Cabinet ministers under competing pressures: Presidents, prime ministers, and political parties in semi-presidential systems

Cristina Bucur

Although Prime Ministers (PMs) often have the constitutional right to fire ministers, their ability to exercise this power is contingent on institutional rules and party politics. This article focuses on the relative powers of Presidents, PMs and political parties over cabinet composition in semi-presidential systems. Several expectations regarding their ability to fire ministers are tested on an original dataset on the tenure of French ministers under conditions of unified government and cohabitation.

The analysis shows that presidential influence over cabinet composition strengthens during unified government. Although the influence of both PMs and parties increases during cohabitation, their bearing on cabinet composition varies less than expected across the two executive scenarios. Moreover, ministerial durability is shown to increase during cohabitation. These results highlight the impact of intraparty constraints on prime ministerial influence and the asymmetrical relation between executive format and the ability of the President and the PM to control executive decision making.

Comparative European Politicsadvance online publication, doi:10.1057/cep.2015.1.


Published Feb. 27, 2015 3:38 PM - Last modified Jan. 8, 2018 9:39 AM