Parliamentary republic

Parliamentary republic
Parliamentary republics around the world, shown in Orange (Parliamentary republics with a non-executive President) and Light Blue (Parliamentary republics with an executive President linked to Parliament). Constitutional monarchies are shown in red.

A parliamentary republic or parliamentary constitutional republic is a type of republic which operates under a parliamentary system of government - meaning a system with no clear-cut separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches.[1] There are a number of variations of parliamentary republics. Most have a clear differentiation between the head of government and the head of state; with the head of government holding real power, much like constitutional monarchies. Some have fused the roles of head of state and head of government, much like Presidential systems.

For the first case mentioned above, in particular, the form of executive-branch arrangement is distinct from most other parliamentary and semi-presidential republics which separate the head of state (usually designated as the "president") from the head of government (usually designated as "prime minister", "premier" or "chancellor") and subject the latter to the confidence of parliament and a flexible tenure in office while the head of state lacks either dependency, and investing either office with the majority of executive power.

In Commonwealth realms, such as Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, the Governors-General are the de facto heads of state. Although they are constitutional monarchies instead of parliamentary republics, and that the governors-general are appointed by the king or queen of the United Kingdom, the de facto heads of state are nominated by and appointed on the advice of the prime ministers. These de facto heads of state are therefore in practice indirectly dependent upon the parliaments for their appointments.



President of Ireland Mary McAleese and former President of Poland Aleksander Kwaśniewski. Both are heads of state of Parliamentary republics, respectively.

In contrast to republics operating under either the presidential system or the semi-presidential system, the head of state usually does not have broad executive powers as an executive president would, because many of those powers have been granted to a head of government (usually called a prime minister).

However, in a parliamentary republic with a head of state whose tenure is dependent on parliament, the head of government and head of state may form one office (such as Botswana, the Marshall Islands, Nauru and South Africa; as well as Switzerland, in which the Swiss Federal Council is the head of state and head of government collectively), but the president is still selected in much the same way as the prime minister is in most Westminster systems. This usually means that they are the leader of the largest party or coalition of parties in parliament.

In some instances, the president may legally have executive powers granted to them to undertake the day-to-day running of government (as in Finland) but by convention they either do not use these powers or they use them only to give effect to the advice of the parliament and/or head of government. Some parliamentary republics could therefore be seen as following the semi-presidential system but operating under a parliamentary system.

Historical development

Typically, parliamentary republics are states that were previously constitutional monarchies with a parliamentary system, with the position of head of state hitherto a monarch.[1] However, the first parliamentary republic, the new Swiss Confederation formed in 1803, was created from a loose confederation of independent Cantons.[2][3]

Following the defeat of Napoleon III in the Franco-Prussian War, France once again became a republic - the French Third Republic - in 1870. The President of the Third republic had significantly less executive powers than the previous two republics had. The third republic lasted until the invasion of France by Nazi Germany in 1940. Following the end of the war, the French Fourth Republic was constituted along similar lines in 1946. The Fourth Republic saw an era of great economic growth in France and the rebuilding of the nation's social institutions and industry after the war, and played an important part in the development of the process of European integration which changed the continent permanently. Some attempts were made to strengthen the executive branch of government to prevent the unstable situation that had existed before the war, but the instability remained and the Fourth Republic saw frequent changes in government - there were 20 governments in ten years. Additionally, the government proved unable to make effective decisions regarding decolonization. As a result, the Fourth Republic collapsed and what some critics considered to be a de facto coup d'état, subsequently legitimized by a referendum on 5 October 1958, led to the establishment of the French Fifth Republic in 1959.

Chile became the first Parliamentary republic in South America following a civil war in 1891. However, following a coup in 1925 this system was replaced by a Presidential one.

Commonwealth of Nations

Often, former Governors-General in Commonwealth realms became the first President when the country became a republic. For example, William Gopallawa was the last Governor-General of Ceylon and the first President of Sri Lanka.

Since the London Declaration of 29 April 1949 (just weeks after the Ireland declared itself a republic and excluded itself from the Commonwealth) republics have been admitted as members of the Commonwealth of Nations. A number of these republics kept the Westminster Parliamentary system inherited during their British colonial rule.

In the case of many republics in the Commonwealth of Nations, it was common for the Sovereign, formerly represented by a Governor-General, to be replaced by an elected non-executive head of state. This was the case in with South Africa (which left the Commonwealth soon after becoming a republic), Malta, Trinidad and Tobago, India and Vanuatu. In many of these examples, the last Governor-General became the first president. Such was the case with Sri Lanka.

Others, such as Samoa became parliamentary republics upon gaining independence.

List of current parliamentary republics

Country Formerly Parliamentary republic adopted Head of state elected by
Albania Albania One-party state 1991 Parliament, by majority
Austria Austria One-party state 1955 Directly, by second-round system
Bangladesh Bangladesh [A] Presidential republic

(Commonwealth realm)

1971 Parliament
Botswana Botswana British protectorate (Bechuanaland Protectorate) 1966 Parliament
Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina One-party state (Part of Yugoslavia) 1991 Directly, by second-round system
Bulgaria Bulgaria One-party state 1989 Directly, by second-round system
Cape Verde Cape Verde Portuguese colony 1975 Directly
Croatia Croatia Semi-presidential republic 2000 Directly, by second-round system
Czech Republic Czech Republic One-party state (Part of Czechoslovakia) 1993 Parliament, by majority
Dominica Dominica British overseas territory 1978 Parliament, by majority
East Timor East Timor Military junta (Occupied by Indonesia) 1999 Directly, by second-round system
Estonia Estonia [B] Constitutional monarchy (Part of Russian Empire) 1918 Parliament, by two-thirds majority
Ethiopia Ethiopia One-party state 1991 Parliament, by two-thirds majority
Finland Finland Constitutional monarchy (Part of Russian Empire) 1919 Directly, by second-round system
Germany Germany [C] One-party state 1949 Federal assembly (Parliament and state delegates), by absolute majority
Greece Greece Military junta; Constitutional monarchy 1975 Parliament, by majority
Haiti Haïti One-party state 1860 Parliament, by majority
Hungary Hungary One-party state 1990 Parliament, by absolute majority
Iceland Iceland Formerly part of Denmark - constitutional monarchy 1944 Directly, by transferable vote
 India Constitutional monarchy (Commonwealth realm) 1950 Parliament and state legislators, by single transferable vote
Iraq Iraq One-party state 2005 Parliament, by two-thirds majority
Republic of Ireland Ireland Constitutional monarchy (Commonwealth realm) 1936 [D] Directly, by single transferable vote
Israel Israel Protectorate (Part of British Mandate of Palestine) 1948 Parliament, by majority
Italy Italy Constitutional monarchy 1946 Parliament, by majority
Kiribati Kiribati Protectorate 1979 Citizens
Kyrgyzstan Kyrgyzstan Presidential republic 2010 Parliament
Latvia Latvia [B] Constitutional monarchy (Part of Russian Empire) 1918 Parliament
Lebanon Lebanon Protectorate (French mandate of Lebanon) 1941 Parliament
Lithuania Lithuania [B] Constitutional monarchy 1918 Directly, by second-round system
Republic of Macedonia Macedonia One-party state (Part of the Yugoslavia) 1991 Directly, by second-round system
Malta Malta Constitutional monarchy (Commonwealth realm) 1974 Parliament, by majority
Marshall Islands Marshall Islands UN Trust Territory (Part of Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands) 1979 Parliament
 Mauritius Constitutional monarchy (Commonwealth realm) 1992 Parliament, by majority
Federated States of Micronesia Federated States of Micronesia UN Trust Territory (Part of Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands) 1986 Parliament
Mongolia Mongolia One-party state 1949 Directly
Montenegro Montenegro One-party state (Part of Yugoslavia) 1992 Directly, by second-round system
Nauru Nauru Australian Trust Territory 1968 Parliament
Pakistan Pakistan Presidential and Semi-presidential system, and Constitutional monarchy (Commonwealth realm) 1956–1958, 1973–1978, 1988–1999, 2010–present[4][5] Parliament and state legislators, by single transferable vote
Poland Poland One-party state 1990 Directly, by second-round system
Portugal Portugal One-party state (Military junta transition) 1976 Directly, by second-round system
Samoa Samoa Territory of New Zealand 2007 Parliament
Serbia Serbia One-party state (Part of Yugoslavia) 1991 Directly, by second-round system
Singapore Singapore Constitutional monarchy (Part of Malaysia) 1965 Directly, by second-round system
Slovakia Slovakia One-party state (Part of Czechoslovakia) 1993 Parliament (before 1999)

Directly, by second-round system (since 1999)

Slovenia Slovenia One-party state (Part of Yugoslavia) 1991 Directly, by second-round system
South Africa South Africa Constitutional monarchy (Commonwealth realm) 1961 Parliament, majority
Suriname Suriname One party Military Dictatorship 1987 Parliament, by two-thirds majority. [G]
Switzerland Switzerland Military junta (Occupied by France) 1802 Parliament [F]
 Trinidad and Tobago Constitutional monarchy (Commonwealth realm) 1976 Parliament
Turkey Turkey Constitutional monarchy (Ottoman Empire) 1923 Directly (since 2007, previously by parliament)
Vanuatu Vanuatu British-French condominium (New Hebrides) 1980 Parliament and regional council presidents, by majority
  • ^ A. In Bangladesh, a Caretaker government takes over for three months during parliamentary elections. The Caretaker government is headed by a Chief adviser (the last Chief Justice to retire), and a group of neutral, non-partisan advisers chosen from the civil society. During this time, the president has jurisdiction over the Ministry of defense and the Ministry of foreign affairs. Presidential system was established in the country between 1975 and 1991.
  • ^ B. The three Baltic states were parliamentary republics after declaring their independence from the Russian Empire in 1918, but were all occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940. After regaining independence by 1991, all three countries resumed to parliamentary democracy.
  • ^ C. In the case of the former West German states, including former West Berlin, the previous one-party state is Nazi Germany, but in the case of the New Länder and former East Berlin it is East Germany. Please note that German reunification took place on 3 October 1990, when the five re-established states of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) joined the Federal Republic of Germany, and Berlin was united into a single city-state. Therefore, this date applies to today's Federal Republic of Germany as a whole, although the area of former East Germany was no part of that parliamentary republic until 1990.
  • ^ D. Irish head of state from 1936 to 1949
  • ^ E. If not achieved, two highest polling candidates continue to electoral college of regional councils as well as parliament, like in the French Third Republic.
  • ^ F. There is neither a prime minister nor a president of Switzerland. The President of the Swiss Confederation is merely primus inter pares in the Swiss Federal Council, the seven-member executive council which constitutes the government as well as the head of state of Switzerland.)

List of former Parliamentary republics

Country Year became a Parliamentary republic Year status changed Changed to Status changed due to
 Brazil 1961 1963 Presidential system Referendum
 Chile 1891 1925 Presidential system Referendum
France French Third Republic 1870 1940 Presidential system World War II German Occupation
France French Fourth Republic 1946 1958 Semi-presidential system Political instability
 Fiji 1987 2006 Military Junta Military coup (2006)
 Guyana 1970 1980 Semi-presidential system Constitutional amendment
 Indonesia 1945 1959 Presidential system Constitutional amendment
 Nigeria 1963 1979 Presidential system Constitutional amendment
 Philippines 1978 1987 Presidential system Ratification of the 1987 Constitution
 Russia 1991[A] 1993 Semi-presidential system Referendum [B]
 Rhodesia 1970 1979 Parliamentary system Creation of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia
 Sri Lanka 1972 1978 Presidential system Constitutional amendment
 Uganda 1963 1966 Presidential system Suspension of the constitution
 Zimbabwe Rhodesia 1979 1979 Parliamentary system Creation of Southern Rhodesia
 Zimbabwe 1980 1987 Presidential System Constitutional amendment

See also


  1. ^ a b Arend Lijphart, ed (1992). Parliamentary versus presidential government. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198780443. 
  2. ^ Schwabe & Co.: Geschichte der Schweiz und der Schweizer, Schwabe & Co 1986/2004. ISBN 3-7965-2067-7 (German)
  3. ^ A Brief Survey of Swiss History, Retrieved on 2009-06-22
  4. ^ By Kiran Khalid, CNN (2010-04-09). "Pakistan lawmakers approve weakening of presidential powers". Retrieved 2010-04-14. 
  5. ^ "'18th Amendment to restore Constitution' | Pakistan | News | Newspaper | Daily | English | Online". Retrieved 2010-04-14. 

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