New Publications

Lydia M. Beuman, ‘Cohabitation in New Post-Conflict Democracies: The Case of Timor-Leste’, in Parliamentary Affairs Advance Access published August 13, 2013.

Parliamentary Affairs, vol. 66, no. 3, There is a debate on the concept of presidentialisation that is really interesting.

John Coakley, Reforming political institutions: Ireland in comparative perspective, Dublin: Institute of Public Administration, 2013 (chapter on presidents).

Frank R. Baumgartner, Sylvain Brouard, Emiliano Grossman, Sebastien G. Lazardeux, Jonathan Mood, ‘Divided Government, Legislative Productivity, and Policy Change in the USA and France’, Governance, early view.

J. L. Black and Michael Johns (eds.), Russia After 2012. From Putin to Medvedev to Putin – Continuity, Change, or Revolution?, London: Routledge, 2013.

Emőd Veress, ‘Improving the State: Critical Remarks on a Constitutional Reform Foretold’, Romanian Journal of Comparative Law, 2012, Vol. III, Number 2, 261-274.

Barry Levitt, Power in the balance: Presidents, parties and legislatures in Peru and beyond, 2012, Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.

Sheila Perry and Paul Smith (eds.), Vivement dimanche – Media, Politics and France’s Electoral Year 2011-12, Nottingham French Studies, Volume 52.2 Summer 2013. Special issue with lots of topics to do with last year’s elections.

Susanna D. Wing, ‘Briefing. Mali: Politics of a Crisis’, African Affairs, vol. 112, pp. 476-485.

John Fitzgibbon, ‘Referendum Briefing: The Referendum On The Intergovernmental Treaty On Stability, Coordination And Governance In The Economic And Monetary Union In Ireland, 31 May 2012’, Representation, vol. 49, no. 2, pp. 229-239, 2013.

TRNC – New government, cohabitation continues

In Northern Cyprus, a new government has been formed.

The snap parliamentary election was held on 28 July. Finally, a coalition has been agreed. It is a two-party coalition comprising the largest party after the election, Republican Turkish Party or CTP, and the third largest party, the Democratic Party. According to BRT, the government will face an investiture vote on Friday. In theory, the government has a large majority in parliament.

One consequence of the new government is that the period of cohabitation will continue. President Derviş Eroğlu represents the National Unity Party or UBP. The UBP came second at the election, but is not represented in government.

Burkina Faso – Senate controversy prompts reassessment

Guest post by Sophia Moestrup

In response to the controversy surrounding the newly created Senate, President Blaise Compaoré on Monday ordered his government to assess the ‘process of operationalizing the Senate.’ He specifically requested that a report with ‘recommendations and suggestions’ be submitted to him by August 31, in the spirit of strengthening social cohesion and stability. Read the president’s full statement here.

The statement is being interpreted differently by observers. Some see it as a statesman’s call for dialogue with the opposition. Others as evidence of the president’s backpedalling following large-scale demonstrations by the opposition. And some as a tactical move to delay the process, waiting for heads to cool. The opposition claims the Senate will be costly, adds little to the functioning of democratic institutions, and that its primary purpose is to provide Compaoré with a tool for eliminating constitutional term-limits for the president. Compaoré’s term ends in 2015 and he is not eligible for another term, according to Article 37 in the constitution. The presidential camp, on the other hand, claims that the Senate will complete the country’s democratic architecture by strengthening decentralization through the representation of the regions, traditional and religious leaders and civil society.

The Senate controversy is an indication that the race for 2015 is already on.

Mali – Presidential election 2nd round

Guest post from Sophia Moestrup

Mali has a new president – Ibrahim Boubakar Keïta, also known as IBK. IBK, a former prime minister under Alpha Konaré, won Sunday’s run-off election against contender Soumaila Cissé, a former finance minister who served under IBK. Though official results are yet to be published, Cissé conceded defeat Monday evening and visited IBK with his family to congratulate him, a widely applauded gesture. Cissé has vowed he will remain in the opposition and is strongly positioned to become the leader of that opposition following legislative elections scheduled to take place this fall. This is good news for a country that has suffered under a steady weakening of political parties, debate and oversight under the ‘consensus’ politics of former president Amadou Toumani Touré (ATT) who was toppled in last year’s coup.

IBK and Cissé are both former leaders within Konaré’s Alliance for Democracy in Mali (ADEMA) party, who went on to create their own parties, the Rally for Mali (RPM) and the Union for the Republic and Democracy (URD), respectively, following disagreements within ADEMA. The ADEMA candidate in these past elections, Dramane Dembélé, backed IBK in the second round, though his party backed Cissé, following a pre-election agreement. It will be interesting to see how coalitions form in the new legislature. ADEMA and URD together had a slim majority in the National Assembly elected in 2007 (which was maintained as an interim legislature following the coup) – 85 out of 160 seats. Could Mali be headed for a cohabitation?

Mali- Presidential election

The presidential election in Mali was held at the weekend. This was the first presidential election since the coup last year. The coup itself was precipitated by the presidential that was meant to be held then.

Since the coup, there was the AQMI conflict in the north of the country. This has now largely been put down thanks to international intervention. Thanks also to international pressure the coup leaders stepped down and the constitution was restored. So, even if Mali is still in a precarious state, the presidential election was able to go ahead in good order.

The results have just been announced. They are:

  • Ibrahim Boubakar Keïta – 39.24%
  • Soumaïla Cissé – 19.44%
  • Dramane Dembélé – 9.59%
  • Modibo Sidibé – 4.87%
  • Housseini Amion Guindo – 4.63%

No other candidate, and there were 24 others, won more than 2.5 per cent. Turnout was 51.54 per cent.

So, there will be a second round on 11 August. The favourite is probably still former PM and speaker of the National Assembly, Ibrahim Boubakar Keïta (IBK).

Burkina Faso – Senate elections

Burkina Faso held its first ever Senatorial elections at the weekend.

The Senate was created as a result of a 2012 constitutional amendment. It is very contested. The opposition believe it is another way for the ruling Congrès pour la démocratie et le progrès (CDP) party of President Blaise Compaoré to control the system.

The Senate is elected indirectly. The 2012 constitutional revision did not specify the number of Senators. Instead, the details were passed in an organic law in May 2013. There are 89 Senators, of whom 39 are elected indirectly by local councillors, 4 are elected by groups representing religious authorities, traditional powers, trades unions, and business organisations., 5 are elected by Burkinabés living abroad, and the remaining 29 are appointed by the President of the Republic.

The election of the 36 regional senators took place at the weekend. There are 13 regions each of which returns three Senators. Lefaso.net reports that there were 18,478 electors and 14,196 voted. The opposition boycotted the election. Unsurprisingly the CDP did well, winning 36 of the 39 seats. Satellite parties won the remaining three seats.

So, with the 29 presidential appointees, unsurprisingly the ruling CDP will have a clear majority whatever happens in the remaining elections. This perhaps illustrates why the opposition was so opposed to the institution.

Togo – Legislative election

Togo is one of those West African countries that nearly democratized at the beginning of the 1990s. The ruling power was under threat, there was a national conference, but after some concessions it managed to cling on, rather like the situation in Burkina Faso and Cameroon. Since that time, the opposition has been allowed some room to operate. There are dissenting voices in the press, but through coercion, co-optation and some support, the ruling Gnassingbé regime has maintained its hold.

The legislative election was held on Sunday. Unsurprisingly, Gnassingbé’s ruling UNIR (ex-RPT) party has been returned with a large majority. Here are the results.

  • UNIR :  62 seats
  • Collectif Sauvons le Togo (CST) : 19 seats
  • Alliance Arc-en-ciel : 6 seats
  • Union des Forces du Changement (UFC) : 3 seats
  • Candidats indépendants « Sursaut national » : 1 seat

I am not sure of the source, but Election Guide is also publishing percentages of the vote. They show 41.3% for the UNIR and 34.5% for the CST. The Electoral Commission has reported results for the different constituencies, so perhaps they have been totalled from there. However, if the overall percentages are correct, they show a big discrepancy in the seat/vote share.

The big change is in the opposition. The historic UFC opposition has done badly partly because of  a more cooperative attitude towards the regime over the last few years and the internal divisions that this provoked. The new opposition is the CST. The question is whether the UNIR can co-opt the other parties in the legislature against the CST so as to assure a big enough majority to allow it to change the constitution and completely control the system.

TRNC – Legislative election

The Turkish Republic of Norther Cyrpus (TRNC) went to the polls yesterday to elect its legislature. The election was held a year before the scheduled date and resulted from a successful vote of no-confidence in the previous government.

Hürriyet Daily News is reporting the following result:

  • Turkish Party-United Front (CTP-BG), 38.49% (21 seats)
  • National Union Party (UBP), 27.16% (14 seats)
  • Democrat Party-Nationalist Powers (DP-UG), 23.1% (12 seats)
  • Communal Democracy Party (TDP), 7.41% (3 seats)

Turnout was 70 per cent.

The president of TRNC, Derviş Eroğlu, represents the UBP. The interim government, following the vote of no-confidence, was a three-party CTP-BG, DP-UG, TDP, coalition. Therefore, there was a period of cohabitation.

Following the election, the three-partycoalition could be returned, or a simple CTP-BG, DP-UG could form a majority government. This would extend the period of cohabitation. There are other combinations too, including ones where the UBP is in government, but the likelihood of these may be small.

The presidential election is likely to be held in 2015.

There is some context to the election available in European Voice here.

New publications

Yuko Kasuya (ed.), Presidents, Assemblies and Policy-making in Asia, Palgrave, 2013, inc. chaps on Taiwan and Sri Lanka.

Rafał Glajcar, ‘Model Of Election Of The Head Of State Of The Third Polish Republic – Balancing Between Institutional Coherence And Political Pragmatism’, „Preferencje Polityczne”, nr 3/2012 DOI: 10.6084/m9.figshare.94192

Claudia Gilia, ‘Is Romania Heading Towards a Presidential Republic?’, Acta Universitatis Danubius. Juridica, issue: 1, 2013, pages: 89­-98

Olteanu Camelia Nicoleta, ‘Relations Between the Parliament and the Government in the Romanian Constitutional Law’, in Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences Volume 81, 28 June 2013, Pages 246–249, available at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/18770428.

Elena Simina Tanasescu, ‘The impossible dismissal of a president: Romanian political design’, Revista Direito Mackenzie, v. 6, n. 1, 2012, Available at: http://editorarevistas.mackenzie.br/index.php/rmd/article/viewFile/5798/4214

Petr Jan Pajas, ‘Czech Republic – The First Direct Presidential Elections’, Megatrend review, no. 1, 2013, available at: http://www.megatrendreview.com/files/pdf/SR/Megatrend%20Revija%20vol%2010-1-2013.pdf#page=475

Lennart Hellmann, The Leadership Style of Yoshihiko Noda and Vladimir Putin: An Intercultural Comparison, Scholarly Research Paper, 2013.

Vladan Kutlešić, ‘New Egyptian Constitution’, Megatrend review, no. 1, 2013, available at: http://www.megatrendreview.com/files/pdf/SR/Megatrend%20Revija%20vol%2010-1-2013.pdf#page=475

Anthony F. Lang, ‘From revolutions to constitutions: the case of Egypt’, International Affairs 89: 2 (2013) 345–363

Egypt – Constitution suspended

Egypt’s brief flirtation with semi-presidentialism is over. The army have taken power, suspended the Constitution, and declared that the President of the Constitutional Council has replaced President Morsi.

The Egyptian constitution was signed into law by President Morsi on 26 December 2012. So, it has lasted little more than 6 months.

Given Egypt’s difficult situation generally, should any specific provisions of the semi-presidential element of the Constitution be blamed for the collapse? Well, the Constitution did balance powers within the executive in some respects, but there were some blanket clauses that gave the president considerable power if the government was a willing partner and it was. Certainly, President Morsi was willing to exercise the powers that were at his disposal.

So, the collapse was almost certainly over-determined, but to the extent that the Constitution did provide some authority for an active president to govern actively, then it can probably be thrown into the mix.

Overall, though, it is difficult to see how any constitutional procedures relating to executive/legislative relations could have prevented a collapse in the end. The difficulties with governance lie elsewhere.

So, by my calculations there are now 51 countries with a semi-presidential constitution. Two have been lost this year, the Central African Republic being the other one. A full list is available here.