The Effect on Constitutional Operation of Presidential and Parliamentary Electoral Systems under Semi-Presidentialism: A Comparison between France and Taiwan
Author: Tzu-chiao Su, Yeh-lih Wang
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Abstract This study explores how the parliamentary and presidential electoral systems affect the constitutional operation of semi-presidentialism by analyzing the cases of Taiwan and France. Our analytical framework is built upon the variables “presidential electoral system,” “parliamentary electoral system,” “political party system in the parliament,” “constitutional system (semi-presidentialism)” and “government type.” Within this framework, the political party system in the parliament is produced by the presidential and parliamentary electoral systems. Different political party systems, when combined with semi-presidentialism, will contribute to different government types that demonstrate different political effects. Therefore, the effect of parliamentary and presidential electoral systems on the constitutional operation of semi-presidentialism can be well grasped with this analytical framework. Our approach generated the following findings. Firstly, in France before the president’s term in office was changed to five years in 2002, the presidential and parliamentary electoral systems together formed a multi-party, two-bloc system in the parliament; in Taiwan before the reform of the legislative electoral system in 2005, the presidential and parliamentary electoral systems also together formed a similar party system in the parliament. Secondly, while Taiwan and France appear to have a similar party system, due to the difference in party solidarity, France’s parliamentary electoral system and political party system shaped its constitutional system into premier presidentialism, while Taiwan’s was shaped into president parliamentarism. Thirdly, in France, the combination of the political party system and constitutional system contributed to an alternating model of constitutional operation, and formed an “unified government with coalition cabinet” or “divided government with coalition cabinet” (so called cohabitation), in Taiwan, the combination of the political party system and constitutional system contributed to a non-alternating mode of constitutional operation, and formed a “unified government with single-party cabinet” or “divided government with minority cabinet.” Lastly, after France’s reforms in 2002 and Taiwan’s reforms in 2005, their models of constitutional operation gradually became similar, with the president, parliament and cabinet tending to be unified, and the president acting as the major leader. However, owing to the different subtypes of semi-presidentialism adopted by these two countries, there is still a great difference between their constitutional operation when the president faces an opposing majority in the parliament.