What is a Semi-Presidential System of Government?

The government of Ireland is an example of a semi-presidential government.
The government of Ireland is an example of a semi-presidential government.

A semi-presidential system of government represents a republic ruled by an elected president, a prime minister, and a cabinet. The president is usually elected and is meant to serve for the fixed term specified by the constitution. Lately, semi-presidential governments have become popular, especially in Western countries. This system of governance has taken various forms in different countries. In some countries, the president and prime minister have equal powers. However, in other countries, either the prime minister or the president exhibits more executive powers than the other. Another form is where the president and the parliament share powers so that the prime minister answers to both the president and the legislature. Examples of countries that practice a semi-presidential system of governance are  Ireland, Poland, Slovenia, Austria, Portugal, Romania, Mongolia, South Korea, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Finland, Russia, Lithuania, Sri Lanka, Haiti, Namibia, and Guyana.

Features Of A Semi-presidential Governance

Semi-presidential governments will either be president-parliamentary or premier-presidential. President-parliamentary republics are closer than pure presidentialism. In this case, the president is elected by the electorates. When they assume office, they choose the parliament and the cabinet who are accountable to both the legislature and the president. The prime minister can be removed by parliament’s “vote of no confidence” or a dismissal by the president. Countries with president-parliamentary governance include Mozambique, Taiwan, Senegal, and Portugal.

On the other hand, the premier-presidential style of governance entails which resembles pure parliamentarism. In such a case, the prime minister and cabinet are selected by the members of parliament and they are exclusively responsible to the legislature. Besides, it is the sole prerogative of parliament to dismiss the cabinet and prime minister through a “vote of no confidence”. The president is not involved in the selection and dismissal of these two executive arms of government. Examples of such republics are Niger, Cape Verde, Mali, East Timor, and Lithuania.

Significance Of Embracing Semi-Presidential Governance

Most governments resorted to semi-presidential governments to guard their nations against presidential dictatorship witnessed in many countries across the world such as Libya, Algeria, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Cambodia. It is a means of achieving political stability as well as providing additional checks and balances to the seat of the president. Secondly, the share of power between the prime minister, president, cabinet, and legislature provide effective leadership of the country practicing semi-presidential governance. In spite of these benefits, one disadvantage of semi-presidential governance is the confusion as to the specific roles of the prime minister and the president.


More in World Facts