
- A may be the cause of B.
- B may be the cause of A.
- some unknown third factor C may actually be the cause of both A and B.
- a combination of the three relationships is possible. For instance, B may be the cause of A at the same time as A is the cause of B (contradicting that the only relationship between A and B is that A causes B).
- the “correlation” is merely a coincidence.
Then a pro-parliamentary supporter named Joseph Solís Alcayde posted the Correct (read: incorrect) Movement’s statement, which is as follows:
Presidential system in the Philippines is a failure because it tends popular but incompetent people like Joseph Estrada and Noynoy Aquino to be elected as president whereas in the parliamentary system, these two people have no chance to be Prime Minister. As ceremonial president maybe but as PM or Opposition Leader, they have no chance.
Presidential system in the United States only works because they have a two-party system and the candidates of each parties can’t choose a standard-bearer automatically but prospective candidates have to undergo into a primary process by the party they belong where registered voters usually that voters are member of a specific party to choose their candidates. It’s a rigid and cost-extensive for Philippine setting.
In the general election proper, the standard bearers of each party can’t be selected by direct popular vote but the Electoral College are the one who will choose the President and Vice President. Each state must have electoral college votes representation (number of House seats+2 Senate seats is the basis). No wonder that Al Gore won the popular vote but George W. Bush won the Electoral College vote.
Since I had to challenge these people’s flawed premises, I asked: “is that “presidential system” PER SE or only RP’s presidential system?” Obviously, the post solely refers to Philippine’s presidential system. Here, it is important to distinguish between RP’s presidential system and presidential system PER SE. If the post were attacking OUR presidential system, then I offer no form of defense. In fact, I agree that our economy fails NOT because of our presidential system, but because of our protectionist economic policies, faulty political system, corruption, etc. made possible by our semi-socialist constitution.
Joseph Solís Alcayde replied:
I agree with the purging of the protectionist, statist, and socialist provisions like the 60/40 but for political system it’s different story.
The presidential form of government in Philippine setting is VERY EXPENSIVE that ONLY THE RICH AND ELITE PEOPLE who can run for president and also with our version of presidential system, it is always possible for uneducated and incompetent to be the President that can be easily to be manipulated by special interests.
In our presidential system, we don’t have a primary system of choosing the party’s candidate for president and vice president and also we have a multiparty system without a run-off election. It’s very expensive to copy and vulnerable for grid-locks because the executive and the legislative inevitably clashes on matters of legislation whereas in parliamentary system, the executive and the legislative were fused and tends to have easier to pass and implement certain legislation.
My answer is: CHANGE IT. That’s the only answer. Our presidential system was NOT written in stone. Or do you think it is permanent, universal, immutable, unchangeable? Is that what you think of it?
In fact in a previous blog I stated the following:
I strongly disagree with the current format of our presidential system, as well as our political system. We have a semi-socialist, semi-republican political system bordering on dictatorship. In economic terms this system is called mixed economy, a mixture of freedom and government controls. Both our political system and form of government are defined in the 1987 Constitution.
It needs to change our PH presidential system to parliamentary system. In parliamentary system, two-party system is viable like in Australia. That model of parliamentary system I refer is the Westminster parliamentary system used in UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland. I agree that we have to abolish the party-list system because with the current setup, almost all of the party-list seats are Communists. We need to remove the pork barrels of our legislators because the only rule of our legislators is to make law not to provide money to special interests of their constituencies.
I agree with your stand on individual rights mostly BUT some modifications according to our PH setting that in our level of economic development that we have to stipulate right of education and healthcare ONLY. I agree with your stand on what government role should be that is to protect individual rights. I’m for flat tax system of 12.5%.
I believe such a statement merely requires a single question to challenge its utterly flawed premise. I asked: “Are you saying that it’s the fault of our “presidential system” PER SE- and NOT any other factor like protectionism, etc.- that we’re economically poor?” If you can answer that question with logical, sound arguments, then I might agree with you that parliamentarism is the ONLY WAY ON EARTH.
Joseph Solís Alcayde replied: “We’re economically poor because of our protectionist economic policies mandated by our Constitution and another thing is that our presidential system never works for our Philippine setting because any legislative agenda or initiative have difficulty to pass and implement because of rivalry nature between the executive and legislative branches in the presidential system.”
My reply: “Then do not claim it’s just “our” presidential system that must be faulted. That’s a wrong way to approach a political issue. Because if that’s how you approach this “issue”, which is actually a NON-ISSUE, because I don’t see any reason to pit presidential system against parliamentary system when these are merely forms of government, NOT political system, then I could say, in response: “Why is America not as poor as RP?” That’s why it’s useless to argue on this particular matter. Hindi niyo pa ba nage-gets? It’s useless. It’s actually a sign of INTELLECTUAL BANKRUPTCY. It’s all about POLITICAL SYSTEM.”
I can also point out the many dangers of the European parliamentary system. It seems that you do not understand the difference between forms of government and political systems. A presidential system has MANY VARIANTS. You can modify it according to the aspirations of a nation or according to the political system which you seek to establish. In fact, you can even mix presidential system with parliamentary system. So stop deluding yourself.
Any country can adopt parliamentary form of government and borrow our protectionist economic policies. In fact, we can make our form of government parliamentary and retain our protectionist policies and our EGALITARIAN POLITICAL SYSTEM. Do you understand me? What I mean to say is that we can adopt parliamentary system- the people will elect MPs and the MPs will then elect PM, but the political system remains. That is, our protectionist policies, the pork barrel system for MPs, our welfare state system REMAIN. The result? STILL THE SAME: poor economy, high budget deficit, more public debt, higher corruption, etc.
Even if you tally all parliamentary governments with stable economy if you don’t understand WHAT MADE/MAKES THEM ECONOMICALLY SUCCESSFUL, the fact remains that your line of reasoning is utterly FAULTY and DEFECTIVE
Here’s another question for the pro-parliamentary folks: Are you trying to argue that parliamentary system is INHERENTLY devoid of the principles or systems of WELFARE STATE or SOCIALISTIC PARADIGM?
That is, are you trying to argue that parliamentary system exists independently of the many evils of our current political welfare state system?
If your answer is YES, then why is it that there are many parliamentary governments that are poor because of their failed political and economic policies?
To further educate you folks:
Parliamentary and presidential forms of government are merely a TOOL. They mainly refer to the administrative structure of a government, e.g., the process of election of political leaders, the functions or duties of these political leaders, how these political leaders and appointive officials achieve the aspirations or goals of the state (translation: POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC SYSTEM), the ways to ensure public accountability, the means or ways of firing erring officials, etc. FORMS OF GOVERNMENT represent the BODY of a nation.
POLITICAL SYSTEM refers to political, economic and social aspirations and goals of a nation. It represents the nation’s SOUL. It constitutes how elected and appointed officials of the state deliver these national aspirations. Typically, a nation’s political system is embodied in the Constitution’s state principles and policies.
The main parts of a nation’s political system include the following:
- How a nation respects, recognizes, protects individual rights. Does it limit “rights”? Does it recognize or abolish private property? Does it limit free speech? Does it guarantee the provision of welfare services to the people (e.g., provision of free education, health care, social services, etc.)?
- How a nation guarantees the rule of law. Does it adopt a concentrated political power?
- The size of government. Is it a limited government or a bloated, welfare government?
- How a nation treats the economy. Does it adopt central planning or guarantee separation of state and economy? Does it guarantee economic freedom or limit it? Does it adopt socialist system or capitalist system?
In short, any nation may adopt parliamentary or presidential form of government with either capitalistic or socialistic political system.
If a parliamentary state like Bangladesh adopted socialistic economic and political policies (e.g., protectionism, welfare services, etc.), the tendency is that this nation would collapse.
If a presidential state like the Philippines adopted protectionist and welfare policies, the tendency is that this nation would also collapse.
If you still don’t understand- or do not have enough brain cells to understand- these basic concepts, then I don’t see any reason to engage in further informal debates. That’s why I always maintain that those who believe that the BATTLE OF OUR TIME is a battle between presidential and parliamentary system are INTELLECTUALLY BANKRUPT.
- To view the actual debate, CLICK HERE.