A provisional government, also called an interim government, an emergency government, or a transitional government, is an emergency governmental authority set up to manage a political transition generally in the cases of new nations or following the collapse of the previous governing administration. Provisional governments are generally appointed, and frequently arise, either during or after civil or foreign wars.
Provisional governments maintain power until a new government can be appointed by a regular political process, which is generally an election. They may be involved with defining the legal structure of subsequent regimes, guidelines related to human rights and political freedoms, the structure of the economy, government institutions, and international alignment. Provisional governments differ from caretaker governments, which are responsible for governing within an established parliamentary system and serve as placeholders following a motion of no confidence, or following the dissolution of the ruling coalition.
In opinion of Yossi Shain and Juan J. Linz, provisional governments can be classified to four groups:
- Revolutionary provisional governments (when the former regime is overthrown and the power belongs to the people who have overthrown it).
- Power sharing provisional governments (when the power is shared between former regime and the ones who are trying to change it).
- Incumbent provisional governments (when the power during transitional period belongs to the former regime).
- International provisional governments (when the power during the transitional period belongs to the international community).
The establishment of provisional governments is frequently tied to the implementation of transitional justice. Decisions related to transitional justice can determine who is allowed to participate in a provisional government.
The early provisional governments were created to prepare for the return of royal rule. Irregularly convened assemblies during the English Revolution, such as Confederate Ireland (1641–49), were described as "provisional". The Continental Congress, a convention of delegates from 13 British colonies on the east coast of North America became the provisional government of the United States in 1776, during the American Revolutionary War. The government shed its provisional status in 1781, following ratification of the Articles of Confederation, and continued in existence as the Congress of the Confederation until it was supplanted by the United States Congress in 1789.
The practice of using "provisional government" as part of a formal name can be traced to Talleyrand's government in France in 1814. In 1843, American pioneers in the Oregon Country, in the Pacific Northwest region of North America established the Provisional Government of Oregon—as the U.S. federal government had not yet extended its jurisdiction over the region—which existed until March 1849. The numerous provisional governments during the Revolutions of 1848 gave the word its modern meaning: A liberal government established to prepare for elections.
List of provisional governments
Numerous provisional governments have been established since the 1850s.
As of 2021 in Africa, only Libya, Sudan, and Chad currently have provisional governments.
- Provisional Government of the Algerian Republic (1958–62) (guerrilla movement)
- Transitional Government of National Unity (Namibia) (1985-1989), interim government during the end of the South African Border War
- Transitional Government of Ethiopia (1991–1995), established after the end of the Ethiopian Civil War
- Provisional Government of Eritrea (1993), established after independence from Ethiopia
- Transitional Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (2003-2006), established in 2003 following the conclusion of the Second Congo War
- National Transitional Legislative Assembly of Liberia (2003–2006), Liberia's legislative body during the country's transition from civil war to democratic rule
- National Transitional Council of Libya (2011-2012), formed during the 2011 civil war in Libya against the Gaddafi-led government
- Interim government of Egypt (2013–2014), established following the June 2013 Egyptian protests and subsequent coup
- The UN-supported Government of National Unity In Libya (2021–present), formed following the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum in Sirte
- Sovereignty Council of Sudan (2019–present), established in August 2019 after 8 month-long protests against President Bashir and a subsequent military coup
- Transitional Military Council in Chad (2021–present), formed in April 2021 after the killing of President Idriss Déby during the Northern Chad offensive
As of 2021 in the Americas, Venezuela is the only country currently hosting a provisional government, which is established by the opposition in parallel with the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
World War I and Interbellum
World War II
- Provisional Government of the Republic of China (1937–40), established by the Empire of Japan when invading Eastern China.
- Provisional Government of Free India (1943–1945), commonly known as Azad Hind, established by Indian nationalists in southeast Asia, had nominal sovereignty over Axis controlled Indian territories, and had diplomatic relationships with eleven countries including Germany, Italy, Japan, Philippines, and the Soviet Union. It was headed by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, who was the Head of the State and Prime Minister, who was also the Supreme Commander of the Indian National Army. The government had its own cabinet and banks. It was also the first government to recruit women for combat roles.
Cold War and aftermath
- Interim Government of India (1946–1947), an interim government formed by the newly created Constituent Assembly of India to administer what would become the Dominion of India and the Dominion of Pakistan in the transitional period between British rule and independence.
- Provisional government of Israel (1948–1949), established after Israel's declaration of independence and in place until after the first Knesset elections.
- Provisional Central Government of Vietnam (1948-1949), established as a puppet government by French during the First Indochina War.
- Provisional Government of the Syrian Arab Republic (1949), established by national consensus to draft a new constitution and reintroduce civilian rule after a series of military governments.
- Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam (1969–1976), established during the Vietnam War against the United States and Republic of Vietnam
- Provisional Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh (1970–1972), established after the declaration of freedom of Bengalis exiled to Calcutta.
- Interim Government of Iran, a provisional government established after the 1979 Iranian Revolution
- Democratic Republic of Iran, formed in 1981 by the People's Mujahedin of Iran based in Paris and later Albania. It serves as the main Iranian government-in-exile opposing the clerical government.
- Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (1988–), after it was entrusted with the powers and responsibilities of the Provisional Government of the State of Palestine.
- United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (1992–1993)
- Palestinian National Authority (1994–2013), the administrative organization, established to govern parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, following the Oslo Accords.
As of 2022Afghanistan; Myanmar; Syria; and Yemen currently have provisional governments. The Syrian provisional governments are opposition groups in rebellion against their internationally-recognized government. Afghanistan's provisional government is unrecognized, but is de facto the country's sole governing body. Myanmar and Yemen have both ruling and opposition provisional governments.
- Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq (2003–2004) with the Iraqi Interim Governing Council, established to act as a caretaker administration in Iraq following the 2003 invasion of Iraq pending the hand over of power to the Iraqi people and the creation of a democratically elected civilian government.
- Iraqi Interim Government (2004–2005) and the Iraqi Transitional Government (2005–2006) were both provisional authorities established after the hand over of power to the Iraqi people following the 2003 invasion of Iraq to govern pending the adoption of a permanent constitution.
- Syrian Interim Government (2013–present), established by the Syrian National Coalition during the Syrian Civil War
- Supreme Political Council of Yemen (2015–present), established by the Houthi Movement after the 2014–15 Yemeni coup d'état, currently participating in the Yemeni Civil War (2014–present) against the governments of Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi and the Presidential Leadership Council
- Southern Transitional Council of South Yemen (2016–present), established by the Southern Movement - a separatist group in southern Yemen - during the Yemeni Civil War (2014–present)
- Syrian Salvation Government (2017–present), established by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham in the Idlib Governorate
- Interim government of Kyrgyzstan (2020–2021), established in 2020 in the aftermath of the 2020 Kyrgyzstani protests
- National Unity Government of Myanmar (2021–present), established in exile by the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw in opposition to the 2021 Myanmar coup d'état
- Provisional Government of Myanmar (2021–present), established by the State Administration Council as a formalization of its rule six months after the 2021 Myanmar coup d'état
- Caretaker Cabinet of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (2021–present), established by the Taliban following the 2021 fall of Kabul
- Presidential Leadership Council (2022–present), established by internationally-recognized outgoing president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi to seek a "comprehensive political solution" to the Yemeni Civil War
World War I and Interbellum
- Provisional Government of Albania (1912–14), established after the First Balkan War
- Provisional Government of Western Thrace (1913), established in modern Greece in opposition to annexation by Bulgaria during the Second Balkan War.
- Provisional Government of Northern Epirus (1914), established against annexation to Albania.
- Provisional Government of the Irish Republic (1916), a title adopted by the leadership of the short-lived Easter Rising.
- Provisional Government of National Defence (northern Greece), 1916
- Russian Provisional Government (1917), established as a result of the February Revolution which led to the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II.
- State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, established in 1918 as the unrecognized first incarnation of Yugoslavia and later merged with the Kingdoms of Serbia and Montenegro to form the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes.
- Estonian Provisional Government (1918–1919).
- Latvian Provisional Government (1918–1920).
- Ukrainian Provisional Government (1918).
- Provisional Government of the Northern Region (1918-1920).
- Provisional Government of Ireland (1922), established by the Anglo-Irish Treaty between the British government and Irish revolutionaries, in order to pave the way for the establishment of the Irish Free State in the same year.
World War II
Provisional governments were also established throughout Europe as occupied nations were liberated from Nazi occupation by the Allies.
Collapse of the USSR and aftermath
As of 2021 in Europe, Belarus is the only country currently with a provisional government, established by the opposition in parallel with the government of the Republic of Belarus.