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Government 20

1 Week 10 “The Perils of Presidentialism” Juan J Linz Article tries to determine which system is more stable and easy to institute- points out inefficiencies of Presidential Systems. Parliamentary Vs. Presidential Systems ● Vast majority of stable democracies in the world today are parliamentary regimes- executive power generated by legislative majorities. The prime minister is elected within parliament upon a vote of confidence. The masses elect their representatives and the representatives decide on a prime minister. The Prime Minister knows no term limits nor fixed terms. (51) ● The United States and Chile on the other hand practice presidential democracy- in which an executive with considerable constitutional powers- including full control of the composition of the cabinet and administration-is directly elected by the people for a fixed term. Presidents generally have term limits and fixed terms (52). ● In presidential system-presidents and legislators claim democratic legitimacy. If Executive branch and Legislative branch are controlled by two different parties can cause stand offs where neither backs down because of democratic legitimacy- both feel they are doing what is best for the country. ○ No mechanism to solve stand-offs ○ Usually a mediator intervenes (military) however in the US this has become normal with the development of political parties to moderate these conflicts- unseen everywhere else (53) ● Fixed term in office breaks political process- long term plans and initiatives very hard to carry out because leadership guiding them have a short time in office and cannot see it through to the end.Also interesting in looking at succession- successor chose in instances of death or incapacitation (Vice President) may be someone who would never be elected to the presidency under conditions of election. Paradoxes of Presidentialism ● System tries to build strong stable executive with enough public support to withstand critiques of legislature. This large amount of power and insulation however gives people fear of personalization of power- if unchecked could become too powerful. Paradox ● Systems in place to grant large problems but simultaneously bind them- reelection limitations, impeachment, judiciary and legislative insulation (checks and balances), intervention by military (54). ● New dimension of conflict introduced with “fundamental contradiction between the desire for a strong and stable executive and the latent suspicion of that same presidential power”. Affects decision making ● Difference between two systems “parliamentarism imparts flexibility to the process while presidentialism makes it rather rigid” (55) Zero-sum Elections 2 ● Presidentialism is winner-take-all. Stakes are very high- Losers must wait at least 4 years before allowed to have any access to executive power. ● Parliamentary elections for Prime Minister often represent a multitude of parties- parties form temporary coalitions and share power (may have prime minister be from a minority group but backed by a quantitative majority due to power-sharing and coalition).As a result stances taken into account. President’s lack of coalition and near majority win will result in large opposition. ● Parliamentaries have consociational democracy (56) ● Worries about an election being too close that clear winner not elected- lower limits on the size of winning plurality. ● Often in Presidentialism candidates must play to the middle and away from extremist groups, however large social and economic problems can give rise to support of extremist groups and electoral appeal- thus main parties must collaborate even if in normal circumstances they never would (Republicans- Tea Partyists) (57) ● Two-round elections limit influence of extremist groups. The Style of Presidential Politics ● While in office president must consider reconciliatory actions-bring on board loser or members of losing party to add political diversity in the hopes of rallying more widespread support, or would incorporation hinder plans over term which also risks his extreme allies from cutting ties? (60) ● Faces a paradox-must be representative of the entire country while simultaneously being partisan-appears hypocritical. President must show why his party’s platform is best for all members of the state. ● Constitutional monarchies dodge this in that Prime Ministers can be partisan while Royalty or something equivalent can be the heads of state. ● “In his frustration he may be tempted to define his policies as reflections of the popular will and those of his opponents as the selfish designs of narrow interests” (61) ● Prime minister, although in position of executive power still very much apart of parliament- appointment contingent of approval by vote of confidence so they must be in constant connection and service to them. ● Presidents lead opposition not entirely concrete- yes a member of opposite party but in what manifestation? Sometimes cannot restrain influence. Prime Ministers opposition is member of opposition party within parliament who has direct influence and restraint. The Problem of Dual Legitimacy ● President with large support base either with the public or military gives opposition fear and perception that president has more power than in actuality. ● Ministers in parliament on much more equal footing with cabinet members- strong independent-minded (62)Also colleagues in parliament ● Presidents cabinet on the other hand all appointed and “purely at the sufferance of their chief”. Cabinet comprised of members from all over (Governors, Senators, Congressmen, Professors, Members of Private & Public Sectors). Must adhere to Presidents demands to not lose job ● President can however shield cabinet members much better than PM ● No democratic principle exists to resolve disputes between executive and legislature 3 about which approach represents will of the people in regards to dual democratic legitimacy. The Issue of Stability ● Presidents have advantage in that office is very stable. Parliamentary’s subject to more cabinet crisis and changes of PM. On the surface appear weaker, but parliament able to keep parties in power longer and endure crisis without giving up power entirely. ● Presidents hard to remove if completely unsatisfactory-impeachments difficult and time consuming. (64) ● Rigid also in terms of succession.Although a seamless transition, the VP whom was next in line may not be the best choice.Also having the seamless transition of power may be harder capture in developing countries (65) The Time Factor ● Limited time allowed to presidents creates a great obstacle in that they have a very short amount of time to fulfill promises got them elected. Solution is to get rid of term limits or lengthen terms, but President vested with so much power that it is unsafe not to have existing limiting provisions. ● Trying to get agenda passed through under such time constraints leads to spending money unwisely or making moves that are polarizing (ex. Obamacare). ● Prime ministers free from pressures-have more time to transition into changes and do so in a better fashion. (66) ● Presidents in tough position in that when they leave, their accumulation of service and laws, which may be in premature or uncompleted stages, in the hands of successors. New president, if in opposition can abandon or repeal while opposition of similar mindset may not continue predecessors line of work to pursue new ideas or to establish themselves as an independent entity, not an extension of the past leader. ● Parliamentary regimes can more easily mitigate above difficulties-predecessor could still be in parliament, could alternate positions, power sharing, more party support. (67) ● During presidential elections, many deals both publicly and privately must be struck and fulfilled for re election. Parliamentarism and Political Stability ● US still the world’s most stable democracy ● “One cannot help tentatively concluding that in many other societies the odds that presidentialism will help preserve democracy are far less favorable”. ● Not concrete- Parliamentarism could crumble, but as of now appear to show tendencies of being easier to adopt by countries adopting democracy. Juan Linz, Presidentialism, and Democracy By Scott Mainwaring and Matt Shugart Declan Garvey Juan Linz essay: Presidential or Parliamentary Democracy: Does It Make a Difference? (pg. 859) 4 ● Argued that presidentialism less likely than parliamentarism to sustain stable democratic regimes These authors agree with certain criticisms of presidentialism, but don’t believe in Linz’s idea that presidentialism leads to “winner-takes-all” ● Parliamentary system has a bit of a selection bias ● Presidentialism does have some advantages to offset its drawbacks ○ Presidencies function better when there are weak legislative powers, parties are disciplined, and party systems are not highly fragmented ● With undisciplined parties, a switch from presidentialism to parliamentarism creates bigger problems Presidentialism: a regime in which the president is always the chief executive and is elected by popular vote or by an electoral college with essentially no autonomy with respect to popular preferences ● Also, the terms of office for the president and assembly are fixed ● President has the right to retain ministers of his or her choosing regardless of the composition of the congress Few long established democracies have presidential systems → Parliaments fare better because of issues inherent in presidencies (pg. 860) (Linz’s argument) 1. Both president and assembly have competing claims to legitimacy a. Both elected b. Origin and survival of each are independent from the other i. In Parliamentary system, executive isn’t independent from assembly → assembly can change government if majority favors change in direction 2. Fixed term of president is less favorable for democracy due to its rigidity a. Parliamentary systems are more flexible→ greater opportunity to resolve disputes b. Rigidity makes adjusting to changing situations very difficult → even if leader has lost the confidence of his own party cannot be replaced until term is up 3. Presidentialism introduces a strong element of zero-sum game into democratic politics with rules that tend toward a winner take all outcome a. Parliament shares power, forms coalitions b. Once President is elected, doesn’t feel pressure to build coalitions or make concessions to opposition 4. Sense of being representative of entire nation → President intolerant of opposition, sense of absolute power a. Makes resistance he/she encounters more frustrating than it would be for a Prime Minister 5. Political outsiders more likely to win chief executive office in presidential system (pg. 861) a. Less dependent on political parties → govern in populist, anti-institutionalist way Mainwaring and Shugart’s take on these five critiques: 1. Agree, but there can be conflicting claims to legitimacy in Parliamentary Systems too a. Upper and lower houses, especially if controlled by two separate parties i. Upper house can’t be dissolved in some Parliaments ii. Could avoid problem if unicameral, but would sacrifice advantages of bicameral b. But problem is more pronounced with Presidentialism 5 c. Also conflicting legitimacy between president elected by Parliament and assembly i. President can: dissolve parliament (Italy), veto legislation (Czech Republic, Slovakia), decree new laws (Greece) 1. Linz says that in this system President can be adviser or arbiter → wouldn’t be so much effort to elect preferred candidates if it didn’t matter (pg. 862) ii. But the more authority a head of state is given, the greater the potential for conflict (esp. new democracies) 1. Can apply the brakes to a parliamentary majority, typically has longer term than members of parliament 2. Agree rigidity of presidentialism can be detrimental a. difficult to get rid of unpopular presidents without system breaking down → also can’t reelect good president i. Only term limits to prevent President’s from abusing power to secure reelection ii. They think reelections should be allowed in countries where institutions can protect from incumbent manipulation b. Can mitigate effects of rigidity by shortening term-length → bad president not in office as long c. Parliamentary flexibility: Prime Minister’s party can replace its leader or coalition partner can withdraw support → cabinet instability doesn’t have to mean regime instability i. Presidentialism raises the threshold for removing an executive (wait out term or impeach) (pg. 863) d. Presidentialism could fix rigidity problem by allowing calling of early elections i. Would have to mean all branches are up for reelection: one branch can’t dismiss the other without subjecting itself to reelection as well 3. Don’t agree with Linz’s winner takes all argument a. Parliamentary systems with disciplined parties and a majority party have the fewest checks on executive power → even more winner-takes-all than presidential i. Ex. Great Britain party has won majority of Parliament (but not 50% of votes, multiple parties) → can control executive and legislature for long period of time b. Disciplined parties, single member plurality electoral districts, and prime minister’s ability to dissolve parliament → very weak checks and balances i. In theory members of parliament of the governing party control cabinet → but in practice only support their own party’s legislative initiatives (will only get reelected that way) ii. Between elections, executive has unconstrained power → calling early elections not used for ending bad governments, but extending the reign of one party before current term ends c. Checks and balances of presidential systems prohibit possibility of winner taking all (pg. 864) i. President and Congress can be led by different parties → block each other ii. Controlling Congress doesn’t enable a party to dictate policy, but allows 6 party to establish parameters within which policy is made 1. Can be mega-important if presidency has weak legislative powers d. Presidential systems make it easier to divide cabinet among several parties i. Presidents allocate cabinet seats to parties besides their own to get support for elections or reward them for their support 1. Allows loser of presidential contest a piece of the pie 4. Agree that predominant style of politics differs between presidential and parliamentary systems, but place more emphasis on differences from constitutional design and nature of party system 5. Agree that Presidentialism is more conducive than parliamentarism to political outsider being elected as head of government (pg. 866) a. But this is an exception, not the rule → Costa Rica, Uruguay, Colombia, and Venezuela haven’t elected outsider President in recent decades Most long established democracies are parliamentary → of 33 long-established democracies, only six are presidential (22 parliamentary, five other) Income Level, population size, and British colonial heritage also important in sustaining democracy ● 28 of 33 long established democracies are in upper middle or upper income countries (among lower incomes, more presidential (3) than parliamentary (2)) (pg. 867) ○ 15 of parliamentary democracies found in Europe , Canada, Israel, or Japan → would’ve been democracies even if presidential → accidental ■ The region of the world that democratized and industrialized first is overwhelmingly parliamentary (because of constitutional monarchies → democracies) ● Very small countries have advantage in democratic stability → more likely to be homogeneous (ethnicity, religion, language) → fewer sources of political conflict ○ All five democratic micronations (500,000 or fewer) are parliamentary ● British colonial heritage leads to increased sustainability of democracy → training civil servants, governmental practices, lack of control of landed elites over state ○ 9 of 33 democracies had British colonial experience → 8 are parliamentary and one is presidential (background condition) (pg. 868) If a background condition that is conducive to democracy is correlated with parliamentarism, then the superior record of parliamentarism may be more a product of the background condition than the regime type (pg. 869) Democracies that have been around for at least ten years but less than 23 years: (24 more countries) ● Include a lot of microstates that became independent from Britain → all are parliamentary ● All 7 presidential democracies are in medium to large countries ● Only 3 of 16 parliamentary democracies are in medium to large countries ● All 16 micronations are parliamentary ● 8 of 10 democracies with 500,000-1,000,000 people are parliamentary ○ No presidential systems are in microstates, and most are in large countrie 7 ● But more presidential democracies in these younger democracies than the older ones → most in lower and lower middle incomes, all are in LatinAmerica ● More Parliamentary systems than presidential in every income bracket ○ But every parliamentary democracy not in the uppermost bracket was a former British colony Thus, if the obstacles of lower income in LatinAmerica continue to cause problems for the consolidation of democracy, the number of presidential breakdowns could be large once again in the future If British colonialism and small population size are conducive to democracy, then parliamentarism has a built-in advantage simply because Britain colonized many small island territories (pg. 870) ● All British colonies had parliaments before independence Since Latin American countries are not good for stable democracy, so presidentialism has a built- in disadvantage Presidentialism more likely to be adopted in LatinAmerica andAfrica, but these regions have hardest time with democracy regardless of system Parliamentarism more likely to be adopted in Europe and British colonies (microstates) → conditions for democracy have been more favorable Continued by: Juan Castano Advantages of Presidential Systems: 1. Greater Choice for Voters: a. The ability for voters to independently elect the executive and legislative allows voters to vote for different parties depending on the election and candidate. 2. Electoral accountability and Identification a. Accountability: Degree by which elected policy makers are electorally responsible to citizens b. Identifiability refers to a voter's ability to make an informed decision through being able to envision the post-election government of a presidential candidate. c. The greater the connection between how a person votes and likelihood that a policymaker can accomplish what he says increases electoral accountability. d. Presidentialism thus is superior to parliamentarism in that since the president is chosen by popular vote, and is separate from his parties elections within the assembly it allows him to maximize accountability for his actions in office while permitting the assembly to have broad representation. e. Criticism to advantage: i. In most presidential systems presidents may not be re-elected immediately, if at all. Thus decreasing the incentive for them to remain responsive to voters (accountability decreases). ii. Yet, direct accountability still exist in some presidential systems and is 8 always possible under this type of government iii. Only when a president can’t run for reelection is their accountability to voters weakened. f. Parliamentarism: i. Due to deeply fragmented elections, and lack of direct elections for the electorate this system suffers from weak electoral accountability and subsequently decreasing a voters identifiability g. Identifiability: i. Is high when a voter can clearly discern which candidate and party her/his vote will put in power. When this is not clear, particularly under parliamentary systems in which coalitions are formed with opposing parties, voter identifiability is low. ii. Strom’s indicator of identifiability runs from 0 to 1. 1 indicating that in 100 percent of a given nations post World War II election the resulting government was identifiable as a likely result by the voters. 1. Parliamentary systems such as in Belgium, Israel and Italy an individual can’t truly know whether their vote will determine executive branch. The executive branch is chosen through negotiations between elected officials. Thus, making it impossible to foresee how to support a particular candidate and leading to low identifiability scores for these type of nations. iii. Presidential systems with a plurality round one format, this number is likely to be 1 in most cases. Voters are able to cast ballots for the executive, and for the most part competition is minimal. iv. Systems with minority run-offs are different, since multiple contenders are taken into account during the first round. v. When plurality is used to elect the president and when congressional and presidential elections are held concurrently the presidential competition is normally restricted to two candidates. 1. Leads to coalition building prior to elections and a clear choice of policy options for people to vote on vi. Criticism: By Linz 1. In Parliamentary systems voters could identify likely prime minister or cabinet candidates due to their prominence 2. Yet, her definition of identifiability is that of individual personnels rather than of government teams, which is the context by which we define identifiability. 3. Congressional Independence in Legislative Matters a. Since there is a separation between the executive and legislative branch, representative may act on legislation based mostly on merits. Yet, this separation of branches can generate the problem of immobilism (gridlock) b. This is mostly avoidable in nations in which the president has assembly support. It allows them to pass legislation that the president (excecutive) may dislike but has its merits. c. Congressional Indepence also promotes broad coalition building, since majority president is guaranteed the unreserved support of partisans in congress. 9 d. In contrast, when a prime minister’s party enjoys the majority, the party tends to vote in support of the prime minister. i. The incentive not the jeopardize the government, since there is connection between legislative and executive leads members to vote along party lines rather than on the merits of legislation. This is not seen in Presidential Systems in which congress is divided from the executive branch. Variations among Presidential Systems: ● Linz critiques the broad category of Presidential Systems and the basic dichotomy of presidential versus parliamentary systems is not sufficient in recognizing the relative merits of different constitutional designs. Thus, Presidential systems vary according to: 1. Presidential Powers a. Presidential systems vary in accordance to a presidents formal powers. b. Presidential legislative powers: i. Presidents ability to establish a new status quo, may be termed as proactive. 1. (ex) Decree power ii. President may defend the status quo against attempts by legislative majority to change it, this may be termed reactive power. This however does not allow him to alter status quo. 1. Veto Power 2. Overriding vetoes vary from a simple majority, to absolute veto (Ecuador) 3. Presidents may veto provisions within a bill in certain presidential systems, known as partial veto (line item Veto in US). c. Presidents at times have the power to exclusive introduction of legislation. This is mainly for budget, military policies, creation of new bureaucratic offices, and laws concerning tariff and credit policies. i. Also reactive, since they may retain status quo by not initiating a bill d. Proactive power allows presidents to change status quo: i. President signs bill and it becomes law e. Decree power alone does not let presidents dominate legislative process, but lets them shape legislation and obtain laws that congress on its own would not have passed. i. Even if congressional majority can rescind decrees, president can play a role in shaping legislation: 1. Unlike bill passed by congress, presidential decree is already law 2. President can overwhelm branch with decrees, making difficult for congress to consider measures before their effects can be reversed 3. Presidents can use decrees strategically, in which congress is indifferent between status quo and decree. f. Yet, Presidential systems in which the president has a lot of legislative authority can hurt the functioning of the state. 2. Presidentialism and Party Discipline 10 a. Linz argues that parliamentary systems work best when disciplined and same can be applied to presidential systems. b. With more disciplined parties president can negotiate primarily with party leaders, which reduce the number of actions involved in negotiations and hence simplifies the process. 3. Party Systems and Presidentialism a. Perils of presidentialism pertain to countries with deep political cleavages and/or numerous political parties i. Many presidential democracies, have both thus arising to Linz criticism of presidentialism b. Yet, some countries do not experience this division and Presidentialism works quite well i. United States, Costa Rica, Venezuela c. Avoiding high party system fragmentation eases the strains on presidential systems: i. fragmentation increases likelihood of gridlock in government ii. President will need to rely on inter-party coalitions that are very fragile since are formed prior to election and are not binding past it. iii. Parliamentary systems build coalitions that are binding post election. d. Commitment of individual legislations to support an agreement by the party leadership is less secure than in parliamentary systems i. Cabinet compositions doesn’t imply presidential support as does in the Parliamentary system in which cabinet form governing body ii. Since the parliament representatives are linked to government than their opposition will lead to the failing of government, cementing the bonds between congressional members and reducing gridlock. iii. Thus, presidential systems with multiple parties in play are rare e. Under 4 parties avoiding gridlock is easier and the issues mentioned above of presidential systems are less prominent i. 6 of the 7 presidential democracies have under three effective parties (US, Costa Rica, Venezuela are the oldest and most established, while Uruguay, Colombia and Philippines also have under three) ii. Chile only exception, as extreme multipartism does not lead to inevitable failure, but it makes the functionalist of presidential systems far more difficult. 4. Electoral Rules for Presidentialism a. Presidential systems function better with electoral rules or sequences that avoid extreme multipartism, without excluding politically important groups. i. Political fragmentation can be limited by: 1. Concurrent presidential and legislative election with a single round plurality format for election the president a. Concurrent elections leads to a two party system and voters are more likely to choose the same party for executive and 11 legislative election if they are concurrent. Leading two the creation of two major factions 2. Establishing low district magnitude or a relatively high threshold for congressional elections 3. Majority Runoff i. Advantages: avoids the election of a president who wins by a slight majority, yet would lose in a face to face election and requires president to acquire more than 50 percent of the votes. ii. Disadvantage: Encourages fragmentation for the presidency and assembly 1. Candidates enter first rounds with intent of upsetting other candidates or shifting election for one candidate by stealing votes from an particular opposing candidate (Ralph Nadar). 2. Forcing leading two candidates to make deals between rounds iii. Plurality in contrast: 1. Encourages two serious contenders for the presidency and other mechanisms can guard against winners earning less than 40% of the vote. a. Requiring 40% of the vote for winner, or minimum gap between qtop two finishers and instituting electoral college ii. 878 2nd paragraph summaries points Switching from Presidential to Parliamentary Government: A Caution 1. Linz, convinced that parliamentary systems better foster democracy, advocates to switching to parliamentary system 2. This could prove unfavorable in countries
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