President-Prime Minister Relations, Party Systems, and Democratic Stability in Semipresidential Regimes: Comparing the French and Russian Models

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SUMMARY

INTRODUCTION ............................................................................................................... 428

I. DEMOCRATIC SYSTEMS............................................ .......................................... 429

A. Introductions, Strengths, and Weaknesses.. ............................................... 429

B. Semipresidentialism and Its Variations .....................................................430

II. FRANCE: AN ANALYSIS OF A PREMIER-PRESIDENTIAL SYSTEM .................433

A. Constitutional Formation in Post-French Fourth Republic........ ....... ...... 433

B. Constitutional Analysis ............................................................................... 434

1. Presidential Powers and Parliamentary "Checks"............................ 434

2. Prime Ministerial Powers..................................................................... 436

3. Parliamentary-Prime Ministerial Relations....................................... 438

C. Practical Application of Premier-Presidentialism in France ...................439

III. RUSSIA: AN ANALYSIS OF A PRESIDENT-PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM. ...... ...441

A. Constitutional Formation in Post-U.S.S.R. ...............................................441

B. Constitutional Analysis................................................................. ........ ......444

1. Presidential Powers and Parliamentary "Checks"............................444

2. Prime Ministerial Powers............................................... ..................... .446

C. Practical Application of President-Parliamentarism in Russia ...............447

IV. ANALYSIS AND RECOMMENDATIONS...............................................................450

A. Foster and Sustain a Strong Party System ................................................. 451

B. Develop a Premier- Presidential System ....................................................452

CONCLUSION .............................................................................................. .....................453

INTRODUCTION

Countries around the world are demanding change: new leaders, new realities, and new systems of government. Most of these nations intend to shift toward more democratic forms of government, having lived in the shadows of authoritarian leaders. However, the sustainability of new democratic fervor directly depends on which system is chosen to replace a now defunct authoritarian model and how a chosen system allocates power between major players. This Note argues that new democracies should develop and maintain a premier-presidential system of government for three interrelated reasons. First, premier-presidentialism creates a flexible, but powerful, political check against the president's strong and numerous executive and legislative powers. Second, this check against the president's power requires the president to resort to democratic processes to resolve political conflict, rather than rule as an autocrat. Third, and finally, the balance of power between the president, prime minister, and parliament is strengthened by and also encourages strong party coalitions, which are necessary to safeguard democratic preferences. This conclusion follows from an exploration of both the Russian and French models of semipresidentialism and an analysis of how the distribution of executive power, coupled with the strength or weakness of the nation's party system, affects each nation's democratic stability.

Part I of this Note briefly discusses the most common government systems chosen by new democracies. It then explores the dimensions and two variations of semipresidentialism, explaining both premier-parliamentarism and premierpresidentialism. Part I also briefly explores why scholars are wary of semipresidentialism and why they tend to favor presidentialism or parliamentarism. …