Semi-Presidentialism: Typology, Outcomes, and Application to Korea

Don Lee, Jong-Sung You

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    The purpose of this article is to introduce two major types of semi-presidential systems and discuss their potential application to South Korea. With an abuse of power by President Park Geun-hye of South Korea and her impeachment in March 2017, politicians and scholars have widely discussed the necessity of constitutional reform to end the imperial presidency. Amid this discussion, the adoption of a semi-presidential system seems to be a reasonable choice to be considered for the Korean context. Following the definition of Shugart (2005), we compare a "president-parliamentary" type of semi-presidential system where a president plays a central role in cabinet formation and dismissal with a "premier-presidential" type of semi-presidential system where a legislature plays such role. We then look into existing studies and their findings of semi-presidential systems' performance vis-à-vis each other or other pure types of democratic regime, presidential and parliamentary systems. We also examine a variety of semi-presidential systems in terms of their actual operation. We first look into two cases in Europe - Austria and Finland - which draw a good amount of attention among Korean lawmakers as models of semi-presidential systems. As a similar case with Korea, we also introduce the case of Taiwan which reformed its constitutional design from presidential to semi-presidential system in 1997.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)118-149
    JournalJournal of Korean Social Trends and Perspectives
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


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