Removing Presidents: A Comparative Exploration

What happens when a president is deemed to be so politically unpopular as to endanger the country? In the United States, the conventional understanding is, in a word, nothing. The result is that the constitutional system, as conventionally understood, dooms us to keep an unpopular president until the full term is fulfilled. It does not have to be this way. Neither the historical understanding of impeachment nor the text determines that we need to interpret the constitution in the way that we have. And comparative experience shows us that a well-functioning democratic order can be consistent with other ways of doing things. Lower barriers to removal need not bring political instability. Other countries approach the problem of runaway or unpopular chief executives, including elected presidents, in very different ways. This paper explores the comparative experience of removing presidents around the world.