Pols342 week 9 lec 1 March 4, 2014
- Constitutional change
o Seems to be trendy in South America- addicticted to constantly changing their
constitutions with every change in government.
o Sign of instability because what we see id political parties coming into power and
using their power to change the constitution to suit their own purposes, disqualify
opposition, change the rules of the game, partisan changes,bolvia……..
o But…what if changing the cosnitition is a normal thing to do in politics?
(legitimate tool of politics)
Might actually be the sign of a lively, open political debate
What if the fact that western countries do not do this signifies that we
have closed the door on certain kinds of debates.
o If hugo Chavez and leaders like him felt the need to change the constitution then
that means they were in a non-hegemonic system.
…… situation where different groups are still competing to be dominant,
would be using constitutional change as a weapon against their enemies.
A situation where the fundamental questions are not solved.
o Which situation is more democratic?
1) one where issues are settled, taken for granted and never reopened
2) or one where it is always in the open, and not decided
Democracy is messy, and these constitutional changes are an indicator of
this messiness= indicator of democratic debates.
People complain in Canada that things aren’t debated anymore, politics
has been the same for decades-same groups etc, economics are still
governed by NAFTA etc.
Should not discount the democratic qualities of SA on the fact that they
change their constitution on a frequent basis.
- The executives in SA tend to have strong personalities
o Cult of personality
o Are able to rally strong popular support wgich allows them to impose their views
on the legislature and win their ways.
The result is high governability: fundamental concept of comparative
politics • The ability to get things done, the ability of an exectuve to achieve
something and implement it.
• In SA these strong personal leaders have shown a high degree of
this, able to implement things that are quite high-reaching
• Ex. Allende in chile
o Nationalized land, nationalized banks,
• Ex. Juan Peron in Argentina
o Created a new social saety net, welfare programs,
improved the conditions of work for his supporters.
This tradition emerges as the result of the condition of these countries at
the time of independene.
• Arbitrary borders inherited from Spain (dictated by spain and
• Spend the next decades embroiled in warefare and struggle=
development of this idea of strong leadership( caudillos) which
they felt was needed to defend them against their enemies and to
Problems with this style of leadership
• Governability was associated with accountability
o Thus, often when there is high governability there is low
accountability= leaders are essentially bullies, also leads to
the potential for corruption.
Ex. Long historical record of this in SA
• However, in SA the definition of corruption is slightly different
o Leans more otward the common good, you are corrupt if
you are deemed to have gone against the common good.
Have nto fulfilled sacred duty to do things for the people.
(not really based on procedure)
o Continuismo: long tradition of this in SA, tradition of
presidents who are not allowed to stay in office for more
than one term but who then change the rules to continue to
stay in office and people are okay with this.
o Democracy of outcomes-opens the door for executives to
violate the rules (might be justified)- rather than a
democracy of procedures. • In Canada corruption is understood in procedural terms.
Regardless if they have done good, if they lied on the forms then
they are considered corrupt.
Basis of their accountability comes from the rule of law (leaders
prosecuted years later for their misdeeds), parliamentary opposition,
• And popular participation: people going to the streets and making
it clear that someone has violated the common good.
o Justified in the organic coneption of the things.
o Plays an important functional role in keeping leaders
o Don’t do that in Canada (the west). In our culture we thus
tend to think of these things as weird.
o However, they are actually an effective method of
accountability. (many leaders have been taken out of office