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Electing Presidents in Presidential and Semi-Presidential Democracies

This primer discusses the constitutional rules for choosing presidents in countries where the president exercises significant governance powers. This includes both: (a) countries where presidents perform the functions of both head of state and chief executive (as in Kenya, the Philippines and the United States); and (b) countries where presidents, although required to share power with a prime minister who is responsible to the legislature, nevertheless have an active role in governance and more than merely formal or ceremonial powers (as in France, Romania and Tunisia).

International IDEA’s Constitution-Building Primers are designed to assist in-country constitution-building or constitutional-reform processes by helping citizens, political parties, civil society organizations, public officials and members of constituent assemblies make wise constitutional choices. They also provide guidance for staff of intergovernmental organizations and other external actors working to provide well informed, context-relevant support to local decision-makers.

Each Primer is written as an introduction for non-specialist readers, and as a convenient aide-memoire for those with prior knowledge of, or experience with, constitution-building. Arranged thematically around the practical choices faced by constitution-builders, the Primers aim to explain complex constitutional issues in a quick and easy way.

To order a print copy, visit the International IDEA website.

The electronic version of this publication is available under a Creative Commons Attribute-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0) licence. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit the publication as well as to remix and adapt it, provided it is only for non-commercial purposes, that you appropriately attribute the publication, and that you distribute it under an identical licence. For more information on this licence visit the Creative Commons website: <>

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