Published online by Cambridge University Press: 02 January 2013
Comparing eight post-communist semi-presidential systems (Bulgaria, Croatia, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Ukraine and Russia), comprising a total of 65 instances of intra-executive coexistence between 1991 and 2007, this article asks to what extent and in what ways president–cabinet conflicts increase the risk of cabinet instability. Previous studies of intra-executive conflicts in semi-presidential regimes have mainly been occupied with explaining why conflicts occur in the first place, and have neglected the question of how such conflicts are actually related to political outcomes. The present empirical investigation demonstrates that the occurrence of intra-executive conflict in transitional semi-presidential systems is likely to produce high rates of cabinet turnover.
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6 Protsyk, O., ‘Politics of Intra-executive Conflict in Semi-presidential Regimes in Eastern Europe’, East European Politics and Society, 18: 2 (2005), pp. 1–20 Google Scholar; Protsyk, O., ‘Intra-executive Competition Between President and Prime Minister: Patterns of Institutional Conflict and Cooperation in Semi-Presidential Regimes’, Political Studies, 56: 2 (2006), pp. 219–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar.
7 Shugart and Carey, Presidents and Assemblies.
8 Duverger, European Journal of Political Research, p. 166; Sartori, Comparative Constitutional Engineering, p. 131; Shugart and Carey, Presidents and Assemblies, pp. 23–4; Shugart, ‘Semi-presidential Systems: Dual Executive and Mixed Authority Patterns’, pp. 324–35.
9 In 2000–1, the Croatian constitution was revised from a president-parliamentary to a premier-presidential type of system. Since then, the government is responsible to the parliament only, and not, as the case was under the 1990 constitution, to both the president and the parliament.
10 The Moldovan parliament amended the 1994 constitution in 2000, envisioning a shift away from premier-presidentialism to parliamentarism by changing from direct to indirect presidential elections. Thus, since then, the president is elected by the parliament.
11 In the aftermath of the Orange Revolution in 2004, agreements were reached to reduce the president's power and to subordinate the government to the parliament, which de facto entailed a change from a president-parliamentary to a premier-presidential system.
13 Cf. Shugart and Carey, Presidents and Assemblies.
14 Cf. ibid.
15 For quite extensive reviews of this literature see Grofman, B. and Van Roozendaal, P., ‘Review Article: Modelling Cabinet Durability and Termination’, British Journal of Political Science, 27 (1997), pp. 419–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Laver, M., ‘Government Termination’, Annual Review of Political Science, 6 (2003), pp. 23–40 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.
16 Shugart, French Politics, p. 345.
17 Sartori, Comparative Constitutional Engineering, pp. 153–4.
18 See Elgie, R., ‘Cohabitation: Divided Government French-Style’, in Elgie, R. (ed.), Divided Government in Comparative Perspective, Oxford, Oxford University Press Google Scholar.
20 The expert survey consisted of two main parts, conducted in two steps: (i) a questionnaire including 29 questions covering a broad set of issues concerning executive–legislative relations, presidential powers and party system factors; and (ii) a number of interviews and/or e-mail questions in which the specific issue of intra-executive and executive–legislative conflicts were the main topic. While the questionnaire was designed rather broadly and inductively, the follow-up interviews were more focused and delimited in scope. The questionnaire was sent to 8–15 experts in each of the countries and contained questions with both pre-defined and open-ended answers. The interviews were undertaken in a semi-structured manner under which questions relating to intra-executive and executive–legislative relations were asked.
Tracking the appropriate kind of ‘experts’ to be included in the survey was not an entirely straightforward task. We started from a list of social scientists with expertise in political and constitutional issues in the countries under examination, and then added a number of potential respondents by screening the literature and by employing a snowball strategy, asking the first round of respondents to suggest other potential experts. An overall response rate of about 50 per cent was reached. All in all, 50 different experts finally took part in the survey (36 academic scholars and 12 high officials, e.g. judges and constitutional court officials). The number of experts for each country was: Bulgaria 8, Croatia 3, Lithuania 12, Moldova 3, Poland 16, Romania 2, Russia 4, and Ukraine 2. Among the researchers, the majority are senior scholars of political science, constitutional law or sociology. Most of them are living and working in the country of which they have been contacted as experts.
21 East European Constitutional Review, ‘Constitution Watch’, 6: 2; 6: 3; 6: 4; 7: 4; 8: 3; 9:1/2; 11: 3; 12: 2 (1997–2003), www.law.nyu.edu/eecr.
24 E.g. S. Berglund, J. Ekman and F. H. Aarebrot (eds), The Handbook of Political Change in Eastern Europe, 2nd edn, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar, 2004; J. Blondel and F. Müller-Rommel (eds), Cabinets in Eastern Europe, London, Palgrave, 2001; R. Elgie (ed.), Semi-Presidentialism in Europe, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1999; Elgie and Moestrup, Semi-Presidentialism in Central and Eastern Europe; R. Taras (ed.), Postcommunist Presidents, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1997; J. Zielonka (ed.), Democratic Consolidation in Eastern Europe: Volume 1, Institutional Engineering, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2001.
25 Protsyk, ‘Politics of Intra-Executive Conflict in Semi-Presidential Regimes in Eastern Europe’; Protsyk, ‘Intra-Executive Competition between President and Prime Minister’.
26 For a more extensive description of this conflict, see Sedelius, The Tug-of-War between Presidents and Prime Ministers, pp. 136–8.
27 E.g. K. Jasiewicz, ‘Poland: Walesa's Legacy to the Presidency’, in R. Taras (ed.), Postcommunist Presidents, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1997, pp. 152–4; A. Krok-Paszkowska, ‘Poland’, in Elgie, Semi-Presidentialism in Europe, pp. 182–5.
28 Cf. RFE/RL Newsline, various reports on Moldova, 1994–96. For reports on the escalating conflict, see RFE/RL Newsline, March–July 1996, www.rferl.org; cf. W. Crowther and Y. Josanu ‘Moldova’, in Berglund et al. The Handbook of Political Change in Eastern Europe, pp. 557–63.
29 Cf. Grofman and van Roozendaal, ‘Review Article: Modelling Cabinet Durability and Termination’.
32 E.g. King et al., ‘A Unified Model of Cabinet Dissolution in Parliamentary Democracies’; Strøm, Minority Government and Majority Rule.
33 King et al., ‘A Unified Model of Cabinet Dissolution in Parliamentary Democracies’; Sanders, D. and Valentine, H. The Stability and Survival of Governments in Western Democracies’, Acta Politica, 3 (1977), pp. 346–77Google Scholar.
34 Yet another factor of relevance to premier-presidentialism is cohabitation, i.e. where the president's party is not represented in the cabinet and where the prime minister and president are from different parties. It is logical to expect that the president under such periods has less to lose by criticizing the government, with possible pre-term resignation of government as a consequence. Among our cases we identified cohabitation in only eight relevant instances (in Bulgaria, Lithuania and Poland) and from this very small sample we found no support for the assumption that cohabitation would increase cabinet instability (in four instances the government endured its full term, and in the remaining four instances it stepped down earlier).
36 R. Sakwa, Russian Politics and Society, 3rd edn, New York, Routledge, 2002, p. 118.
37 E.g. A. Wilson, ‘Ukraine’, in Elgie, Semi-Presidentialism in Europe, p. 265.
38 Cf. data from the New Europe Barometer, 1991–2005 and New Russia Barometer, 1992–2008, Centre for the Study of Public Policy (CSPP), University of Strathclyde (reports are available at: www.abdn.ac.uk).
39 K. Duvold and M. Jurkynas, ‘Lithuania’, in Berglund et al., The Handbook of Political Change in Eastern Europe; East European Constitutional Review, ‘Constitution Watch’.
40 Cf. V. I. Ganev, ‘Bulgaria’, in Elgie, Semi-Presidentialism in Europe.
42 E.g. Lijphart, A., Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performance in Thirty-Six Countries, New Haven, CT, Yale University Press, 1999 Google Scholar; Dogan, M., ‘Irremovable Leaders and Ministerial Instability in European Democracies’, in Dogan, M. (ed.), Pathways to Power: Selecting Rulers in Pluralist Democracies, Boulder, CO, Westview Press, 1989 Google Scholar.
43 J. J. Linz and A. Stepan, Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation: Southern Europe, South America, and Post-Communist Europe, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996; D. L. Horowitz, ‘Constitutional Design: Proposals Versus Processes’, in A. Reynolds (ed.), The Architecture of Democracy: Constitutional Design, Conflict Management, and Democracy, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2002.