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A Structured Review of Semi-Presidential Studies: Struggling to Move beyond Linz

Comparative Politics
Constitutions
Democracy
Executives
Government
Institutions
Parliaments
Jenny Åberg
Dalarna University
Jenny Åberg
Dalarna University
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Abstract

Since the early 1990s, a sudden rise in semi-presidential regimes has generated considerable research interest. Scholars within the evolving research field have participated in a debate spurred by the seminal articles of Linz and Duverger. Forming part of neo-institutionalism, scholars have studied the way these regimes have helped or hindered in the process of democratization, and have increasingly also focused on the way the popularly elected president and variations in presidential powers are linked to the performance of semi-presidential regimes. The field is diversified by different research topics, covered geographic regions, and sample sizes. The lingering definitional debate and the way different definitions form part of empirical studies have to some extent obstructed advancement of the field, its main debates and general findings. Cautious of these divisions, the aim of this article is to assess and discuss the main topics and findings of semi-presidential studies, as well as identifying certain gaps of current research. We argue that the field has generated a number of valuable findings, including, theoretical advancement where the subtype-definition of premier-presidentialism and president-parliamentarism, as well as the principal agent framework for analyzing regime-type dynamics in semi-presidential regimes. We also argue that the enduring influence of Linz’s “perils of presidentialism” arguments have hindered new research avenues to fully materialize. Among research issues of semi-presidentialism that we think are underexplored, we identify e.g. the bureaucracy and the role and power of the prime minister.