Do Institutions Still Matter? On the Perils of Semi-Presidentialism for the Institutionalization of European Party Systems (1848-2013)

Friday, March 14, 2014
Chairman's (Omni Shoreham)
Fernando Casal Bertoa , School of Politics and International Relations, University of Nottingham
The debate about whether presidential regimes or parliamentary regimes are better suited to democracy has elicited a substantial scholarly literature. Yet few studies address the impact of semi-presidentialism on the prospects for party system institutionalization, otherwise, a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for the consolidation of democracy (Mainwaring and Scully, 1995; Morlino, 1998). Paradoxically, and although this area of research is germane to all democracies, to date there has been no systematic cross-national study of the effects of semi-presidentialism on the institutionalization of party systems in Europe. Seeking to fill the gap, this paper aims to establish whether semi-presidentialism is as perilous for party system institutionalization as the scholarly consensus would suggest (Meleshevich, 2007; Casal Bértoa, 2012).The paper starts with a quantitative analysis of the impact different types of regime have had on the process of institutionalization in 72 European party systems since 1848. After finding substantial evidence that semi-presidentialism hinders party system institutionalization, the paper traces the process by having a closer look at the mechanisms linking these two variables in two paradigmatic cases: namely, Moldova (abandoned semi-presidentialism in 2000) and Slovakia (adopted semi-presidentialism only in 1999).
  • ToR & PSI in Europe (1848-2014).pdf (546.7 kB)