Abstract: Scholars and practitioners express concern that parties in “third wave” democracies are poorly developed, compared to parties in older democracies. We suggest that parties vary in their organizational “capacity”, focusing on parties’ ability to select trustworthy executive agents. Capacity is higher where parties can vet potential executive talent by observing future leaders over time in the legislature – an increasingly available option as democracy matures. The key distinction in parties’ use of this option lies in the delegation structure between a party and the executive. Parliamentary systems offer a clear line of delegation, which parties control. In presidential systems, parties must recruit executive candidates who can win a popular election, requiring characteristics that may not be well correlated with those that make them good party agents. As parliamentary democracy matures, we find a steady increase in prime ministers’ average length of prior legislative service. For presidents, there is significantly weaker growth in prior legislative service. We also theorize about and investigate patterns in semi-presidential democracies. Our findings suggest that the institutional format of the executive is more important for party capacity in new democracies than the era in which a democracy was born. [↩]
Two electoral systems that use “nontransferable preference votes” are commonly used: single nontransferable vote (SNTV) and open-list proportional representation (OLPR). Both systems promote intraparty competition by vote-seeking candidates, but differ on the extent to which the incentives of individual candidates and collective seat-maximizing parties are aligned, or not. We develop “logical models” of expected vote shares of parties’ first and last winners, and test (and confirm) these models using “symmetric regression” on an original data set drawn from over 2000 party-district observations in nine countries. The analysis helps bring us closer to an understanding of the relatively neglected “intraparty dimension” of representation, and allows us to offer some modest suggestions for improving systems of nontransferable preference votes. [↩]
Democratic representation involves tradeoffs between collective actors – political parties seeking to maximize seats – and individual actors – candidates seeking to use their personal vote-earning attributes (PVEAs) to maximize their own chance of election and reelection. We analyze these tradeoffs across three different electoral systems used at different times for the large-magnitude nationwide tier of Japan’s House of Councillors. These electoral systems – closed and open-list proportional systems and the single non-transferable vote – differ in the extent to which they entail candidates seeking individual preference votes and in whether collective vote shares affect overall party performance. We use local resources as a proxy for PVEA and seek to determine the extent to which parties nominate “locals” and how much the presence of such locals affects party performance at the level of Japan’s prefectures. [↩]
The draft chapters for a co-authored book project in which I am involved are posted on my academic pages for anyone who might be interested.
A DIFFERENT DEMOCRACY?
A Systematic Comparison of the American System with 30 Other Democracies
By Steven L. Taylor, Matthew S. Shugart, Arend Lijphart, and Bernard Grofman
It is often said that the United States has an exceptional democracy. To what degree is this claim empirically true? If it is true, in what ways is US democracy different and do those differences matter? What explanations exist for these differences?
The study examines the choices made by the designers of the US government at the Philadelphia convention of 1787 and the institutional structures that evolved from those choices and compares them to 30 other democracies. The basic topics for comparison are as follows: constitutions, federalism, political parties, elections, interest groups, legislative power, executive power, judicial power, bureaucracies, and public policy.
Each chapter starts with a discussion of the feasible option set available on each type of institutional choice and the choices made by the US founders as a means of introducing the concepts, as well as discussing how specific choices made in the US led to particular outcomes. This is done by looking at the discussions on these topics from the Federalist Papers and the debates from the Philadelphia Convention. This approach allows a means of explaining the concepts in a comparative fashion (e.g., federal v. unitary government, unicameralism v. bicameralism, etc.) before moving into the comparisons of the US system to our other 30 democracies, which make up the second half of each chapter. Each chapter contains an explicit list of specific differences between the US and the other democracies as well as comparative data in tabular and graphical formats. The current draft of our book has 64 tables, 16 figures, and 10 text boxes. All of the figures and tables contain comprehensive comparative data featuring all 31 cases (save in a handful of instances) or specific thematic subsets of the 31 cases (e.g., presidential systems or bicameral legislatures).
The book is now under contract with Yale University Press.
Monica Pachon and Matthew S. Shugart, Electoral reform and the mirror image of inter-party and intra-party competition: The adoption of party lists in Colombia. Electoral Studies 29, 4 (December), pp. 648-660.
The Colombian case offers a rare opportunity to observe effects of electoral reform where districting remains constant. Only the formula changed, from extremely ‘personalized’ (seats allocated solely on candidate votes) to ‘listized’: seats are allocated to party lists, which may be either open or closed. Electoral reform has effects on both the inter-party dimension (the number of parties competing) and the intra-party dimension (the extent of competition within parties). Consistent with theoretical expectations, the inter-party dimension features an increased number of parties in the low-magnitude districts and a decrease in the high-magnitude districts. On the intra-party dimension, the impact “mirrors” the inter-party: less competition in smaller districts, yet more in larger districts.
If you have access via an academic library, you can read or download the article from Science Direct.
It was particularly gratifying that, on the morning I was getting up to go to UCSD and teach a class on organizational economics as a tool to understand delegation of authority in politics, the news came over the BBC that Oliver Williamson was co-winner of this year’s Nobel Prize in Economics.
It was further gratifying that Williamson’s co-winner was Elinor Ostrom. She is not only the first woman to win the Nobel in economics–as has been much noted–but also, I believe, the first political scientist.* Apparently there is some value to political “science” after all.
Ostrom’s work builds, of course, on that of a great whom we lost recently,** Mancur Olson, whose Logic of Collection Action had been the subject of one of my classes just last week.
While on the topic of winners of major international prizes who have influenced my teaching and/or research, let’s not overlook the Skytte Prize, our discipline’s approximation to a Nobel (also given by a Swedish committee). This year’s winner was Philippe Schmitter. Last year’s, of course, went to my mentor, Rein Taagepera. And the list of past winners includes two other scholars I am priveleged to have known and worked with (Arend Lijphart and Juan Linz), as well as other luminaries (including Elinor Ostrom, 1999).
I stand on the shoulders of these giants of the field.
More from Kieran Healy (“I bet the Political Scientists are very, very happy today”), Henry Farrell (“It is also a vote in favor of supplementing quantitative work with qualitative understanding”), Tyler Cowen (“It’s rewarding larger rather than smaller ideas, practical economics rather than abstract theory”), Alex Tabarrok (“Williamson’s work is notable for inspiring a large body of empirical and theoretical work… and having influence in law, political science, and management”). Feel free to add your own thoughts (as always) or links in the comments.
* I have always considered Thomas Schelling to be a political scientist, because of his enormous contributions to the field of inter-state bargaining. But, of course, like Olson, Schelling’s core discipline is economics. Ostrom, on the other hand, has a Ph.D. in political science from UCLA and is a member of the political science faculty at Indiana University. Other economists to have won the Nobel and had a major impact on political science (or at least its decision and organizational sub-fields) would include James Buchanan, R.H. Coase, and Kenneth Arrow. I am sure someone will let me know if I have overlooked another political scientist among the list of winners.
** It was 1998. Hard to believe it was more than ten years ago. Tempus fugit…
I am sorry, but I have been too “busy” doing my “research.” Or maybe I should say loafing at the taxpayers’ expense, on my NSF boondoggle that contributes nothing to society.
Or at least that is what Sen. Coburn “argues” in an amendment he has introduced to eliminate federal funding for political “science.” After all, with CNN and Fox to expound on politics for us, who needs “professors” and their meaningless “knowledge”?
I have just uploaded a working paper, “The ‘Semi-presidential’ model and its subtypes: Party presidentialization and the selection and de-selection of prime ministers,” For French Political Science Association symposium on the contributions of Maurice Duverger to political science, September 2009.
Although it is a “working paper,” it is more or less complete, as it needs to be translated for publication in France.
The paper is co-authored with David Samuels, and based on part of our nearly finished book (the older chapter drafts of which may also be accessed from the same link).
As David and I approach the very final set of pre-production revisions for our book draft, we are considering shifting terminology. Instead of calling the head of a cabinet that depends on parliamentary confidence a prime minister, we are considering using premier.
Premier has the advantage of being one syllable word and of giving us a neatly alliterative three-word title.
Is there any downside that readers see? That is, are these terms not used synonymously in some way that we are overlooking? I am aware that in Canada the head of the federal cabinet is the Prime Minister, whereas the head of a provincial cabinet is Premier. But that is presumably only a convenience of federalism (much like Prime Minister and Chief Minister in India, or President and Governor in most presidential federal systems).
Comments very much welcome as we approach this momentous decision.
Please visit the site for the forthcoming Samuels and Shugart book. There you may download the “final” drafts, chapter by chapter. Comments very much welcome, whether here or at our university e-mail addresses (linked at the site).
A Framework for Analysis
David J. Samuels
Matthew S. Shugart
Forthcoming, Cambridge University Press
The arrangement of the terms in the title summarizes the main conclusions of the book: Presidents above parties; parties above prime ministers.
In other words, where there is a directly elected president, the political parties become “presidentialized,” meaning that the way they organize and behave in elections and governance is shaped by the dynamics of the separation of powers. On the other hand, in parliamentary democracy, prime ministers are clearly subordinate to parties. These different authority lines have several observable implications, and the book is devoted to systematic worldwide empirical testing of those implications.
A majority of the world’s democracies since around the year 2000 have had directly elected presidencies (Figure 1.1, which is also posted at the book’s website), yet our theories of political parties remain largely grounded in either the West European parliamentary experience, or American-centric theories that often implicitly assume away the impact of the presidency. Thus “catching up” theory with the real world is one of the underlying purposes of the book. So is subsuming the US case within the broader comparative politics enterprise.
An important further finding of the book is that when there is both an elected president and a parliamentary-dependent prime minister–a semi-presidential system–the president remains “above all”; in fact, the prime minister becomes subordinate to the president, as long as the presidentialized party has effective control of parliament. In our analysis of semi-presidential systems, we confirm that the premier-presidential subtype (where the PM’s formal accountability is exclusively to the parliamentary majority) results in effective subordination of the cabinet to the parliamentary majority, when the latter is controlled by the president’s opposition. Yet even these “cohabitation” phases remain presidentialized in important respects; they also account for barely over one fifth of all presidential tenure in premier-presidential systems. (They account for only about 2% in the other suybtype, president-parliamentary; we confirm that this latter subtype is almost totally presidentialized.)
The book is oriented theoretically by the neo-Madisonian framework. The empirical scope is worldwide, including every country that has met basic democratic criteria for at least five consecutive years since 1946 (see Table 2.1). We analyze the impact of different executive-legislative structures on the selection and de-selection of presidents and prime ministers, the impact of institutional variation on electoral “fusion of purpose” (constituency overlap), and the propensity for electoral mandates to be violated (by a “policy switch”). Two chapters contain paired case studies: one demonstrates the immediate presidentialization of parties that resulted from the adoption of direct executive elections in France and Israel (and the subsequent reversal when parliamentarism was re-adopted in the latter country); the other demonstrates the impact of presidentialization on the electoral and governing experiences of two long-time opposition parties in presidential systems, the (leftist) Workers Party in Brazil and the (rightist) National Action in Mexico.
The conclusion notes several broader implications, and also calls attention to a trend: while abolition of an existing directly elected executive almost never occurs in democracies (in addition to Israel, the only other case is Moldova), some countries have adopted reforms intended to limit the president’s formal powers over the cabinet. These reforms may indicate dissatisfaction with party presidentialization, though our overarching conclusion would be that continued presidentialization is likely to prevail, even if it can be attenuated somewhat (for instance by moving to premier-presidentialism).
My latest paper, now under review, is now posted at my Working Papers page (scroll down, past the list of “Research projects in progress,” for a link to the paper in PDF).
Title: ‘Party System Rationalisation and the Mirror Image of Interparty and Intraparty Competition: The Adoption of Party Lists in Colombia” (co-authored with MÃ³nica PachÃ³n).
Abstract: We analyze the adoption of a party-list electoral system in Colombia, replacing a former highly â€˜personalisedâ€™ system (in which seats were allocated solely on candidate votes). Consistent with theoretical expectations, there were two major changes. First, the party system was â€˜rationalisedâ€™: the number of parties competing is now more consistent across districts. Formerly one-party dominant districts now feature interparty competition, and districts that formerly had numerous tiny parties now have fewer parties. Second, changes in the intraparty dimension â€˜mirrorâ€™ those on the interparty dimension: where interparty competition increased, intraparty competition decreased, and vice versa. The results are important to both practical reform efforts and furthering knowledge on the effects of electoral systems and their reform.
Comments on the paper are invited, either here or at one of my e-mail addresses.
This planting inaugurates a new orchard block of work in progress that I hope to use regularly as a way of announcing new postings at my academic website.
And, of course, congratulations to MÃ³nica, who just defended her Ph.D. and is now starting her new academic job at the Universidad de los Andes!
If by my laws you walk, and my commands you keep, and observe them,
then I will give-forth your rains in their set-time,
so that the earth gives-forth its yield
and the trees of the field give-forth their fruit.
--Vayikra 26: 3-4