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Checks on the Executive Aníbal Pérez-Liñán University of Pittsburgh

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Presentation on theme: "Checks on the Executive Aníbal Pérez-Liñán University of Pittsburgh"— Presentation transcript:

1 Checks on the Executive Aníbal Pérez-Liñán University of Pittsburgh

2 General question Are there effective checks (other than elections) on the exercise of power by the executive? Five issues: 1.Who is the Executive? 2.Polity: Executive Constraints 3.Relationship to democracy 4.What kinds of checks? 5.Possible Indicators

3 Who is the Executive? Head of the government, chief executive, ruler Usually single-person office, but – Sometimes collegiate (Swiss Federal Council) – Sometimes two tiers (Russia) – Sometimes locus of power is displaced (USSR) Officer(s) who exercises highest control over government apparatus on a daily basis.

4 Polity: Executive Constraints Definition: This variable refers to the extent of institutionalized constraints on chief executives (individuals or collectivities) by any “accountability groups” – Legislatures in Western democracies – Ruling party in a one-party state – Councils of nobles or advisors in monarchies – Military in coup-prone polities – In many states a strong, independent judiciary

5 Polity: lowest XCONST (1) Unlimited Authority: No regular limitations on the executive's actions. Examples of evidence: i. Constitutional restrictions on executive action are ignored. ii. Constitution is frequently revised or suspended at the executive's initiative. iii. There is no legislative assembly, or there is one but it is called and dismissed at the executive's pleasure. iv. The executive appoints a majority of members of any accountability group and can remove them at will. v. The legislature cannot initiate legislation or veto or suspend acts of the executive. vi. Rule by decree is repeatedly used.

6 Polity: highest XCONST (7) Executive Parity or Subordination: Accountability groups have effective authority equal to or greater than the executive in most areas. Examples of evidence: i. A legislature, ruling party, or council of nobles initiates much or most important legislation. ii. The executive (president, premier, king, cabinet, council) is chosen by the accountability group and is dependent on its continued support to remain in office (as in most parliamentary systems). iii. In multi-party democracies, there is chronic "cabinet instability."

7 Greatest weight: – 4 points in democracy scale – 3 points in autocracy scale Explains 81.4% of the variance in Polity scores Relationship to democracy: Central Dimension

8 (1)National sovereignty (2)Civil liberty (3)Sovereignty of elective officials (4)Judicial independence (5)Checks on the executive (6)Election participation (7)Election administration (8)Election results (9)Leadership turnover (10) Civil society (11) Political parties

9 Lack of checks: Potential consequences for (1)National sovereignty (2)Civil liberty (3)Sovereignty of elective officials (4)Judicial independence (5)Checks on the executive (6)Election participation (7)Election administration (8)Election results (9)Leadership turnover (10) Civil society (11) Political parties

10 Wrong checks: Potential consequences for (1)National sovereignty (2)Civil liberty (3)Sovereignty of elective officials (4)Judicial independence (5)Checks on the executive (6)Election participation (7)Election administration (8)Election results (9)Leadership turnover (10) Civil society (11) Political parties

11 Types of checks I. Nature of the limits: 1. Limit content of decisions Norms (law) Superior decision-maker (legislators) Other powerful actors 2. Limit duration in power Removal Term limits

12 Types of checks II. Legal codification Formal (legal) Informal (power relations) III. Contribution to democracy Democratic (e.g., by courts) Undemocratic (e.g., by military)

13 Fifteen questions/ indicators Type of LimitsDemocraticUndemocratic FormalInformalFormalInformal 1. Content decisions Law (norms)Is executive above the law? Executive controls judiciary? Exogenous law? (religious, foreign) LegislatorsSovereign legislature? Executive controls the legislature? Un-elected legislators? Other actorsPolitical coalitions? Political pacts?Reserved domains?Military veto? 2. Duration in power RemovalImpeachment?Resignation?Coup? Term limitsFormal limits?Traditional limit?


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