Reinstituting a duvergerian semi-parliamentary system for reviving democracy in Iraq and Lebanon

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractScientific


Over the past decades, prominent constitutional engineers advocated consociational democracy for democratizing post-dictatorial, post-conflict, divided societies such as Lebanon and Iraq. The primary assumption is that divided societies can be reconciled and democratized through a parliamentary consociational model, reaching consensus by accommodating different actors and parties. This theory seems unavoidable, might succeed in preventing any fraction's dominance, and is effective in old democracies like The Netherlands and Belgium. However, in Lebanon and Iraq's new and fragile democracies, consociational democracy weakens the political system's stability by strengthening sectarianism and facilitating regional destabilizing powers' intervention.
The transplanted democratic model in Iraq and Lebanon can be considered inclusive and pluralistic, as many parties share power in the parliament, but it has not resulted in an effective and stable democracy. The practice of this model of democracy has been problematic even in older democracies like Israel. The deadlock in forming cabinets and instability of governments in the 1990s forced Israel to accommodate a more decisive institutional element to its democratic system, which was the direct election of the prime minister. The prominent political scientist Maurice Duverger once called this model ‘semi-parliamentary’ system. This reform, however, was not a success in Israel due to inappropriate and uninformed institutional design. Unfortunately, that failed experience resulted in denying this semi-parliamentary alternative as a plausible solution in similar cases.
Considering contextual factors, such as recent public protests and political developments in Iraq and Lebanon, this paper aims to analyze the extent to which their democratic model might be responsible for the failure of democratic consolidation. Emphasizing plurality and inclusiveness while ignoring decisiveness for designing democratic models in countries that are culturally prone to contestation rather than compromise have brought about a free-for-all rather than consensus. This paper will examine these arguments in light of models of democracy in Iraq and Lebanon and the emerging public demands in these countries for structural and constitutional change. Using the institutional-cultural compatibility thesis of democracy and learning lessons from the institutional reform failure in Israel, the paper will critically examine the Iraqi and Lebanese model of democracy and suggest a Duvergerian semi-parliamentary arrangement – with a direct election of prime-minister - as a plausible structural reform that can sustain democracy, bring stability and effectiveness while maintaining pluralism and inclusiveness.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021
EventECPR General Conference 2021 - Online
Duration: 30 Aug 20213 Sept 2021


ConferenceECPR General Conference 2021
Internet address


  • political institutions
  • semi-parliamentary
  • comparative politics
  • democratization
  • Developing Countries


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