World's states coloured by systems of government:
Parliamentary systems: Head of government is elected or nominated by and accountable to the legislature
  Constitutional monarchy with a ceremonial monarch
  Parliamentary republic with a ceremonial president

Presidential system: Head of government (president) is popularly elected and independent of the legislature
  Presidential republic

Hybrid systems:
  Semi-presidential republic: Executive president is independent of the legislature; head of government is appointed by the president and is accountable to the legislature
  Assembly-independent republic: Head of government (president or directory) is elected by the legislature, but is not accountable to it

  Semi-constitutional monarchy: Monarch holds significant executive or legislative power
  Absolute monarchy: Monarch has unlimited power
  One-party state: Power is constitutionally linked to a single political party
  Military junta: Committee of military leaders controls the government; constitutional provisions are suspended
  Provisional government: No constitutionally defined basis to current regime
  Dependent territories and places without governments

Note: this chart represent de jure systems of government, not the de facto degree of democracy.[citation needed]
It has been suggested that the section about Steffen Ganghof's semi-parliamentarism be split out and merged into the article titled Bicameralism, which already exists. (Discuss) (June 2024)

Semi-parliamentary system can refer to one of the following:

The former was first proposed by Maurice Duverger, who used it to refer to Israel from 1996 to 2001.[1] The second was identified by German academic Steffen Ganghof.[2]

Like semi-presidential systems, semi-parliamentary systems are a strongly rationalized form of parliamentary systems. After Israel decided to abolish the direct election of prime ministers in 2001, there are no national prime-ministerial systems in the world; however, a prime-ministerial system is used in Israeli and Italian cities and towns to elect mayors and councils. There are two national and five subnational examples of the other type of semi-parliamentarism still in existence today—the national examples of Australia and Japan and the subnational examples of the five bicameral Australian states.[2]

Prime-ministerial systems

This section has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page. (Learn how and when to remove these template messages) This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources in this section. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (November 2023) (Learn how and when to remove this message) This section possibly contains original research. Please improve it by verifying the claims made and adding inline citations. Statements consisting only of original research should be removed. (November 2023) (Learn how and when to remove this message) (Learn how and when to remove this message)

In a prime-ministerial system, as in standard parliamentary systems, the prime minister can still be dismissed by a vote of no confidence, this however effectively causes a snap election for both the prime minister and the legislature (a rule commonly expressed by the brocard aut simul stabunt aut simul cadent, Latin for "they will either stand together, or fall together").

Parliamentary systems originated in constitutional monarchies, in which the government was dually accountable to the parliament and the king: the plurality of opinions of elected assemblies was then balanced by the direction of the monarch. Over time, the power of hereditary monarchs came to be understood as untenable in a democracy, leading many constitutional monarchies to evolve into parliamentary republics, while in the remaining ones the monarch became an increasingly ceremonial figure: regardless of the presence of an elected or unelected head of state, the parliament was thus established as the dominating institution.

In their most basic form, parliamentary systems tend to be quite anarchic, as in the well-known cases of the French third and fourth republics.[dubiousdiscuss] The attitude of parliaments towards governments is essentially oppositive, as elected assemblies are often incapable of taking energetic decisions whose advantages will only be perceived in the future, but whose disadvantages are immediately experienced by the electors. This calls for a strong rationalization of parliamentary systems, such as the one that developed in the United Kingdom, where the hereditary monarch has effectively been replaced by an "elected monarch", namely the prime minister.

Being largely based on conventions, the Westminster system cannot be easily replicated in other countries.[citation needed] In his 1956 proposal, Maurice Duverger suggested that France could attain government stability by means of a direct election of the Prime Minister, that was to take place at the same time as the legislative election, by means of a separate ballot paper. The Prime Minister and his supporting parliamentary majority would need to be inseparable for the whole duration of the legislature: in case of a vote of no-confidence, forced resignation, or dissolution of the parliament, a snap election would be held for both the National Assembly and the Prime Minister.

Direct election of the prime minister, alone, would not be sufficient to ensure government stability: a second round of election should be employed so that electors can be allowed to express their ideological preferences in the first round, and designate a majority in the second. The electoral law would then provide the Prime Minister with a parliamentary majority.[dubiousdiscuss]

Under Charles de Gaulle, France adopted a different rationalization of parliamentary government called semi-presidential system. Duverger's proposal thus remained unnamed until the French political scientist termed it "semi-parliamentary" in 1996.

Main characteristics of prime-ministerial systems


Italian local administrations

This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (December 2016) (Learn how and when to remove this message)

In 1993, Italy adopted a new electoral law introducing the direct election of mayors, in conjunction with municipal councils. On a single ballot paper, the elector can express two votes, one for the mayor, and the other one for the council. The mayor is elected with a two-round system: at the first round, the candidate receiving the absolute majority of valid votes is elected; if no candidate receives an absolute majority, a second round between the two top-ranking candidates is held. Councils are elected by semi-proportional representation: the party or coalition linked to the mayor elect receives at least 60% of the seats, while the other parties are allocated seats in a proportional fashion. This ensures the existence of a working majority for the mayor: the council can remove the mayor with an absolute majority vote, but in this case it also causes its own dissolution and a snap election.

In 1999, a constitutional reform introduced the direct election of regional presidents, whose term is linked to that of regional councils much in the same way as it is the case for mayors and municipal councils.

Direct election of the prime minister of Israel (1996–2001)

During the thirteenth Knesset (1992–1996), Israel decided to hold a separate ballot for Prime Minister modeled after American presidential elections. This system was instituted in part because the Israeli electoral system makes it all but impossible for one party to win a majority. However, no majority bonus was assigned to the Prime Minister's supporting party: therefore, he was forced to obtain the support of other parties in the Knesset. As this effectively added rigidity to the system without improving its stability, direct election of the Prime Minister was abolished after the 2001 election.

This system has been described by some as an anti-model of prime-ministerial systems.[3] In Israel, the basic laws allowed, under certain conditions, special elections for the prime minister only, with no dissolution of the Knesset: in practice, there were as many as eight special elections in just a few years, which constitutes a considerable departure from the simul simul principle. For this reason, the Israeli version of the prime-ministerial system was never considered to work functionally.[4]

Steffen Ganghof's semi-parliamentarism

The Semi-Parliamentary System as explained by Steffen Ganghof

In the second form of the semi-parliamentary system, identified by German academic Steffen Ganghof, the issues of a lack of separation of powers as present in a traditional parliamentary system and that of executive personalisation as found in a presidential system are confronted by dividing the legislature into 2 elected assemblies. One of these assemblies may be referred to as a "confidence chamber" that has the power to dismiss a prime minister and their ministers, while the other may be called a "legislative chamber". This chamber acts in a manner similar to that of the independent legislative branches that operate in presidential systems, able to introduce, amend and reject legislation, but unable to vote "no confidence" in the government.[2]

In the book "Beyond Presidentialism and Parliamentarism. Democratic Design and the Separation of Powers", Ganghof gives this abstract definition of semi-parliamentarism:

Under semi-parliamentary government, no part of the executive is elected directly. The prime minister and cabinet are selected by an assembly with two parts, only one of which can dismiss the cabinet in a no-confidence vote even though the other has equal or greater democratic legitimacy and robust veto power over ordinary legislation.

This form of Semi-Parliamentary government has also been further explored by Tarunabh Khaitan, who coined the phrase "Moderated Parliamentarism" to describe a form of Semi-parliamentarism with several distinctive features: mixed bicameralism, moderated (but distinct) electoral systems for each chamber, weighted multipartisanship, asynchronous electoral schedules, and deadlock resolution through conference committees.[5]


Washminster system of Australia

The waters of the Thames and of the Potomac both flow into Lake Burley Griffin.

In many respects, Australia is a unique hybrid with influences from the United States Constitution, as well as from the traditions and conventions of the Westminster system and some indigenous features. Australia is exceptional in this sense because the government faces a fully elected upper house, the Senate, which must be willing to pass all its legislation. Although only the lower house, the House of Representatives, can hold a no-confidence vote against the government, in practice the support of the Senate is also necessary in order to govern. The Senate maintains the ability similar to that held by the British House of Lords, prior to the enactment of the Parliament Act 1911, to block supply against the government of the day. A government that is unable to obtain supply can be dismissed by the governor-general: however, this is generally considered a last resort and is a highly controversial decision to take, given the conflict between the traditional concept of confidence as derived from the lower house and the ability of the Senate to block supply (see 1975 Australian constitutional crisis). Many political scientists have held that the Australian system of government was consciously devised as a blend or hybrid of the Westminster and the United States systems of government, especially since the Australian Senate is a powerful upper house like the U.S. Senate; this notion is expressed in the nickname "the Washminster mutation".[6] The ability of upper houses to block supply also features in the parliaments of most Australian states. Because of this arrangement, Australia and most of its states can be classified as "semi-parliamentary" according to Steffen Ganghof's criteria.[2]

See also


  1. ^ a b Duverger, Maurice (September 1996). "Les monarchies républicaines" [The Republican Monarchies] (PDF). Pouvoirs, revue française d'études constitutionnelles et politiques (in French). No. 78. Paris: Éditions du Seuil. pp. 107–120. ISBN 2-02-030123-7. ISSN 0152-0768. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 October 2018. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e Ganghof, S (May 2018). "A new political system model: Semi-parliamentary government". European Journal of Political Research. 57 (2): 261–281. doi:10.1111/1475-6765.12224.
  3. ^ Clementi, Francesco (June 2005). Profili ricostruttivi della forma di governo primo-ministeriale tra elezione diretta e indiretta [Reconstructive profiles of the prime-ministerial form of government between direct and indirect election] (PDF) (in Italian). Rome: Aracne Editrice. ISBN 88-548-0134-8. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 September 2017. Retrieved 13 November 2016.
  4. ^ Frosini, Justin Orlando (2008). Ferrari, Giuseppe Franco (ed.). Forms of State and Forms of Government. Giuffrè Editore. pp. 54–55. ISBN 9788814143885. Retrieved 13 November 2016 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ Khaitan, Tarunabh (2021). "Balancing Accountability and Effectiveness: A Case for Moderated Parliamentarism" (PDF). Canadian Journal of Comparative and Contemporary Law. 7: 81–155. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  6. ^ Thompson, Elaine (1980). "The 'Washminster' mutation". Politics. 15 (2): 32–40. doi:10.1080/00323268008401755.

Further reading