Category Archives: New publications

Semi-Presidential Policy-Making in Europe: Executive Coordination and Political Leadership


This post was co-authored by Tapio Raunio and Thomas Sedelius.

Despite almost three decades of empirical research on semi-presidentialism, we still know very little about the actual functioning of day-to-day routines and coordination mechanisms between the president and her administration on the one hand, and the prime minister and her cabinet on the other. Our new book Semi-Presidential Policy-Making in Europe: Executive Coordination and Political Leadership, published in the Palgrave Studies in Presidential Politics series, breaks thus new ground by exploring how intra-executive coordination works (and does not work) in three European countries with roughly similar constitutional frameworks – Finland, Lithuania, and Romania.

Drawing on in-depth interviews with select informants (primarily ministers and civil servants from the offices of the president and the prime minister with long-standing experience of intra-executive coordination), official documents, as well as secondary material such as politicians’ memoirs, the purpose of our book was to go beyond cohabitation and constitutional powers and to dig deeper into the relations between the two executives. Our basic premise was straightforward: the less there is formal, regular coordination between the two leaders, the more there is space for presidential activism. Formal coordination mechanisms in a sense tame or constrain presidents – and should overall contribute to smoother intra-executive relations.

When deciding on our case selection, we wanted to compare countries that have sufficiently similar constitutional regimes but display variation regarding the socio-economic context and the dynamics of party politics. The presidents of Finland, Lithuania, and Romania enjoy broadly comparable constitutional prerogatives, although the Finnish presidency is vested with somewhat weaker powers. However, the difference lies not so much in constitutional rules as in the socio-economic context. Finland is an old democracy known for its political stability and low level of corruption. The constitutional reform process that culminated in the new unified constitution of 2000 was an orderly, calm process based on broad party-political consensus. Lithuania and Romania, in turn, are much younger democracies that needed to rapidly adopt new constitutions in the heated circumstances of the early 1990s. Their party systems tend to be less stable, with political parties often vehicles for the personal ambitions of individual politicians. Both countries, particularly Romania, have also had serious problems with corruption. Not very surprisingly, Finns tend to trust their political institutions whereas Lithuanians and Romanians do not (at least no to the same extent).

Our main findings need to be understood in the context of these rather fundamental societal differences. In Finland the politicians and legal experts responsible for amending the constitution opted for formal coordination instruments that essentially force the president and the prime minister to cooperate regularly. The Finnish president chairs the Ministerial Committee on Foreign and Security Policy and meets both the prime minister and the foreign minister on an almost weekly basis. But perhaps even more important is the legacy of Urho Kekkonen, who ruled the land with an iron hand for quarter of a century from 1956 to 1981. There was a shared understanding among the political elites that the balance of power had shifted too far in favour of the president. There was thus the political will to significantly reduce the powers of the president, but also a recognition of the need to bind the president to governmental decision-making. In Finland it is still perceived inappropriate for the president to become involved in matters falling under the jurisdiction of the cabinet and the Eduskunta. This applies particularly to government formation, as one of the key factors contributing to the position of Kekkonen was his ability to basically dominate government formation processes, cherry-picking prime ministers and vetoing ministerial candidates and even the inclusion of whole parties in cabinets. Finnish presidents do not criticize the prime minister and the cabinet publicly. Disagreements do occur, but they are mainly handled behind the scenes without public conflicts.

In Lithuania and Romania, on the other hand, it is certainly both legitimate and appropriate for the president to interfere in matters that constitutionally belong to the competence of the government. The transition to democracy in the early 1990s provided a critical juncture in terms of institutional design. Both countries opted for a stronger presidency than in Finland and, more importantly, decided against specific rules about intra-executive coordination mechanisms. Neither country utilizes ministerial committees that would enable regular exchange between the president and the government. Even though the president meets the prime minister often, the frequency of such bilateral meetings is very much dependent on individual office-holders. Both countries also offer evidence of communication breakdowns, with the president or the prime minister simply refusing to talk to one another. Crucially, it is the president that holds the initiative regarding interaction with the prime minister or the government. The level and forms of intra-executive coordination are thus very much determined by the president. Lithuanian and Romanian presidents have adopted even quite confrontational stances, unleashing harsh attacks on the government.

An interesting dimension is party politics, or the role of political parties in facilitating or hindering presidential influence. In all three countries the president as the head of state is not formally a member of any party, but here we see notable variation. Romanian presidents are quite openly involved in the work of their parties: the presidents have attended various party congresses, maintain in general close ties with their parties, and even campaigned in favour of their parties in parliamentary elections. In Lithuania such party ties are much weaker, although we must remember that two of the three presidents, Adamkus and Grybauskaitė, were elected into office as independent candidates. In Finland the non-involvement of presidents in party politics is strictly observed. Future research should examine more closely how presidents use their parties or friendly legislative majorities to achieve policy goals. The Lithuanian and Romanian examples illustrate how ‘outsider’ presidents, such as Constantinescu and Iohannis, have found it much more difficult to shape politics than incumbents that have long experience from party politics.      

Our analysis indicates the buffet table of strategies available for presidents to wield influence. Apart from using their constitutional prerogatives, presidents make active use of informal channels: they meet with individual politicians, including party leaders, hold important public speeches that typically enjoy wide media coverage, and establish close links with various interest groups and citizens’ associations. Again such activities are not regulated by any laws. Previous research has very much focused on visible actions – presidential vetoes or the role of the president in forming and dissolving cabinets. These are clearly important dimensions that deserve to be examined, but influential presidents may not need to veto bills or reject governments. Given favourable circumstances, not least a friendly prime minister and a legislative majority, presidents can achieve a lot without leaving any public trace of her actions. This is why we deliberately relied heavily on interviews with people in key positions. If we want to understand how individual presidents behave, one simply must talk to such informants and identify how presidents seek to influence politics.  

An important and so far under-researched theme is the role of presidential staff. In Finland the size of the presidential office is very small, and hence the Finnish president is strongly dependent on preparatory work carried out by the government. In Lithuania and particularly in Romania the presidential palaces have generous staff levels, meaning that the presidents have, if required, the capacity to look into policy questions in much more detail and to prepare various political documents. A striking and perhaps also a surprising finding concerns the portfolios that the staff focus on. Most of the staff working for the Lithuanian and Romanian presidents deal with policy areas that fall under the competence of the government – economic policy, education, social and health affairs, culture etc. Importantly, these persons follow developments in the ministries and the legislature, maintain active links with interest groups and other shareholders, and in general try to generate support for the positions and initiatives of the president. Future research on political leadership should therefore pay close attention to advisors and other staff, including of course also in the office of the prime minister.

Intra-executive coordination is most institutionalized and regular in foreign and security policy. Finland uses a specific ministerial committee in foreign and security policy that meets around twice a month and brings together the president, the prime minister and other cabinet members. Lithuania and Romania utilize national security councils that meet less often but are convened to discuss various topical matters related to security policy. While there have been some public disputes or disagreements between the president and the government in Finland, Lithuania, and Romania, normally the goal of speaking with one voice in foreign and security policy is achieved. There is routine, day-to-day administrative interaction between the presidential office and the foreign ministry, and in all three countries the president meets the foreign minister on a regular basis.

The findings are thus in line with our theoretical expectations. The more there is formal and regular coordination, the less space for presidential activism – and vice versa. And in line with institutional theory, our book illustrates path dependency and the stickiness of initially adopted courses of action. We also provide further evidence of some of the negative features often associated with presidents and semi-presidential regimes. Most of the intra-executive conflicts or tensions in Finland, Lithuania, and Romania result from actions of the president. At the same time we must underline the exploratory nature of our research. Our analysis covered only three countries, and thus the number of individual presidents in our data set was small. Various presidential activities – from public speeches, party links, to ties with various stakeholders – could be subjected to much closer examination and be linked to data on intra-executive conflicts or legislative vetoes. Finally, our research design and data should not be understood as criticism of more quantitatively oriented studies. However, an in-depth understanding of presidential behaviour and how the two executives work together is not possible without reaching ‘behind the scenes’ and talking to people with first-hand knowledge of intra-executive coordination.   

New publications

Special Issue, Leaders, Crisis Behavior, and International Conflict, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Volume 62 Issue 10, November 2018.

Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization, Armenia’s Velvet Revolution: A Special Issue, Volume 26, Number 4, Fall 2018.

Kaitlen J. Cassell, John A. Booth, and Mitchell A. Seligson, ‘Support for Coups in the Americas: Mass Norms and Democratization’, Latin American, Politics and Society, Volume 60, Number 4, pp. 1-25.

Hamid Akin Unver, ‘The fog of leadership: How Turkish and Russian presidents manage information constraints and uncertainty in crisis decision-making’, Southeast European and Black Sea Studies, 18:3, 325-344, 2018, DOI: 10.1080/14683857.2018.1510207

Trump – Causes and Consequences, series of articles in Perspectives on Politics, available at:

Andrea Schneiker, ‘ Telling the Story of the Superhero and the Anti-Politician as President: Donald Trump’s Branding on Twitter’, Political Studies Review.

Ebenezer Obadare and Adebanwi Wale (eds.). Governance and the crisis of rule in Africa: Leadership in transformation, London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.

Sergey Aleksashenko, Putin’s Counterrevolution, The Brookings Institution Press, located in Washington, D.C, 2018.

New publications

Gianluca Passarelli (ed.), The Presidentialisation of Political Parties in the Western Balkans, Springer 2019.

Sibel Oktay, ‘Clarity of responsibility and foreign policy performance voting’, European Journal of Political Research, Volume 57, Issue3, August 2018, pp. 587-614.

Shannon Bow O’Brien, Why Presidential Speech Locations Matter: Analyzing Speechmaking from Truman to Obama, Palgrave, 2018.

Henry E. Hale, ‘Timing is everything: a quantitative study of presidentialist regime dynamics in Eurasia, 1992–2016’, Post-Soviet Affairs, 34:5, 267-281, 2018. DOI 10.1080/1060586X.2018.1500094.

Martin Gross and Marc Debus, ‘Gaining new insights by going local: determinants of coalition formation in mixed democratic polities’, Public Choice (2018) 174: 61.

Grigorii V. Golosov (2018) The five shades of grey: party systems and authoritarian institutions in post-Soviet Central Asian states, Central Asian Survey, DOI: 10.1080/02634937.2018.1500442

Karel Kouba andTomáš Došek, ‘Fragmentation of presidential elections and governability crises in Latin America: a curvilinear relationship?’, Democratization, 25:7, 2018, pp.1270-1290, DOI: 10.1080/13510347.2018.1462797

Marcus Mietzner, ‘From Autocracy to Coalitional Presidentialism: The Post-Authoritarian Transformation of Indonesia’s Presidency’, Kyoto Review of Southeast Asia, 2018.

Marcus Mietzner, ‘The Indonesian Armed Forces, Coalitional Presidentialism, and Democratization’, in Robert W. Hefner (ed.), Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Indonesia, Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, London and New York, pp. 140-150, 2018.

Daniel Jatoba and Bruno Theodoro Luciano, ‘The Deposition of Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo and its repercussions in South American regional organizations’, Brazilian Political Sci. Rev., vol. 12, no. 1, 2018. Available from

Tom Ginsburg, ‘Constitutional Knowledge’, KNOW: A Journal on the Formation of Knowledge 2, no. 1 (Spring 2018): 15-29,

Marién Durán, ‘Dual Presidentialization and Autocratization: Turkey at a Critical Crossroads’, Mediterranean Quarterly (2018) 29 (3): 98-116.

Hasret Dikici Bilgin and Emre Erdoğan, ‘Obscurities of a Referendum Foretold: The 2017 Constitutional Amendments in Turkey’, Review of Middle East Studies, 52(1), 29-42, 2018. doi:10.1017/rms.2018.9

Vitaliy Lytvyn, ‘The Stages of Installation and Institutional, Procedural, Political and Behavioral Attributes of Semi-Presidentialism in Poland and Ukraine: Comparative Analysis’, available at:

Łukasz Jakubiak, ‘The parliamentary genesis of the French semi‐presidentialism against the background of the process of presidentialisation of the Fifth Republic’, available at:

New publications

Nic Cheeseman and Brian Klaas, How to Rig an Election, Yale University Press, 2018.

Eugene Huskey, Encounters at the Edge of the Muslim World: A Political Memoir of Kyrgyzstan, Rowman & Littlefield, 2018.

Gianluca Passarelli (ed.), The Presidentialisation of Political Parties in the Western Balkans, Palgrave, 2018.

Presidentialism in Southeast Asia, Special Issue of Contemporary Politics, Presidentialism in Southeast Asia; Guest Editors: Mark Thompson and Marco Bünte, vol. 24, no. 3, 2018.

Thomas Poguntke & Paul Webb, ‘Personalization and Presidentialization Reconsidered’, in William P. Cross, Richard S. Katz, and Scott Pruysers (eds.), The Personalization of Democratic Politics and the Challenge for Political Parties, ECPR Press, 2018.

Ryan E. Carlin, Jonathan Hartlyn, Timothy Hellwig, Gregory J. Love, Cecilia Martínez-Gallardo, Matthew M. Singer, ‘Public support for Latin American presidents: The cyclical model in comparative perspective’, Research & Politics, Volume: 5 issue: 3,, First Published July 26, 2018.

Presidential Studies Quarterly, special issue on the Trump presidency, Volume 48, Issue 3
Pages: 401-636.

Caroline Heldman, Meredith Conroy, and Alissa R. Ackerman, Sex and Gender in the 2016 Presidential Election, ABC-CLIO, 2018.

Berk Esen and Sebnem Gumuscu, ‘The Perils of “Turkish Presidentialism”‘, Review of Middle East Studies, Volume 52, Issue 1, April 2018, pp. 43-53.

P. Willerton, ‘Executive Leadership’, in Richard Sakwa, Henry E. Hale, Stephen White (eds.), Developments in Russian Politics 9 (9th Edition), Palgrave, 2018.

Gretchen Helmke, Institutions on the Edge: The Origins and Consequences of Inter-Branch Crises in Latin America, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2017.

Jorge Lanzaro (ed.), Centro Presidencial: Presidencias y Centros de Gobierno en América Latina, Estados Unidos y Europa, Tecnos; Edición, 2018.

New publications

Jenny Åberg and Thomas Sedelius, ‘Review Article: A Structured Review of Semi-Presidential Studies: Debates, Results and Missing Pieces’, British Journal of Political Science, online: 02 July 2018.

Laurence Tribe and Joshua Matz, To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment, Basic Books, 2018.

Julian Zelizer, The Presidency of Barack Obama: A First Historical Assessment, Princeton University Press. 2018.

Michael McFaul, ‘Choosing Autocracy: Actors, Institutions, and Revolution in the Erosion of Russian Democracy’, Comparative Politics, Volume 50, Number 3, April 2018, pp. 305-325.

Martin Plaut and Sue Onslow, Robert Mugabe, Ohio University, 2018.

Eduardo Mello and Matias Spektor, ‘Brazil: The Costs of Multiparty Presidentialism ‘, Journal of Democracy, Volume 29, Number 2, April 2018, pp. 113-127.

Daniel Jatoba and Bruno Theodoro Luciano, ‘The Deposition of Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo and its repercussions in South American regional organizations’, Brazilian Political Science Review, vol.12, no.1, 2018, available at:

Kari Palonen, ‘Politics of Parliamentary Government’, in Kari Palonen, Parliamentary Thinking. Procedure, Rhetoric and Time, Palgrave Macmillan, 2019.

Serhiy Kudelia, ‘Presidential activism and government termination in dual-executive Ukraine’, Post-Soviet Affairs, Volume 34, Issue 4, 2018, pp. 246-261,

Flaviu Zoltán Muica, ‘The head of state in Romanian constitutionalism – between a monarch and a president’, Curentul Juridic – Juridical Current 2018, Vol. 72, No. 1, pp. 67-77, available at:

New publications

Sujit Choudhry, Thomas Sedelius and Julia Kyrychenko, Semi-presidentialism and Inclusive Governance in Ukraine: Reflections for Constitutional Reform, 2018 International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, available at:

Yu-chung Shen (2017) Institutional resilience of Taiwan’s semi-presidential system: the integration of the president and premier under party politics, Asian Journal of Political Science, 26:1, 53-64, DOI: 10.1080/02185377.2017.1366347.

Tom Ginsburg, “Constitutional Knowledge,” KNOW: A Journal on the Formation of Knowledge 2, no. 1 (Spring 2018): 15-29.

Berk Esen and Sebnem Gumuscu, ‘The Perils of “Turkish Presidentialism”’, Review of Middle East Studies, Volume 52, Issue 1 April 2018, pp. 43-53.

Hasret Dikici Bilgin and Emre Erdoğan, ‘Obscurities of a Referendum Foretold: The 2017 Constitutional Amendments in Turkey. Review of Middle East Studies, 52(1), 29-42, 2018.

Oksan Bayulgen, Ekim Arbatli, and Sercan Canbolat, ‘Elite Survival Strategies and Authoritarian Reversal in Turkey’, Polity, online 23 May 2018.

Ladi Hamalai, Samuel Egwu, and J. Shola Omotola (eds.), Nigeria’s 2015 General Elections: Continuity and Change in Electoral Democracy, Palgrave Macmillan, 2017.

Julian Jackson, A Certain Idea of France: A Life of Charles de Gaulle, Allen Lane, 2018.

Rachel Bitecofer, The Unprecedented 2016 Presidential Election, Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.

Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties, special issue, Donald Trump’s Challenge to the Study of Elections, vol. 28, no. 2, 2018.

John Street, ‘What is Donald Trump? Forms of ‘Celebrity’ in Celebrity Politics’, Political Studies Review, First Published May 10, 2018,

New publications

Paul Chaisty and Timothy J. Power, ‘Flying solo: Explaining single-party cabinets under minority presidentialism’, European Journal of Political Research, available on-line first:

Lubomír Kopeček and Miloš Brunclík, ‘How Strong Is the President in Government Formation? A New Classification and the Czech Case’, East European Politics and Societies: and Cultures, Online first.

Australian Journal of Political Science, Symposium: Majority Formation in Semi-Parliamentary Regimes, vol. 53, no. 2, 2018, including Steffen Ganghof, Sebastian Eppner and Alexander Pörschke, ‘What’s so good about parliamentary hybrids? Comment on ‘Australian bicameralism as semi-parliamentarianism: patterns of majority formation in 29 democracies’, p. 211-233, and Robert Elgie, ‘ On new forms of government’, pp. 241-247.

Danny Gittings, ‘Separation of powers and deliberative democracy’, in Ron Levy, Hoi Kong, Graeme Orr, and Jeff King (eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Deliberative Constitutionalism, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018, pp. 113-124.

Eduardo Mello and Matias Spektor, ‘Brazil: The Costs of Multiparty Presidentialism’, Journal of Democracy, Volume 29, Number 2, April 2018, pp. 113-127.

Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties, Special Issue, Donald Trump’s Challenge to the Study of Elections, vol. 28, no. 2, 2018.

Graeme AM Davies, Marcus Schulzke, and Thomas Almond, ‘Sheltering the president from blame: Drone strikes, media assessments and heterogeneous responsibility 2002-2014’, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 477-496.

Scott Pegg and Michael Walls, ‘Back on track? Somaliland after its 2017 presidential election’, African Affairs, Volume 117, Issue 467, April 2018, pp. 326–337.

Michael Chege, ‘Kenya’s Electoral Misfire’, Journal of Democracy, Volume 29, Number 2, April 2018, pp. 158-172.

New publications

Keisuke Okada, ‘Health and political regimes: Evidence from quantile regression’, Economic Systems,

Matt Qvortrup, ‘The Logic of Constitutional Engineering: Institutional Design and Counterterrorism from Aristotle to Arend Lijphart’, Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, vol. 41, no. 2, pp. 96-108.

Don S. Lee, ‘Executive control of bureaucracy and presidential cabinet appointments in East Asian democracies’, Regulation & Governance, doi:10.1111/rego.12190.

Andres Malamud ‘Presidentialism and Mercosur: A Hidden Cause for a Successful Experience’, in Finn Laursen (ed.), Comparative Regional Integration: Theoretical Perspectives, Taylor and Francis, 2018.

Victor Araújo, Andréa Freitas, and Marcelo Vieira, ‘The presidential logic of government formation in Latin American democracies’, Revista De Ciencia Política, vol. 38, no. 1, pp. 25-50.

Yuri Kasahara and Leiv Marsteintredet, ‘Presidencialismo em crise ou parlamentarismo por outros meios? Impeachments presidenciais no Brasil e na América Latina’, Revista de Ciências Sociais. Fortaleza, vol. 49, no. 1, pp. 30-54, 2018. Available at:

Adolfo Garcé, ‘Hacia una teoría ideacional de la difusión institucional. La adopción y adaptación del presidencialismo en américa latina durante el siglo xix [Towards an ideational theory of institutional diffusion. The adoption and adaptation of presidentialism in Latin America during the 19th century]’, Revista Española de Ciencia Política, no. 44, July 2017, pp. 13-41, Doi:

Sylvain Brouard, Emiliano Grossman, Isabelle Guinaudeau, Simon Persico, Caterina Froio, ‘Do Party Manifestos Matter in Policy-Making? Capacities, Incentives and Outcomes of Electoral Programmes in France’, Political Studies,

Behar Selimi and Murat Jashari, ‘The Role of the President in National Security Policies in Parliamentary Republics – The Case of Albania’, AUDJ, Vol. 14, no. 1/2018, pp. 113-124.

Dafydd Fell, Government and Politics in Taiwan, 2nd ed., Taylor and Francis, 2018.

Marcus Mietzner, ‘The Indonesian armed forces, coalitional presidentialism, and
democratization: from praetorian guard to imagined balance of power’, in The Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Indonesia, Taylor and Francis, 2018, pp. 140-150.

Alaa Al-Din Arafat, Egypt in Crisis: The Fall of Islamism and Prospects of Democratization, Springer, 2018.

Jacek Wojnicki, ‘The Evolution of the Presidency in the Post-Yugoslav Countries in the 1990s–the Non-institutional or Instiutional Element of the Democratic System’, Studia Środkowoeuropejskie i Bałkanistyczne, vol. 26, pp. 293-311. Available at:

Peter Reddaway, Russia’s Domestic Security Wars: Putin’s Use of Divide and Rule Against His Hardline Allies, Palgrave, 2018.

Translating Trump, Special Issue of Contemporary French and Francophone Studies, vol. 21, no. 5, 2017.

Edward Ashbee, The Trump Revolt, Manchester University Press, 2017.

New publications

Paul Chaisty, Nic Cheeseman, and Timothy J Power, Coalitional Presidentialism in Comparative Perspective: Minority Presidents in Multiparty Systems, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018.

Robert Elgie and with Gianluca Passarelli, ‘Presidentialisation: One term, Two Uses – Between Deductive Exercise and Grand Historical Narrative’, Political Studies Review, Online First:

Nic Cheeseman (ed.), Institutions and Democracy in Africa: How the Rules of the Game Shape Political Developments, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018.

Mark P. Jones, ‘Presidential and Legislative Elections’, in Erik S. Herron, Robert J. Pekkanen, and Matthew S. Shugart (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Electoral Systems, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018.

Cynthia McClintock, ‘Reevaluating Runoffs in Latin America’, Journal of Democracy, Volume 29, Number 1, January 2018, pp. 96-110.

Catherine Reyes-Housholder and Gwynn Thomas, ‘Latin America’s Presidentas: Overcoming Challenges, Forging New Pathways’, in Leslie A. Schwindt-Bayer, Gender and Representation in Latin America, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018.

Dan Slater, Aries A. Arugay, ‘Polarizing Figures: Executive Power and Institutional Conflict in Asian Democracies’, American Behavioral Scientist, Online First,

Ivo Šlosarčík, ‘Constitutional Development in the Czech Republic in 2013–2017: Direct Presidential Elections and Their Constitutional Consequences’, European Public Law 24, no. 1 (2018): 43–54. Available at:

Jocelyn Evans and Gilles Ivaldi, The 2017 French Presidential Elections: A Political Reformation?, Springer, 2018.

Ronald Tiersky, ‘Macron’s World: How the New President Is Remaking France’, 97 Foreign Affairs 87, 2018, pp. 87-97.

Riccardo Brizzi, Charles De Gaulle and the Media: Leadership, TV and the Birth of the Fifth Republic, Springer, 2018.

Gretchen Helmke, Institutions on the Edge: The Origins and Consequences of Inter- Branch Crises in Latin America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017.

Justin Pearce, Didier Péclard, and Ricardo Soares de Oliveira, ‘Angola’s elections and the politics of presidential succession’, African Affairs, Volume 117, Issue 466, January 2018, pp. 146-160.

Susan Booysen, ‘Semi-presidentialism and subjugation of parliament and party in the presidency of South Africa’s Jacob Zuma’, Politeia,

Thomas H. Johnson, ‘The Illusion of Afghanistan’s Electoral Representative Democracy: The Cases of Afghan Presidential and National Legislative Elections’, Small Wars & Insurgencies, 29:1, 1-37.

Uk Heo, Seongyi Yun, ‘South Korea in 2017. Presidential Impeachment and Security Volatility’, Asian Survey, Vol. 58, No. 1, January/February 2018, pp. 65-72.

Rui Graça Feijó, ‘Timor-Leste in 2017: Between a Diplomatic Victory and the Return of “Belligerent Democracy”’, Asian Survey, Vol. 58, No. 1, January/February 2018, pp. 206-212

Aníbal Pérez-Liñán and Ignacio Arana Araya, ‘Strategic Retirement in Comparative Perspective: Supreme Court Justices in Presidential Regimes’, Journal of Law and Courts, Vol. 5, No. 2, pp. 173–197, 2017.

Benjamin R. Warner, Dianne G. Bystrom, Mitchell S. McKinney, and Mary C. Banwart, An Unprecedented Election: Media, Communication, and the Electorate in the 2016 Campaign, Santa Barbara: ABC Clio, 2018.

Joel Sievert and Ryan D. Williamson, ‘Public attitudes toward presidential veto powers’, Research & Politics, January-March 2018: 1-6, available at:

Jamie Gillies (ed.), Political Marketing in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, London: Palgrave.

Louis Fisher, Supreme Court Expansion of Presidential Power: Unconstitutional Leanings, Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2017.

Fang-Yi Chiou and Lawrence S. Rothenberg, The Enigma of Presidential Power: Parties, Policies and Strategic Uses of Unilateral Action., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Political Leadership: A Pragmatic Institutionalist Approach

Political Leadership: A Pragmatic Institutionalist Approach
Robert Elgie
Palgrave Macmillan, 2018

This book provides a philosophically informed, institutionalist account of political leadership. It is rooted in a Peircean version of the American pragmatist philosophical tradition and privileges the study of institutions as a cause of leadership outcomes. The study includes identifying the psychological effects of presidentialism and parliamentarism on leader behavior, a study of the impact of institutions on electoral accountability for economic performance, studies of president/cabinet conflict in Europe, presidential control over cabinet composition in France, and constitutional choice in France and Romania. It adopts a multi-method approach, including a lab experiment, large-n statistical tests, and Qualitative Comparative Analysis, as well as two in-depth process-tracing case studies. The aim is to show that an institutional account has the potential to generate well-settled beliefs about the causes of leadership outcomes.

In this post, we outline the work in one chapter. In this chapter, we re-examine Hellwig and Samuels’ (2007) article on economic voting and the clarity of institutional responsibility. Like Hellwig and Samuels, we are interested in the relative effect of parliamentary and semi-presidential institutions on electoral accountablility for economic performance. We are also interested in exploring the effect of variation in presidential power on economic voting in this context. In short, we are interested in whether institutions condition the extent to which presidents and prime ministers are rewarded/blamed for good/bad economic performance.

To address this issue, we update Hellwig and Samuels dataset, noting certain revisions to the way in which they record the vote at elections with the aim of maximising the reliability of the values in the dataset. We then use exactly the same estimation technique as Hellwig and Samuels.

There is insufficient room here to go through the results in depth. (Which is just an ill-disguised invitation to buy the book). There is also no space to describe how the variables have been operationalised. Again, all that material is in the book. Here, we just wish to provide a flavour of the results.

We find support for Hellwig and Samuels’ basic finding that electoral accountability for economic performance is greater under high-clarity elections, i.e. where there is a single-party government, than low-clarity elections where there is not.

More interestingly, our results also show support for Hellwig and Samuels’ finding that the electoral accountability of the president’s party for economic performance is significantly greater during periods of unified government relative to cohabitation. Figure 1 reports the basic results of our models in the same way that Hellwig and Samuels present them in their paper.

Figure 1    The conditional effect of cohabitation in semi-presidential regimes on economic accountability

However, there are some differences between Hellwig and Samuels’ results and ours. Perhaps most notably, we find that electoral accountability for economic performance is significantly greater at presidential elections than legislative elections. This makes sense. At presidential elections, the clarity of responsibility is likely to be clearer because voters can hold a single person/party responsible for the state of the economy. This is the result that Hellwig and Samuels expected to find in their work, but which was not returned. Using the updated version of their dataset, we now find support for their intuition. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2         The conditional effect of the type of election on economic accountability

While we are concerned with re-testing Hellwig and Samuels’ thesis, we are really interested in exploring how presidential power shapes the clarity of responsibility for economic voting. Hellwig and Samuels do not follow up on this issue in their article. So, we are trying to build on their work by integrating presidential power into their analysis.

We find that presidential power does help us to understand how institutions shape electoral accountability for economic performance. For example, when we include presidential power in the model we find that there is significantly greater economic voting at presidential elections with strong presidents. Again, this makes sense. When there is a strong president, the clarity of responsibility should be higher. Voters know better whom to reward or blame. By contrast, when there is a weak, non-executive presidency, we would not necessarily expect the incumbent president or their party to be held accountable for economic performance. (See Figure 3 relative to Figure 2).

Figure 3        The conditional effect of presidential power and type of election on economic accountability

In addition, we also find that electoral accountability for economic performance is conditional upon presidential power during cohabitation. In these periods, there is significantly greater economic voting during periods of unified government when there is a strong president. (See Figure 4 relative to Figure 1). In other words, the combination of unified government and presidential power shapes economic voting at elections under semi-presidentialism.

Figure 4         The conditional effect of presidential power and cohabitation in semi-presidential regimes on economic accountability

These are only a flavour of the results in the chapter. Spoiler alert, not all results are as expected. Most, though, are.

We would like to thank Hellwig and Samuels for supplying their dataset for replication purposes. Obviously, all results presented here and in the book are the author’s responsibility alone.


Hellwig, Timothy, and David Samuels (2007), ‘Electoral Accountability and the Variety of Democratic Regimes’, British Journal of Political Science, 38: 65-90.