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INSTITUTIONAL STRUCTURE I: PRESIDENTIALISM AND PARLIAMENTARISM Readings: Lijphart 1-8, 116-135, and 139-142 Hay and Menon CH 14.

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Presentation on theme: "INSTITUTIONAL STRUCTURE I: PRESIDENTIALISM AND PARLIAMENTARISM Readings: Lijphart 1-8, 116-135, and 139-142 Hay and Menon CH 14."— Presentation transcript:

1 INSTITUTIONAL STRUCTURE I: PRESIDENTIALISM AND PARLIAMENTARISM Readings: Lijphart 1-8, 116-135, and 139-142 Hay and Menon CH 14

2 Guiding Questions What is the difference between presidential and parliamentary systems? What is the confidence relationship? What are the pros and cons of presidentialism? Parliamentarism? What is the difference between a Westminster system? Consensus system? How should politics differ between the two? What is semi-presidentialism/premier presidentialism?

3 Fused vs. Separated Powers A long history in political theory. Rooted in part in political revolutions. Associated with preventing the ability of unchecked executive or legislature rule. Classic theories predicated on the US (presidential) and the UK (parliamentary) models. Models posit very different relationships between the executive and the legislature.

4 Separated Powers: Presidentialism In presidential systems, executive and legislative power are separated. President and Cabinet constitute the executive branch President as head of state and head of government. Executive and legislative branches are elected separately (separate origin). Both branches are elected for a fixed term. Members of the executive do not sit in the legislature Neither branch can remove the other except in extraordinary circumstances (separate survival).

5 Fused Powers: Parliamentarism In parliamentary systems, executive and legislative powers are fused. Prime Minister and the Cabinet constitute the executive (collective executive). Prime Minister as head of government. Monarch or a figurehead president serves as a head of state Only the legislature is directly elected. Prime Minister and the Cabinet come from the legislature (fused power-shared origin). PM is typically the leader of the largest political party in the governing coalition. Terms for the executive and the legislature are typically not fixed. Confidence relationship exists between the executive and legislative branches (shared survival).

6 Confidence Relationship Concept of responsible government defines parliamentary systems. Governments stay in office until: 1) They lose a vote of confidence 2) The PM dissolves parliament 3) The upper bound of parliament is reached. PM and his or her government must have the confidence of the chamber (majority support). Legislature possesses authority to express no confidence in the executive. Governments must resign if they lose a vote of confidence. Executive (PM) has powers of dissolution. PM can typically dissolve the parliament and call for new elections at any time. Strong party discipline is critical in parliamentary systems.

7 John Major and Maastricht Maastricht treaty (EU) split his Conservative party. Conservatives (Tories) historically Eurosceptic. Small majority: 18. 22 rebels. Labour saw Tory divisions and smelled blood in the water. A major defeat could trigger new elections. Government lost the vote: 324-316. Embarrassing defeat for the government.

8 John Major and Maastricht Major strongly believed that Maastricht needed to be passed. But another loss would call his leadership into question. Polls suggested Labour would win a new election. Major knew this. So did Labour. The next day, Major made the vote on Maastricht a confidence vote. Had he lost, he would have called new elections. Vote passed 339-299.

9 Critiques Track record outside of the US is spotty. Fixed terms create inflexibility. Suffers from immobilism due to divided government. Unclear who to credit or blame for policy. Winner take all logic hinders stability. Direct elections creates opportunities for outsiders or demagogues. Direct elections provide more choice for voters (increases accountability and identifiability). Legislators vote on party lines rather than on policy merit. Parliamentary systems experience divided government in bicameral settings. Majority governments in some parliamentary systems are often unchecked (winner take all). Flexibility of parliamentarism problematic when stable governments cannot form. PRESIDENTIALISMPARLIAMENTARISM

10 Comparing Institutions While most European systems are parliamentary systems, they vary in terms of how authority is distributed. Some vest more authority at the level of the central government (Westminster) while others disperse this authority to both the national and sub-national levels (consensus). Both have advantages and disadvantages. Political context critical for determining when power should be consolidated or dispersed. Institutional logic has important ramifications for politics

11 Comparing Institutions Executive authority concentrated in one party cabinets. One party controls the government Executive dominance high. Typically…. Two party systems Over-represent large parties Use SMD-FPTP electoral systems Unitary systems. Unicameral. Lack judicial review Constitutional flexibility Easy to amend. Executive authority shared within multiparty cabinets. Lower executive dominance Typically …. Multiparty systems. Represent small parties Use PR Federal. Bicameral. Have judicial review Constitutional rigidity. Tough to amend WESTMINSTER/MAJORITARIANCONSENSUS

12 Case Study: United Kingdom Westminster Executive dominance: HIGH PMs rarely lose a vote of confidence. Coalition government is rare. Current Con-Lib Dem coalition is an anomaly Two and a half party system. Labour, Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats Electoral system favors large parties. Unitary government Devolution to regions can theoretically be rescinded. Bicameral House of Lords veto power is limited. Unwritten constitution. No judicial review. New Supreme Court may change role of judiciary.

13 Case Study: Belgium Consensus Executive dominance: LOW Cabinet duration low Coalition government the norm Multiparty system. Multiple parties split along ideological and linguistic dimensions. Electoral system is fairly proportional. Federal system. Current stalemate revolves around giving more authority to the subunits. Bicameral legislature Constitutional rigidity Changes require supermajorities within the legislature as well as within linguistic communities. Judicial review Strong role in preserving linguistic communities.

14 Semi-Presidentialism/Premier Presidentialism Premier-Presidential systems possess a dual executive. Typically a president and a prime minister President is directly elected and has significant powers. That is, separate origin (direct election) and separate survival (no vote of confidence) Unlike parliamentary systems, the president is not a figurehead A premier (PM) and cabinet exists subject to parliamentary confidence. Fused survival; tenure in office depends on avoiding a loss on a vote of confidence. Unlike presidential systems the government does not serve a fixed term.

15 Case Study: France Executive dominance: HIGH Coalition duration is high. Constitution gives executive a lot of tools to override the legislature. Multiparty system Although blocs of left-right organize politics. Electoral system Runoff system does allow for smaller parties to gain representation. Unitary system Bicameral legislature But Senate can be overridden. Constitutional rigidity Mixed Judicial review Weak

16 Divided Government in France Semi-presidential systems deal with divided government to an extent not usually observed in parliamentary systems. Referred to as cohabitation Legislative majority is of a different party then the President. 1986-1988 and 1993-1995 (under Mitterrand) and 1997-2002 (under Chirac). Decision to call elections backfired. President takes over foreign/military affairs. PM takes over government agenda. PM subordinate when majorities are the same. PM dominant when majorities are different. Recent reforms intended to reduce the likelihood of cohabitation.

17 Arguments for Premier-Presidentialism Presidents authority to dissolve the legislature overcomes issues of deadlock/rigidity. Although in many systems, this authority is constrained. Coalitions in the assembly reduce winner take all logic, forcing the president to work with diverse interests in the assembly. Cohabitation can force both the president and the legislation to negotiate. Where roles are strictly defined, outsiders in the presidency will not endanger the system. Expectation is that only experienced party leaders will run for the presidency. Lack of veto authority maintains parliamentary party discipline. No cross pressures for members of parliament to buck their party vis-à-vis the president.

18 Problems with Premier-Presidentialism Problem: Insulating the presidency from the assembly is problematic. Giving residual powers to the PM can address this issue. Problem: Electoral calendar may increase or decrease the legitimacy of the president or PM. Electoral timing is key to undercutting dyarchic conflict. Problem: Stalemate/duplication of roles as President and PM jockey for influence. Where executive roles are defined, difficulties under cohabitation are reduced.

19 Conclusions Efficiency: Easy to know who to credit/blame Decisions can be made quickly Change/reform easily enacted. Fairness: Elected dictatorship makes it tough to stop a government with a large parliamentary majority. Disproportionality in electoral system may not be fair. But if your side wins, you get your turn at bat. Fairness: Proportionality in electoral systems gives each societal sector a voice Decisions, once made, have widespread support. Efficiency: But, in some instances, needed reforms are blocked because support cannot be obtained. Difficult to know who to credit/blame for policies. WESTMINSTERCONSENSUS

20 Next Unit Institutional Structure II Federalism and Bicameralism Readings: Lijphart 185-215 and Russell Pay particular attention to: What makes a system federal? What is the linkage between federalism and bicameralism? What do second chambers do? How do we classify their strength?


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