Checks and Imbalances: Executive Design and Political Stability

Checks and Imbalances: Executive Design and Political Stability

Post-conflict states have to deal with many difficult issues. Drafting a constitution that maximizes the prospects of political stability is just one. Recently, Egypt, Libya and Tunisia have found this element of the transition process particularly problematic. Other countries, too, have had varying degrees of success. In 2012, Nepal’s constituent assembly collapsed before a constitution could be agreed on, whereas Fiji has just promulgated a new constitution.

One of the issues that is always hotly debated is the best form of executive-legislative relations. Is political stability more likely under a presidential system, a parliamentary system or some mix of the two? This article examines the benefits and shortcomings of different ways of organizing executive-legislative relations. What choices are there? What is the evidence that some choices are more conducive to political stability than others? What other factors need to be taken into account?

Different Forms of Executive-Legislative Relations

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