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A semi-presidential system or dual executive system is a system of government in which a president exists alongside a prime minister and a cabinet, with the latter being responsible to the legislature of a state. It differs from a parliamentary republic in that it has a popularly elected head of state, who is more than a mostly ceremonial/non-executive (the powers, limitations differ in different parliamentary republics, that this type of president would have tended to be 'reserve'/emergency and non-partisan in nature), figurehead (a president in a dual executive system also has political powers), and from the presidential system in that the cabinet, although named by the president, is responsible to the legislature, which may force the cabinet to resign through a motion of no confidence.
While the Weimar Republic (1919–1933) exemplified an early semi-presidential system, the term "semi-presidential" was introduced by a 1959 article by journalist Hubert Beuve-Méry and popularized by a 1978 work by political scientist Maurice Duverger, both of which intended to describe the French Fifth Republic (established in 1958).
There are two separate subtypes of semi-presidentialism: premier-presidentialism and president-parliamentarism.
Under the premier-presidential system, the Prime Minister and Cabinet are exclusively accountable to Parliament. The Parliament chooses the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and only the Parliament may remove them from office with a vote of no confidence. The President does not have the right to dismiss or appoint the Prime Minister or the Cabinet.This system is much closer to pure parliamentarism. This subtype is used in Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, East Timor, Lithuania, Madagascar, Mali, Mongolia, Niger, Poland, Romania, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sri Lanka and Ukraine (since 2014; previously, between 2006 and 2010).
Under the president-parliamentary system, the prime minister and cabinet are dually accountable to the president and the parliament. The president chooses the prime minister and the cabinet but must have the support of a parliamentary majority for his choice. In order to remove a prime minister or the whole cabinet from power, the president can dismiss them, or the parliament can remove them by a vote of no confidence. This form of semi-presidentialism is much closer to pure presidentialism. It is used in France, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Namibia, Portugal, Russia, Senegal and Taiwan. It was also used in Ukraine, first between 1996 and 2005, and again from 2010 to 2014, Georgia between 2004 and 2013, and in Germany during the Weimarer Republik (Weimar Republic), as the constitutional regime between 1919 and 1933 is called unofficially.
In the parliamentary-presidential system the president is appointed by the legislature and is not directly elected by the people. The president is both head of state and head of government; the role of a separate head of government, for example a prime minister, does not exist. The members of the cabinet are not members of the legislative branch.
Division of powers
The powers that are divided between president and prime minister can vary greatly between countries.
In France, for example, in case of cohabitation, when the president and the prime minister come from opposing parties, the president oversees foreign policy and defence policy (these are generally called les prérogatives présidentielles (the presidential prerogatives) and the prime minister domestic policy and economic policy. In this case, the division of responsibilities between the prime minister and the president is not explicitly stated in the constitution, but has evolved as a political convention based on the constitutional principle that the prime minister is appointed (with the subsequent approval of a parliament majority) and dismissed by the president. On the other hand, whenever the president is from the same party as the prime minister who leads the conseil de gouvernement (cabinet), he/she often (if not usually) exercises de facto control over all fields of policy via the prime minister. It is up to the president to decide how much "autonomy" is left to "their" prime minister to act on their own.
Advantages and disadvantages
The incorporation of the elements from both presidential and parliamentary republics brings advantage elements along with them but, however, it also comes with disadvantages related to the confusion about powers.
- Providing cover for the president
- Ability to remove an unpopular prime minister and maintain stability from the president's fixed term
- Additional checks and balances; power-sharing executive
- Confusion about accountability
- Confusion and inefficiency in legislative process
Semi-presidential systems may sometimes experience periods in which the president and the prime minister are from differing political parties. This is called "cohabitation", a term which originated in France when the situation first arose in the 1980s. Cohabitation can create an effective system of checks and balances or a period of bitter and tense stonewalling, depending on the attitudes of the two leaders, the ideologies of their parties, or the demands of their constituencies.
In most cases, cohabitation results from a system in which the two executives are not elected at the same time or for the same term. For example, in 1981, France elected both a Socialist president and legislature, which yielded a Socialist premier. But whereas the president's term of office was for seven years, the National Assembly only served for five. When, in the 1986 legislative election, the French people elected a right-of-centre assembly, Socialist President Mitterrand was forced into cohabitation with rightist premier Jacques Chirac.
However, in 2000, amendments to the French constitution reduced the length of the French president's term from seven to five years. This has significantly lowered the chances of cohabitation occurring, as parliamentary and presidential elections may now be conducted within a shorter span of each other.
Advantages and disadvantages
The incorporation of elements from both presidential and parliamentary republics brings some advantageous elements along with them but, however, it also faces disadvantages related to the confusion from mixed authority patterns.
- Providing cover for the president — it can shield the president from criticism and the unpopular policies can be blamed on the prime minister as the latter runs the day-to-day operations of the government and carrying out the national policy set forth by the president, who is the head of state that is focusing on being the national leader of a state and in arbitrating the efficiency of government authorities, etc.;
- Ability to remove an unpopular prime minister and maintain stability from the president's fixed term — the parliament has power to remove an unpopular prime minister;
- Additional checks and balances — while the president can dismiss the prime minister in most semi-presidential systems, in most of the semi-presidential systems important segments of bureaucracy are taken away from the president.
- Confusion about accountability — parliamentary systems give voters a relatively clear sense of who is responsible for policy successes and failures; presidential systems make this more difficult, particularly when there is divided government. Semi-presidential systems add another layer of complexity for voters;
- Confusion and inefficiency in legislative process — the capacity of votes of confidence makes the prime minister responsible to the parliament.
Republics with a semi-presidential system of government
In semi-presidential systems, there is always both a president and a prime minister. In such systems, the president has genuine executive authority, unlike in a parliamentary republic, but the role of a head of government may be exercised by the prime minister. Italics indicate states with limited recognition.
The parliament chooses the prime minister and cabinet, and only the parliament may remove them from office with a vote of no confidence. The president does not have the power to dismiss or appoint the prime minister or the cabinet which are chosen by the parliament and the president does not have the power to directly dismiss the assembly.
The president chooses the prime minister without the confidence vote from the parliament. In order to remove a prime minister or the whole cabinet from power, the president can dismiss the prime minister or the assembly can remove the prime minister by a vote of no confidence, but the president can dissolve the parliament.
- List of countries by system of government
- Parliamentary system
- Presidential system
- Semi-parliamentary system
Notes and references
- Duverger. European Journal of Political Research (PDF) (quarterly). University of Paris I, Paris: Elsevier Scientific Publishing Company. 8 (2): 165–187. doi:10.1111/j.1475-6765.1980.tb00569.x http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1475-6765.1980.tb00569.x/epdf. Retrieved 21 August 2017 – via Wiley Online Library.
The concept of a semi-presidential form of government, as used here, is defined only by the content of the constitution. A political regime is considered as semi-presidential if the constitution which established it, combines three elements: (1) the president of the republic is elected by universal suffrage, (2) he possesses quite considerable powers; (3) he has opposite him, however, a prime minister and ministers who possess executive and governmental power and can stay in office only if the parliament does not show its opposition to them.Missing or empty
- Veser, Ernst (1997). "Semi-Presidentialism-Duverger's concept: A New Political System Model" (PDF). Journal for Humanities and Social Sciences. Taiwan: Research Center for Humanities and Social Sciences. 11 (1): 39–60. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
- Duverger, Maurice (September 1996). "Les monarchies républicaines" [The Republican Monarchies] (PDF). Pouvoirs, revue française d’études constitutionnelles et politiques (in French). No. 78. Paris: Éditions du Seuil. pp. 107–120. ISBN 2-02-030123-7. ISSN 0152-0768. OCLC 909782158. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
- Bahro, Horst; Bayerlein, Bernhard H.; Veser, Ernst (October 1998). "Duverger's concept: Semi-presidential government revisited" (PDF). European Journal of Political Research (quarterly). University of Cologne, Germany: Kluwer Academic Publishers. 34 (2): 201–224. doi:10.1111/1475-6765.00405. Retrieved 22 August 2017 – via Wiley Online Library.
The conventional analysis of government in democratic countries by political science and constitutional law starts from the traditional types of presidentialism and parliamentarism. There is, however, a general consensus that governments in the various countries work quite differently. This is why some authors have inserted distinctive features into their analytical approaches, at the same time maintaining the general dichotomy. Maurice Duverger, trying to explain the French Fifth Republic, found that this dichotomy was not adequate for this purpose. He therefore resorted to the concept of 'semi-presidential government': The characteristics of the concept are (Duverger 1974: 122, 1978: 28, 1980: 166):
1. the President of the Republic is elected by universal suffrage,
2. he possesses quite considerable powers and
3. he has opposite him a prime minister who possesses executive and governmental powers and can stay in office only if parliament does not express its opposition to him.
- Le Monde, 8 January 1959.
- Duverger, Maurice (1978). Échec au roi. Paris: A. Michel. ISBN 9782226005809.
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- See article 5, title II, of the French Constitution of 1958. Jean Massot, Quelle place la Constitution de 1958 accorde-t-elle au Président de la République?, Constitutional Council of France website (in French).
- Le Petit Larousse 2013 p. 880
- Barrington, Lowell (1 January 2012). "Comparative Politics: Structures and Choices". Cengage Learning – via Google Books.
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- Barrington, Lowell; Bosia, Michael J.; Bruhn, Kathleen; Giaimo, Susan; McHenry, Jr., Dean E. (2012) . Comparative Politics: Structures and Choices (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cenage Learning. pp. 169–170. ISBN 9781111341930. LCCN 2011942386. Retrieved 9 September 2017 – via Google Books.
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- Beuman, Lydia M. (2016). Political Institutions in East Timor: Semi-Presidentialism and Democratisation. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. ISBN 1317362128. LCCN 2015036590 – via Google Books.
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- Duverger, Maurice (1978). Échec au roi. Paris: A. Michel. ISBN 9782226005809.
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- Lijphart, Arend (1992). Parliamentary versus presidential government. Oxford New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198780441.
- Nousiainen, Jaakko (June 2001). "From Semi-presidentialism to Parliamentary Government: Political and Constitutional Developments in Finland". Scandinavian Political Studies (quarterly). Nordic Political Science Association. 24 (2): 95–109. doi:10.1111/1467-9477.00048. ISSN 0080-6757. OCLC 715091099 – via Wiley Online Library.
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- Rhodes, R. A. W. (1995). "From Prime Ministerial power to core executive". In Rhodes, R. A. W.; Dunleavy, Patrick. Prime minister, cabinet, and core executive. New York: St. Martin's Press. pp. 11–37. ISBN 9780333555286.
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- Shugart, Matthew Søberg; Carey, John M. (1992). Presidents and assemblies: constitutional design and electoral dynamics. Cambridge England New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521429900.
- Veser, Ernst (1997). "Semi-Presidentialism-Duverger's concept: A New Political System Model" (PDF). Journal for Humanities and Social Sciences. Research Center for Humanities and Social Sciences, Taiwan. 11 (1): 39–60.
- Governing Systems and Executive-Legislative Relations. (Presidential, Parliamentary and Hybrid Systems), United Nations Development Programme (n.d.). Archived 10 February 2010 at the Wayback Machine
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- The Semi-Presidential One, blog of Robert Elgie
- Presidential Power blog with posts written by several political scientists, including Robert Elgie.