Learn more about Semi-presidential system
The semi-presidential system is a system of government in which a prime minister and a president are both active participants in the day-to-day functioning of the administration of a country. It differs from the parliamentary system in that it has a popularly elected president who is more than a purely ceremonial figurehead, and from the presidential system in that it has an executive prime minister who has a degree of responsibility to the legislature.
How the powers are divided between president and prime minister can vary greatly between countries. In France, for example, the president is responsible for foreign policy and the prime minister for domestic policy. 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 are sometimes typified by periods of cohabitation, in which the prime minister and president are elected separately, and often from rival parties. This 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 ethnic conflict.
Nations which currently have semi-presidential systems of government include:
- Republic of China (Taiwan)
- Egypt (critics accuse Egypt of being an authoritarian state wherein both President and Prime Minister have a great deal of power, but the President chooses the Prime Minister)
- Sri Lanka
Interestingly, some nations that are classified as parliamentary, such as Austria and Ireland actually have constitutions that give their presidents more power than the President of France has. By tradition, presidents in Austria and Ireland do not use their powers, and those nations do not function in a semi-presidential way. Furthermore, in Finland, the new constitution of 2000, which combined the previous four constitutional laws, limited the power of the president. Some powers that the president could previously use unilaterally require, under the 2000 constitution, the co-operation of the parliament and the government; this makes it difficult to classify Finland under the semi-presidential or parliamentary category.
States that once featured semi-presidential systems include:
States that have newly adopted a semi-presidential system of government:
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