Duverger, semi-presidentialism and the supposed French archetype
Elgie, Robert (2009) Duverger, semi-presidentialism and the supposed French archetype. West European Politics, 32 (2). pp. 248-267. ISSN 0140-2382
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The concept of semi-presidentialism was first operationalised by Maurice Duverger. There are now 17 countries with semi-presidential constitutions in Europe. Within this set of countries France is usually considered to be the archetypal example of semi-presidentialism. This article maps the main institutional and political features of European semi-presidentialism on the basis of Duverger’s original three-fold schema. The most striking feature is the diversity of practice within this set of countries. This means that semi-presidentialism should not be operationalised as a discrete explanatory variable. However, there are ways of systematically capturing the variation within semi-presidentialism to allow cross-national comparisons. This diversity also means that France should not be considered as the archetypal semi-presidential country. At best, France is an archetypal example of a particular type of semi-presidentialism. Overall, Duverger’s main contribution to the study of semi-presidentialism was the original identification of the concept and his implicit insight that there are different types of semi-presidentialism. In the future, the study of semi-presidentialism would benefit from the development of theory-driven comparative work that avoids a reliance on France as the supposed semi-presidential archetype.
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