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Prof. Dr. Steffen Ganghof

Funded by: Volkswagen-Foundation

Granted project volume: 105.000,00 €

Run-time: 01.04.2019 – 31.03.2021



The governmental system of a democracy (parliamentary, presidential, mixed) can decide its fate. Yet there is no systematic and interdisciplinary theory of government systems.

Main research question:

Above all, the question as to which system of government would be desirable under democratic-egalitarian premises is hardly asked. The Opus Magnum wants to answer this question and presents a hitherto neglected system, the "semi-parliamentary system of government (SPG)". The SPG typologically and theoretically represents the "missing link" in our thinking about governmental systems. It draws the line of political separation of power within Parliament - between executive and legislative (as in presidentialism) or between two democratically legitimized branches of the executive (as in semi-presidentialism). In a SPG, legitimized by direct election Parliament consists of two parts, of which only one has the right to remove the government by a vote of no confidence. One way of differentiation of parliament into the two parts can be achieved by a special form of the bicameral parliament. Another way of differentiation would be to differentiate rights within a chamber - as by restricting the vote of no confidence to a "committee" within the parliament. Thus, the SPG uncouples the political separation of powers from the concentration of executive power in a single person. It therefore avoids the disadvantages of presidentialism (institutionalized personalism and power concentration in the executive) without losing the potential benefits of the separation of powers between two equal "agents", which were chosen by the voters. One advantage is the ability of the system to balance different normative conceptions of the democratic process - different "types of democracy" - that are not achievable in purely parliamentary systems.

Research objective:

The projects compares patterns of democracy in 23 countries and six Australian states from 1975 to 2018 and develops new semi-parliamentary constitutional designs. The results of the project were published in 2021 in a monography by Oxford University Press (open access).