French Politics

, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 402–428 | Cite as

The government in two semi-presidential systems: France and Portugal in a comparative perspective

  • Gianluca Passarelli
Original Article


France and Portugal have the same form of semi-presidential government. Even though the powers of their respective presidents and their political systems have been extensively investigated, the literature on the role of government operations is less comprehensive. This article analyses the organization of the government, focusing on how semi-presidential governments function and highlighting the recruitment and background of ministers, as well as the role of the president and prime minister. Semi-presidential governments function differently according to the degree of concordance between the presidential and the parliamentary majorities – in other words, whether or not there is cohabitation. The organization of government can be hierarchical or collegial, depending on the balance of power between the two heads of the executive.


semi-presidentialism government president prime minister France Portugal 



I am grateful to Jean Blondel for his invaluable comments on a preliminary version of the essay, which was presented at the 2009 IPSA World Congress held in Santiago, Chile. I had the fortune there to receive input from Carlos Huneeus and other participants on the panel. I thank Salvatore Vassallo for reading the first draft and providing thorough comments, as well as Piero Ignazi for important suggestions on method. I also thank Jean-Luis Thiébault for his insight into French government, as well as two anonymous referees for their comments. Finally, but certainly not the least, I thank Giancarlo Gasperoni, Erik Jones, Amy Hamblin, and Courtney McCarty for their dedication and cooperation. Still, only the author is accountable for content.


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gianluca Passarelli
    • 1
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienza Politica, University of BolognaBolognaItaly

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