Semi-presidential system

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    15th Oct, 2019

Political crisis in Sri Lanka and all about Semi-presidential system

Context

Political crisis in Sri Lanka and all about Semi-presidential system

About

  • A semi-presidential system is republican system of governance that combines elements of presidential democracy with parliamentary democracy.
  • Typically, the head of state is the president, directly elected by the people with a large degree of power over the government, whilst the head of government is the prime minister nominated by the president but who can be dismissed by the legislature.
  • An agreement is reached over which of the two heads (state and government) will have the lead in policy areas.
  • For example, in France, a well-known example of semi presidential democracy, the president leads foreign policy and the prime minister leads domestic policy.
  • Semi-presidential systems may sometimes experience periods in which the president and the prime minister are from differing political parties. This is called "cohabitation", a term which originated in France.
  • Cohabitation can create an effective system of checks and balances or a period of bitter and tense stonewalling, depending on the attitudes of the two leaders, the ideologies of themselves or their parties, or the demands of their constituencies.

Advantages

  • Providing cover for the president, it can shield the president from criticism and the unpopular policies can be blamed on the prime minister as the latter runs the day-to-day operations of the government and carrying out the national policy set forth by the president, who is the head of state that is focusing on being the national leader of a state and in arbitrating the efficiency of government authorities, etc.
  • Ability to remove an unpopular prime minister and maintain stability from the president's fixed term the parliament has power to remove an unpopular prime minister.
  • Additional checks and balances, while the president can dismiss the prime minister in many semi-presidential systems, in most of the semi-presidential systems important segments of bureaucracy are taken away from the president.

Disadvantages

  • Confusion about accountability, parliamentary systems give voters a relatively clear sense of who is responsible for policy successes and failures; presidential systems make this more difficult, particularly when there is divided government. Semi-presidential systems add another layer of complexity for voters;
  • Confusion and inefficiency in legislative process, the capacity of votes of confidence makes the prime minister responsible to the parliament.

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