What should be the best option for constituting an Executive Government in Eritrea ?

Part 3     Semi-presidentialism

By Fesseha Nair

The third executive type is called semi-presidentialism, a situation where the parliamentary system and prime minister with some executive powers is combined with a president who also has executive power. The ministry is drawn from the legislature and is dependent to the confidence of the assembly. This formulation of the executive is not usual but today it is practised in France, Portugal, Finland, SriLanka and Russia. It has been recommended as the most desirable formulation of the executive for fragile and nascent democracies.

In this part of the article, we will see the merit, demerits and concluding remarks of constituting an executive from the given models.


This formulation of the executive because it combines the advantages of the parliamentarism and presidentialism. This model enables to combine the benefits of directly elected president with a prime minister who commands an absolute majority in the legislature. When choosing the executive structure one should take in consideration the size and distribution of the competing groups. The model taken must not be an instrument of dominance but of justice and equality.

Supporters of this model believe that this increases the accountability of the executive while also building a system of mutual checks and balances and the need for consensus between the two executive wings of government. This mutual consensus requirement can be a particular advantage for highly divided societies, because it requires a president to come to an agreement with the legislature on important issues. The president could not take policies or decisions without the approval of the legislature on important issues. ( Foreign relations, Defence and Monetary policies)


There is an inclination towards deadlock between and within the executive arms of the government. Even the government’s powers are effectively divided between the prime minister and the president- for example, foreign affairs powers belong to the president while the prime minister and the cabinet decide domestic policies, this can create tension within the government and can lead to deadlock. When formulating this model need a clear division of powers and the terms of the office and election of the two must be known.

Concluding remarks on the three models of formulating the executive

A formulation of the executive need deep study of the social structure of the country, in case of Eritrea one can look the benefits and disadvantages of the three models and choose the convenient model that can bring stability and democracy in the country. What are the criteria that can flourish peace and democracy in Eritrea? I think compromise, moderation and inclusion are the key to democratic stability.

Much depends how the various offices of the executive are elected or distributed. The electoral system is a key to address the specific fears and concerns. Many of the power – sharing virtues advocated by proponents of parliamentarism are premised on the assumption that minorities as well as majorities must be represented in the legislature and, or coalition governments are better than a single party rule.

I think in Eritrea a parliamentary model of structuring of the executive is more realistic than both presidential and semi-presidential models.

The Eritrean National Commission for democratic change has the opportunities for innovating the advantages and disadvantages of each model and prefer the best that can be agent for conflict management in the post dictatorial Eritrea.

The interim –constitution that will be framed by the Eritrean National Commission belongs not to the Eritrean people as a whole but the opposition who ratified it. It is not also the permanent constitution but transitional from the fall of the dictator to the formation of the constitutional government after national elections. There is a discussion that why the interim constitution is needed now isn’t it the broad national charter enough? Who will implement this interim constitution? There is also a constitution drafted in 1997 but not implemented. I think with the side of the struggle against the dictatorship the opposition political organizations and civil society organizations and academics discuss on the issues of structure of the state, road to democracy, constitutions and institutions which will be formed after the fall of the dictatorship in Eritrea.

Many democracy experts working in institutions, for example, Gene Sharp, in his book entitled, “ From Dictatorship to Democracy” recommends that it is not only to liberate the people from the dictatorship but also prepare for the future by building new democratic system so that no new dictators reoccur.

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Posted by on Dec 16 2010 Filed under Articles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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