Abstract. This article will argue that the predominant form of constitutional design in the former Soviet republics is not semi-presidentialism. Instead, it is a fourth type of formal constitutional design: super-presidentialism. Super-presidentialism is analytically distinct from both presidential and semi-presidential systems for two reasons. First, super-presidential constitutions are not semi-presidential because they give the president final control over the formation and dismissal of the executive-branch government. In the post-Soviet region, presidents have the formal power to make the final decision on both the appointment and dismissal of the prime minister and other executive branch ministers, chair government meetings, and rescind official decisions made by executive branch officials. Second, these constitutions are not presidential because they give the president significant power to supervise and control the legislative branch. In the post-Soviet states, this authority – a result of the pseudo-monarchical, free-standing position of the president as “head of state” and “guarantor of the constitution” – includes the formal presidential power to dismiss the legislature and, frequently, appoint members of the upper house of legislature. This finding is important for two reasons. First, it revises the generally held idea that semi-presidentialism is the primary form of constitutional government in the former Soviet republics. Second, it demonstrates that many post-Soviet states consciously adopted a new constitutional structure that rejects western concepts of divided government. Instead, they adopted a super-presidentialist structure that grants vast formal constitutional power to a president who would then be able to break deadlocks and coordinate a unified state in overcoming post-Soviet challenges.
About the author:
William Partlett – Associate Professor, Melbourne Law School, Melbourne, Australia.
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