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.

Mongolia – Presidential election

Mongolia held its sixth presidential election yesterday.

There were only three candidates. In part, this is due to the restrictive nomination procedures that allow only parties represented in parliament to stand candidates and there are very few parties represented there.

President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj of the Democratic Party was standing for re-election. The Democratic Party currently holds the premiership in a coalition government with the Justice Coalition.

The results are being reported as follows:

  • Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj (Democratic Party) – 50.23%
  • Badmaanyambuugiin Bat-Erdene (Mongolian People’s Party) – 41.97%
  • Natsag Udval (Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party) – 6.5%

So, it seems clear that President Elbegdorj has been re-elected and without the need for a second ballot.

For more details about the campaign and the results, please refer to the excellent blog by Julian Dierkes at UBC.

Would you like to become a contributor to and co-owner of this blog?

As regular visitors will have gathered, I have been posting here less frequently in recent months. This is mainly because I have shifted most of the day-to-day reporting of events to the Facebook page. However, it is also a function of time constraints.

In this context, I am exploring the idea of changing the nature of this blog.

Up to now, it has been a very personal exercise. There have been some guest posts, but I have done almost all of the posts myself. However, looking at other blogs, such The Monkey Cage, the LSE’s family of blogs, and I-CONnect, there is an increasing tendency for blogs to have a collective ownership. This facilitates more posts, more hits, and a higher profile. Hopefully, it also generates a better quality of contributions.

So, I am putting out a call for people to come on board as co-contributors, co-owners of the blog. I am looking for a group of people who would be willing to commit to relatively regular posting, maybe once or twice a month. Ideally, there would be a good geographical spread of co-contributors, so that as many countries as possible can be covered as regularly as possible. Co-owners do not necessarily have to be country experts. I have tried to encourage comparative analysis. So, I am hoping to encourage people with this focus to come on board too.

I have not quite figured out the mechanics of moving the blog to a collective exercise and some of this will depend on how many people are interested. I do not expect anything to change immediately, but hopefully together we may be able to generate a really exciting new blog.

If you are interested in becoming a partner and having a stake in this blog, then please e-mail me directly, or leave a comment if you prefer. My e-mail is

TRNC – Government defeated in no-confidence vote, interim cohabitation government

In the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC), the government has been defeated in a vote of no-confidence. A new government has been proposed and, if approved, will generate a period of cohabitation at least for the period prior to the snap election that is due to be held at the end of next month.

The previous legislative election in TRNC was in April 2009. The UBP party was returned with a slim majority of 26 seats in the 50-seat parliament. In April 2010 Derviş Eroğlu of the UBP was elected as president. His election marked the end of a period of cohabitation between the legislative and the presidential election.

Since 2009 the party composition of the TRNC parliament has changed. The parliament is now reporting that the UBP has only 22 deputies. In this context, Hürriyet Daily News is reporting that last week 8 UBP deputies joined the opposition and voted against the UBP in a no-confidence vote, generating a snap election that will be held on 28 July.

Now, a three-party coalition government has been formed, bringing together the CTP-BG, BP-UG and TDP. Together, they should have the support of 27 deputies. The new PM is Sibel Siber, TRNC’s first female PM, from the CTP-BG.

So, there is a period of cohabitation in TRNC, though it may be short-lived.

A discussion of semi-presidentialism in TRNC is available here.

New publications

David S. Bell and John Gaffney (eds.), The Presidents of the French Fifth Republic, Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.

Robert Elgie, ‘The French Presidency’, in Alistair Cole, Sophie Meunier and Vincent Tiberj (eds.), Developments in French Politics 5, Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, plus all sorts of other great chapters.

Olivier Costa (ed.), Special Issue: Parliamentary Representation in France, Journal of Legislative Studies, Volume 19, Issue 2, 2013.

Raymond Kuhn, ‘The Media and the 2012 Presidential Election’, Modern & Contemporary France, Volume 21, Issue 1, 2013, pp. 1-16.

Milos Brunclik, Problem of early elections and dissolution power in the Czech Republic, Communist and Post-Communist Studies, Volume 46, Issue 2, Pages 217-226.

Anita Sengupta, ‘Colour revolutions and constitutionalism: The case of Kyrgyzstan, in P. Nar Ak Al, Pınar Akçalı, Cennet Engin-Dem (eds.), Politics, Identity and Education in Central Asia: Post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan, Routledge, 2013, pp. 52-68.

Kanapyanov T.Y. and Zhanarstanova M.B., Constitutional Development In Independent Kazakhstan: A Historical Overview, available at:

Philip Murphy, ‘ Republic of Ireland 2012’, Irish Political Studies, 28:2, 159-229.

Tunisia – Text of latest constitutional draft

The latest draft of the proposed Tunisian constitution was made public at the end of last month. I have found it hard to find anything other than a copy in Arab. However, there is a version now available in French from here.

For the purposes of this blog, the key thing to note is that the draft is still semi-presidential. The president of the republic is to be elected by universal suffrage (Art. 73) for a term of five years. Interestingly, the president’s specific powers are not very strong (Art. 76). However, the draft does state that the president and the PM (president of the government) jointly determine foreign policy. There are powers to return a bill to the legislature and some powers over referendums but not unilateral powers.

The government is explicitly responsible to the legislature at the time of its formation (Art. 88). The government is also responsible to the Assembly thereafter (Art. 91). There is a constructive motion of no-confidence whereby the government can be dismissed but only on the nomination and approval of another PM (Art. 93).

It has been over 2 years since the jasmine revolution. The constitution drafting process has been very slow. This draft has already been criticised for various elements not related to the president/PM/legislature, but which may require further amendments. So, even if the process is, hopefully, coming towards an end, a popular vote on the text is not yet imminent.

New publication – Semi-presidentialism and Tunisia

Sujit Choudhry & Richard Stacey at The Center for Constitutional Transitions at NYU Law and in conjunction with International IDEA have just published a really nice study of semi-presidentialism and Tunisia. It is available here.

The interest lies less in the Tunisian element. The paper is a study of the April draft of the proposed Tunisian constitution. As I understand it, there is now a new draft and there may well be another version soon. So, some elements of the study may have a short shelf life.

Instead, what is nice is the comparative aspect and, in particular, the details about presidential and other powers in semi-presidential countries more generally. In particular, there is a great comparative table at the end. The study looks 38 countries that are all unequivocally semi-presidential as defined by this blog. So, the paper generally and the comparisons in particular will be of great interest.

Bulgaria – New govt approved and a new period of cohabitation? (Amended)

In Bulgaria a new government has been approved.

The general election earlier this month led to the incumbent GERB government receiving the highest number of seats of any party in the legislature – 97/240. However, only four parties were returned to parliament and none of the other three were willing either to form a coalition with GERB or to support a minority GERB government in parliament.

The mandate to form a government, therefore, moved to the second largest party, the BSP. The BSP proposed a minority government containing three MRF ministers and a number of ‘experts’. The BSP had the support of 84 deputies. The MRF party has 36 seats. So, the government has the support of 120 seats in the 240-seat legislature.

In this context, the proposed minority government was presented to the Bulgarian parliament today. There were two issues. The first was whether there would be a quorum to allow a vote on the new government. The constitution requires at least 121 deputies to be present for a quorum. GERB announced yesterday that they would not be present. This meant that whether or not there could be a vote on the government was a function whether the fourth party in parliament, the nationalist Ataka party with its 23 deputies, would turn up to vote. If they did not, then there would be no vote on the government. In the end, one Ataka deputy was present, ensuring a quorum.

The second issue was then the vote on the proposed government. At this point, GERB deputies did take their seats. The subsequent vote was 119 in favour and 98 against with Ataka abstaining. The political effect of GERB’s position was to allow it claim that the socialist BSP-led government was only voted in with the support of the far-right, nationalist Ataka party.

Whatever the politics of the situation, the net result is that Bulgaria has a new government. However, it is a cohabitation government, or at least it might be classed as such. This is because President Rosen Plevneliev of GERB took office in January 2012 and GERB is not represented in government. That said, PM Plamen Oresharski is an independent, even though he is associated with the BSP. Therefore, even though the president’s party is not in government, the PM is not formally from a party opposed to the president. This does beg the question of whether this should be classed as a ‘true’ period of cohabitation. For now, I have not updated the list of cohabitations in Bulgaria.

In any case, the current government faces a dual dilemma. It does not have a majority in parliament. Instead, it will rely both on the continuing support of MRF and the continuing abstention of Ataka. Even if it maintains its current position in parliament, the BSP government still runs the risk of its legislation being vetoed by the president.

In this context, the chances of the legislature lasting a full five-fouryear term are probably small.

Slovakia – More presidential vetoes

Since the last presidential election, President Ivan Gašparovič has vetoed less frequently than previously. This is unsurprising. Although he is nominally independent, President Gašparovič won re-election in 2009 with the support of PM Fico’s Smer party. Given Smer won a majority in the March 2012 parliamentary election, we would expect President Gašparovič to be less active.

So, for example, according to the president’s website in the 2011 calendar year he returned 19 bills to parliament. This was when he was faced with a government of which he disapproved. By contrast, in just over a year from April 2012 to now he has returned only five bills to parliament.

Interestingly, though, he returned three bills in March 2013 and another in May. So, perhaps for whatever reason he is becoming a little more active as his term in office comes to an end.

Iceland – New coalition agreed

Parliamentary elections were held in Iceland on 27 April. The outgoing government was roundly defeated. A new coalition has now been agreed.

The two leading parties following the election, the Independence Party and the Progressive Party, each won 19 seats. There are 63 seats in the legislature.

In the end, the Progressive Party will take the premiership. The new PM will be Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson. The leader of the Independence Party, Bjarni Benediktsson, will become the Finance Minister. Iceland Review is reporting that the Progressive Party will have four other cabinet posts and that the Independence Party will have five as well as the Speaker of Parliament.

One issue this raises is whether Iceland is about to begin a period of cohabitation. This depends on whether you consider the president, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, to be partisan. He was previously an elected member (and minister) representing the People’s Alliance (AP). When he was elected president in 1996 he became an independent. However, he was required to do so and still record him as AP. Given I use as the source of partisanship, then this would suggest a new period of cohabitation should be recorded.

One complicating factor, though, is that AP no longer exists. It merged with other parties to form the Social Democratic Alliance in 1998, though some members did not join and set up the Left-Green Movement. So, while may be right in 1996, it cannot not correct about President Grímsson’s affiliation now. If AP still existed, then I would record a period of cohabitation. However, given it does not, then I am not recording the current period as a period of cohabitation. By the same token, I have amended the list of cohabitations for Iceland in another part of this blog.