You would think that it is more efficient for both the parliamentary election and presidential election to happen at the same time so voters don't become fatigued with politics.

I'm curious if there are any practical reasons for not synchronizing both elections in parliamentary republics?


  • Ireland
  • Finland
  • Iceland
  • Lithuania
  • Slovakia

Additionally, how does this arrangement affect voter turnout? Do they experience voter fatigue? Or inversely, does it actually improve democratic participation for some reason?

  • They can, of course. Also FWIW, there is scholarship by the way that says that which one happens first after independence greatly impacts the likelihood of a coup (parliamentary elections first reduces coups).
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 21:18

5 Answers 5


Usually, it is because the mechanisms for triggering elections are not the same between the two.

Presidential term is generally a fixed number of years, and unless the incumbent dies/resigns/otherwise leaves office, this fixed cycle is constant.

On the other hand, a Parliamentary term is not as fixed. Generally, the Parliament will have the power to declare non-confidence in the government, which would force an early Parliamentary election. In some democracies, the Prime Minister (or equivalent) also has the ability to set an early election date which is more electorally convenient for them.

  • 2
    Even with "stable" parliaments, the fixed terms for president and parliament often have different lengths (e.g. it's the case for the first two examples in question, Ireland and Finland)
    – fqq
    Commented Oct 11, 2020 at 22:26
  • minor note: in parliamentary republics a vote of no confidence in the government does not necessarily trigger new elections (eg the Italian republic has had 66 cabinets but only 18 legislatures)
    – fqq
    Commented Oct 11, 2020 at 22:30

This would profit from a country tag.

In Germany, where I live, parliament and president cannot be elected at the same time because the electoral college ("Bundesversammlung") that elects the president includes all sitting members of the parliament (which means they have to take office before the presidential election can happen).

Or, to put it differently, presidents are not necessarily elected by the public, so voter fatigue might not be an issue (other than in the sense that some people are fatigued by the fact that the public does not have a vote in this).

  • I think this is a non-answer because I implicitly understood the question as asking about countries where both posts are elected by the general voting public.
    – Jan
    Commented Oct 14, 2020 at 7:04

For countries in your list (like Ireland), there are two primary reasons why the elections would be held at different times for the president vs the parliament:

  1. The parliament can generally choose to have elections early should something like a government breakdown, or more favourable elections conditions for government parties occur
  2. To provide some level of independence of president and parliament

The first is already well addressed in the other answers, the second, however is important. If you are always electing your parliament and your president at the same time, it becomes much more likely that an elected president will act in a particularly partisan manner, which is undesirable.

For example, in Ireland, the president has a couple of constitutionally important functions:

  • The power to summon and dissolve the Dáil (Irish Parliament). In particular, the president can refuse to dissolve the Dáil, preventing a parliamentary election and instead forcing the sitting members of the Dáil to form a new government
  • Sign legislation passed by the two houses of parliament, or refuse to sign and choose to refer those bills to the supreme court prior to signing to assess their constitutionality (if the bill is determined to be constitutional, then the president must sign it)
  • Be the supreme commander of the Irish Defence Forces

In France: to avoid split governments

Since 2001, both Parlement and President are elected every 5 years. The electoral law has been organized in such a way that the Presidential Election predates the Legislastive Election by a few weeks. For instance, in 2017, the presidential election happened on 23 April and 7 May but the legislative elections happened on 11 and 18 June.

The aim of this calendar is to allow the President to get a majority in the Assemblée Nationale that will allow him to develop the policies he favors during five years.

Le double quinquennat, mais aussi la liaison des deux élections, dans un ordre respectueux de la primauté présidentielle, ont ainsi, volens nolens, jusqu’à présent, atteint le but poursuivi : inscrire les deux élections, présidentielle et législatives, dans un rythme quinquennal dégageant au profit du chef de l’État une période de cinq ans pour gouverner, avec l’appui d’une majorité au palais Bourbon, plus ou moins homogène cependant selon les législatures.


Approximative translation:

Linking the two elections with priority for the Presidential one has until today reached its aim: settling the two elections, presidential and legislative, in a quinquennal rhythm ensuring in favor of the head of State a five years period to govern, with the support of a majority in Palais Bourbon [equivalent of Capitole], more or less homogeneous however depending on legislatures.

Indeed, in every election since 2001 (2002, 2007, 2012, 2017), electors have sent a majority of deputies from the party of the newly elected President (Chirac, Sarkozy, Hollande, Macron) to Palais Bourbon. While this outcome is of course not granted by law, the boost the candidates receive from their side's success in the Presidential election has always proven overwhelming.

If elections happened on the same day, there would be much more chance for the outcomes to differ in the two elections, leading to what we called cohabitation - i.e. a split government.

A side effect is the reduced power of the Parlement, sometimes described as been reduced to a mere registration chamber.

  • France is generally described as a presidential, not a parliamentary system. Furthermore, the dates in France match up while the question asked about mismatched dates. I fail to see the relevance of this answer.
    – Jan
    Commented Oct 14, 2020 at 7:06
  • France is generally called "mixed", "semi-presidential" or "semi-parlementary" system (although it is a bit more presidential than it used to be since the 2001 evolution I describe). As I (try to) explain in the answer, the dates in France do not match up. For instance, in 2017, the presidential election happened on 23 April and 7 May (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2017_French_presidential_election) but the legislative elections happened on 11 and 18 June (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2017_French_legislative_election).
    – Evargalo
    Commented Oct 15, 2020 at 8:09

Let me add a couple of points not yet mentioned (it seems) in the other answers:

Not only parliamentary republics
This applies not only to parliamentary but also to presidential republics - as in France (already mentioned) or Russia (although this is obviously not the case in the US).

Government formation
In many parliamentary republics the formation of government after the elections is the moment where the presidential authority reaches its peak: it is the president who appoints the prospective head of the government to form the governing coalition. While it is often the head of the party that obtained the majority of votes in the elections, it is not always the case - e.g., if the majority party is widely judged uncapable to form a coalition or if forming a coalition for some reasons turn out to be complicated. In case of difficulties the often president acts as a mediator between different political forces. In some situations they may also choose to appoint a non-political figure - as was in the case of Mario Monti during the recent sovereign debt crisis in Italy.^1

Having the president elected simultaneously with the parliament would then greatly increase probability of a constitutional crisis.

^1 In UK the similar role is played by the Queen. For example:

These powers could be exercised in an emergency such as a constitutional crisis (such as surrounded the People's Budget of 1909) or in wartime. They would also be very relevant in the event of a hung parliament.
For example, in the hung parliament in 1974, the serving Prime Minister, Edward Heath, attempted to remain in power but was unable to form a working majority. The Queen then asked Harold Wilson, leader of the Labour Party, which had the largest number of seats in the Commons but not an overall majority, to attempt to form a government. Subsequently, Wilson asked that if the government were defeated on the floor of the House of Commons, the Queen would grant a dissolution, which she agreed to.

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