Forms of government

Presidential republics are denoted in blue (green when linked to a parliament) with a semi-presidential system are denoted in yellow.

The semi-presidential system, also known as the presidential-parliamentary system, or premier-presidential system, is a system of government in which a president and a prime minister are both active participants in the day-to-day administration of the state. It differs from a parliamentary republic in that it has a popularly elected head of state who is more than a purely ceremonial figurehead. It differs 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.

The term was first coined in a 1978 work by political scientist Maurice Duverger to describe the French Fifth Republic, which he dubbed a régime semi-présidentiel[1].

Division of powersEdit

How the powers 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 is responsible for foreign policy and the prime minister for domestic policy [2]. In this case, the division of powers between the prime minister and the president is not explicitly stated in the constitution, but has evolved as a political convention. In Finland, by contrast, this particular aspect of the separation of powers is explicitly stated in the constitution: "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 and opposing political parties. This is called "cohabitation", a term which originated in France when the situation first arose in the 1980s. 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-center Assembly, Socialist President Mitterrand was forced into "cohabitation" with a rightist premier.

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. As a typical example, Sri Lankan politics for several years witnessed a bitter struggle between the President and the Prime Minister, belonging to different parties and elected separately, over the negotiations with the LTTE to resolve the longstanding civil war.

See alsoEdit



  • Stephen 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.

External linksEdit

bg:Полупрезидентска република ca:Sistema semipresidencialista cs:Poloprezidentská republika de:Semipräsidentielles Regierungssystem dv:ނިޞްފު-ރިޔާސީ ނިޒާމު el:Ημιπροεδρικό σύστημα es:República semipresidencialista fr:Régime semi-présidentiel gl:República semipresidencialista ko:이원집정부제 id:Sistem semipresidensiil it:Repubblica semipresidenziale lv:Pusprezidentālisms nl:Semi-presidentieel systeem ja:半大統領制 no:Semipresidentialisme nn:Semipresidentialisme pl:System semiprezydencki pt:Semipresidencialismo ro:Republică semi-prezidenţială ru:Смешанная республика simple:Semi-presidential system sk:Poloprezidentská republika fi:Semipresidentialismi sv:Semipresidentialism th:ระบบกึ่งประธานาธิบดี tr:Yarı başkanlık sistemi zh:半总统制

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