Presidential Powers

Overview

What?

  • Presidents in presidential and semi-presidential democracies typically possess, in addition to executive powers strictly defined, certain legislative initiative and agenda-setting powers that allow them to exercise political leadership, for example, enabling them to propose legislation, control the legislative agenda and issue decrees with legal force. 

Why?

  • Elected presidents are increasingly expected to act as ‘chief legislators’ as well as ‘chief executives’. They are expected to set a strategic vision for the country, make an active contribution to the development of policies and provide leadership to other institutions, such as legislatures. To do this, presidents need adequate powers at their disposal.

Why not?

  • The excessive concentration of powers in the presidency may result in a hyper-presidential regime, in which the president is subject to few effective constraints, undermining both democracy and good government.

Where?

  • All presidential and semi-presidential constitutions invest the president with some agenda-setting and legislative initiative powers. Newer presidential constitutions, specially those in Latin America, tend to give more explicit legislative initiative powers to presidents.