Semi‐Presidentialism and Comparative Institutional Engineering

Robert Elgie

in Semi-Presidentialism in Europe

Published in print September 1999 | ISBN: 9780198293866
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599156 | DOI:
 Semi‐Presidentialism and Comparative Institutional Engineering

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The focus of this chapter is the academic debate on the choice of semi‐presidentialism as an appropriate constitutional arrangement. However, it does not aim to demonstrate that semi‐presidentialism is either a better or worse form of government than presidentialism or parliamentarism, and it has not been written with the intention of establishing a definitive list of the advantages and disadvantages of semi‐presidential regimes. Rather, the chapter is concerned with the terms of the debate. It aims to show that as it currently stands the debate about the pros and cons of the various regime types is fundamentally flawed, and that the assumptions underlying the contemporary debate need to be reconsidered before meaningful conclusions about the true advantages and disadvantages of these regime types can be drawn. Drawing on the country studies in the previous chapters, the first part of this chapter identifies the diverse patterns of leadership to be found in European semi‐presidential regimes; the second part returns to Duverger's framework for the study of semi‐presidentialism and considers the importance of historical, constitutional, party political, and other factors in determining why these leadership patterns should vary so much; and finally, the third part indicates what the experience of European semi‐presidentialism tells us about the issue of comparative institutional engineering.

Keywords: constitution; Europe; government; institutional engineering; parliamentarism; party politics; patterns of leadership; presidentialism; semi‐presidentialism

Chapter.  7813 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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