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List of European Union member states by political system

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Freedom House ratings for European Union and surrounding states, as of 2015.[1]
  European Union (all free)
  free
  partly free
  unfree
  not rated

This is a list of European Union member states, their forms of government and their parliaments. The European Union is a sui generis supranational union of democratic states. At a European Council Summit held in Copenhagen, Denmark, on 21 June and 22 June 1993,[2] the European Union defined the Copenhagen criteria regarding the conditions a candidate country has to fulfill to be considered eligible for accession to the European Union:

Consequently, all European Union member states are directly elected democracies that are considered to be "free" according to the criteria of Freedom House. As of 2015, all European Union member states are representative democracies; however, they do not all have the same political system, with most of the differences arising from different historical backgrounds.

Many of the states in the neighbourhood of the European Union are not considered to be "free" by the same criteria.[1] Most European states neighbouring the European Union are considered to be "free" or "partly free" by Freedom House, with the exceptions of Azerbaijan, Belarus and Russia. On the other hand, almost all of the states in North Africa and Southwest Asia that neighbour the European Union are not considered to be "free", with the exceptions of Israel and Tunisia.[1]

Monarchism and republicanism

  monarchy
  republic

At present, seven monarchies are members of the European Union: Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. All seven monarchies in the European Union are constitutional monarchies. In all seven monarchies, the monarch is legally prohibited from using political power, or the monarch does not utilise the political powers vested in the office by convention. At the dawn of the 20th century, France was the only republic among the future members states of the European Union; the ascent of republicanism to the political mainstream only started at the beginning of the 20th century. Public opinion is currently strongly in favour of keeping the monarchy in six of the remaining seven monarchies in the European Union, and there is currently no ongoing campaign with popular support to abolish monarchy in any of them.[citation needed] In Belgium however, the monarchy enjoys a lower degree of support than in other European monarchies, and is often questioned.[5] Popular support for the monarchy has historically been higher in Flanders and lower in Wallonia; however, in recent decades these roles have reversed.[6]

Form of government

There are three types of government systems in European politics: in a presidential system, the president is the head of state and the head of government; in a semi-presidential system, the president and the prime minister share a number of competences; finally, in a parliamentary republic, the president is a ceremonial figurehead who has few political competences. As with the definition of constitutional monarchies, sometimes the president does have non-ceremonial competences, but does not use them by constitutional convention; this is the case in Austria, for instance.

By definition, modern democratic constitutional monarchies are parliamentary, as there is no elected head of state who could assume non-ceremonial competences; of the twenty one republican member states of the European Union, only one is a presidential republic (Cyprus) and five are semi-presidential republics (France, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal and Romania). These six (semi-)presidential republics elect their president by direct popular vote. Among the fourteen parliamentary republics, half do the same (namely Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, Slovakia and Slovenia), whereas in the remaining seven (Estonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia and Malta), the president is elected by parliament or other special representative body such as the German Bundesversammlung.

Degree of self-governance

Most of the European Union's member states are unitary states, which means that most of the competences lie with the central government and only minor or local issues are within the authority of regional governments. However, three states are federations (Austria, Belgium and Germany) of states or regions with equal competences, and six other states have either devolved certain powers to special regions or are federacies (or both):

Parliamentary chambers

A further distinction is the number of chambers in the national legislature; unicameral systems with one chamber or bicameral ones with a lower house and an upper house. Federations and countries with strong regional differences or regional identities are normally bicameral, to reflect the regions' interests in national bills. The states with the larger populations, from the Netherlands upwards, all have a bicameral system. Although there is a greater mix among the smaller states (some influenced by their federalist structure), the smallest states are on the whole unicameral.

While there had been legislatures with more than two chambers (tricameral and tetracameral ones), nowadays there are only unicameral and bicameral ones. Additionally, there are also differences in the degree of bicameralism. Whereas Italy is considered as having "perfect bicameralism", with both chambers being equal, most other bicameral systems restrict the upper house's powers to a certain extent. There is a slight trend towards unicameralism; some upper houses have seen their powers reduced or proposals to that end. Belgium's system has been reduced from a perfectly bicameral one to a nowadays de facto unicameral system. In 2009, Romania voted in favour of unicameralism, on a plebiscite, however the country still has a bicameral system, as of 2017. On the other hand, Ireland narrowly voted against abolishing their upper house in 2013, and Italy voted not to reduce its Senate's powers in 2016.

In the member states of the European Union, if the parliament has only one chamber, it is wholly directly elected in all cases. If there are two chambers, the lower house is directly elected in all cases, while the upper house can be directly elected (e.g. the Senate of Poland); or indirectly elected, for example, by regional legislatures (e.g. the Federal Council of Austria); or non-elected, but representing certain interest groups (e.g. the National Council of Slovenia); or non-elected (though by and large appointed by elected officials) as a remnant of a non-democratic political system in earlier times (as in the House of Lords in the United Kingdom).

Listed by form of government

State Government Self-governance Monarchy/Republic Head of state Head of government
 Austria parliamentary federal republic Federal President (Bundespräsident)[7] Federal Chancellor (Bundeskanzler)[8]
 Belgium parliamentary federal constitutional popular monarchy King (Koning / Roi / König)[9] Prime Minister / First Minister (Eerste Minister / Premier Ministre / Premierminister)[10][11]
 Bulgaria parliamentary unitary republic President (Президент)[12] Minister-Chairman (Министър-председател)[13]
 Croatia parliamentary unitary republic President of the Republic (Predsjednik Republike) President of the Government (Predsjednik Vlade)
 Cyprus presidential unitary republic President (Πρόεδρος / Cumhurbaşkanı)[14]
 Czech Republic parliamentary unitary republic President (Prezident)[15] Chairman of the Government (Předseda vlády)[16]
 Denmark parliamentary federate constitutional monarchy Queen (Dronning)[17] Minister of State (Statsminister)[18]
 Estonia parliamentary unitary republic President (President)[19] Head Minister (Peaminister)[20]
 Finland parliamentary federate republic President (Presidentti / President)[21] Head Minister / Minister of the State (Pääministeri / Statsminister)[22]
 France semi-presidential federate republic President (Président)[23] Prime Minister (Premier ministre)[24]
 Germany parliamentary federal republic Federal President (Bundespräsident)[25] Federal Chancellor (Bundeskanzler)[26][27]
 Greece parliamentary unitary republic President (Πρόεδρος)[28] Prime Minister (Πρωθυπουργός)[29]
 Hungary parliamentary unitary republic President of the Republic (Köztársasági Elnök)[30] Minister-President (Miniszterelnök)[31]
 Ireland parliamentary unitary republic President (Uachtarán)[32] Taoiseach[33]
 Italy parliamentary devolved republic President (Presidente)[34] President of the Council of Ministers (Presidente del Consiglio dei Ministri)[35][36]
 Latvia parliamentary unitary republic President (Prezidents)[37] Minister-President (Ministru prezidents)[38]
 Lithuania semi-presidential unitary republic President (Prezidentas)[39] Minister-President (Ministras Pirmininkas)[40]
 Luxembourg parliamentary unitary constitutional monarchy Grand Duke (Grand-duc / Großherzog / Groussherzog)[41][42] Prime Minister (Premier ministre / Premierminister / Premierminister)[41][42]
 Malta parliamentary unitary republic President (President)[43] Prime Minister (Prim Ministru)[44]
 Netherlands parliamentary federate constitutional monarchy King (Koning)[45] Minister-President (Minister-president)[46]
 Poland semi-presidential unitary republic President (Prezydent)[47] President of the Council of Ministers (Prezes Rady Ministrów)[48]
 Portugal semi-presidential unitary republic President (Presidente)[49][50] Prime Minister (Primeiro-Ministro)[51]
 Romania semi-presidential unitary republic President (Preşedinte)[52] Prime Minister (Prim-ministru)[53]
 Slovakia parliamentary unitary republic President (Prezident)[54] Chairman of the Government (Predseda vlády)[55]
 Slovenia parliamentary unitary republic President (Predsednik)[56] President of the Government (Predsednik vlade)[57]
 Spain parliamentary devolved constitutional monarchy King (Rey)[58] President of the Government (Presidente del Gobierno)[59]
 Sweden parliamentary unitary constitutional monarchy King (Kung)[60] Minister of the State (Statsminister)[61]
 United Kingdom parliamentary devolved constitutional monarchy Queen[62] Prime Minister[63]

Listed by type of parliament

Member state System Overall name of legislature
Lower house (members) Upper house (members)
 Austria bicameral Austrian Parliament (Österreichisches Parlament),
convened jointly as Federal Assembly (Bundesversammlung)[64]
National Council (Nationalrat)[64] (183) Federal Council (Bundesrat)[64] (61)
 Belgium bicameral[I],
de facto unicameral
Federal Parliament (Federaal Parlement / Parlement fédéral / Föderales Parlament),
convened jointly as United Chambers (Verenigde Kamers / Chambres réunies)
Chamber of Representatives
(Kamer van Volksvertegenwoordigers /
Chambre des Représentants /
Abgeordnetenkammer)
[65][66] (150)
Senate (Senaat / Sénat / Senat)[67] (60)
 Bulgaria unicameral National Assembly (Народно събрание)[68] (240)
 Croatia unicameral Croatian Parliament (Hrvatski sabor) (151)
 Cyprus unicameral House of Representatives (Βουλή των Αντιπροσώπων / Temsilciler Meclisi)[69] (56)[II]
 Czech Republic bicameral Parliament (Parlament)
Chamber of Deputies (Poslanecká sněmovna)[70] (200) Senate (Senát)[71] (81)
 Denmark unicameral The People's Thing (Folketinget)[72] (179)
 Estonia unicameral State Assembly (Riigikogu)[73] (101)
 Finland unicameral[III] Diet (Eduskunta / Riksdag)[74] (200)
 France bicameral Parliament (Parlement), convened jointly as Congress (Congrès)[75]
National Assembly (Assemblée nationale)[76] (577) Senate (Sénat)[77][78] (348)
 Germany bicameral [IV]
Federal Diet (Bundestag)[79] (630)[V] Federal Council (Bundesrat)[80] (69)
 Greece unicameral Parliament of the Greeks (Βουλή των Ελλήνων)[81] (300)
 Hungary unicameral National Assembly (Országgyűlés)[82] (199)
 Ireland bicameral National Parliament (Oireachtas)[VI]
Assembly (Dáil)[V] (166) Senate (Seanad)[V] (60)
 Italy bicameral Parliament (Parlamento)[83][84]
Chamber of Deputies (Camera dei Deputati)[85] (630) Senate of the Republic (Senato della Repubblica)[84][86] (315)[VII]
 Latvia unicameral Diet (Saeima)[87] (100)
 Lithuania unicameral Diet (Seimas)[88] (141)
 Luxembourg unicameral Chamber of Deputies (Chambre des Députés / Abgeordnetenkammer / Châmber vun Députéirten)[89][90] (60)
 Malta unicameral House of Representatives (Kamra tad-Deputati)[91] (67)[VIII]
 Netherlands bicameral States–General (Staten–Generaal)[92]
Second Chamber (Tweede Kamer)[93] (150) First Chamber (Eerste Kamer)[94] (75)
 Poland bicameral National Assembly (Zgromadzenie Narodowe)[IX]
Diet (Sejm)[95] (460) Senate (Senat)[96] (100)
 Portugal unicameral Assembly of the Republic (Assembleia da República)[97] (230)
 Romania bicameral Parliament (Parlamentul)[98]
Chamber of Deputies (Camera Deputaţilor)[99] (412) Senate (Senat)[100] (176)
 Slovakia unicameral National Council (Národná rada)[101] (150)
 Slovenia bicameral Parliament (Parlament)
National Assembly (Državni zbor)[102] (90) National Council (Državni svet)[103] (40)
 Spain bicameral General Courts (Cortes Generales)
Congress of Deputies (Congreso de los Diputados)[104] (350) Senate (Senado)[105] (266)
 Sweden unicameral National Diet (Riksdagen)[106] (349)
 United Kingdom bicameral[X] Parliament[107]
House of Commons[107] (650) House of Lords[107] (793)
I^ : Due to Belgium's complex federal structure the Parliament of the Brussels-Capital Region (Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Parlement / Parlement de la Région de Bruxelles-Capitale)[108][109] (89, regional assembly), Flemish Parliament (Vlaams Parlement)[110] (124, regional and community assembly), the Walloon Parliament (Parlement wallon)[111][112] (75, regional assembly), the Parliament of the French Community (Parlement de la Communauté française)[113] (94, community assembly) and the Parliament of the German-speaking Community (Parlament der Deutschsprachigen Gemeinschaft)[114] (25, community assembly) have competences in federal legislation that affects their interests.
II^ : Only 56 out of 80 are occupied, due to the occupation of Cyprus.
III^ : In legislation which affects the autonomous region of the Åland Islands, its Parliament (Lagting)[115] (30) also has legislative competences.
IV^ : While there is a Federal Assembly (Bundesversammlung) similar to the Austrian Federal Assembly, it is not simply a joint session of the Federal Diet and the Federal Council and as such not the overall name of the legislature.
V^ : Technically, the Federal Diet only has 598 members; the additional thirty-two seats are overhang seats resulting from the 2013 election.
VI^ : The Irish names are used in the English-language version of the Constitution of Ireland,[116] and generally in English-language speech and writing in Ireland.[117][118]
VII^ : In addition to the 315 elected members, there are currently five senators for life (senatore a vita); these include former Italian President, who is ex officio senator for life, as well as senators appointed by the President "for outstanding patriotic merits in the social, scientific, artistic or literary field". There can only be five appointed senators in addition to the ex officio ones at any one time.
VIII^ : Technically, the House of Representatives only has 65 members; the additional two seats are overhang seats to ensure a majority of MPs for the party which gained the most votes in the 2017 election.
IX^ : The name Zgromadzenie Narodowe is only used on the rare occasions when both houses sit together.
X^ : In legislation which affects the overseas territory of Gibraltar, its Parliament[119] (17) also has legislative competences.

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