Semi-Presidential Reform and Referendums in France and Romania

In: European Journal of Comparative Law and Governance
Anthony Murphy , PhD Candidate, Faculty of Law, Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania,

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This paper seeks to examine how direct democracy was used as a means to achieve or to strengthen semi-presidentialism in France and Romania. Whereas the Fifth Republic is widely seen as the archetypal semi-presidential regime, Romania relied heavily on this particular model for its post-communist constitution but opted to drastically reduce the powers of an otherwise directly-elected head of state. Nevertheless, the Gaullist reforms of postwar France echoed through the turn of the century. Traian Băsescu used referendums in an uncanny resemblance to Charles de Gaulle’s own pursuit of constitutional reform. Both aimed to increase the president’s role and decrease parliamentary involvement in the dual executive. However, only de Gaulle achieved partial success in shaping the political system.

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