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Shugart: Presidentialism, parliamentarism, and the provision of collective goods in less-developed countries

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Shugart. 1999. Presidentialism, parliamentarism, and the provision of collective goods in less-developed countries. Constitutional Political Economy 10:53-88.

Summary:

While parliamentary systems may be the best constitutional structure for the provision of public goods, they only function as such when cohesive parties exist. Thus, in developing countries that lack the conditions for nationally oriented parties, the provision of collective goods would be severely curtailed without the presence of a strong President to solve the collective action problems of less-cohesive or individualistic members of legislatures.

A Main Point: "Countries of the world that have adopted presidentialism tend to be especially large and complex societies, highly unequal in their income distribution, and with great regional disparities" (53). We expect they would have a hard time sustaining democracy in any case.

Argument:

Politicians who have incentives to cater to narrow interests will be less able to provide collective public goods than those who have incentives to cooperate within nationally oriented parties. In particular, political systems that have broad aggregating parties before they liberalize, will be more likely to succeed at providing public policy. If these parties do not exist before liberalization, they may not necessarily emerge afterwards. If they don't, then parliamentarism (as an institutional choice) may not be the right choice. Presidential systems can counteract the absence of aggregative parties, by coordinating regional politicians around collective national policy provision (and the legislators know it, so they willingly delegate legislative powers to the president, through a series of presidential powers).

Pres v. Parl?:

The fundamental division is which branch the cabinet is subordinate to. Regardless of whether there is a popularly elected president or not, Pres systems (Presidential, Hybrid, or Assembly-Independent) will have cabinets subordinate to the Pres, while Parl systems (Premier-Presidential, or Parliamentary) will have cabinets subordinate to the legislature.

Presidential Powers:

  1. Proactive: Decrees (specifically, without prior consent of the assembly), decrees that set the reversionary point, gate-keeping and agenda-setting powers (exclusive introduction of bills, especially as regards the budget and fiscal policy) ;
  2. Reactive: Package vetoes (with or without overrides), item vetoes (also called partial vetoes);
  3. Why Pres. Powers?: "The legislature delegate lawmaking authority to the presidency as a way to enhance the provision of collective goods...when they are prone to particularistic tendencies" (63).

Legislative Incentives:

It is important to consider how much legislative incentives for providing policy diverge from the presidential incentives, mostly because of the variation in electoral rules (in particular, cycles and staggering, and the degree of congruence between presidential and congressional constituencies affect these incentives). These incentives can be best viewed through the veto player discussions of separation of power and separation of purpose. In particular, cycles and staggering, and the degree of congruence between presidential and congressional constituencies affect these incentives.

Test:

Shugart codes the types of presidential powers, and the separation of power/purpose, and finds that there is a strong positive relationship in institutions that promote separation of power and strong presidents.