In XVII-XVIII centuries during the struggle against tyranny of feudal monarchs the European peoples came to belief, that the holder of sovereignty and the only source of power in a democratic state should be the people of the state.
The people form an elective representative body
(Parliament), which possesses an exclusive right to pass legislation protecting freedoms and human rights and contributing to the interests of all citizens.
This idea brought out the necessity of creation of an independent body of people's representation with true appointment by election and large powers in every state.
People's representation, thus, carries out the function of integration of the people's sovereignty with the government that gives the whole system a democratic character
Historically, predecessors of the bodies of people's representation were the representative institutions in the democratic states of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome.
Since XII century parliamentary institutions were quickly developing in England, and later in a number of other European countries. However, they all had class-representative character and accomplished a restrictive function of the monarch's power. It was England where the term "Parliament"
took root. This word was derived from French verb "to speak".
In XVIII and XIX centuries parliaments were recognized and established constitutionally in the United States of America and the most European countries; the members of which were elected by general elections (though with definite and large restrictions). In Russia the same body (the State Duma) appeared much later - only after the Tsar's Manifest of October, 17, 1905 which was a result of a long struggle against autocracy.
The idea of people's representation worked out and developed by J. Lock, Montesque
, Russo and other outstanding thinkers was appreciated as an antipode of absolutism and the only reasonable type of organization of true democratic power. However, in the different countries this idea underwent certain conditions and was embodied in various constitutional and legal forms.
Thus, England developed the principle of the Parliament supremacy and consequently the whole system of power was named "parliamentary government", formally this definition remained intact to the present day. In the USA, which accepted the concept of separation of powers most fully, the parliamentary body (the Congress) appeared in equal power with the independent President and the Supreme Court. Both in England, and in the USA the parliament became a body of legislature and was empowered with the function to accept the budget, but in addition to that the principle of the Parliament's Supremacy gave the British Parliament the power to control the government.
Gradually all the countries of the world, both monarchies and republics, accepted one of these basic models with different modifications.
Thus, in constitutional and legal respect the status of the body of people's representation is entirely determined by the form of government
. In a parliamentary republic and a parliamentary monarchy the parliament embodies the supreme power, forms and supervises the government. While in a presidential (semi- presidential) republic and dualistic monarchy the parliament shares the power with the head of the state, who forms and supervises the government (this does not exclude, though, some supervising powers of the parliament).
A political system based on supremacy of the parliament among the other bodies of the state, is named Parliamentarism
, while for the other two forms of government this term is not applied.
Although, the mere fact of existence of the parliament in this or that country, does not guarantee establishment of Parliamentarism. Thus, the present-day Russia cannot be called the state of Parliamentarism in full measure, this term is sometimes used to characterize anything that relates to the parliament, that is beyond precise scientific sense.
Political history helps to reveal advantages of different statuses of parliaments in the system of state bodies. Certain advantages, as well as disadvantages, are peculiar to any form of government. In parliamentary states, for instance, the government, if it is supported by the majority of the parliament deputies, can easily pass necessary laws and ignore criticism of the opposition.
This form of government, however, is good only on conditions of stability of two-party political system. Lacking this stability or in the presence of a multi-party system the state faces certain difficulties of frequent changes of government and labored acceptance of laws.
Dualistic forms of government, on the contrary, show stability of the head of the state and his administration (the government) during the whole term of legislature, but the executive authority meets difficulties in realization of laws and budget through the parliament if the majority in the parliament belongs to opposition parties.
The form of government and the status of the parliament, thus, in many respects show efficiency or inefficiency depending on the party system developed in this or that country.
In totalitarian states the people's representation is always fictitious
, as the parliament through the issued laws only officially register the decisions of the leaders of the ruling party. The same type of representation was developed in the Soviet Russia. The Supreme Soviet automatically included the representatives of all layers of "working people" and formally embodied the supremacy of power. The Soviet appointed and released the members of the government, passed laws and approved the budget, but in practice had no similarity to an independent and free body of power.
Such people's representation violated sovereignty of people, concealing severe dictatorship. With the beginning of reorganization and reforms the Russian Parliament also underwent changed. The first form of a renewed Parliament was a cumbersome two-stage representative body (the Congress of People's Deputies and the Supreme Soviet of RSFSR). The absence of a normal structure of a representative body and its constant interference in prerogatives of the executive power very largely served as the reason of tragic events of October, 1993 when the executive power was compelled to use force.