Parliamentary republic explained

A parliamentary republic or parliamentary constitutional republic is a form of a republic which operates under a parliamentary system of government (a system with no clear-cut separation between the executive and legislative branches, but with a clear differentiation between the head of government and the head of state).

The power of parliament

In contrast to a presidential republic and the Semi-presidential system, the head of state usually does not have broad executive powers as an executive president would, because many of those powers have been granted to a "head of government" (usually called a prime minister). However, the head of government and head of state may form one office in a parliamentary republic (such as South Africa, Botswana and Nauru), 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 instances, the President may legally have executive powers granted to them to undertake the day-to-day running of government (as in Finland) but by convention they either do not use these powers or they use them only to give effect to the advice of the parliament and/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 the position of head of state hitherto a monarch (and, in the case of some Commonwealth republics, formerly represented by a Governor General) being replaced by an elected non-executive president.

List of current Parliamentary republics

CountryFormerlyParliamentary republic adoptedHead of state elected by
AlbaniaOne-party state1991Parliament, by three-fifths majority
AustriaOne-party state1955Direct, by second-round system
Bangladesh [1] Presidential republic (Part of Pakistan)1971Parliament
BotswanaConstitutional monarchy (Commonwealth realm)1966Parliament
BulgariaOne-party state1947Directly, by second-round system
CroatiaOne-party state (Part of Yugoslavia)1991Directly, by second-round system
Czech RepublicOne-party state (Part of Czechoslovakia)1993Parliament, by majority
DominicaBritish overseas territory1978Parliament, by majority
East TimorMilitary junta (Occupied by Indonesia)1999Directly, by second-round system
EstoniaOne-party state1992Parliament, by two-thirds majority
EthiopiaOne-party state1991Parliament, by two-thirds majority
FinlandConstitutional monarchy (Part of Russian Empire)1919Directly, by second-round system
GermanyOne-party state [2] 1949 [3] Federal assembly (Parliament and state delegates), by absolute majority
GreeceMilitary junta; Constitutional monarchy1975Parliament, by majority
HungaryOne-party state1990Parliament, by absolute majority
IcelandConstitutional monarchy (Part of Denmark)1944Direct, by transferable vote
Constitutional monarchy (Commonwealth realm)1950Parliament and state legislators, by single transferable vote
IraqOne-party state2005Parliament, by two-thirds majority
IrelandConstitutional monarchy (Commonwealth realm)1936[4] Direct, by single transferable vote
IsraelProtectorate (Part of British Mandate of Palestine)1948Parliament, by majority
ItalyConstitutional monarchy1946Parliament, by majority
KiribatiProtectorate1979Citizens
LatviaOne-party state1991Parliament
LebanonProtectorate (French mandate of Lebanon)1941Parliament
LithuaniaOne-party state1990Direct, by second-round system
MacedoniaOne-party state (Part of the Yugoslavia)1991Directly, by second-round system
MaltaConstitutional monarchy (Commonwealth realm)1974Parliament, by majority
Marshall IslandsUN Trust Territory (Part of Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands)1979Parliament
Constitutional monarchy (Commonwealth realm)1992Parliament, by majority
Federated States of MicronesiaUN Trust Territory (Part of Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands)1986Parliament
MongoliaOne-party state1949Parliament
MontenegroOne-party state (Part of Yugoslavia)1992Directly, by second-round system
NauruAustralian Trust Territory1968Parliament
PolandOne-party state1990Directly, by second-round system
PortugalOne-party state (Military junta transition)1976Directly, by second-round system
SamoaTerritory of New Zealand2007Parliament
SingaporeConstitutional monarchy (Part of Malaysia)1965Directly, by second-round system
SlovakiaOne-party state (Part of Czechoslovakia)1993Parliament (before 1999)Directly, by second-round system (since 1999)
SloveniaOne-party state (Part of Yugoslavia)1991Directly, by second-round system
South AfricaConstitutional monarchy (Commonwealth realm)1961Parliament, majority
SurinameOne party Military Dictatorship1987Parliament
SwitzerlandMilitary junta (Occupied by France)1802Parliament [5]
Constitutional monarchy (Commonwealth realm)1976Parliament
TurkeyConstitutional monarchy (Ottoman Empire)1923Direct (since 2007, previously by parliament)
VanuatuConstitutional monarchy (Commonwealth realm)1980Parliament and regional council presidents, by majority
ZimbabwePresidential republic2008Directly, by second-round system

List of former Parliamentary republics

CountryYear became a Parliamentary republicYear status changedChanged toStatus changed due to
19611963Presidential systemReferendum
18911925Presidential systemReferendum
French Third Republic18701940Vichy France and Free FranceGerman invasion (World War II)
French Fourth Republic19461958Semi Presidential republic (French Fifth Republic)Political instability
19872006Military juntaMilitary coup (2006)
19701980Semi Presidential republicConstitutional amendment
19451959Presidential systemConstitutional amendment
1956Presidential systemConstitutional amendment
19631979Presidential systemConstitutional amendment
19721978Presidential systemConstitutional amendment
19631966Presidential systemSuspension of the constitution

See also

Notes and References

  1. In Bangladesh, a Caretaker government takes over for three months during parliamentary elections. The Caretaker government is headed by a Chief adviser (the last Chief Justice to retire), and a group of neutral, non-partisan advisers chosen from the civil society. During this time, the president has jurisdiction over the Ministry of defense and the Ministry of foreign affairs.
  2. 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.
  3. Please note that 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.
  4. [Irish head of state from 1936 to 1949]
  5. There is neither a prime minister nor a president of Switzerland. The President of the Swiss Confederation is merely primus inter pares in the Swiss Federal Council, the seven-member executive council which constitutes the government as well as the head of state of Switzerland.