Non-Executive Presidents in Parliamentary Democracies

International IDEA Constitution-Building Primer 6
This publication is only available in electronic format
6 August 2014
978-91-7671-111-8 (Print)
Elliot W. Bulmer

A non-executive president is a symbolic leader of a state who performs a representative and civic role but does not exercise executive or policymaking power. A non-executive president may, nevertheless, possess and exercise some discretionary powers of extraordinary political intervention as a constitutional arbiter or guarantor.

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.

This revised and reformatted edition was published in October 2017.


1. Introduction

2. What is the issue?

3. Functions and powers of non-executive presidents

4. Design considerations: election and tenure

5. Term of office, re-election and removal

6. Alternatives to a non-executive presidency

7. Examples

8. Decision-making questions