Presidents in presidential and semi-presidential democracies typically possess, in addition to executive powers strictly defined, certain legislative initiative and agenda-setting powers that allow them to exercise political leadership, for example, enabling them to propose legislation, control the legislative agenda and issue decrees with legal force.

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 Primer was originally published in 2015 under the title Presidential Powers: Legislative Initiative and Agenda-setting. This revised and reformatted edition was published in October 2017.


Publication date
01 October 2015
Elliot W. Bulmer
Number of pages
978-91-7671-120-0 (Print)



1. Introduction

2. Content and scope

3. What is the issue?

4. Proactive presidential legislative powers

5. Other aspects of presidential–legislative relations

6. Avoiding hyper-presidentialism

7. Contextual considerations

8. Decision-making questions

9. Examples



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Presidential Legislative Powers

International IDEA Constitution-Building Primer 15
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