What is the second-oldest presidential/congressional republic?

The United States is the oldest presidential/congressional republic in the world, dating to 1788, when the Constitution was ratified. (Not necessarily the oldest republic; San Marino claims that title, and Switzerland is also in the running).

So what is the second-oldest presidential/congressional republic in the world? I’m interested in a presidential/congressional republic, similar in constitutional structure to the US, which has had an uninterrupted run to the present day since its constitution was ratified.

I’m excluding countries that have been conquered, or had a military dictatorship, or a parliamentary republic.

Colombia perhaps? If I’m not mistaken it has been a continuous republic with both legislative and executive branches since its original incarnation as “Gran Colombia” in 1819.

I don’t think so; according to the wiki article on Colombia:

It was a military dictatorship as recently as 1953-1958, though, so it’s excluded by the OP. Nearly every country in Latin America has been under a dictatorship at some point since 1950.

Oops, sorry. I’ve heard Colombians talk about having the second oldest democracy (this site even calls it “uninterrupted”) - too bad about that 1950s period.

Are you just considering the form of government, or also how it worked in practice? Mexico has had the form of a legislative/presidential government at least since the constitution of 1857, and their current constitution dates to 1917. However, Mexico was effectively a one-party state from 1929 to 2000, and Porfirio Diaz ruled in an authoritarian manner (though through democratic forms) from the late 1800s to 1910.

The Swiss cantons have a republican form of government, with distinct legislative and executive organs, and in most cases this long predates the American republic. However the executive bodies tend to be collective - executive power is wielded by a council, rather than an individual chief executive - and the overriding tradition of direct democracy means that in practice the executive organ doesn’t absolutely hold supreme executive power, and the legislative organ doesn’t hold supreme legislative power; both may be overridden by the people. So they probably don’t meet the OP’s conditions.

Hmm. That’s a good question. [ETA: responding to Colibri’s question.]

I guess one of the hallmarks of a republic is a relatively free and legal system of government, even if the franchise is restricted; otherwise it’s a form of dictatorship with the trappings of a republic to camauflauge its authoritarianism.

I don’t really know enough about Mexican history to comment.

I’ve heard Haitians make the same claim, though it’s a stretch.

I don’t think they fit, no - the collective executive, chosen in some way by the legislative branch, seems sufficiently different from the US model to not fit my query.

Haiti: I don’t think so:

Hence, my qualifier. Their claim might have been “The Western hemisphere’s second republic,” but even that claim needs qualifiers.

Between 1929 and 2000, Mexico wasn’t exactly a dictatorship but wasn’t a real democracy either. The Partido Revolucionario Institucional won every election up to 1982 by margins of 70% or more, usually through massive fraud. Since 1934 the President was limited to a single six-year term, but under the PRI regime each one effectively chose his own successor. However, the constitutional forms have been complied with; no president has tried to prolong his own term.

Even if you classify republican dictatorships as republics, Haiti was actually a legit monarchy on at least one occasion, so it fails the test.

So, based on what Colibri has posted, the South and Central American countries have all had coups and dictatorships since the 1950s.

Mexico has had the form of a presidential/congressional republic for about a century, but was essentially a one-party state for most of the 20th century.

Is there no better contender than Mexico for second-oldest congressional/presidential republic?

Costa Rica has had a functioning republican government since 1948, which sounds more significant than the Mexican example.

If we can exclude Latin America based on the fact their supposed “republics” were effectively dictatorships, maybe we can include the UK based on the fact its supposed “monarchy” is effectively a republic, and has been for centuries.

Yes, yes, being able to see through sham elections is wonderful but if you call a figurehead a figurehead you’re suddenly grossly incorrect and missing the point and so on. Meanwhile, the Britons-and-Northern-Irish-and-Manx-and-Channel-Islanders-and-Whoever-Else are voting MPs into and out of office and holding referenda and fully expecting that HRH wouldn’t dare to ignore the people’s decision, even if it comes in the form of a BNP MP.

Now tell me how ignorant I am of how the UK’s government works, and how utterly unlike a representative democracy it is.

I appreciate that there Are arguments that the Commonwealth realms like the UK and Canada are “crowned republics” but I’m not asking about democracies or republics in general.

I’m asking about a republic organized on a presidential/congressional model, with a fairly strict separation of powers.

I’m not asking about parliamentary republics, where there is a fusion between the executive and the legislature, so the UK is out, as are republics like Germany, Italy and Israel.


My first thought when starting to read the thread was France, but then I don’t think it counts because they’ve had a few revolutions, constitutional redoes, and were temporarily conquered by Hitler.