Semi-Presidential System

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The semi-presidential system is one of the most common forms of government. This form has two central figures, a president (head of state) and a prime minister (head of government). They both hold executive power. It has become popular in recent times due to problems in the parliamentary and presidential systems. It is associated with a democratic regime. However, experts find it complicated to define.

The citizens elect the president directly. Unlike in a parliamentary system, the president has more than just a ceremonial power. However, they still share the rule with a prime minister and their cabinet. So, the system is more balanced.

Further, it is possible to divide the system into two forms. In the first option, the president can choose the prime minister and the cabinet. But, he cannot arbitrarily change them. That can only happen through a vote of no confidence. The other option allows the president to remove them anytime. The president chooses the prime minister depending on the results of elections to the parliament.

Semi-presidential system in France
The National Assembly in Paris. France is a semi-presidential country.

The first principle is that the president cannot rule without a cabinet (government). However, the cabinet and the prime minister govern through the parliament. Hence, they are independent of the president.

The parliament can be unicameral, with only one house – the house of representatives or so. Or bicameral with two houses – a lower house (i.e., House of Representatives) and an upper house (i.e., Senate). Usually, a supreme court is established. It holds the judicial review power over the parliament and even the president. So, it can declare laws and other acts unconstitutional.

Semi-Presidential system in practice

There is a number of countries that use this system around the world. But, among the most famous are France, Russia, Egypt, and Ukraine. 

It is a system that offers more checks and balances. Besides, the main advantage of this system is stability. When the parliament removes a prime minister, the country still has a strong president. It is the least common system, but the popularity is growing.