Definition of parliamentary sovereignty
Parliamentary sovereignty is a constitutional law concept in which the legislative body governing a country is given absolute supremacy over all other governmental institutions. This concept is also referred to as parliamentary or legislative supremacy and it basically gives the parliament supremacy over all other bodies in the land including the judicial body and the executive body governing the land. There are a few countries which have sovereign parliaments and these include:
- The United Kingdom
- Papua New Guinea
- New Zealand
- Solomon Islands
Parliamentary supremacy gives the parliament the authority to not only make laws that govern the country but also amend some of the laws that it sees fit. Parliament is therefore not bound by any written law of the land and hence can act as it deems necessary. This concept differs from the doctrines of separation of powers which is practiced in many countries.
Principles if parliamentary sovereignty
- The parliament can make new laws. The parliament is in charge of making new laws during its tenure. These laws can be based on arising issues or precedents that have been practiced over time.
- The parliament can amend existing laws and practices. The parliament has supreme powers to change the laws that exist including decisions made by the courts of the land. The parliament can also reverse practices that have been considered as law in the land as it deems necessary.
- The parliament is not bound by its predecessors. Under the parliamentary supremacy, a new parliament is given fresh mandate and cannot be bound by what previous governments before have done. This therefore absolves new parliaments of any wrongs made by previous parliaments.
- The parliament is above all other governing bodies. Parliamentary sovereignty gives the parliament supremacy over the judicial and executive bodies. In fact, the parliament cannot be kept in check by either body. The parliament also has the mandate of reviewing the decisions made by the executive and judicial bodies.
Advantages of parliamentary sovereignty
Parliamentary sovereignty has some advantages. Most of the countries elect the leaders into the parliament and it is thus assumed that the leaders will represent the voice of the people. The fact that parliament can come up with new laws that fit contemporary situations makes parliamentary sovereignty advantageous for countries. This concept can help governments to get rid of obsolete laws and make new legislations that are more contemporary and suitable.
Disadvantages of parliamentary sovereignty
The parliamentary sovereignty has often been criticized for giving parliaments too much power. The fact that these parliaments have nobody to keep them in check leaves plenty of room for arbitrary decisions and abuse of power. There are also worries over the fact that parliamentary sovereignty gives the parliamentarians authority over crucial bodies such as the judicial body. This can lead to corruption and injustice within the judicial body.
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