ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

Going Public in Semi-Presidential Systems: the French and Irish Cases

European Politics
Executives
Institutions
Agenda-Setting
Influence
Sébastien Lazardeux
St John Fisher College
Sébastien Lazardeux
St John Fisher College

Abstract

Students of the American political system have highlighted how the president uses his electoral legitimacy and visibility to influence the policy process via his public statements and symbolic actions. This is especially the case when the president stands in opposition to Congress. Heads of state in semi-presidential systems are also popularly elected and should a priori have the same capacity to influence public action through identical means. Yet, this issue has never been addressed. Do president with little institutional powers also refrain from public interventions about governmental policies or do they on the contrary compensate for their lack of institutional power with greater public appearances and symbolic gestures? Is their willingness to use this mean of action linked to their institutional capacity or to the political environment (divided versus united government)? This study proposes to examine these questions by analyzing data on presidential statements in two semi-presidential democracies, France and Ireland. These cases have been chosen because France and Ireland are two semi-presidential countries that have experienced periods of divided and unified government. Moreover, the French president has substantial institutional powers while her Irish counterpart is commonly considered as one of the weakest president in semi-presidential systems. The analysis reveals that the president’s propensity to publicly intervene in the policy process is largely determined by institutional factors. By extension, these results highlights that going public might be a strategy circumscribed to institutional systems with strong presidencies.