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Elite-Mass Congruence, Partidocracia and the Quality of Chilean Democracy
Peter M. Siavelis
Though Chile is often lauded for its successful democratic transition and high quality democracy, there are increasing levels of citizen dissatisfaction with the functioning of democracy. This article asks whether this dissatisfaction is due to the lack of congruence between political elites and the mass public with respect to their orientations on political and economic issues. It provides tentative support for the proposition that there is growing consensus between elites and the mass public with respect to the most important issues. Rather than a lack of congruence between elites and the mass public, the paper suggests that the more likely source of citizen dissatisfaction is an emerging partidocracia (or a polity characterized by political party domination) which hampers the full functioning of democracy in terms of legitimacy, accountability and alternation of power. Because this domination has been produced by the interaction of an entrenched legislative election system and model of post-authoritarian partisan politics, it will be difficult to eliminate.
Economic Accountability in Central America
Gregg B. Johnson, Leslie A. Schwindt-Bayer
Representative democracy hinges upon the notion of accountability. We examine the mediating effects of political context on economic accountability in a hostile environment – the developing democracies of Central America. We test whether clarity of responsibility mediates the economy’s effects on citizens’ support for a president using approval ratings. In general, we find that a good economy increases public support for a president significantly more under unified government, but surprisingly, we find that a bad economy decreases public support for a president far more under divided government. Dynamic simulations show that these effects become more pronounced during sustained periods of economic expansion or contraction.
Hybrid Political Institutions and Governability: The Budgetary Process in Brazil
Carlos Pereira, Salomon Orellana
In this paper we take a close look at some of the particular pathways by which majoritarian and consensual institutions affect governability. We demonstrate that the mix of majoritarian and consensual institutions found within a country can influence these pathways quite dramatically, such that they produce rather different consequences for governability, even when these pathways are relatively similar in nature. Particularly, we focus on the rules governing the relationship between the President and the Legislature, especially the appropriation of amendments proposed by legislators. In some presidential countries, the President possesses a partial veto (or a line-item veto), which allows him/her to approve or strike appropriations, which legislators introduce in amendments. Concentrating on the case of Brazil, we argue and demonstrate that whether or not the President can use this tool to sustain governing majorities (i.e., to increase governability) depends on the kind of amendment to the budget introduced by legislators. One kind, individual amendment, is linked to the majoritarian institution of a powerful presidency and therefore helps to increase governability. A second kind, collective amendment, is linked to consensual institutions and actually does not enhance legislative support for the Executive.
Urgency Petitions and the Informational Problem in the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies
Acir Almeida, Fabiano Santos
In the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies, an absolute majority may bring any bill out of committee and to the floor for consideration without the committee’s report by approving an urgency petition. The prevailing interpretation is that urgency petitions have been used by government majorities to get round unsupportive committees. Contrary to this interpretation, we find that only rarely petitions for executive bills are approved without consensus. We identify two reasons why government majorities in Brazil hardly ever impose their agenda on the Legislature: their common agenda is small, and majority members often enjoy informational gains from letting opposition committees examine executive bills.
Fernando Henrique Cardoso: The Astuzia Fortunata of Brazil’s Sociologist-President
Laurence Whitehead Abstract
Even in the Renaissance, there were not that many Renaissance men. But if it was hard to live many lives in one even for the best placed of Renaissance Europe it is surely harder in contemporary republican Brazil. And yet Fernando Henrique Cardoso or FHC achieved it. How was this possible and at what cost in terms of conflict between the different specialized roles he occupied? What does this tell us about “politics as a vocation” in twenty-first century democratic Brazil? And what light does it shed on the scope for and limit of political leadership in contemporary democracies? To understand how choices are made we need to consider what motivated the career; what baggage the leader brought into office; what team of ministers were assembled and how their talents were used; what rivals (or enemies) spurred the leader into self-definition; what ethics were in play. These strands are not arbitrary or beyond systematic analysis. They are what mostly explain how democratic leaders behave, one of the most vital dimension of democratic performance.
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