Executive leadership and legislative assemblies: Latin America
Journal of Legislative Studies, 10, (2-3), . (doi:10.1080/1357233042000322328).
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Most people still think of Latin American systems as characterised by weak legislatures dominated by the executive. It is the legislatures, not the presidents, that are blamed for any shortcomings and the literature tends to focus on executive–legislative relations, to the neglect of other relevant variables such as recruitment, career patterns, committee structures, legislative processes and so on.
The cases of Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Brazil and Venezuela all support the thesis that legislative behaviour is dependent on certain institutional conditions. Where it exists, federalism is crucial. Next to it comes the nature of the electoral system, the use of different systems for the choice of president and congress, and the staggering of executive and legislative elections. Constitutional provision for a strong presidency, especially the widespread existence and use of decree powers to override legislative ‘obstruction’, has failed in face of the electorates' opposition to the ‘Washington Consensus’.
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