Parliamentary republic

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Systems of government
Republican forms of government:
   Presidential republics with an executive presidency separate from the legislature
   Semi-presidential system with both an executive presidency and a separate head of government that leads the rest of the executive, who is appointed by the president and accountable to the legislature
   Parliamentary republics with a ceremonial and non-executive president, where a separate head of government leads the executive and is dependent on the confidence of the legislature
  Republics with an executive presidency elected by the legislature

Monarchical forms of government:
   Constitutional monarchies with a ceremonial and non-executive monarch, where a separate head of government leads the executive
   Constitutional monarchies with a ceremonial monarch, but where royalty still hold significant executive and/or legislative power
   Absolute monarchies where the monarch leads the executive

  Countries which do not fit any of the above systems (e.g. transitional government or unclear political situations)

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.


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 and Vanuatu. 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

Full parliamentary republics
CountryHead of state elected byCameral structureParliamentary republic adoptedPrevious government formNotes
Flag of Albania.svg  Albania Parliament, by three-fifths majorityUnicameral1991 One-party state
Flag of Armenia.svg  Armenia Parliament, by absolute majorityUnicameral2018 [note 1] Semi-presidential republic
Flag of Austria.svg  Austria Direct election, by two-round system Bicameral1945One-party state (as part of Nazi Germany, see Anschluss )
Flag of Bangladesh.svg  Bangladesh ParliamentUnicameral1991 [note 2] Presidential republic
Flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina.svg  Bosnia and Herzegovina Direct election of collective head of state, by first-past-the-post voteBicameral1991One-party state (part of Yugoslavia)
Flag of Bulgaria.svg Bulgaria Direct election, by two-round systemUnicameral1991One-party state
Flag of Croatia.svg Croatia Direct election, by two-round systemUnicameral2000 Semi-presidential republic
Flag of the Czech Republic.svg  Czech Republic Direct election, by two-round system (since 2013; previously parliament, by majority)Bicameral1993Parliamentary republic (part of Czechoslovakia)
Flag of Dominica.svg  Dominica Parliament, by majorityUnicameral1978 Associated state of the United Kingdom
Flag of Estonia.svg  Estonia Parliament, by two-thirds majorityUnicameral1991 [note 3] One-party state (part of Soviet Union)
Flag of Ethiopia.svg  Ethiopia Parliament, by two-thirds majorityBicameral1991One-party state
Flag of Fiji.svg  Fiji Parliament, by majorityUnicameral2014Military dictatorship
Flag of Finland.svg  Finland Direct election, by two-round systemUnicameral2000 [note 4] Semi-presidential republic
Flag of Georgia.svg  Georgia Electoral college (parliament and regional delegates), by absolute majorityUnicameral2018 [note 5] Semi-presidential republic
Flag of Germany.svg  Germany Federal Assembly (parliament and state delegates), by absolute majorityBicameral1949 [note 6] One-party state
Flag of Greece.svg  Greece Parliament, by majorityUnicameral1975Military dictatorship; constitutional monarchy
Flag of Hungary.svg  Hungary Parliament, by two-roundUnicameral1990One-party state
Flag of Iceland.svg  Iceland Direct election, by first-past-the-post voteUnicameral1944Constitutional monarchy (part of Denmark)
Flag of India.svg  India Parliament and state legislators, by instant-runoff voteBicameral1950Constitutional monarchy (British Dominion)
Flag of Iraq.svg  Iraq Parliament, by two-thirds majorityUnicameral [note 7] 2005One-party state
Flag of Ireland.svg  Ireland Direct election, by instant-runoff vote Bicameral1949 [note 8] To 1936: Constitutional monarchy (British Dominion)
1936–1949: ambiguous
Flag of Israel.svg  Israel Parliament, by majorityUnicameral2001 Semi-parliamentary republic
Flag of Italy.svg  Italy Parliament and region delegates, by absolute majorityBicameral1946Constitutional monarchyPrime Minister is dependent on the confidence of both of the houses of Parliament.
Flag of Kosovo.svg  Kosovo 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
Unicameral2008 UN-administered Kosovo (formally part of Serbia)
Flag of Kyrgyzstan.svg  Kyrgyzstan Direct election, by two-round systemUnicameral2010Presidential republic
Flag of Latvia.svg  Latvia ParliamentUnicameral1991 [note 9] One-party state (part of Soviet Union)
Flag of Lebanon.svg  Lebanon ParliamentUnicameral1941Protectorate (French mandate of Lebanon)
Flag of Malta.svg  Malta Parliament, by majorityUnicameral1974Constitutional monarchy (Commonwealth realm [4] ) [5]
Flag of Mauritius.svg  Mauritius Parliament, by majorityUnicameral1992Constitutional monarchy (Commonwealth realm [6] [7] [8] ) [5]
Flag of Moldova.svg  Moldova Direct election, by two-round system
(since 2016; previously by parliament, by three-fifths majority)
Unicameral2001Semi-presidential republic
Flag of Montenegro.svg  Montenegro Direct election, by two-round systemUnicameral1992One-party state (Part of Yugoslavia, and after Serbia and Montenegro)
Flag of Nepal.svg    Nepal Parliament and state legislatorsBicameral [9] 2015 [note 10] Constitutional monarchy
Flag of North Macedonia.svg  North Macedonia Direct election, by two-round systemUnicameral1991One-party state (part of Yugoslavia)
Flag of Pakistan.svg  Pakistan Parliament and state legislators, by instant-runoff voteBicameral2010 [10] [11] Semi-presidential republic
Flag of Samoa.svg  Samoa ParliamentUnicameral1960Trust Territory of New Zealand
Flag of Serbia.svg  Serbia Direct election, by two-round systemUnicameral1991One-party state (part of Yugoslavia, and after Serbia and Montenegro)
Flag of Singapore.svg  Singapore Direct election (since 1993)Unicameral1965 State of Malaysia
Flag of Slovakia.svg  Slovakia Direct election, by two-round system (since 1999; previously by parliament)Unicameral1993Parliamentary Republic (part of Czechoslovakia)
Flag of Slovenia.svg  Slovenia Direct election, by two-round systemBicameral1991One-party state (part of Yugoslavia)
Flag of Somalia.svg  Somalia ParliamentBicameral2012 [note 11] One-party state
Flag of Trinidad and Tobago.svg  Trinidad and Tobago ParliamentBicameral1976Constitutional monarchy (Commonwealth realm [12] ) [5]
Flag of Vanuatu.svg  Vanuatu Parliament and regional council presidents, by majorityUnicameral1980British–French condominium (New Hebrides)
Parliamentary republics with an executive presidency
CountryHead of state elected byCameral structureParliamentary republic adoptedPrevious government formNotes
Flag of Botswana.svg  Botswana Parliament, by majorityUnicameral1966British protectorate (Bechuanaland Protectorate)
Flag of Kiribati.svg  Kiribati Direct election, by first-past-the-post voteUnicameral1979Protectorate
Flag of the Marshall Islands.svg  Marshall Islands ParliamentBicameral1979UN Trust Territory (part of Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands)
Flag of Nauru.svg  Nauru ParliamentUnicameral1968UN Trusteeship between Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.
Flag of South Africa.svg  South Africa Parliament, by majorityBicameral1961Constitutional monarchy (Commonwealth realm [13] [14] [15] ) [5]
Assembly-independent systems
CountryHead of state elected byCameral structureParliamentary republic adoptedPrevious government formNotes
Flag of Federated States of Micronesia.svg  Federated States of Micronesia Parliament, by majorityUnicameral1986UN Trust Territory (Part of Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands)
Flag of Myanmar.svg  Myanmar Parliament, by an electoral collegeBicameral2010Military dictatorship
Flag of San Marino.svg  San Marino ParliamentUnicameral2010?Two collective heads of state and heads of government, the Captains Regent
Flag of Suriname.svg  Suriname ParliamentUnicameral1975Constituent country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Directorial systems
CountryHead of state elected byCameral structureParliamentary republic adoptedPrevious government formNotes
Flag of Switzerland.svg   Switzerland Parliament by exhaustive ballot at a joint sitting of both housesBicameral1848?Also has citizen-initiated referenda

List of former parliamentary republics

CountryYear became a parliamentary republicYear status changedChanged toStatus changed due to
Flag of the Czech Republic.svg First Czechoslovak Republic 19201939 One-party state Munich agreement
Flag of the Czech Republic.svg Third Czechoslovak Republic 19451948 One-party state Coup d'état
Flag of the Czech Republic.svg Fifth Czechoslovak Republic 19891992Parliamentary Republics Velvet Divorce
Flag of Austria.svg First Austrian Republic 19201929 Semi-presidential system Constitutional amendment
Flag of Brazil.svg  Brazil 19611963 Presidential system Referendum
Flag of Burma (1948-1974).svg  Burma (present-day Myanmar)19481962 Military dictatorship 1962 Burmese coup d'état
Flag of Chile.svg Chile 18911924 Military junta 1924 Chilean coup d'état
19251925 Presidential system Constitutional amendment
Flag of France.svg French Third Republic 18701940 Puppet state World War II German Occupation
Flag of France.svg French Fourth Republic 19461958 Semi-presidential system Political instability
Flag of Guyana.svg  Guyana 19701980 Presidential system Constitutional amendment
Flag of Hungary (1946-1949, 1956-1957; 1-2 aspect ratio).svg Hungary 19461949 One-party state Creation of the People's Republic of Hungary
Flag of Indonesia.svg  Indonesia 19451959 Presidential system Constitutional amendment
Flag of Israel.svg  Israel 19481996 Semi-parliamentary system Constitutional amendment
Flag of South Korea.svg Second Republic of South Korea 19601961 Presidential system May 16 coup
Flag of Lithuania.svg Lithuanian First Republic 19201926 One-party state 1926 Lithuanian coup d'état [note 12]
Flag of Nigeria.svg  Nigeria 19631966 Military dictatorship
(which led in 1979
to the democratic, presidential Second Nigerian Republic)
Coup d'état
Flag of Pakistan.svg  Pakistan 19561958 Military dictatorship 1958 Pakistani coup d'état
19731978 1977 Pakistani coup d'état
19881999 1999 Pakistani coup d'état
Flag of Poland.svg Second Polish Republic 19191939 One-party state Invasion of Poland
Flag of Portugal.svg First Portuguese Republic 1911 1926 Military dictatorship
(which led in 1933
to the Estado Novo One-party state)
May 28 coup
Philippines Flag Original.svg First Philippine Republic (Malolos Republic)18991901 Military dictatorship
(De facto United States Colony)
Capture of Emilio Aguinaldo to the American forces
Flag of the Philippines (light blue).svg Fourth Philippine Republic 19731981 Semi-Presidential Republic
(de facto Military dictatorship under Martial Law between 1972 and 1986.)
Constitutional Amendment
Flag of Congo-Leopoldville (1960-1963).svg Republic of the Congo 19601965 Military dictatorship
(De facto One-party state)
1965 Congolese coup d'état
Flag of Russia (1991-1993).svg  Russia 1991 [note 13] 1993 Semi-presidential system Referendum [note 14]
Flag of Rhodesia (1968-1979).svg  Rhodesia 1970 1979 Parliamentary system Creation of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia
Flag of Spain 1931 1939.svg  Spanish Republic 1931 1939 Fascist dictatorship Loss of Spanish Civil War
Flag of Sri Lanka.svg  Sri Lanka 19721978 Semi-presidential system Constitutional amendment
Flag of Syria (1932-1958; 1961-1963).svg Syrian Republic 19301958 One-party state Creation of the United Arab Republic
Flag of Syria (1932-1958; 1961-1963).svg Syrian Arab Republic 19611963 One-party state 1963 Syrian coup d'état
Flag of Turkey.svg  Turkey 1923 2018 Presidential system Referendum
Flag of Uganda.svg  Uganda 19631966 One-party state Suspension of the constitution
Flag of Zimbabwe Rhodesia.svg  Zimbabwe Rhodesia 1979 1979 Parliamentary system Reversion to Southern Rhodesia
Flag of Zimbabwe.svg  Zimbabwe 19801987 Presidential system Constitutional amendment

See also


  1. Changed after the 2015 referendum.
  2. Was, previously, a parliamentary republic between 1971 and 1975.
  3. Estonia was previously a parliamentary republic between 1919 and 1934 when the government was overthrown by a coup d'état. In 1938, Estonia adopted a presidential system and in June 1940 was occupied and annexed by the Soviet Union.
  4. 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.
  5. Georgia is transitioning to a parliamentary republic
  6. 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. 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.
  7. Officially bicameral, upper house never entered into functions, to present day.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Had a transitional government between 2008 and 2015.
  11. Had a transitional government between 1991 and 2012.
  12. In June 1940, Lithuania was occupied and annexed by the Soviet Union.
  13. Post of President of Russia is created, and development of separation of powers is started, some of Supreme Soviet's executive powers is transferred to new post. Before that, Russia was a Soviet republic.
  14. Preceded by crisis and armed dissolving of the Supreme Soviet of Russia, then-parliament of the Russian Federation.

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A unitary parliamentary republic refers to a unitary state with a republican form of government that is dependent upon the confidence of parliament.


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