Is this the first reference to semi-presidentialism?

The new Google Ngram viewer is great fun. It allows you to type in words and see how the frequency of their usage has changed over time. This is achieved via a search of Google Books. So, the results are picked up from millions of works.

Naturally, the first word I typed in was ‘semi-presidential’. There are various options, including a search in all English books, as well as those published solely in the UK or the US. There is also the option of searching for words published in French, Spanish and a number of other languages.

Anyway, here are some results. You should be able to make out the search criteria from the picture.

The y axis scale is so small that it suggests the term has hardly been in general use! However, unsurprisingly, references start to increase after 1990. Interestingly, while references in English tail off after 2000, in US English there is an increase at the very end of the period. So, it seems as if references to the term ‘semi-presidential’ are now becoming more current in the US.

The graph for ‘semi-presidentialism’ is similar, but the references begin much later. For the sake of a visual comparison, I have kept the same date range.

When ‘semiprésidentiel’ is the search term and the language is French a slightly different distribution is found. Basically, references start a little earlier than in English. Again, this isn’t surprising, but it is nice to see the result visually.

Finally, I also searched for ‘semipresidencial’ in Spanish. This shows that there is an interest in the concept in Spanish.

Anyway, to those of you for whom it is a holiday, then happy holidays! To everyone else, have a good weekend.

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