Fri, Apr 17, 2015 - Page 8 News List

Semi-presidential system fits nation

By Tsai Jung-hsiang 蔡榮祥

Indeed, in some European countries with a semi-presidential system and directly elected presidents, such as Iceland, Ireland and Austria, the president, while enjoying high popularity, does not have the constitutional right to exercise practical power. However, there are also some European countries, such as France, Poland and Portugal, which have a semi-presidential system where the president is granted rights to exercise important powers.

The parliamentary system runs counter to the political reality in Taiwan. As comparative constitutional engineering academic Robert Elgie has said, the choice of constitution should consider the specific political context of the country. We cannot just emulate or transplant wholesale another constitution because it is said to be better.

Of course, a semi-presidential system has practical problems, such as conflicts between a president and a premier as well as cohabitation, in which the president and the legislative majority are from different parties.

However, from the perspective of facilitating constitutional reform, a semi-presidential system allows supporters of parliamentary government to feel that it is adopting a parliamentary system, while advocates of presidential government can continue to safeguard the role of the president.

A semi-presidential system can be designed to counterbalance the president, for example by granting the premier real power. In contrast, a parliamentary system is relatively weak in counterbalancing the premier, who possesses both executive and legislative powers.

Tsai Jung-hsiang is a political science professor at National Chung Cheng University.

Translated by Ethan Zhan

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