Parliamentary republic


A parliamentary republic is a republic that operates under a parliamentary system of government where the executive branch (the government) derives its legitimacy from and is accountable to the legislature (the parliament). There are a number of variations of parliamentary republics. Most have a clear differentiation between the head of government and the head of state, with the head of government holding real power, much like constitutional monarchies (however in some countries the head of state, regardless of whether the country's system is a parliamentary republic or a constitutional monarchy, has 'reserve powers' given to use at their discretion in order to act as a non-partisan 'referee' of the political process and ensure the nation's constitution is upheld).[1][2] Some have combined the roles of head of state and head of government, much like presidential systems, but with a dependency upon parliamentary power.

World's states coloured by form of government1
     Full presidential republics2      Semi-presidential republics2
     Republics with an executive president elected by or nominated by the legislature that may or may not be subject to parliamentary confidence      Parliamentary republics2
     Parliamentary constitutional monarchies      Parliamentary semi-constitutional monarchies which have a separate head of government but where royalty holds significant executive and/or legislative power
     Absolute monarchies      One-party states
     Countries where constitutional provisions for government have been suspended (e.g. military dictatorships)      Countries which do not fit any of the above systems (e.g. provisional governments/unclear political situations)
1 This map was compiled according to the Wikipedia list of countries by system of government. See there for sources.
2 Several states constitutionally deemed to be multiparty republics are broadly described by outsiders as authoritarian states. This map presents only the de jure form of government, and not the de facto degree of democracy.

For the first case mentioned above, the form of executive-branch arrangement is distinct from most other governments and semi-presidential republics that separate the head of state (usually designated as the "president") from the head of government (usually designated as "prime minister", "premier" or "chancellor") and subject the latter to the confidence of parliament and a lenient tenure in office while the head of state lacks dependency and investing either office with the majority of executive power.[clarification needed]


In contrast to republics operating under either the presidential system or the semi-presidential system, the head of state usually does not have executive powers as an executive president would (some may have 'reserve powers' or a bit more influence beyond that), because many of those powers have been granted to a head of government (usually called a prime minister).[1][2][clarification needed]

However, in a parliamentary republic with a head of state whose tenure is dependent on parliament, the head of government and head of state can form one office (as in Botswana, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, and South Africa), but the president is still selected in much the same way as the prime minister is in most Westminster systems. This usually means that they are the leader of the largest party or coalition of parties in parliament.

In some cases, the president can legally have executive powers granted to them to undertake the day-to-day running of government (as in Austria and Iceland) but by convention they either do not use these powers or they use them only to give effect to the advice of the parliament or head of government. Some parliamentary republics could therefore be seen as following the semi-presidential system but operating under a parliamentary system.

Historical development

Typically, parliamentary republics are states that were previously constitutional monarchies with a parliamentary system, with the position of head of state given to a monarch.[3]

Following the defeat of Napoleon III in the Franco-Prussian War, France once again became a republic – the French Third Republic – in 1870. The President of the Third Republic had significantly less executive powers than those of the previous two republics had. The Third Republic lasted until the invasion of France by Nazi Germany in 1940. Following the end of the war, the French Fourth Republic was constituted along similar lines in 1946. The Fourth Republic saw an era of great economic growth in France and the rebuilding of the nation's social institutions and industry after the war, and played an important part in the development of the process of European integration, which changed the continent permanently. Some attempts were made to strengthen the executive branch of government to prevent the unstable situation that had existed before the war, but the instability remained and the Fourth Republic saw frequent changes in government – there were 20 governments in ten years. Additionally, the government proved unable to make effective decisions regarding decolonization. As a result, the Fourth Republic collapsed and what some critics considered to be a de facto coup d'état, subsequently legitimized by a referendum on 5 October 1958, led to the establishment of the French Fifth Republic in 1959.

Chile became the first parliamentary republic in South America following a civil war in 1891. However, following a coup in 1925 this system was replaced by a presidential one.[original research?]

Commonwealth of Nations

Since the London Declaration of 29 April 1949 (just weeks after Ireland declared itself a republic, and excluded itself from the Commonwealth) republics have been admitted as members of the Commonwealth of Nations.

In the case of many republics in the Commonwealth of Nations, it was common for the Sovereign, formerly represented by a Governor-General, to be replaced by an elected non-executive head of state. This was the case in South Africa (which ceased to be a member of the Commonwealth immediately upon becoming a republic), Malta, Trinidad and Tobago, India, Vanuatu, and most recently Barbados. In many of these examples, the last Governor-General became the first president. Such was the case with Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

Other states became parliamentary republics upon gaining independence.

List of modern parliamentary republics and related systems

Full parliamentary republics
Country Head of state Head of state elected by Cameral structure Parliamentary republic adopted Previous government form Notes
 Albania Ilir Meta Parliament, by three-fifths majority Unicameral 1991 One-party state
 Armenia Armen Sarkissian Parliament, by absolute majority Unicameral 2018[note 1] Semi-presidential republic
 Austria Alexander Van der Bellen Direct election, by two-round system Bicameral 1945 One-party state (as part of Nazi Germany, see Anschluss)
 Bangladesh Abdul Hamid Parliament Unicameral 1991[note 2] Presidential republic
 Barbados Sandra Mason Parliament, by two-thirds majority if there is no joint nomination Bicameral 2021 Constitutional monarchy (Commonwealth realm)
 Bosnia and Herzegovina Christian Schmidt
Milorad Dodik
Šefik Džaferović
Željko Komšić
Direct election of collective head of state, by first-past-the-post vote Bicameral 1991 One-party state (part of Yugoslavia)
Bulgaria Bulgaria Rumen Radev Direct election, by two-round system Unicameral 1991 One-party state
 China, Republic of Tsai Ing-wen National Assembly, who is directly elected by the single non-transferable vote[note 3] Tricameral[note 4] 1946 One-party military dictatorship (Mainland China)
Constitutional monarchy (Taiwan as part of the Japanese Empire)
Since the constitutional reforms, the ROC has also been identified as a de facto semi-presidential republic as the President does exercise some form of governance and appoints the Premier as the head of government. The Legislative Yuan may vote for motion of no confidence instead of the consenting for approval to appoint the president.
Croatia Croatia Zoran Milanović Direct election, by two-round system Unicameral 2000 Semi-presidential republic
 Czech Republic Miloš Zeman Direct election, by two-round system (since 2013; previously parliament, by majority) Bicameral 1993 Parliamentary republic (part of Czechoslovakia)
 Dominica Charles Savarin Parliament, by majority Unicameral 1978 Associated state of the United Kingdom
 Estonia Alar Karis Parliament, by two-thirds majority Unicameral 1991[note 5] Presidential republic, thereafter occupied by a one-party state
 Ethiopia Sahle-Work Zewde Parliament, by two-thirds majority Bicameral 1991 One-party state
 Fiji Wiliame Katonivere Parliament, by majority Unicameral 2014 Military dictatorship
 Finland Sauli Niinistö Direct election, by two-round system Unicameral 2000[note 6] Semi-presidential republic
 Georgia Salome Zourabichvili Electoral college (parliament and regional delegates), by absolute majority Unicameral 2018[note 7] Semi-presidential republic
 Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier Federal Assembly (parliament and state delegates), by absolute majority Bicameral 1949[note 8] One-party state
 Greece Katerina Sakellaropoulou Parliament, by majority Unicameral 1975 Military dictatorship; constitutional monarchy
 Hungary János Áder Parliament, by majority Unicameral 1990 One-party state (Hungarian People's Republic)
 Iceland Guðni Th. Jóhannesson Direct election, by first-past-the-post vote Unicameral 1944 Constitutional monarchy (in a personal union with Denmark)
 India Ram Nath Kovind Parliament and state legislature, by instant-runoff vote Bicameral 1950 Constitutional monarchy (British Dominion)
 Iraq Barham Salih Parliament, by two-thirds majority Unicameral[note 9] 2005 One-party state
 Ireland Michael D. Higgins Direct election, by instant-runoff vote Bicameral 1949[note 10] To 1936: Constitutional monarchy (British Dominion)
1936–1949: ambiguous
 Israel Isaac Herzog Parliament, by majority Unicameral 2001 Semi-parliamentary republic
 Italy Sergio Mattarella Parliament and region delegates, by absolute majority Bicameral 1946 Constitutional monarchy Prime Minister is dependent on the confidence of both of the houses of Parliament.
 Kosovo Vjosa Osmani Parliament, by two-thirds majority; by a simple majority, at the third ballot, if no candidate achieves the aforementioned majority in the first two ballots Unicameral 2008 UN-administered Kosovo (formally part of Serbia)
 Latvia Egils Levits Parliament Unicameral 1991[note 11] Presidential republic, thereafter occupied by a one-party state
 Lebanon Michel Aoun Parliament Unicameral 1941 Protectorate (French mandate of Lebanon)
 Malta George Vella Parliament, by majority Unicameral 1974 Constitutional monarchy (Commonwealth realm[4])[5]
 Mauritius Prithvirajsing Roopun Parliament, by majority Unicameral 1992 Constitutional monarchy (Commonwealth realm[6][7])[5]
 Moldova Maia Sandu Direct election, by two-round system
(since 2016; previously by parliament, by three-fifths majority)
Unicameral 2001 Semi-presidential republic
 Montenegro Milo Đukanović Direct election, by two-round system Unicameral 1992 One-party state (Part of Yugoslavia, and after Serbia and Montenegro)
   Nepal Bidhya Devi Bhandari Parliament and state legislators Bicameral[8] 2008[note 12] Constitutional monarchy
 North Macedonia Stevo Pendarovski Direct election, by two-round system Unicameral 1991 One-party state (part of Yugoslavia)
 Pakistan Arif Alvi Parliament and state legislators, by instant-runoff vote Bicameral 2010[9][10] Assembly-independent republic
 Poland Andrzej Duda Direct election, by majority Bicameral 1989 One-party state (Polish People's Republic) Poland has also been identified as a de facto semi-presidential republic as the President does exercise some form of governance and appoints the Prime Minister as the head of government. The decision is then subject to a parliamentary vote of confidence.[11][12][13][14]
 Samoa Tuimalealiifano Va'aletoa Sualauvi II Parliament Unicameral 1960 Trust Territory of New Zealand
 Serbia Aleksandar Vučić Direct election, by two-round system Unicameral 1991 One-party state (part of Yugoslavia, and after Serbia and Montenegro)
 Singapore Halimah Yacob Direct election (since 1993) Unicameral 1965 State of Malaysia
 Slovakia Zuzana Čaputová Direct election, by two-round system (since 1999; previously by parliament) Unicameral 1993 Parliamentary Republic (part of Czechoslovakia)
 Slovenia Borut Pahor Direct election, by two-round system Bicameral 1991 One-party state (part of Yugoslavia)
 Somalia Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Parliament Bicameral 2012[note 13] One-party state
 Trinidad and Tobago Paula-Mae Weekes Parliament Bicameral 1976 Constitutional monarchy (Commonwealth realm[15])[5]
 Vanuatu Tallis Obed Moses Parliament and regional council presidents, by majority Unicameral 1980 British–French condominium (New Hebrides)
Parliamentary republics with an executive presidency
Country Head of state Head of state elected by Cameral structure Parliamentary republic adopted Previous government form Notes
 Botswana Mokgweetsi Masisi Parliament, by majority Unicameral 1966 British protectorate (Bechuanaland Protectorate)
 Kiribati Taneti Maamau Direct election, by first-past-the-post vote Unicameral 1979 Protectorate
 Marshall Islands David Kabua Parliament Bicameral 1979 UN Trust Territory (part of Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands)
 Nauru Lionel Aingimea Parliament Unicameral 1968 UN Trusteeship between Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.
 South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa Parliament, by majority Bicameral 1961 Constitutional monarchy (Commonwealth realm[16][17][18])[5] Was a full parliamentary republic from 1961–1984; adopted an executive presidency in 1984.
Assembly-independent systems
Country Head of state Head of state elected by Cameral structure Parliamentary republic adopted Previous government form Notes
 Federated States of Micronesia David W. Panuelo Parliament, by majority Unicameral 1986 UN Trust Territory (Part of Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands)
 Guyana Irfaan Ali Semi-direct election, by first-past-the-post vote[19] (vacancies are filled by Parliament, by majority) Unicameral 1970 Constitutional monarchy (Commonwealth realm) Was a full parliamentary republic from 1970–1980; adopted an executive presidency in 1980.
 San Marino Francesco Mussoni
Giacomo Simoncini
Parliament Unicameral 1291 Theocracy (part of the Papal States) Two collective heads of state and heads of government, the Captains Regent
 Suriname Chan Santokhi Parliament Unicameral 1975 Constituent country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Directorial systems
Country Head of state Head of state elected by Cameral structure Parliamentary republic adopted Previous government form Notes
  Switzerland Guy Parmelin
Ignazio Cassis
Ueli Maurer
Simonetta Sommaruga
Alain Berset
Karin Keller-Sutter
Viola Amherd
Parliament by exhaustive ballot at a joint sitting of both houses Bicameral 1848 Confederation of states Also has citizen-initiated referenda

List of former parliamentary republics

Country Became a
Changed to Reason for change
 Armenian SSR 1990 1991 Semi-presidential system Constitutional amendment
Austria First Austrian Republic 1920 1929 Semi-presidential system Constitutional amendment
 Belarus 1990 1994 Presidential system New constitution adopted
 Brazil 1961 1963 Presidential system Referendum
 Burma (present-day Myanmar) 1948 1962 Military dictatorship 1962 Burmese coup d'état
Chile Chile 1891 1924 Military junta 1924 Chilean coup d'état
1925 1925 Presidential system Constitutional amendment
Czechoslovakia First Czechoslovak Republic 1920 1939 One-party state Munich agreement
Czechoslovakia Third Czechoslovak Republic 1945 1948 One-party state Coup d'état
Czechoslovakia Fifth Czechoslovak Republic 1989 1992 State dissolved Velvet Divorce
France French Third Republic 1870 1940 Puppet state World War II German occupation
France French Fourth Republic 1946 1958 Semi-presidential system New constitution adopted
 Georgian SSR 1990 1991 Semi-presidential system Constitutional amendment
Hungary Hungary 1946 1949 One-party state Creation of the People's Republic of Hungary
 Indonesia 1945 1959 Presidential system Presidential constitution reinstated
 Israel 1948 1996 Semi-parliamentary system Constitutional amendment
South Korea Second Republic of South Korea 1960 1961 Military junta 16 May coup
 Kyrgyzstan 2010 2021 Presidential system New constitution adopted
Lithuania Lithuanian First Republic 1920 1926 One-party state 1926 Lithuanian coup d'état[note 14]
 Nigeria 1963 1966 Military dictatorship
(which led in 1979 to the democratic, presidential Second Nigerian Republic)
Coup d'état
 Pakistan 1956 1958 Military dictatorship 1958 Pakistani coup d'état
1973 1978 1977 Pakistani coup d'état
1988 1999 1999 Pakistani coup d'état
Poland Second Polish Republic 1919 1935 Presidential system New constitution adopted
Portugal First Portuguese Republic 1911 1926 Military dictatorship
(which led in 1933
to the Estado Novo One-party state)
28 May coup
Philippines First Philippine Republic (Malolos Republic) 1899 1901 Military dictatorship
(De facto United States Colony)
Capture of Emilio Aguinaldo to the American forces
Philippines Fourth Philippine Republic 1973 1981 Semi-presidential system
(de facto Military dictatorship under Martial Law between 1972 and 1986.)
Constitutional amendment
Democratic Republic of the Congo Republic of the Congo 1960 1965 Military dictatorship
(De facto one-party state)
1965 Congolese coup d'état
 Rhodesia 1970 1979 Parliamentary system Creation of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia
 Russian SFSR 1990 1991 Semi-presidential system Referendum
Spain First Spanish Republic 1873 1874 Restoration of the monarchy Restoration
Second Spanish Republic Second Spanish Republic 1931 1939 Constitutional monarchy Coup d'état
 Sri Lanka 1972 1978 Semi-presidential system Constitutional amendment
Syria Syrian Republic 1930 1958 One-party state Creation of the United Arab Republic
Syria Syrian Arab Republic 1961 1963 One-party state 1963 Syrian coup d'état
South African Republic Transvaal Republic 1852 1902 Colony of the British Empire Second Boer War
 Turkey 1923 2018 Presidential system Referendum
 Uganda 1963 1966 One-party state Suspension of the constitution
 Ukrainian SSR 1990 1991 Semi-presidential system Constitutional amendment
 Zimbabwe Rhodesia 1979 1979 Parliamentary system Reversion to Southern Rhodesia
 Zimbabwe 1980 1987 Presidential system Constitutional amendment

See also


  1. ^ Changed after the 2015 referendum.
  2. ^ Was, previously, a parliamentary republic between 1971 and 1975.
  3. ^ The Constitution of the Republic of China went into effect on 25 December 1947 as the Chinese Civil War was underway. On 1 October 1949, the Kuomintang-led Republic of China (ROC) was succeeded in Mainland China by the People's Republic of China, a single-party state governed by the Chinese Communist Party. The ROC government was then confined to the island of Taiwan from 7 December. It remains governed as a de jure parliamentary republic despite changing to, according to the Additional Articles of the Constitution of the Republic of China, the de facto semi-presidential system where the president is directly elected by the citizens of the ROC free area since 1996.
  4. ^ The Control Yuan ceased to be a parliamentary chamber in 1993 and the National Assembly was de facto dissolved in 2005 leaving the Legislative Yuan as the unicameral chamber. Functions of the National Assembly were transferred to the Legislative Yuan and nationwide referendums.
  5. ^ Estonia was previously a parliamentary republic between 1919 and 1934 when the system was changed to a presidential system which was thereafter overthrown by a coup d'état. In 1938, Estonia finally adopted a presidential system and in June 1940 was occupied and annexed by the Soviet Union.
  6. ^ Formerly a semi-presidential republic, it is now a parliamentary republic according to David Arter, First Chair of Politics at Aberdeen University. In his "Scandinavian Politics Today" (Manchester University Press, revised 2008 ISBN 9780719078538), he quotes Nousiainen, Jaakko (June 2001). "From semi-presidentialism to parliamentary government: political and constitutional developments in Finland". Scandinavian Political Studies. 24 (2): 95–109. doi:10.1111/1467-9477.00048. as follows: "There are hardly any grounds for the epithet 'semi-presidential'." Arter's own conclusions are only slightly more nuanced: "The adoption of a new constitution on 1 March 2000 meant that Finland was no longer a case of semi-presidential government other than in the minimalist sense of a situation where a popularly elected fixed-term president exists alongside a prime minister and cabinet who are responsible to parliament (Elgie 2004: 317)". According to the Finnish Constitution, the president has no possibility to rule the government without the ministerial approval, and does not have the power to dissolve the parliament under his or her own desire. Finland is actually represented by its prime minister, and not by its president, in the Council of the Heads of State and Government of the European Union. The 2012 constitutional amendements reduced the powers of the president even further.
  7. ^ "Salome Zurabishvili Wins Georgia Presidential Runoff". The New York Times. The Associated Press. 29 November 2018. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
  8. ^ In the case of the former West German states, including former West Berlin, the previous one-party state is Nazi Germany, but in the case of the New Länder and former East Berlin it is East Germany. German reunification took place on 3 October 1990, when the five re-established states of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) joined the Federal Republic of Germany, and Berlin was united into a single city-state. Therefore, this date applies to today's Federal Republic of Germany as a whole, although the area of former East Germany was no part of that parliamentary republic until 1990.
  9. ^ Officially bicameral, upper house never entered into functions, to present day.
  10. ^ The head of state was ambiguous from 1936 until the Republic of Ireland Act came into force on 18 April 1949. A minority of Irish republicans assert that the Irish Republic proclaimed in 1919 is still extant.
  11. ^ Latvia was previously a parliamentary republic between 1921 and 1934 when the then prime minister Kārlis Ulmanis took power in a coup d'état. In June 1940 Latvia was occupied and annexed by the Soviet Union.
  12. ^ Under a transitional government between 2006 and 2015; this Transitional Government was responsible to an elected Constituent Assembly, which resolved to establish a republic in 2008.
  13. ^ Had a transitional government between 1991 and 2012.
  14. ^ In June 1940, Lithuania was occupied and annexed by the Soviet Union.


  1. ^ a b Twomey, Anne. "Australian politics explainer: Gough Whitlam's dismissal as prime minister". The Conversation. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  2. ^ a b "The President's Role - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  3. ^ Arend Lijphart, ed. (1992). Parliamentary versus presidential government. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-878044-1.
  4. ^ "Malta: Heads of State: 1964-1974". Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d "British Monarch's Titles: 1867-2018". Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  6. ^ "Mauritius: Heads of State: 1968-1992". Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  7. ^ Paxton, John (1984). The Statesman's Year-Book 1984-85. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 29. ISBN 978-0-333-34731-7. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  8. ^ Constitution of Nepal Archived December 23, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Kiran Khalid, CNN (9 April 2010). "Pakistan lawmakers approve weakening of presidential powers". CNN. Retrieved 14 April 2010.
  10. ^ "'18th Amendment to restore Constitution'". Archived from the original on 14 April 2010. Retrieved 14 April 2010.
  11. ^ Veser, Ernst (23 September 1997). "Semi-Presidentialism-Duverger's Concept — A New Political System Model" (PDF) (in English and Chinese). Department of Education, School of Education, University of Cologne. pp. 39–60. Retrieved 21 August 2017. Duhamel has developed the approach further: He stresses that the French construction does not correspond to either parliamentary or the presidential form of government, and then develops the distinction of 'système politique' and 'régime constitutionnel'. While the former comprises the exercise of power that results from the dominant institutional practice, the latter is the totality of the rules for the dominant institutional practice of the power. In this way, France appears as 'presidentialist system' endowed with a 'semi-presidential regime' (1983: 587). By this standard he recognizes Duverger's pléiade as semi-presidential regimes, as well as Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and Lithuania (1993: 87).
  12. ^ Shugart, Matthew Søberg (September 2005). "Semi-Presidential Systems: Dual Executive and Mixed Authority Patterns" (PDF). Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 August 2008. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
  13. ^ Shugart, Matthew Søberg (December 2005). "Semi-Presidential Systems: Dual Executive And Mixed Authority Patterns" (PDF). French Politics. 3 (3): 323–351. doi:10.1057/palgrave.fp.8200087. Retrieved 21 August 2017. Even if the president has no discretion in the forming of cabinets or the right to dissolve parliament, his or her constitutional authority can be regarded as 'quite considerable' in Duverger's sense if cabinet legislation approved in parliament can be blocked by the people’s elected agent. Such powers are especially relevant if an extraordinary majority is required to override a veto, as in Mongolia, Poland, and Senegal. In these cases, while the government is fully accountable to parliament, it cannot legislate without taking the potentially different policy preferences of the president into account.
  14. ^ McMenamin, Iain. "Semi-Presidentialism and Democratisation in Poland" (PDF). School of Law and Government, Dublin City University. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 February 2012. Retrieved 11 December 2017.
  15. ^ "Trinidad and Tobago: Heads of State: 1962-1976". Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  16. ^ "South Africa: Heads of State: 1910-1961". Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  17. ^ Carlin, John (31 May 1994). "South Africa returns to the Commonwealth fold". The Independent. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  18. ^ "Secession Talked by Some Anti-Republicans". Saskatoon Star-Phoenix. 11 October 1960. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  19. ^ Every list of candidates for Parliament must also have a candidate for President, and the having the most votes automatically has its candidate elected President