New publications

Chun-hao Chang, ‘ The Competition/Cooperation Relationship In Executive Power Operating Of Semi-Presidentialism’, International Journal Of Social Sciences And Humanity Studies, Vol 3, No 2, 2011, available at:

Robertus Robet, ‘Pengalaman Sistem Semi Presidensialisme Prancis: Sebuah Pertimbangan Untuk Indonesia’, Law Review Volume XII No. 3 – Maret 2013, available at:

Timothy J. Colton, ‘Political leadership after communism’, Demokratizatsiya, vol. 20, no. 2, 2012, pp. 65-70.

Erica Marat, ‘Kyrgyzstan: A parliamentary system based on inter-elite consensus’, Demokratizatsiya, vol. 20, no. 4, 2012, pp. 325-344.

Víctor Alarcón Olguín, ‘Situación y tendencias metodológicas para el estudio del presidencialismo en América Latina y México’, available at:

André Freire and José Santana Pereira, ‘Portugal, 2011: the victory of the neoliberal right, the defeat of the left’, Portuguese Journal of Social Science, vol. 11, no. 2, 2013.

Mazen Hassan, ‘Elections of the People’s Assembly, Egypt 2011/12’, in Electoral Studies vol. 32, no. 2, 2013, pp. 370-374.

William A. Clark, ‘The 2012 presidential election in Russia: Putin returns’, in Electoral Studies vol. 32, no. 2, 2013, pp. 374-377.

Andrew Konitzer, ‘The parliamentary elections in Serbia, May 2012’, in Electoral Studies vol. 32, no. 2, 2013, pp. 380-385.


Bulgaria – Parliamentary election

Bulgaria held a snap parliamentary election yesterday. The election was due to be held in July, but was called early by PM Boyko Borisov following protests. PM Borisov headed a single-party GERB government.

The results are as follows.

  • GERB – 30.74% (-9), 90 seats (-19)
  • Socialist Party – 27.06% (+9.3), 86 seats (+46)
  • Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) – 10.46% (-3.5), 33 seats (-4)
  • Ataka – 7.39% (-2), 23 seats (+2)

No other party crossed the 5% threshold. So, GERB remain the largest party but they have lost support.

Previously, GERB had been in power as a minority government. The three other parties have ruled out joining a coalition with them. This means either another minority GERB government, which will be more difficult this time, or a coalition between the Socialists and the DPS. In this event, there would be a period of cohabitation.

Romania – Presidential vetoes

The period of cohabitation in Romania is one year old.

Recently, relations between the president and the government have been less conflictual compared with this time last year. This is probably because the governing parties are still relatively popular and because President Traian Băsescu has separated himself from his own political party when it refused to choose his preferred candidate as party leader. Moreover, with the presidential election coming up later this year in 2014 and with the governing parties well placed to win, the government may have less incentive to challenge the presidency.

That said, President Traian Băsescu continues to use his powers against the government.

During the period of cohabitation (May 2012-May 2013), my calculations indicate that he has vetoed 13 pieces of legislation, the most recent of which was on 26 April. (Note, one additional veto was issued by the interim president, Crin Antonescu, in July 2012.) In addition, as far as I am aware, President Băsescu has also asked the Constitutional Court to rule on two bills during the current period of cohabitation, again the most recent of which was on 26 April.

But how do these figures compare? Well, using the same source with the search term ‘Cerere de reexaminare’, there were 11 vetoes in the previous year (May 2011-May 2012) and 16 in the year before that. So, the current level of veto activity is not any greater in those terms. Moreover, from May 2011-May 2012 he sent four bills to the Constitutional Court, all of them on the same day – 28 November 2011. Again, therefore, the current level of activity is no greater.

It would take a Romania expert to tell me whether the content and/or context of the vetoes was more critical during the recent period. However, it is worth remembering that President Băsescu was faced with an opposition majority in the Senate prior to cohabitation and that the majority in the lower house was not secure before then either. So, there was not a clear switch from unified majority government to cohabitation in May 2012. What is more, during the first legislature of his first term (2004-2008), President Băsescu vetoed more than 80 bills. So, generally, he has been very active in this regard.

Georgia – Parliament overturns one of the president’s two vetoes is reporting that the parliament in Georgia has overturned one of President Saakashvili’s two recent vetoes.

On 23 April President Saakashvili vetoed two bills: a bill amending the code of criminal procedure and a bill reforming the High Council of Justice.

To overturn the president’s veto, parliament needed to muster a three-fifths majority, or 89 votes.

The report states that the veto concerning the High Council of Justice was overturned by 91 votes to 26. However, the veto concerning the code of criminal procedure was not overturned. The report states that there had been some disquiet within the ruling Georgia Dream majority over this bill. In the end, only 4 deputies voted to overturn the veto. So, the veto stands.

Regarding the High Council of Justice bill, this now returns to the president. If he does not sign it within 7 days, it becomes law. However, the president may submit the bill to the Constitutional Court in the meantime.

Iceland – Parliamentary election

Iceland held a parliamentary election on Saturday. The incumbent government was a coalition of the Social Democratic Alliance and the Left-Green Movement. Here are the results, the 2009 figures are in brackets)

  • Independence Party – 26.7% (+9.6%) – 19 seats (+10)
  • Progressive Party – 24.4% (+3%) – 19 seats (+3)
  • Social Democratic Alliance – 12.9% (-16.9%) – 9 seats (-10)
  • Left-Green Movement – 10.9% (-10.8%) – 7 seats (-4)
  • Bright Future – 8.3% – 6 seats – new
  • Pirate Party – 5.1% – 3 seats – new

No other party crossed the 5% threshold.

This is the first time that the Pirate Party has won a seat at a national election.

There are various combinations that might generate a new government, but a coalition of the Independence Party and the Progressive Party is probably most likely.

Czech Republic – President appoints four justices

In January Miloš Zeman of the Party of Civic Rights – Zeman’s people (SPOZ) was elected president. He took office in March. This began a period of cohabitation because SPOZ is not represented in the government.

That said, the situation is beautifully complex. SPOZ was a break away party from the now opposition Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD). Now, SPOZ is not represented in the lower house, though it does have one senator. I do not know enough about Czech politics to be sure, but this does raise the issue of whether SPOZ is a ‘real’ party. If it is, then there is definitely cohabitation. If it isn’t, then it is an open question as to whether the president is ‘really’ partisan. If not, then there would not be a period of cohabitation. If he was not really partisan any more, the situation would be similar to the one in Slovakia where President Gašparovič was once partisan, but where his party disappeared leaving him as an independent, albeit one effectively supported by SMER.

Anyway, let us assume SPOZ is a real party. The government comprises ODS, TOP ’09, and still, as I understand it, LIDEM. The Senate is controlled by the ČSSD. Here’s the rub. Art. 84 of the constitution states that “The Justices of the Constitutional Court shall be appointed by the President of the Republic with the consent of the Senate.” Today, President Zeman nominated four new justices. What would the Senate do? Without any real partisan basis, would the president’s nominees be accepted?

Newspaper reports confirm that the justices were appointed, with support for the president’s candidates ranging from 61 of 72 votes case to 53. The newspaper speculates that this suggests the president is still able to gain support from the ČSSD, even though they parted on bad company.

Apparently, a further four judges will be appointed in the summer. So, the president will have the opportunity to test his support again soon.

Georgia – PM’s party has a 6-1 poll lead over the president’s party

We have to be a little bit sceptical of opinion polls generally and especially of polls in countries where they are not taken very often. However, an NDI-sponsored poll in Georgia has produced a fairly remarkable result, though one which confirms a trend that was apparent in November.

The poll is reported here. It shows that support for PM Bidzina Ivanishvili’s Georgia Dream party is running at 60%, down just 3% from November 2012. By contrast, President Mikheil Saakashvili’s UNM party is recording just 10%, the same figure as in November. The margin of error is supposedly +/- 5%. For his part, PM Ivanishvili thinks that the UNM’s support is overestimated! For the record, 26% said they didn’t know, supported no party, or refused to answer.

The survey includes figures about how political figures are liked, who voters would like to see as president and so on. Uniformly, the figures are bad news for the UNM. This suggests that the current period of cohabitation will be ending later this year and that Georgia Dream will then hold all the reins of power.

Cameroon – Senate elections

Cameroon held its first ever Senatorial elections at the weekend. The institution was created in 1996, but no elections have ever been held. That has now changed.

There are 100 Senators, 70 of whom are elected in 10 different regions by representatives of local government, the other 30 being appointed by the president.

The President is Paul Biya of the Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (RDPC). He has been in power since 1982.

Jeune Afrique reports that the RDPC list was disqualified prior to the election in two regions. Therefore, it could only win a maximum of 56 seats. This is exactly what happened, winning all 7 seats in the remaining 8 regions. The opposition Social Democratic Front (SDF) party won the 2 regions where the RDPC was disqualified.

In one region, North-East, there was the hope of a real contest. The region was very closely split between the RDPC and SDF electors and the historic opposition leader, John Fru Ndi, had hoped to win there. However, in the end he narrowly lost out.

Overall, the RDPC is likely to hold 86 of the 100 seats in the new Senate.

DRC – Nearly a no-confidence motion

The president of the Democratic Republic of Congo is Joseph Kabila. He heads the People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD). At the 2011 legislative election, the PPRD itself won only 69 of the 500 seats in parliament. It was the biggest party, but no fewer than 23 parties won at least 5 seats in the legislature. There were also many independents.

The government is headed by Augustin Matata Ponyo also of the PPRD. As far as I understand it, the large cabinet (more than 40 members) has representatives of different parties in it. More generally, there is a rather amorphous ‘presidential majority’ that is kept together by patronage and social ties rather than by party identification or ideology. This majority supports the government in the legislature.

However, as Digital Congo reports, recently a member of the opposition l’Union pour la nation congolaise (UNC) party, Jean-Baudouin Mayo Mambeke, was able to gather enough signatures to table a vote of no-confidence in the prime minister. The constitution requires one quarter of all deputies (125) to sign the motion in order for a vote to be held. In the end, 147 signatures were collected. The motion was lodged with the office of the National Assembly and was scheduled to be debated yesterday.

However, when it came to the plenary session, it transpired that 42 deputies had subsequently ‘withdrawn’ their signatures, leaving only 95. This meant that the motion could not be put and so it was never debated. There are reports of pressure put on the deputies to withdraw their names and in the end sufficient numbers decided to do so.

For me, this story is interesting in the way that the Peru post was recently. In one way, along with a directly elected president a motion of no-confidence is the most telling sign that a country is semi-presidential. Even if it fails, at least it signals that the government is accountable to the legislature.

In the DRC, even though the motion of no-confidence was never tabled, it very nearly was. The government was clearly worried about it being held. And, who knows? Maybe the motion will hasten the eventual departure of the prime minister.

Croatia – European Parliament elections

Croatia will become the 28th member of the European Union on 1 July. Elections to the European Parliament (EP) were held in advance of the country’s accession.

Currently, the government is a coalition of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), the Croatian People’s Party – Liberal Democrats (HNS), and the Istrian Democratic Assembly (IDS). This government replaced the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) administration in December 2011.

The election was mainly notable for the low turnout, just 20.84%. Apparently, only one other EP election anywhere has had a lower turnout rate at any time. The low turnout was all the more surprising given it was the first ever EP election.

Apart from a low turnout, there was a large number of lists competing for Croatia’s 12 EP seats – no fewer than 28. The results are available here. The opposition HDZ list won 33.9% of the votes cast and six seats. The SDP-led list won 32.1% and five seats. The final seat was won by the Croatian Labourists – Labour Party, which won 5.8% of the vote. No other party won more than 4%.

Croatia will hold EP elections again in 2014 at the same time as all EU member state countries.