World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Semi-presidential system

Article Id: WHEBN0000210282
Reproduction Date:

Title: Semi-presidential system  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Islamic democracy, Presidential system, France, Parliamentary system, List of European Union member states by political system
Collection: Forms of Government, Political Systems
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Semi-presidential system

  Presidential republics with a full presidential system.
  Presidential republics with a semi-presidential system.
  Parliamentary republics with an executive president chosen by the parliament
  Parliamentary republics with a ceremonial president, where the prime minister is the executive.
  Constitutional monarchies where executive power is vested in a prime minister.
  Constitutional monarchies, which have a separate head of government but where royalty hold political power.

Semi-presidentialism is a system of government in which a president rules alongside the prime minister and a cabinet. "This interesting hybrid between parliamentary and presidential systems have become more widespread over the past fifty years." There are many benefits and drawbacks to the semi presidential system. "One benefit is that the directly elected president and the indirectly elected prime minister share both, power and responsibility. This creates a public mandate (presidency) and an indirectly elected office that may be supported by a coalition of parties (prime minister)." The drawback of the semi-presidential system is that there needs to be a mutual understanding between the president and the prime minister. For the system to work accurately they should have a similar way of governing, but feed off of each others ideas. The president has a fixed term, and the prime minister's term depends on the legislature, and sometimes even the president him/her self. However, the presidents power over the prime minister is limited in certain situations and depending on the country. "Semipresidential" systems tend to reflect the old distinction between 'reign' and 'rule' that existed under monarchies." The president will set the policy, but relies on the the prime minister to turn the policy ideas into legislation and ensure that it will be passed. The president will often represent the country in most international relations as well. [1]

While the German Weimar Republic (1919–1933) exemplified an early semi-presidential system, the term "semi-presidential" originated in a 1978 work by political scientist Maurice Duverger to describe the French Fifth Republic (established in 1958), which Duverger dubbed a régime semi-présidentiel.[2]


  • Subtypes 1
  • Division of powers 2
  • Cohabitation 3
  • Republics with a semi-presidential system of government 4
  • See also 5
  • Notes 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


There are two separate subtypes of semi-presidentialism: premier-presidentialism and president-parliamentarism.

Under the premier-presidentialism system, the prime minister and cabinet are exclusively accountable to parliament. The president chooses the prime minister and cabinet, but only parliament may remove them from office with a vote of no confidence. The president does not have the right to dismiss the prime minister or the cabinet. This subtype is used in Niger, Madagascar and Ukraine after 2005.

Under the president-parliamentarism system, the prime minister and cabinet are dually accountable to the president and the assembly majority. The president chooses the prime minister and the cabinet but must have the support of the parliament majority for his choice. In order to remove a prime minister or the whole cabinet from power, the president can dismiss them or the assembly can remove them via a vote of no confidence. This form of semi-presidentialism is much closer to pure presidentialism and is used in Germany during the Weimarer Republik (Weimar Republic), as the constitutional regime between 1919 and 1933 is called unofficially.

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 takes care of foreign policy and defence policy (these are generally called les prérogatives présidentielles (the presidential prerogatives)) and the prime minister of domestic policy and economic policy.[4] 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.[5] On the other hand, whenever the president is from the same party as the prime minister who leads the conseil de gouvernement (cabinet), he 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" he leaves to "his" prime minister to act on his own.

In Finland, by contrast, the assignment of responsibility foreign policy was explicitly stated in the constitution until 2000: "foreign policy is led by the president in cooperation with the cabinet".


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-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.

Republics with a semi-presidential system of government

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Bahro, Bayerlein, and Veser, 1998.
  3. ^ Le petit Larousse 2013 p880
  4. ^ See article 5, title II, of the French Constitution of 1958. Jean Massot, QUELLE PLACE LA CONSTITUTION DE 1958 ACCORDE-T-ELLE AU PRESIDENT DE LA REPUBLIQUE ?, Constitutional Council of France website
  5. ^ le petit Larousse 2013 p880
  6. ^ a b c


  • Steven D. Roper. Are All Semipresidential Regimes the Same?
  • Maurice Duverger. 1978 .Échec au roi. Paris.
  • Maurice Duverger. 1980.’A New Political System Model: Semi-Presidential Government’ European Journal of Political Research, (8) 2, pp. 165–87.
  • Giovanni Sartori. 1997. Comparative constitutional engineering. Second edition. London: MacMillan Press.
  • Horst Bahro, Bernhard H. Bayerlein, and Ernst Veser. Duverger's concept: Semi-presidential government revisited. European Journal of Political Research. Volume 34, Number 2 / October, 1998.
  • Matthew Søberg Shugart. Semi-Presidential Systems: Dual Executive and Mixed Authority Patterns. Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies, University of California, San Diego. September 2005.
  • Dennis Shoesmith. Timor-Leste: Divided Leadership in a Semi-Presidential System Asian Survey. March/April 2003, Vol. 43, No. 2, Pages 231–252
  • J. Kristiadi. Toward strong, democratic governance . Indonesia Outlook 2007 - Political June 30, 2008 The Jakarta Post
  • Frye, T. 1997. A politics of institutional choice: Post-communist presidencies. Comparative Political Studies, 30, 523-552
  • Goetz, K.H. 2006. ‘Power at the Centre: the Organization of Democratic Systems,’ in Heywood, P.M. et al.. Developments in European Politics. Palgrave Macmillan
  • Arend Lijphard. 1992. Parliamentary versus presidential government. Oxford University Press
  • Nousiainen, J. 2001. ‘From Semi-Presidentialism to Parliamentary Government: Political and Constitutional Developments in Finland.’ Scandinavian Political Studies 24 (2): 95-109 June
  • Rhodes, R.A.W. 1995. "From Prime Ministerial Power to Core Executive" in Prime Minister, cabinet and core executive (eds) R.A.W. Rhodes and Patrick Dunleavy St. Martin's Press, pp. 11–37
  • Shugart, M.S. and J.Carrey. 1992. Presidents and assemblies: Constitutional design and electoral dynamics. Cambridge University Press.
  • Shugart, M.S. 2005. Semi-Presidential Systems: Dual Executive and Mixed Authority Patterns. French Politics 3 (3): 323–51
  • Canas, Vitalino - “The semi-presidential system”, Zeitschrift für ausländisches öffentliches Recht und Völkerrecht (Heidelberg Journal of International Law), Band 64 (2004), number 1, p. 95-124.
  • Veser, Ernst. Semi-Presidentialism-Duverger's Concept — A New Political System Model.

External links

  • Governing Systems and Executive-Legislative Relations. (Presidential, Parliamentary and Hybrid Systems), United Nations Development Program (n.d.).
  • Blog of Robert Elgie
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.