In the US system, it is approximately 6 weeks between the presidential election and the actual handing over of power to the winner. It seems surprising that executive power is retained so long by a voted-out leader. (Surprising to a citizen of a Westminster parliamentary system, at any rate...)

Are there any other countries that have similarly long periods?

The Wikipedia article on "Lame duck (politics)" conflated the issue with several others, and this question focuses on inuguration, which to me is a somewhat different question. (It's not obvious to me that political appointments need to be made on the same day as the new leader is sworn in, especially since many will continue to be made in the months that follow anyway.)


The kind of comparable situations I'm looking for is where the elected leader holds considerable power (not just a figurehead), and the delay is routine (not, for instance, due to an occasional failure by parties to form a majority).

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    That's the question I linked to :) No, it doesn't, although the context is useful. My main question here is: do any other countries do anything similar? (I don't really buy any explanation for why something must be done a certain way if every other country does it differently :) ) Oct 8, 2020 at 7:05
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    It's actually more like 10 or 11 weeks, not 6. This year, it is 78 days (3 Nov until 20 Jan), which is just over 11 weeks.
    – yoozer8
    Oct 8, 2020 at 9:17
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    @yoozer8 The presidential election isn't decided until December 14th and the results will be certified by congress on January 6th which leaves just 14 days from the certification until they take office. When this all started it was impossible to actually know the results until well after election day and that will likely be the case this year as well with all the mail in ballots.
    – Joe W
    Oct 8, 2020 at 13:06
  • "not, for instance, due to an occasional failure by parties to form a majority" - would you consider Israel a valid example? The Prime Minister-elect never has a majority simply from their own party, and has some amount of time to form a majority coalition, after which it (usually) falls to the leader of the second-largest party to try. But the whole thing can take months between the election and when the government is actually up and running. Most recently, it took over a year and three separate elections.
    – Bobson
    Oct 8, 2020 at 15:25
  • Is the previous president still in power during that time? Oct 9, 2020 at 0:05

1 Answer 1


There is another territory where the leader of the government does not take office until four months after the election! This is the government of Taiwan, which is constitutionally the Republic of China (whether it is China and/or Taiwan is a hotly disputed issue that is off-topic to this discussion).

For example, the 2016 presidential election took place on 16 January. But the new president was not inaugurated until 20 May. It should be noted that the presidency is not a ceremonial position; they are the effective leader of the government. There is also a prime minister, but they are subsidiary to the president (as in other parts of East Asia).

There are always elections to the Legislative Yuan on the same day as the presidency and the legislature begins its new session on 1 February. As a result, there are three-and-a-half months when the 'lame duck' president may no longer have a legislative majority and this actually occurred for the first time in 2016. The Cabinet resigned immediately after the election and the outgoing President Ma invited President-elect Tsai to name their replacements. She refused, because she preferred a clean break and wanted to preserve the principle that the Cabinet comes from the presidential coalition, so Ma appointed a caretaker Cabinet.

You can read more about the 2016 transition on Nathan Batto's excellent Frozen Garlic blog. Dr Batto is a political scientist, but leans towards Tsai's end of the political spectrum.

The situation was not repeated this year because the incumbent won. But it seems unlikely that a lame-duck president with a caretaker Cabinet would have been able to respond to the coronavirus crisis as effectively and robustly as the Tsai administation actually did.

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