Beyond Presidentialism and Parliamentarism




Cheibub, Jose
Elkins, Zachary
Ginsburg, Tom

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British Journal of Political Science


The presidential-parliamentary distinction is foundational to comparative politics and at the center of a large theoretical and empirical literature. However, an examination of constitutional texts suggests a fair degree of heterogeneity within these categories with respect to important institutional attributes. These observations indicate that the classic presidential-parliamentary distinction, and the semipresidential category, may not be systemic. This article investigates whether the defining attributes that separate presidential and parliamentary constitutions predict other attributes that are stereotypically associated with these institutional models. The results suggest the need for considerable skepticism of the ‘systemic’ nature of the classification. Indeed, the results imply that in order to predict the powers of a country’s executive and legislature, it is more useful to know where and when the constitution was written than whether the country has a presidential or parliamentary system.



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José Antonio Cheibub, Zachary Elkins and Tom Ginsburg Beyond Presidentialism and Parliamentarism. British Journal of Political Science, Available on CJO 2013 doi:10.1017/ S000712341300032X