Provisional government

A provisional government, also called an interim government, an emergency government, or a transitional government,[1] is an emergency governmental authority set up to manage a political transition generally in the cases of a newly formed state or following the collapse of the previous governing administration. Provisional governments are generally appointed, and frequently arise, either during or after civil or foreign wars.

Provisional governments maintain power until a new government can be appointed by a regular political process, which is generally an election.[2] They may be involved with defining the legal structure of subsequent regimes, guidelines related to human rights and political freedoms, the structure of the economy, government institutions, and international alignment.[3] Provisional governments differ from caretaker governments, which are responsible for governing within an established parliamentary system and serve as placeholders following a motion of no confidence, or following the dissolution of the ruling coalition.[3]

In opinion of Yossi Shain and Juan J. Linz, provisional governments can be classified to four groups:[4]

  1. Revolutionary provisional governments (when the former regime is overthrown and the power belongs to the people who have overthrown it).
  2. Power sharing provisional governments (when the power is shared between former regime and the ones who are trying to change it).
  3. Incumbent provisional governments (when the power during transitional period belongs to the former regime).
  4. International provisional governments (when the power during the transitional period belongs to the international community).

The establishment of provisional governments is frequently tied to the implementation of transitional justice.[5] Decisions related to transitional justice can determine who is allowed to participate in a provisional government.

The early provisional governments were created to prepare for the return of royal rule. Irregularly convened assemblies during the English Revolution, such as Confederate Ireland (1641–49), were described as "provisional". The Continental Congress, a convention of delegates from 13 British colonies on the east coast of North America became the provisional government of the United States in 1776, during the American Revolutionary War. The government shed its provisional status in 1781, following ratification of the Articles of Confederation, and continued in existence as the Congress of the Confederation until it was supplanted by the United States Congress in 1789.

The practice of using "provisional government" as part of a formal name can be traced to Talleyrand's government in France in 1814. In 1843, American pioneers in the Oregon Country, in the Pacific Northwest region of North America established the Provisional Government of Oregon—as the U.S. federal government had not yet extended its jurisdiction over the region—which existed until March 1849. The numerous provisional governments during the Revolutions of 1848 gave the word its modern meaning: A liberal government established to prepare for elections.

List of provisional governments

Numerous provisional governments have been established since the 1850s.


As of 2023 in Africa, only Libya, Burkina Faso , and Chad currently have provisional governments.



World War I and Interbellum

World War II

Cold War and aftermath

21st century

As of 2023 in Asia, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Syria, and Yemen currently have provisional governments. The Syrian provisional governments are opposition groups in rebellion against their internationally-recognized government. Afghanistan's provisional government is unrecognized, but is de facto the country's sole governing body. Myanmar and Yemen have both ruling and opposition provisional governments.


  • Provisional Government of Spain (1868–1871), established after the Spanish Glorious Revolution pending the election of a new Constitutional Monarch.

World War I and Interbellum

World War II

Provisional governments were also established throughout Europe as occupied nations were liberated from Nazi occupation by the Allies.

Cold War

Collapse of the USSR and aftermath

21st century

As of 2021 in Europe, Belarus is the only country currently with a provisional government, established by the opposition in parallel with the government of the Republic of Belarus.


See also


  1. "Google Ngram Viewer". Archived from the original on 2019-06-08. Retrieved 2019-03-08.
  2. "caretaker government". Credo Reference. Dictionary of politics and government. Archived from the original on 1 June 2022. Retrieved 18 December 2015.
  3. Shain(1) Linz(2), Yossi(1) Linz(2) (January 1992). "The Role of Interim Governments". Journal of Democracy. 3: 73–79. doi:10.1353/jod.1992.0012. S2CID 153562287.
  4. Yossi Shain, Juan J. Linz, "Between States: Interim Governments in Democratic Transitions", 1995, ISBN 9780521484985 Archived 2018-03-13 at the Wayback Machine, p. 5
  5. McAuliffe, Padraig (1 September 2010). "Transitional Justice and the Rule of Law". Ague Journal of the Rule of Law. doi:10.1017/S1876404510200015. S2CID 154281455.
  6. Sayigh, Yezid (1999). Armed Struggle and the Search for State: The Palestinian National Movement, 1949–1993 (illustrated ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 624. ISBN 9780198296430. "The Palestinian National Council also empowered the central council to form a government-in-exile when appropriate, and the executive committee to perform the functions of government until such time as a government-in-exile was established."
  7. United Nations General Assembly Session 67 Resolution 19. A/RES/67/19 Retrieved 2013-01-07.
  8. "The Palestinian Authority". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2013-07-21. Retrieved 2012-11-29.
  9. "Syria: Who's in control of Idlib?". BBC News. 2020-02-18. Archived from the original on 2019-07-27. Retrieved 2021-02-22.
  10. "Myanmar coup foes tout minority-backed shadow government". Associated Press. Yangon. 16 April 2021. Archived from the original on 18 March 2022. Retrieved 18 March 2022.
  11. "Myanmar shadow government condemns army ruler for taking PM role". Reuters. 2 August 2021. Archived from the original on 3 April 2022. Retrieved 18 March 2022.
  12. Choi, Joseph (8 September 2021). "EU: Provisional Taliban government does not fulfill promises". The Hill. Archived from the original on 18 March 2022. Retrieved 18 March 2022.
  13. "Statement of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan regarding cabinet announcement". Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan – Voice of Jihad. 7 September 2021. Archived from the original on 5 December 2021. Retrieved 18 March 2022. The Islamic Emirate has decided to appoint and announce a caretaker cabinet to undertake necessary governmental tasks.
  14. Salem, Mostafa; Kolirin, Lianne (7 April 2022). "Hopes of peace in Yemen as President hands power to new presidential council". CNN. Archived from the original on 8 April 2022. Retrieved 8 April 2022.
  15. Ghobari, Mohamed (7 April 2022). "Yemen president sacks deputy, delegates presidential powers to council". Reuters. Aden. Archived from the original on 1 May 2022. Retrieved 7 April 2022. With this declaration a Presidential Leadership Council shall be established to complete the implementation of the tasks of the transitional period. I irreversibly delegate to the Presidential Leadership Council my full powers in accordance with the constitution and the Gulf Initiative and its executive mechanism.
  16. "The Provisional National Government (1945)". The Orange Files: Notes on Illiberal Democracy in Hungary. 3 December 2015. Archived from the original on 25 September 2017. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  17. "Kuzey Kıbrıs Türk Cumhuriyeti Cumhuriyet Meclisi". Archived from the original on 2019-11-17. Retrieved 2019-11-17.
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