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Singapore will be having its Presidential Election later this year. Recently, there have been constitutional amendments to change the Elected Presidency scheme to a "Reserved Election" scheme.

Basically, as Singapore is a multi-racial country, this "Reserved Election" scheme allows "the highest office in the land can (to) be held periodically by someone from a minority community".

Thus,

Under the constitutional change proposed, an election will be reserved for a particular racial group if no one from that group has been president for five continuous terms. Candidates running in these reserved elections will have to meet the same criteria as those running in open elections.

(emphasis mine)

Source: http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/parliament-2017-presidential-election-will-be-reserved-for-malay-candidates-says-pm-lee

Put it in context,

Since the country has not had a Malay president since 1970, the election this year will be reserved for Malay candidates.


Question: Has any similar system of Elected Presidency been used in other countries before?

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    Related but not identical: en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Māori_electorates – Andrew Grimm Apr 30 '17 at 1:33
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    This sounds like the apartheid scheme of South Africa, though it is expressed as forcing a less represented group into the office. – sabbahillel Apr 30 '17 at 2:05
  • Racial segregation in the United States might qualify, although it had the opposite goal. In many parts of the US it took until the voting rights act of 1965 until non-whites got the right to vote. I am not sure, though, if this technically also included the right to run for election. But there definitely weren't many non-whites running for elections until non-whites could also vote. – Philipp Apr 30 '17 at 11:12
  • @Philipp The segregation in the US was technically not part of the law. It was done by sneaky manipulation (such as poll taxes or literacy tests). The question is asking about specific legislation about racial discrimination (like apartheid South Africa). – sabbahillel Apr 30 '17 at 13:14
  • Lebanon has a kind of power-sharing agreement providing for the president to always come from a specific group (namely Maronite Christians) but (1) the various components of Lebanese society are not usually understood as “races” and (2) the president is not elected directly by the people but, like all other relevant office holders (prime minister, speaker of parliament, head of the army, etc.), by the parliament. – Relaxed Apr 30 '17 at 15:52
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A few examples in which racial groups were included or excluded:

Under the Apartheid laws in South Africa, the government was composed of, and elected by, members of the white population. Similarly, under segregation laws in the USA, black people were systematically excluded from government in many states (although this was not done through legal bans, but through "literacy tests" etc.)

"Lebanon has a kind of power-sharing agreement providing for the president to always come from a specific group (namely Maronite Christians) but the president is not elected directly by the people but, like all other relevant office holders (prime minister, speaker of parliament, head of the army, etc.), by the parliament." – Relaxed

These mostly describe one "race" excluding other to maintain their grip on power. There are examples in which a less represented group is guaranteed a role in government in some way:

In Northern Ireland, an assembly is elected, from which an executive is selected. The election process has been chosen to make it very likely that parties representing the Nationalist/Republican and the Unionist will both be represented in the executive, a form of mandatory coalition. The result of this is that the Deputy First Minister has been a representative of the Republican Sinn Fein. Under a voluntary election process, the Unionist parties would have been able to form a coalition to exclude Sinn Fein from government.

In other countries, there have been elections to represent one "race", nation or community. For example Maori election in New Zealand, or the governance of Native American tribes.

The scheme proposed in Singapore looks to be entirely novel (and a huge bureaucratic headache) I can see it coming unstuck with people from mixed backgrounds, the question of how to incorporate people who are not Malay, Chinese, White or Tamil {if these are the four "races"}

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  • It also presupposes that you can look at "Chinese" as being of a single ethnicity. There are a vast number of dialect groups. – WS2 May 1 '17 at 6:11

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