List of presidential, semi-presidential, and parliamentary countries

From the archives

This post was originally published on The Semi-presidential One.

Here is a list of presidential, semi-presidential, parliamentary, and other regimes.

The two basic definitional criteria are the method of selection of the head of state and whether or not the cabinet is responsible to the legislature.

The countries are classed taxonomically on the basis of their current constitution. The definitions are not designed to capture political practice. They are designed to capture constitutional rules in a way that distinguishes reliably between different constitutional forms.

Afghanistan, Angola, Argentina
Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Burundi
Chile, Colombia, Comoros, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Cyprus
Djibouti, Dominican Rep.
Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea
Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana
Kazakhstan, Kenya, Rep. of Korea
Malawi, Maldives, Mexico
Nicaragua, Nigeria
Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines
Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Sudan
Tajikistan, Turkmenistan
Uganda, USA, Uruguay, Uzbekistan

Algeria (1989), Armenia (1995), Austria (1945), Azerbaijan (1995)
Belarus (1996), Bulgaria (1991), Burkina Faso (1991)
Cameroon (1991), Cape Verde (1990), Chad (1996), Congo (Republic of (2015), Croatia (1991), Czech Republic (2012)
Dem. Rep. Congo (2006)
Egypt (2013)
Finland (1919), France (1962)
Gabon (1991), Georgia (2004)
Haiti (1987)
Iceland (1944), Ireland (1937)
Kyrgyzstan (1993)
Lithuania (1992)
Macedonia (1991), Madagascar (2010), Mali (2012), Mauritania (2009), Moldova (2016), Mongolia (1992), Montenegro (2006), Mozambique (1990)
Namibia (1990), Niger (2010)
Peru (1993), Poland (1990), Portugal (1976)
Romania (1990), Russia (1993), Rwanda (2003)
São Tomé e Príncipe (1990), Senegal (1991), Serbia (2006), Slovakia (1999), Slovenia (1992), Sri Lanka (1976), Syria (2012)
Taiwan (1997), Tanzania (1995), Timor-Leste (2002), Togo (1992), Tunisia (2014), Turkey (2007)
Ukraine (1996)

Parliamentary (M = Monarchy, R = Republic)
Albania (R), Andorra (M), Antigua & Barbuda (M), Australia (M)
Bahamas (M), Bahrain (M), Bangladesh (R), Barbados (M), Belgium (M), Belize (M), Bhutan (M)
Cambodia (M), Canada (M)
Denmark (M), Dominica (R)
Estonia (R), Ethiopia (R)
Fiji (R)
Germany (R), Greece (R), Grenada (M)
Hungary (R)
India (R), Iraq (R), Israel (R), Italy (R)
Jamaica (M), Japan (M), Jordan (M)
Kuwait (M)
Lao PDR (R), Latvia (R), Lebanon (R), Lesotho (M), Liechtenstein (M), Luxembourg (M)
Malaysia (M), Malta (R), Mauritius (R), Monaco (M), Morocco (M)
Nepal (R), Netherlands (M), New Zealand (M), Norway (M)
Pakistan (R), Papua New Guinea (M)
St Kitts & Nevis (M), St Lucia (M), St Vincent & the Grenadines (M), Samoa (R), San Marino (R), Solomon Islands (M), Somalia (R), Spain (M), Swaziland (M), Sweden (M)
Thailand (M), Trinidad & Tobago (R), Tuvalu (M)
UK (M)
Vanuatu (M)

Presidentialism (i.e. popular presidential election) with no PM but cabinet accountability

Presidentialism (i.e. popular presidential election) but president accountability to legislature but not cabinet

Parliamentarism (i.e election of the president by the legislature) with no PM and no head of state/govt accountability and no cabinet accountability
Eritrea, Micronesia, Suriname, Switzerland

Parliamentarism (i.e election of the president by the legislature) with no PM but head of state/govt accountability and cabinet accountability
Botswana, Cuba, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, South Africa

Parliamentarism (i.e election of the president by the legislature) with head of state, PM and cabinet accountability

Brunei, Monaco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tonga, UAE

Bosnia & Herz., China, Iran, North Korea, Myanmar, San Marino

Libya, South Sudan

I welcome corrections and comments.

22 thoughts on “List of presidential, semi-presidential, and parliamentary countries

  1. Alan

    The South African president can be removed by the National Assembly at will.

    Section 102 Motions of no confidence

    (1) If the National Assembly, by a vote supported by a majority of its members, passes a motion of no confidence in the Cabinet excluding the President, the President must reconstitute the Cabinet.
    (2) If the National Assembly, by a vote supported by a majority of its members, passes a motion of no confidence in the President, the President and the other members of the Cabinet and any Deputy Ministers must resign.

    There’s a separate process of removal for cause by supermajority.

  2. JD

    Zambia and Gambia are both presidential, they have ‘censure’ which is only on 2/3 majority and in Gambia only on certain grounds – so this is more like impeachment. Zimbabwe and South Sudan are also presidential.

    Switzerland and the other ‘parliamentary’ under that list should be called ‘assembly-independent’ (Shugart & Carey 1992).

    Monaco is a parliamentary (M), while San Marino is parliamentary (R).

  3. Robert Elgie Post author

    Thanks JD for the comments. Most corrections made. I think that South Sudan is still officially a transitional constitution, but certainly with a presidential form. I think also that Zambian and Gambian presidentialism is different from typical presidentialism with no collective only individual accountability, hence the separate categories. Happy to continue the exchange.


    1. JD

      Glad to help. Could you explain what you mean by ‘individual presidential accountability’ to the legislature? That would sound to me like the legislature can remove the president through a non-confidence vote, but I don’t think you mean that, nor am I aware of that being the case in Zambia and Gambia.

      1. Robert Elgie Post author

        That is what I mean. In other words, some process other than, for example, impeachment for criminal reasons etc. I will check the constitutions you mention.


        1. JD

          To the best of my knowledge, the only country that has ever had a directly-elected executive that was subject to parliamentary confidence was Israel from 1996 to 2001; Samuels and Shugart (2010) call this format ‘elected prime ministerial’.

  4. Robert Elgie Post author

    Thanks. This list only covers contemporary regimes. So, the Israeli example is not included. It was certainly unique, though obviously that particular reform did not affect the position of the president who remained indirectly elected for a fixed term.

    1. JD

      My point was not that you should include Israel at elected PM. My point was that Israel was the only system where the president (named “prime minister”) was responsible to parliament. Zambia and Gambia are simply presidential. The president can only be removed by a special procedure requiring a supermajority.

      Nepal has settled on parliamentary.

  5. Bob

    Hello Robert and co, would it be possible for me to say that for both constitutional republics and constitutional monarchies you can divide these nations into 6 instead of 3 categories as each of the 3 common categories (presidential, parliamentary and hybrid) can be further divided into 2 types. Here is my 6 six categories for constitutional states:
    1. Pure parliamentary system – whereby the roles of head of state and head of govt are separate, head of state is indirectly elected or unelected and cabinet is solely responsible to legislature.
    2. Semi parliamentary system – whereby the roles of head of state and head of govt are separate, head of state is indirectly elected or unelected and cabinet is responsible to both legislature and head of state.
    3. Premier presidential system – as defined by Robert Elgie
    4. President parliamentary system – as defined by Robert Elgie
    5. Direct presidential system – whereby roles of head of state and head of govt are unified and head of state is directly elected.
    6. Indirect presidential system – whereby roles of head of state and head of govt are unified and head of state is indirectly elected (or even unelected).

    Thanks and I hope Robert and others can pass me feedback which will be welcome.

    1. Robert Elgie Post author

      Thanks for the suggestions. The schema looks interesting in that it is based on constitutional criteria and not behavioural practice. The effect, though, will be to include republics and monarchies in the same categories. Isn’t that right? Does that seem intuitive? Anyway, thank you again.


    2. Charles Judiel Baynas

      Pure Parliamentary Republics can have directly-elected Presidents like Singapore, and Ireland. Oh, since I mentioned Ireland. It’s Parliamentary. The Taioseach and his cabinet is the one who exercises real executive power, not the president. The President only have nominal executive powers like Queen Elizabeth which can only be exercised with a binding advice from the Taioseach but such can also be denied as part of his reserved personal powers which are also nominal.

  6. Charles Judiel Baynas

    Singapore is not a Presidential Republic. It’s a Parliamentary one!

    Also, to classify whether a country is presidential or not is not through identifying if a president is directly elected but by identifying it if it is the sole person who exercises executive power with assistance of his cabinet. Also, not because its head of cabinet or presidential assistant is called prime minister and members of cabinet are called ministers means it is semi-presidential or even parliamentary.

    Also, Switzerland is a Directorial Republic where the Federal Council is the collective head of state and government which is not responsible towards parliament as parliament cannot summon it through question periods but it is true that the Federal Council is elected by parliament.

  7. Mathew Willman

    Finland, Austria, Ireland, and Iceland are Parliamentary Republics. Their Presidents are Head of State only and ceremonial. Just so you know so you can correct it. Thanks!

    1. Robert Elgie Post author

      Please note that we are working with the definition of regimes as per the Glossary in the header to the blog, whereby a mix of a directly elected president and a PM and cabinet responsible to the legislature means that a country is classed as semi-presidential. In other words, you are right that Finland, Austria, Ireland and Iceland have largely ceremonial heads of state, as do Slovenia, Macedonia, etc., but they are nonetheless semi-presidential because the power of the president is not a component part of how a regime is defined. This is the standard way of defining regimes now.

  8. JD

    I would put Myanmar in the assembly-independent category along with Switzerland. Also San Marino is parliamentary, the two ‘captains’ are purely ceremonial.

    I’m curious as to why you’re not dividing semi-presidential between premier-presidential and president-parliamentary?

  9. jason

    you have helped me alot you people. i have an assignment which is giving me headaches.
    the question is about “to show why african countries and many third world countries are neither presidential nor parliamentary systems of government.” i need help in point form.

    1. Robert Elgie Post author

      Check the definition of semi-presidentialism. The president is still directly elected. The PM and cabinet are responsible to parliament. Kyrgyzstan is semi-presidential


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