Robert Elgie

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199585984
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191729003 | DOI:

Series: Comparative Politics


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This book examines the relationship between semi‐presidentialism and democratic performance. Semi‐presidentialism — where a constitution provides for both a directly elected president and a prime minister and cabinet responsible to the legislature — has become the regime type of choice for new democracies. There are now over fifty countries in the world with a semi‐presidential constitution and the vast majority of these countries have chosen this form of government since the early 1990s. This book operationalizes Shugart and Carey’s distinction between president‐parliamentarism — where the prime minister is responsible to both the legislature and to the directly elected president — and premier‐presidentialism — where the prime minister is responsible to the legislature alone. The book shows that, all else equal, the president‐parliamentary subtype is more likely to be associated with a poorer democratic performance than its premier‐presidential counterpart. The evidence is based on a mixed‐method approach, including large‐n comparative statistical studies of all semi‐presidential democracies since 1919, as well as in‐depth case studies. The case studies include Guinea‐Bissau, Mali, Portugal, and Senegal.

Keywords: semi-presidentialism; democracy; president; prime minister; legislature

Book.  224 pages. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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Table of Contents

Conclusion in Semi-Presidentialism


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