There is a long-standing and widespread consensus that semi-presidentialism is bad for democratic performance. This article examines whether there is empirical evidence to support the arguments against semi-presidentialism. Examining countries that are incompletely consolidated and yet are not autocratic, we identify the relationship between democratic performance and the three main arguments against semi-presidentialism - the strength of the presidency, cohabitation, and divided minority government. We find that there is a strong and negative association between presidential power and democratic performance, but that cohabitation and divided minority government do not have the negative consequences that the literature predicts. © 2008 Cambridge University Press.