French Politics

, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 323–351 | Cite as

Semi-Presidential Systems: Dual Executive And Mixed Authority Patterns

  • Matthew Søberg Shugart
Review Article


Maurice Duverger in 1980 advanced the concept of a ‘semi-presidential’ regime: a mix of a popularly elected and powerful presidency with a prime minister heading a cabinet subject to assembly confidence. We can understand the performance of these regimes through a neo-Madisonian perspective that stresses agency relations between institutional actors. Executive and legislature as separate agents of the electorate — as in presidentialism — necessitates transactional interbranch relations. Fusion of powers — as in parliamentarism — means an executive that is hierarchically subordinated to the legislature. The dual executive of a semi-presidential system mixes a transactional executive-legislative relationship with a hierarchical one. The advantages of this perspective include allowing delineation of semi-presidentialism from other hybrids, highlighting subtypes (premier-presidential and president-parliamentary) according to variations in the locus of transactional and hierarchical institutional relationships, and predicting which observed relationships between actors derive from relatively immutable constitutional features and which from more transitory features such as partisan alignments.


executive-legislative relations semi-presidential system dual executive premier-presidential system president-parliamentary system separation of powers 

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan Ltd 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew Søberg Shugart
    • 1
  1. 1.Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies, University of CaliforniaSan DiegoUSA

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