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Title: Hyperpresidentialism in the Southern Cone of Latin America: Examining the Diverging Cases of Argentina and Chile
Authors: Berbecel, Mihnea Dan
Advisors: Yashar, Deborah J
Contributors: Politics Department
Keywords: Argentina
Congress and the judiciary
Presidential power
State institutions
Subjects: Political science
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Despite the formal constitutional separation of powers between the executive, legislative and judicial branches in many states throughout the world, some of these countries have experienced the phenomenon of hyperpresidentialism, where the executive branch has in practice been able to usurp power from institutions of horizontal accountability. Presidents in these countries have often been able to govern through decrees, or even if they decided to go through congress, legislatures have often done little to try to seriously challenge presidential proposals. In this dissertation, I make the argument that constitutional presidential power (formal power) is a very poor predictor of presidential power in practice (informal power). Given the poor predictive value of formal rules, this dissertation fundamentally seeks to explain the variation in the degree of presidential power in practice within countries, and answer the question of why hyperpresidentialism emerges in some countries but not in others. I will attribute the root causes of hyperpresidentialism to three independent variables, which together I claim make it highly probable that a president will be able to concentrate power. First, I will claim that weak state institutions in a country help to promote hyperpresidentialism, whereas strong state institutions help keep presidential power in check. Second, I will claim that the larger the size of the president’s working majority in congress, the more likely it is that the president will be able to concentrate power. Finally, third, I will argue that a recent history of economic crises is likely to promote hyperpresidentialism. My analysis will focus on the cases of Argentina and Chile, two countries in the Southern Cone of Latin America which despite being similar on many variables, critically differ in the degree of presidential power. Whereas Argentine heads of state have often been able to act with relatively few institutional checks on their power, Chilean presidents have been significantly more restrained by institutions of horizontal accountability. In the dissertation, I also suggest three institutional designs that could minimize the likelihood of a president usurping power, including the use of open as opposed to closed list electoral systems.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Politics

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