Comparative Politics: Presidential Systems

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    • 00:00

      [Australian National University][Presidential Systems]

    • 00:09

      SVITLANA CHERNYKH: Hello, my name is Svitlana Chernykh,and I'm a lecturer at the School of Politics and InternationalRelations at the Australian National University.[Dr Svitlana Chernykh, School of Politics and InternationalRelations] Welcome to the tutorialon presidential systems.In this tutorial, we will cover three main questions.The first, what is a presidential system?

    • 00:30

      SVITLANA CHERNYKH [continued]: Second, what are the critiques of presidential systems?And finally, are presidential democracies more likelyto collapse than parliamentary democracies?[Three Questions What is a presidential system?What are the critiques of presidential systems?Are presidential democracies more likely to collapse thanparliamentary democracies?]Political scientists often classify democraciesas parliamentary, presidential, and semi-presidential.For instance, US, Mexico, and Brazil

    • 00:52

      SVITLANA CHERNYKH [continued]: are examples of presidential systems.Canada, UK, and Australia are examplesof parliamentary systems.And finally, France, Portugal, and Austriaare classified as semi-presidential.Let's go over the definitions very briefly.A presidential democracy is a system in which the government

    • 01:15

      SVITLANA CHERNYKH [continued]: does not depend on legislative majority to exist.[Presidential systems "A presidential democracy is onein which the government does not depend on a legislativemajority to exist." ~ Clark, Golder, and Golder (2013)]A parliamentary democracy, on the other hand,is a system in which the government dependson the legislative majority to exist and where the headof state is not properly elected."[Parliamentary systems "A parliamentary democracy is onein which the government depends on a legislative majorityto exist and the head of state is not popularly elected."~ Clark, Golder, and Golder (2013)]Finally, A semi-presidential system is a system in which

    • 01:36

      SVITLANA CHERNYKH [continued]: the government depends on the legislative majority to existand where the head of state is hopefully elected for a fixedterm. [Semi presidential systems "A semi presidential democracyis one in which the government depends on a legislativemajority to exist and the head of state is popularly electedfor a fixed term." ~ Clark, Golder, and Golder (2013)]As you could see from these definitions,whether democracy is parliamentary, presidential,or semi-presidential depends on the relationshipbetween the government, the legislature, and the president.

    • 01:59

      SVITLANA CHERNYKH [continued]: So in order for us to classify democracies,we need to ask two main questions.The first one, is the government responsible to the electedlegislature? [Forms of GovernmentDEMOCRACIES 1.Is the government responsible to the electedlegislature?No PRESIDENTIAL DEMOCRACY Yes 2.Is the head of state popularly electedfor a fixed term in office?Yes SEMI PRESIDENTIAL No PARLIAMENTARY Source:[ILLEGIBLE]] If the answer is no,then the system is presidential.If the answer is yes, then we needto ask the second question.Is the head of state properly elected for a fixed term

    • 02:22

      SVITLANA CHERNYKH [continued]: in office?If the answer is yes, then democracy is semi-presidential.If the answer is negative, then democracy is parliamentary.Parliamentary form of government is the most commonin the world.Over 43% percent of democracies into 2008 were parliamentary.However, if you were to take a look at the trend after 1978,

    • 02:44

      SVITLANA CHERNYKH [continued]: you will notice that the percent of both presidentialand semi-presidential democracies has been steadilyincreasing in the last three decades.[Democracies by Type (1946 - 2008)]As many of the countries that democratizedduring the third wave have choseneither presidential or semi-presidential formof government.For the rest of this tutorial, we

    • 03:04

      SVITLANA CHERNYKH [continued]: will focus primarily on presidential democracies.Debates over the basic institutional frameworksof democracies have a very long historyin comparative politics, but their intensityhas gone up and down.In the 1980s, political democratizationbrought the institutional debates to the forefront

    • 03:25

      SVITLANA CHERNYKH [continued]: yet again.It was started by Juan Linz and his influential essayentitled "Presidential or Parliamentary Democracy,Does it Make a Difference?"In his essay, Linz argued that parliamentary constitutionsincreased the likelihood of democratic consolidation,while presidential systems had the opposite effect.

    • 03:49

      SVITLANA CHERNYKH [continued]: Jose Antonio Cheibub in his 2007 bookdistilled and most importantly analyzedthe implications of Linz's observationsabout the pitfalls of presidentialism.[Pitfalls of Presidentialism: Linzian view Lack of incentivesfor coalition formation Undisciplined parties Frequentminority governments Conflict and deadlock betweenthe government and the legislature Breakdownof Democracy Source: Cheibub (2007)]First, presidential systems lack incentivefor coalition formation.Why?For the main three reasons.

    • 04:09

      SVITLANA CHERNYKH [continued]: First, remember the definition.Presidential survival in office is notdependent on legislative support,thus the president does not need to seekcooperation of political parties outside his own.Second, nationwide character of the presidential electionalso gives presidents incentive to avoid seeking cooperation.

    • 04:30

      SVITLANA CHERNYKH [continued]: Because presidents believe that they have independent authorityand a popular mandate, they may be dismissiveof the opposition, and hence, less inclined to seekits cooperation when needed.Finally, the winner take all logic of presidentialismmakes it not conducive to cooperation or a coalitionformation either.

    • 04:51

      SVITLANA CHERNYKH [continued]: The presidency is the highest prizein the presidential system.It's also occupied by a single person,making it very difficult to share.If the coalitions were to form under presidentialism,they would be still fragile and short-lived,because they would composed of undisciplined parties.[Pitfalls of Presidentialism: Linzian view Lack of incentivesfor coalition formation Undisciplined parties Frequentminority governments Conflict and deadlock betweenthe government and the legislature Breakdownof Democracy Source: Cheibub (2007)] Scholars argue thatabsence of disciplined parties is unavoidable result

    • 05:14

      SVITLANA CHERNYKH [continued]: of presidentialism, because there's no threat of governmentdissolution in early elections as it exists in parliamentarysystems to induce party discipline.As a result of absence of incentives for coalitionformation and absence of disciplined parties,presidential systems will be more likely than parliamentarysystems to generate minority governments.

    • 05:36

      SVITLANA CHERNYKH [continued]: [Pitfalls of Presidentialism: Linzian view Lack of incentivesfor coalition formation Undisciplined parties Frequentminority governments Conflict and deadlock betweenthe government and the legislature Breakdownof Democracy Source: Cheibub (2007)]As the name suggests, minority governmentis a government that does not enjoythe support of the majority of the legislature.Frequent incidence of minority governments imply conflictbetween the executive and the legislature.[Pitfalls of Presidentialism: Linzian view Lack of incentivesfor coalition formation Undisciplined parties Frequentminority governments Conflict and deadlock betweenthe government and the legislature Breakdownof Democracy Source: Cheibub (2007)]Because presidential systems lack constitutional mechanism

    • 05:56

      SVITLANA CHERNYKH [continued]: to resolve it, such as, for instance,vote of no confidence in parliamentary regimes,political actors will search for extra-constitutional meansto resolve the conflict, which wouldlead to instability and eventual breakdown of the system.Linz's work later analyzed and distilled for usby other scholars started what [INAUDIBLE]

    • 06:17

      SVITLANA CHERNYKH [continued]: called the first wave of the breakdown debate.In the second wave of the debate,scholars introduced other variables into this discussion,such as party system or the electoral system,and looked at the interaction among them,as well as [INAUDIBLE] empirical test of the Linz Hypothesis.

    • 06:38

      SVITLANA CHERNYKH [continued]: For instance, Mainwaring expanded on Linz's argumentsby studying the relationship between presidential systemsand party systems, arguing that the coexistenceof presidentialism with multipartismconstituted a difficult combination.In observing that most stable presidential democracies where

    • 06:58

      SVITLANA CHERNYKH [continued]: those approximating two-party systems, such as the US,Mainwaring argued that two-party systems, though not necessarilydesirable in of themselves, tend to amelioratesome of the problems with presidentialism.This combination of presidentialismand multipartism was a problem for three reasons.

    • 07:19

      SVITLANA CHERNYKH [continued]: Multipartism increases the probabilityof paralysis in executive-legislativerelations.It also promotes ideological polarization.And finally, it makes interparty coalition buildingvery difficult to achieve.So we're once again come back to the willingness and the abilityof the president to form and maintain coalition

    • 07:41

      SVITLANA CHERNYKH [continued]: as the key dificiency of a presidential system.In a series of articles, Cheibub and his coauthorslooked more closely at why presidential regimes seemmore likely to break down.The question they focused on was,does presidentialism break down more oftenbecause of absence of incentives for coalition formation

    • 08:03

      SVITLANA CHERNYKH [continued]: and minority governments?The answer is no.They find that even minority presidents can governby entering into coalitions.Coalition governments, even thoughless common under presidentialismthan under parliamentary system stillexist and frequently work very well.They still find that presidential regimes

    • 08:24

      SVITLANA CHERNYKH [continued]: are considerably more frail than parliamentary systems,although it's not due to the intrinsic featuresof the system itself.So why are presidential democracies more likely to die?In his 2007 book, Cheibub argues that itis the nexus between the military and presidentialismthat makes presidential democracies more fragile.

    • 08:49

      SVITLANA CHERNYKH [continued]: Democracies that follow military dictatorshipsare more likely to break down.Presidential democracies tend to follow military dictatorshipsmore frequently.Thus the problem of presidential democraciesis not that they are institutionally flawed,rather the problem is that they tendto exist in societies where democracies of any type

    • 09:11

      SVITLANA CHERNYKH [continued]: are likely to be unstable.Although Linz was wrong in his predictions,we still should credit him with initiatinga very important and creative debate which continues today.A number of scholars were so intrigued by the findingsthat presidents form coalitions in presidential systemsthat they started to look more in depth into the tools

    • 09:32

      SVITLANA CHERNYKH [continued]: that the presidents use to do that.Thus the next frontier in the study of presidential systemis to understand how presidents form and maintain coalitions.But this is a topic for a different tutorial.Thank you.[Australian National University anu.edu.au]

Comparative Politics: Presidential Systems

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Abstract

Professor Svitlana Chernykh outlines varying presidential systems of government. Her discussion includes an analysis of what problems each system is likely to have and why they sometimes fail.

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Comparative Politics: Presidential Systems

Professor Svitlana Chernykh outlines varying presidential systems of government. Her discussion includes an analysis of what problems each system is likely to have and why they sometimes fail.

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