Parliamentary republic

A parliamentary republic or parliamentary constitutional republic is a type of republic which operates under a parliamentary system of government - meaning a system with no clear-cut separation between the executive and legislative branches, but with a clear differentiation between the head of government and the head of state and with the head of government holding real power.



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 parliamentarily-dependent head of state the head of government and head of state may form one office (such as Botswana, the Marshall Islands, Nauru and South Africa; as well as Switzerland, in which the Swiss Federal Council is the head of state and head of government collectively), 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 Finland) but by convention they either do not use these powers or they use them only to give effect to the advice of the parliament and/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 the position of head of state hitherto a monarch (and, in the case of some Republics in the Commonwealth of Nations, formerly represented by a Governor General) being replaced by an elected non-executive president (as is the case in the Republic of Ireland, Malta, Trinidad and Tobago, India and Vanuatu).

List of current parliamentary republics

Country Formerly Parliamentary republic adopted Head of state elected by
Albania One-party state 1991 Parliament, by majority
Austria One-party state 1955 Directly, by second-round system
Bangladesh [A] Presidential republic 1971 Parliament
Botswana Constitutional monarchy (Commonwealth realm) 1966 Parliament
Bosnia and Herzegovina One-party state (Part of Yugoslavia) 1991 Directly, by second-round system
Bulgaria One-party state 1947 Directly, by second-round system
Croatia Semi-presidential republic 2000 Directly, by second-round system
Czech Republic One-party state (Part of Czechoslovakia) 1993 Parliament, by majority
Dominica British overseas territory 1978 Parliament, by majority
East Timor Military junta (Occupied by Indonesia) 1999 Directly, by second-round system
Estonia [B] Constitutional monarchy (Part of Russian Empire) 1918 Parliament, by two-thirds majority
Ethiopia One-party state 1991 Parliament, by two-thirds majority
Finland Constitutional monarchy (Part of Russian Empire) 1919 Directly, by second-round system
Germany [C] One-party state 1949 Federal assembly (Parliament and state delegates), by absolute majority
Greece Military junta; Constitutional monarchy 1975 Parliament, by majority
Haïti One-party state 1860 Parliament, by majority
Hungary One-party state 1990 Parliament, by absolute majority
Iceland Formerly part of Denmark - constitutional monarchy 1944 Directly, by transferable vote
 India Constitutional monarchy (Commonwealth realm) 1950 Parliament and state legislators, by single transferable vote
Iraq One-party state 2005 Parliament, by two-thirds majority
Ireland Constitutional monarchy (Commonwealth realm) 1936 [D] Directly, by single transferable vote
Israel Protectorate (Part of British Mandate of Palestine) 1948 Parliament, by majority
Italy Constitutional monarchy 1946 Parliament, by majority
Kiribati Protectorate 1979 Citizens
Kyrgyzstan Presidential republic 2010 Parliament
Latvia [B] Constitutional monarchy (Part of Russian Empire) 1918 Parliament
Lebanon Protectorate (French mandate of Lebanon) 1941 Parliament
Lithuania [B] Constitutional monarchy 1918 Directly, by second-round system
Macedonia One-party state (Part of the Yugoslavia) 1991 Directly, by second-round system
Malta Constitutional monarchy (Commonwealth realm) 1974 Parliament, by majority
Marshall Islands UN Trust Territory (Part of Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands) 1979 Parliament
 Mauritius Constitutional monarchy (Commonwealth realm) 1992 Parliament, by majority
Federated States of Micronesia UN Trust Territory (Part of Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands) 1986 Parliament
Mongolia multi-party system since 1992 1949 Parliament
Montenegro One-party state (Part of Yugoslavia) 1992 Directly, by second-round system
Nauru Australian Trust Territory 1968 Parliament
Pakistan Presidential and Semi-presidential system, and Constitutional monarchy (Commonwealth realm) |date= |accessdate=2010-04-14}} Parliament and state legislators, by single transferable vote
Poland One-party state 1990 Directly, by second-round system
Portugal One-party state (Military junta transition) 1976 Directly, by second-round system
Samoa Territory of New Zealand 2007 Parliament
Serbia One-party state (Part of Yugoslavia) 1991 Directly, by second-round system
Singapore Constitutional monarchy (Part of Malaysia) 1965 Directly, by second-round system
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
South Africa Constitutional monarchy (Commonwealth realm) 1961 Parliament, majority
Suriname One party Military Dictatorship 1987 Parliament, by two-thirds majority. [G]
Switzerland Military junta (Occupied by France) 1802 Parliament [F]
 Trinidad and Tobago Constitutional monarchy (Commonwealth realm) 1976 Parliament
Turkey Monarchy (Ottoman Empire) 1923 Directly (since 2007, previously by parliament)
Vanuatu Constitutional monarchy (Commonwealth realm) 1980 Parliament and regional council presidents, by majority

  • ^ A. In Bangladesh, a Caretaker government takes over for three months during parliamentary elections. The Caretaker government is headed by a Chief adviser (the last Chief Justice to retire), and a group of neutral, non-partisan advisers chosen from the civil society. During this time, the president has jurisdiction over the Ministry of defense and the Ministry of foreign affairs.
  • ^ B. The three Baltic states were parliamentary republics after declaring their independence from the Russian Empire in 1918, but were all occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940. After regaining independence by 1991, all three countries resumed to parliamentary democracy.
  • ^ C. 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.
  • ^ D. Irish head of state from 1936 to 1949
  • ^ E. If not achieved, two highest polling candidates continue to electoral college of regional councils as well as parliament, like in the French Third Republic.
  • ^ F. There is neither a prime minister nor a president of Switzerland. The President of the Swiss Confederation is merely primus inter pares in the Swiss Federal Council, the seven-member executive council which constitutes the government as well as the head of state of Switzerland.)

List of former Parliamentary republics

Country Year became a Parliamentary republic Year status changed Changed to Status changed due to
 Brazil 1961 1963 Presidential system Referendum
 Chile 1891 1925 Presidential system Referendum
French Third Republic 1870 1940 Vichy France and Free France German invasion (World War II)
French Fourth Republic 1946 1958 Semi Presidential republic (French Fifth Republic) Political instability
 Fiji 1987 2006 Military junta Military coup (2006)]]
 Guyana 1970 1980 Semi Presidential republic Constitutional amendment
 Indonesia 1945 1959 Presidential system Constitutional amendment
 Nigeria 1963 1979 Presidential system Constitutional amendment
 Russia 1991[A] 1993 Semi-presidential system Referendum on the new constitution [B]
 Sri Lanka 1972 1978 Presidential system Constitutional amendment
 Uganda 1963 1966 Presidential system Suspension of the constitution
 Philippines 1978 1987 Presidential system Ratification of the 1987 Constitution

See also