Semi-Presidentialism as Power-Sharing: Constitutional Reform after the Arab Spring

“Semi-Presidentialism as Power-Sharing: Lessons for the Middle East and North Africa”, The Center for Constitutional Transitions at NYU Law & International IDEA Reports: Constitutional Design in the Middle East and North Africa (2014) (also translated into Arabic).

168 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2017

See all articles by Sujit Choudhry

Sujit Choudhry

Center for Constitutional Transitions; Center for Global Constitutionalism, WZB Berlin Social Science Center

Richard Stacey

University of Toronto, Faculty of Law

Date Written: 2014

Abstract

The political history of many of the countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region over the last 60 years has been one of strong presidents and weak legislatures. The democratic revolutions of the Arab Spring created the opportunity to reconstitute the political system in a way that marks a fundamental break from the dictatorships of the recent past. This report assesses the contribution that the semi-presidential form of government can make to preventing the re-emergence of presidential dictatorship and consolidating democracy in the MENA region. The failure of the constitutional systems in place before the Arab Spring can be attributed to a combination of three factors. First, presidential power was largely unlimited. Second, the system of government did not allow the legislature to act as an effective check on presidential power. Third, many pre-Arab Spring countries were single-party states, in which much of the bureaucracy and many state institutions were dominated by the president’s political allies and supporters. Semi-presidential government, if carefully designed, can act as a mechanism to ensure that presidential dictatorship does not re-emerge. The design of such a system must be guided by three principles that respond directly to the constitutional failures in the MENA region: (1) limited presidential power, (2) an effective legislature that is capable of exercising oversight of the president and the government and (3) effective and meaningful power sharing between the prime minister and the president. The report applies these principles to the design of a semi-presidential system for the post-Arab Spring MENA region.

Suggested Citation

Choudhry, Sujit and Stacey, Richard, Semi-Presidentialism as Power-Sharing: Constitutional Reform after the Arab Spring (2014). “Semi-Presidentialism as Power-Sharing: Lessons for the Middle East and North Africa”, The Center for Constitutional Transitions at NYU Law & International IDEA Reports: Constitutional Design in the Middle East and North Africa (2014) (also translated into Arabic).. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3025968

Sujit Choudhry (Contact Author)

Center for Constitutional Transitions ( email )

HOME PAGE: constitutionaltransitions.org

Center for Global Constitutionalism, WZB Berlin Social Science Center ( email )

Reichpietschufer 50
D-10785 Berlin, 10785
Germany

Richard Stacey

University of Toronto, Faculty of Law ( email )

78 and 84 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Canada

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