Differences Between Responsible Government and Representative Government
The difference between representative government and responsible governments depends on the nature of the legislature and the relationship between it and the executive.
If the legislature is elected by the people, the system of government is representative and this is the ordinary system in all democracies, except in one-party states. In one party states where there is only one officially-recognized political party, there is no real choice between candidates and programmes.
In states with representative governments, the executive is either subordinate and therefore responsible to the legislature or coordinate with it. Where the executive is subordinate to the legislature, as in Britain, the executive holds office so long as it retains the confidence of the legislature.
Here, the executive is responsible or answerable to the legislature for all its actions. In Britain, the executive is chosen by the people, subordinate to the legislature and responsible to the parliament. The legislature and the executive are fused and the legislature can pass a vote of no confidence in the executive.
A non-responsible representative government is one in which the executive is not responsible to the legislature and cannot be removed by it. The system is still representative judging from the fact that the legislature and the executive are both responsible to the people.
In a non-responsible representative government, the responsibility of the executive is to the people directly and not to the legislature. For example, the President of Nigeria is popularly elected by the people. However, he is not a member of the National Assembly and he is not responsible to it but to the electorate. The legislature can nevertheless impeach the president for an act of gross misconduct.