Tag Archives: president-parliamentarism

Semi-presidentialism, premier-presidentialism and president-parliamentarism – A new country-years dataset

This new dataset provides time-series, cross-sectional data for the presence of both semi-presidentialism and the two sub-types of semi-presidentialism – premier-presidentialism and president-parliamentarism – since 1900. The dataset uses the same country names, country years, and country ids. as the V-Dem data set, allowing them to be easily merged.

The dataset (v2.0) is available here.

There are two codings of semi-presidentialism in v2.0.

In sp1, semi-presidentialism is defined as the situation where a country’s constitution establishes both a directly (or popularly) elected president and a prime minister and cabinet that are collectively responsible to the legislature (Elgie 2011). This coding includes cases where a constitution requires a super-majority for the dismissal of the prime minister and cabinet by the legislature.

In sp2, semi-presidentialism is defined as the situation where a country’s constitution establishes both a directly (or popularly) elected president and a prime minister and cabinet that are collectively responsible to the legislature by no more than a vote of an absolute majority of one or more houses of the legislature. In other words, this coding excludes cases where the PM and government can be held collectively accountable only through a super-majority vote in the legislature.

In sp1, the following countries are classed as semi-presidential, whereas in sp2 they are not: Algeria (all years), Burkina Faso (1977-80), Burundi (1992-96), Cameroon (all years), Central African Republic (2016), Egypt (2007-11), Kyrgyzstan (1996-2007), Madagascar (all SP years since 1996), Mali (all years), Republic of Congo (2016), Rwanda (all years since 2003), Togo (all years), Tunisia (1989-2001), and Vietnam (all years).

The presence of semi-presidentialism (both sp1 and sp2) is coded as 1, its absence as 0. The start year is the year of the introduction of semi-presidentialism in the constitution if the date is on or before 30 June. If the start date is 1 July or later, then the following year is recorded as the first full year of semi-presidentialism. The end date is recorded for the year that the constitution ceased to be semi-presidential at whatever point in the year it ended. The end of semi-presidentialism is marked by a constitutional change. This can be a constitutional amendment introducing another type of system, or a suspension of the constitution.

This version also codes the premier-presidential and president-parliamentary sub-types of semi-presidentialism. The definitions are:

  • President-parliamentarism is a sub-type of semi-presidentialism where the prime minister and cabinet are collectively responsible to both the legislature and the president.
  • Premier-presidentialism is a sub-type of semi-presidentialism where the prime minister and cabinet are collectively responsible solely to the legislature.

These sub-types were first identified by Matthew Shugart and John Carey. The above definitions are consistent with Shugart and Carey (1992).

In the dataset, pp1 and pp2 code premier-presidentialism as 1 and president-parliamentarism as 2. If a country is not semi-presidential, then the coding is 0. All pp1 codings are based on the definition of semi-presidentialism in sp1. All pp2 codings are based on the definition of semi-presidentialism in sp2.

If there are any mistakes, then please let me know (robert.elgie@dcu.ie). If there are any questions, please contact me at the same email.

Please cite the dataset as:

Robert Elgie (2018), Semi-presidentialism, premier-presidentialism and president-parliamentarism – A new country-years dataset [Blog post, 3 April]. Retrieved from http://presidential-power.com/?p=7869.


Elgie, R. (2011), Semi-presidentialism: Sub-Types and Democratic Performance, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Shugart, M. S. and J. M. Carey (1992), Presidents and Assemblies. Constitutional Design and Electoral Dynamics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Guinea-Bissau – The perils of president-parliamentarism

Large-n comparative studies found that democracies with a president-parliamentary constitution perform worse than those with a premier-presidential constitution.[1] Recent political developments in Guinea-Bissau, a presidential-parliamentary (electoral) democracy, neatly demonstrate the system’s inherent weakness in resolving conflict between the president and the national assembly. On 17 September President José Mário Vaz swore in Carlos Correia as the new prime minister. Correia is Guinea-Bissau’s third prime minister in a period of five weeks.

Under president-parliamentary democracies, the prime minister and cabinet are dually accountable to the president and assembly. So, both agents of the electorate (i.e. president and assembly) are constitutionally empowered to dismiss the prime minister and cabinet. Political instability is looming when the president does not share the prime minister’s policy agenda and intra-executive conflict delays or even halts decision making.

Obviously, intra-executive conflict is most likely under cohabitation where the president and prime minister are from different parties and where the president’s party is not represented in the cabinet. Yet, political developments in Guinea-Bissau illustrate that even under unified majority government where the president, prime minister and parliamentary majority belong to the same political party – semi-presidentialism’s best political situation for minimizing institutional conflict[2] – may cause a damaging power struggle between the president and the national assembly over the appointment of a prime minister.

In April 2014, PAIGC candidate Vaz was elected president. The PAIGC also won the legislative elections and the party’s president Domingos Simões Pereira was appointed prime minister in July 2014. As early as in November 2014, the ICG reported that ‘ongoing changes in distribution of power and resources generated tensions within ruling PAIGC’, in particular about the nomination of the Interior and Defence Minister.

Intra-executive tensions surged when in June this year the former Defence Minister (2011-2012) and Minister of Presidential Affairs Baciro Djá resigned. Following Djá’s resignation, Prime Minister Pereira, probably anticipating his dismissal, asked for a vote of confidence in his government. Even though lawmakers unanimously passed the confidence motion, the President sacked Prime Minister Pereira on 12 August 2015. Vaz said his dispute with Pereira arose from a number of issues, including the appointment of a new armed forces chief.

The dismissal of Pereira has led to a prime ministerial merry-go-round. Vaz appointed Baciro Djá as the new Prime Minister. The National Assembly, accusing the President of a ‘constitutional coup’ adopted a resolution to remove Djá, which the President simply ignored. Meanwhile, a new Government was sworn in on 8 September. In a last ditch attempt to remove the new Prime Minister, PAIGC deputies brought the case to Guinea-Bissau’s Supreme Court of Justice, arguing that the appointment of Djá was unconstitutional. According to them, Vaz had failed to comply with the Constitution, which states that the president needs to consult with the political parties represented in parliament before appointing a prime minister.

The Court backed the Parliament’s view and ruled that Prime Minister Djá’s appointment was indeed unconstitutional. Following the Court’s ruling, Djá tendered his resignation. His government had lasted only 2 days. On 17 September President Vaz accepted the ruling party’s candidate and swore in Correia as the new Prime Minister. Correia has already served as prime minister in the past (1991-1994, 1997-1998, 2008-2009). The question remains whether the Court’s ruling will encourage the President to cooperate with the new Prime Minister and parliamentary majority.

[1] ELGIE, R. 2011. Semi-Presidentialism: Sub-Types and Democratic Performance, Oxford, Oxford University Press, MOESTRUP, S. 2007. Semi-Presidentialism in Young Democracies: Help or Hindrance? In: ELGIE, R. & MOESTRUP, S. (eds.) Semi-Presidentialism Outside Europe: A Comparative Study. London: Routledge.

[2] SKACH, C. 2005. Borrowing Constitutional Designs: Constitutional Law in Weimar Germany, Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press.