The nature of democracy building support has changed radically in the last 10 years. At the same time, the third wave of democratization has led to an explosion of experience, knowledge, successes and failures across the Global South.

Nowhere is this more relevant than in the debate over the relative merits of parliamentary and presidential constitutions. Many states have adopted presidential systems as part of transitions or democratization in the last 15 years, and there is increasing evidence that these systems appear as resilient to political crises or economic shocks as parliamentary systems. Moreover, the question in the real world is most often not ‘should we choose a parliamentary or presidential system’ but rather ‘how do we make our system work’.

Responding to this dynamic, International IDEA and the Autonomous National University of Mexico hosted a workshop in Mexico City in February 2008 on the theme of ‘Making Presidentialism Work’, bringing together a broad group of experts, ranging from academics and lawyers to political activists and political commentators involved in debate and work on political reform.

This report summarizes the global comparative discussions that arose from the individual presentations at the workshop, a compendium of which is also published by UNAM and IDEA.


Publication date
18 February 2011
Andrew Ellis, Kirsti Samuels
Number of pages
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México


1. Introduction 

2. The Scope of Executive Powers: What constitutional and meta-constitutional (political) powers should be granted to the President?

3. The Checks and Balances on Executive Powers: The Role of Political Parties, the Judiciary, the Legislature and Public Administration

4. Electing and Removing a President: Effect of the electoral system and party system in the good performance of presidentialism

5. When is a Strong President a Benefit?

6. Collaboration between the Executive and Legislative branches

7. Presidentialism and the Division of Power: Decentralization, Devolution and Federalism

8. Conclusion 


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Making Presidentialism Work: Sharing and Learning from Global Experience

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