Yes, I like hybrids, whether in transportation, fruit, electoral systems, or the executive-legislative structure.
I like driving our Honda Civic hybrid–at least if I have to drive at all; I’d rather be on the Coaster (which, pulled by a diesel-electric locomotive, is a hybrid of sorts, too). In fruit, I have already sopken of how much I love pluots–which are hybrids of plums and apricots that really do offer the best of both fruits. And just in recent days, one of my very favorite hybrids, the Allspice tangelo, has begun to ripen! Tangelos are crosses of grapefruits and mandarins (tangerines) and many really do offer the best of both parents, but none more so than Allspice. It is very aptly named, as it does have a sort of “spicy” character, with an incredible balance of flavors.
When it comes to political institutions, I have had many good things to say here at F&V about mixed-member proportional (MMP) electoral systems, which are a hybrid of first-past-the-post (by which roughly half of a legislative chamber is elected) and proportional representation (the principle on which the overall partisan make-up of the chamber is determined under MMP).
Now the journal, French Politics, has given me the honor of not only publishing a paper of mine on hybrid forms of executive-legislative relations, but also making it one of their very rare free-access publications: “Semi-Presidential Systems: Dual Executive And Mixed Authority Patterns” [PDF].
In this article (which is part of a review of the contributions to political science of Maurice Duverger), I apply a neo-Madisonian perspective to semi-presidential systems, identified in 1980 by Duverger as a ‘new political system model’ in which there is both a popularly elected president with some significant powers and a prime minister who heads a cabinet that may be removed by a parliamentary vote of no-confidence.
In the paper I note how semi-presidential regimes create a very different set of “transactions” between institutions with separate popular mandates than does the US constitution, but nonetheless follow a similar Madisonian logic (unlike parliamentary systems) in providing for inter-institutional checks.
I believe semi-presidential systems are probably superior to either presidential or parliamentary systems, though there is no such thing as one set of institutions that suits all situations. Besides, there is enormous variation within the basic semi-presidential type, and that variation is a major theme of the paper (pages 14 and 15 of the PDF, linked above, show these variations in numerous countries).
Now, if you will excuse me, I am going to go pick an Allspice. The tree is right outside F&V HQ. How convenient. Oh, and then I have some exams to return to.