Parliamentary republic

For other uses of "Parliamentary republic", see Parliamentary Republic (disambiguation).
Map of different parliamentary systems
  Constitutional monarchies in which authority is vested in a parliament.
  Parliamentary republics where parliaments are effectively supreme over a separate head of state.
  Parliamentary republics with an executive presidency chosen by parliament.

A parliamentary republic is a type of 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. Some have fused 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, in particular, the form of executive-branch arrangement is distinct from most other parliamentary 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 flexible tenure in office while the head of state lacks either dependency, and investing either office with the majority of executive power.


Mary McAleese, President of Ireland (19972011) and Aleksander Kwaśniewski, President of Poland (19952005). Both were heads of state of parliamentary republics.

In contrast to republics operating under either the presidential system or 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, in a parliamentary republic with a head of state whose tenure is dependent on parliament, the head of government and head of state may form one office (as in Botswana, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, South Africa and Suriname), 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 Austria) 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 hitherto a monarch.[1]

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.

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. A number of these republics kept the Westminster Parliamentary system inherited during their British colonial rule.

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 with South Africa (which left the Commonwealth soon after 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.

Others became parliamentary republics upon gaining independence.

List of modern parliamentary republics

Country Formerly Parliamentary republic adopted Head of state elected by Cameral structure
 Albania One-party state 1991 Parliament, by majority Unicameral
 Austria One-party state (as part of Nazi Germany, see Anschluss) 1945 Directly, by second-round system Bicameral
 Bangladesh Presidential republic 1991[note 1] Parliament Unicameral
 Bosnia and Herzegovina One-party state (part of Yugoslavia) 1991 Directly, by second-round system Bicameral
 Botswana British protectorate (Bechuanaland Protectorate) 1966 Parliament, by majority Unicameral
Bulgaria Bulgaria One-party state 1989 Directly, by second-round system Unicameral
Croatia Croatia Semi-presidential republic 2000 Directly, by second-round system Unicameral
 Czech Republic One-party state (part of Czechoslovakia) 1993 Directly, by second-round system (since 2013; previously Parliament, by majority) Bicameral
 Dominica Associated state of the United Kingdom 1978 Parliament, by majority Unicameral
 Estonia One-party state (part of Soviet Union) 1991[note 2] Parliament, by two-thirds majority Unicameral
 Ethiopia One-party state 1991 Parliament, by two-thirds majority Bicameral
 Fiji Military junta 2014 Parliament, by majority Unicameral
 Finland Semi-presidential republic 2000[note 3] Directly, by second-round system Unicameral
 Germany One-party state 1949[note 4] Federal Assembly (parliament and state delegates), by absolute majority Bicameral
 Greece Military junta; Constitutional monarchy 1975 Parliament, by majority Unicameral
 Hungary One-party state 1990 Parliament, by absolute majority Unicameral
 Iceland Formerly part of Denmark; Constitutional monarchy 1944 Directly, by majority vote Unicameral
 India Constitutional monarchy (British Dominion) 1950 Parliament and state legislators, by single transferable vote Bicameral
 Iraq One-party state 2005 Parliament, by two-thirds majority Unicameral[2]
 Ireland Constitutional monarchy (British Dominion) 1949[note 5] Directly, by single transferable vote Bicameral
 Israel Semi-parliamentary republic 2001 Parliament, by majority Unicameral
 Italy Constitutional monarchy 1946 Parliament, by absolute majority Bicameral
 Kiribati Protectorate 1979 Parliament, by majority Unicameral
 Kyrgyzstan Presidential republic 2010 Directly, by second-round system Unicameral
 Latvia One-party state (part of Soviet Union) 1991[note 6] Parliament Unicameral
 Lebanon Protectorate (French mandate of Lebanon) 1941 Parliament Unicameral
Republic of Macedonia Macedonia One-party state (part of the Yugoslavia) 1991 Directly, by second-round system Unicameral
 Malta Constitutional monarchy (Commonwealth realm) 1974 Parliament, by majority Unicameral
 Marshall Islands UN Trust Territory (part of Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands) 1979 Parliament Bicameral
 Mauritius Constitutional monarchy (Commonwealth realm) 1992 Parliament, by majority Unicameral
 Micronesia, Federated States of UN Trust Territory (Part of Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands) 1986 Parliament, by majority Unicameral
 Moldova Presidential republic 2001 Directly [3](formerly elected by Parliament with three-fifths majority) Unicameral
 Montenegro One-party state (Part of Yugoslavia, and after Serbia and Montenegro) 1992 Directly, by second-round system Unicameral
 Myanmar Military dictatorship 2010 Parliament, by an electoral college Bicameral
 Nauru Australian Trust Territory 1968 Parliament Unicameral
   Nepal Constitutional monarchy 2015[note 7] Parliament and state legislators Bicameral[4]
 Pakistan Presidential and semi-presidential republic 2010[5][6] Parliament and state legislators, by single transferable vote Bicameral
Poland Poland One-party state 1990 Directly, by second-round system Bicameral
 Samoa Constitutional monarchy 2007 Parliament Unicameral
 San Marino Autocracy (part of the Roman Empire) 301 Parliament Unicameral
 Serbia One-party state (part of Yugoslavia) 1991 Directly, by second-round system Unicameral
 Singapore Presidential 1965 Parliament (Until 1993) Directly (1993 onwards) Unicameral
Slovakia Slovakia One-party state (part of Czechoslovakia) 1993 Parliament (before 1999)
Directly, by second-round system (since 1999)
 Slovenia One-party state (part of Yugoslavia) 1991 Directly, by second-round system Bicameral
 Somalia One-party state 2012[note 8] Parliament Bicameral
 South Africa Constitutional monarchy (Commonwealth realm) 1961 Parliament, by majority Bicameral
 Suriname Military dictatorship 1987 Parliament, by majority Unicameral
  Switzerland Confederation 1848 Federal Assembly (parliament and canton delegates), by absolute majority Bicameral
 Trinidad and Tobago Constitutional monarchy (Commonwealth realm) 1976 Parliament Bicameral
 Turkey One-party state 1946 Directly (since 2007, previously by parliament) Unicameral
 Vanuatu British–French condominium (New Hebrides) 1980 Parliament and regional council presidents, by majority Unicameral

List of former parliamentary republics

Country Year became a parliamentary republic Year status changed Changed to Status changed due to
Austria Austrian First Republic 1920 1929 Semi-presidential system Constitutional amendment
 Brazil 1961 1963 Presidential system Referendum
 Burma (present-day Myanmar) 1948 1962 Military Junta 1962 Burmese coup d'état
 Chile 1891 1925 Presidential system Referendum
France French Third Republic 1870 1940 Presidential system World War II German Occupation
France French Fourth Republic 1946 1958 Semi-presidential system Political instability
 Guyana 1970 1980 Presidential system Constitutional amendment
Hungary Hungary 1946 1949 One-party state Creation of the People's Republic of Hungary
 Indonesia 1945 1959 Presidential system Constitutional amendment
 Israel 1948 1996 Semi-parliamentary system Constitutional amendment
South Korea Second Republic of South Korea 1960 1961 Presidential system May 16 coup
Lithuania Lithuanian First Republic 1920 1926 One-party state 1926 Lithuanian coup d'état[note 9]
 Nigeria 1963 1979 Presidential system Constitutional amendment
 Pakistan 1956 1958 Military Dictatorship 1958 Pakistani coup d'état
1973 1978 1977 Pakistani coup d'état
1988 1999 1999 Pakistani coup d'état
Poland Polish Second Republic 1919 1939 One-party state Invasion of Poland
Portugal Portuguese First Republic 1911 1926 Military Dictatorship
(which led in 1933
to the Estado Novo One-party state)
May 28 coup
Philippines First Philippine Republic (Malolos Republic) 1899 1901 Military Dictatorship
(De facto United States Colony)
Capture and Surrender of Emilio Aguinaldo to the American forces
Philippines Fourth Philippine Republic 1978 1987 Presidential system Ratification of the 1987 Constitution
Democratic Republic of the Congo Republic of the Congo 1960 1965 Military Dictatorship
(De facto One-party state)
1965 Congolese coup d'état
 Russia 1991[note 10] 1993 Semi-presidential system Referendum[note 11]
 Rhodesia 1970 1979 Parliamentary system Creation of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia
 Spanish Republic 1931 1939 Fascist Dictatorship Loss of Spanish Civil War
 Sri Lanka 1972 1978 Semi-presidential system Constitutional amendment
Syria Syrian Republic 1930 1958 One-party state Creation of the United Arab Republic
Syria Syrian Arab Republic 1961 1963 One-party state 1963 Syrian coup d'état
 Uganda 1963 1966 One-party state Suspension of the constitution
 Zimbabwe Rhodesia 1979 1979 Parliamentary system Creation of Southern Rhodesia
 Zimbabwe 1980 1987 Presidential system Constitutional amendment

See also


  1. Was previously a parliamentary republic between 1971 and 1975.
  2. 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.
  3. 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. Wiley. 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 constitution reduced the powers of the president even further.
  4. 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.
  5. Irish head of state from 1936 to 1949.
  6. 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.
  7. Had a transitional government between 2008 and 2015.
  8. Had a transitional government between 1991 and 2012.
  9. In June 1940, Lithuania was occupied and annexed by the Soviet Union.
  10. 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.
  11. Preceded by crisis and armed dissolving of the Supreme Soviet of Russia, then-parliament of the Russian Federation.


  1. Arend Lijphart, ed. (1992). Parliamentary versus presidential government. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-878044-3.
  2. Officially bicameral, upper house never entered into functions, to present day.
  3. "Moldova To Elect Presidents Directly". RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. Retrieved 2016-10-05.
  4. Constitution of Nepal
  5. Kiran Khalid, CNN (2010-04-09). "Pakistan lawmakers approve weakening of presidential powers". Retrieved 2010-04-14.
  6. "'18th Amendment to restore Constitution' | Pakistan | News | Newspaper | Daily | English | Online". Retrieved 2010-04-14.
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