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Parliamentarized Presidentialism: New Democracies, Constitutional Engineering, and the Bolivian Model

Parliamentarized Presidentialism: New Democracies, Constitutional Engineering, and the Bolivian Model

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Publicado porMiguel Centellas
This paper analyzes the Bolivian model of executive-legislative relations within the con-text of formal and informal institutions. Since its transition to democracy, the Bolivian executive has been selected by the legislature, moving the officially presidential system closer to a parliamentary model. Reinforced by the electoral and party systems, the model is significantly different from the “hybrid presidential” model (which has sepa-rate heads of state and government) and contains its own internal logic. A better under-standing of this institutional arrangement and its consequences for democratic consoli-dation sheds light not only on the role of institutional design in new democracies, but also calls into question some of the assumptions drawn from the traditional dichotomy between presidential and parliamentary systems.
This paper analyzes the Bolivian model of executive-legislative relations within the con-text of formal and informal institutions. Since its transition to democracy, the Bolivian executive has been selected by the legislature, moving the officially presidential system closer to a parliamentary model. Reinforced by the electoral and party systems, the model is significantly different from the “hybrid presidential” model (which has sepa-rate heads of state and government) and contains its own internal logic. A better under-standing of this institutional arrangement and its consequences for democratic consoli-dation sheds light not only on the role of institutional design in new democracies, but also calls into question some of the assumptions drawn from the traditional dichotomy between presidential and parliamentary systems.

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Published by: Miguel Centellas on Sep 14, 2010
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Parliamentarized Presidentialism: New Democracies, Constitutional Engineering, and the Bolivian Model

by Miguel Centellas

Department of Political Science 3303 Friedmann Hall Western Michigan University Kalamazoo, MI 49008 miguel.centellas@wmich.edu

This   paper   analyzes   the   Bolivian   model   of   executive­legislative   relations   within   the  context   of   formal   and   informal   institutions.   Since   its   transition   to   democracy,   the  Bolivian executive has been selected by the legislature, moving the officially presidential  system closer to a parliamentary model. Reinforced by the electoral and party systems,  the model is significantly different  from the “hybrid  presidential”  model (which has  separate heads of state and government) and contains its own internal logic. A better  understanding   of   this   institutional   arrangement   and   its   consequences   for  democratic  consolidation sheds light not only on the role of institutional design in new democracies,  but   also   calls   into   question   some   of   the   assumptions   drawn   from   the   traditional  dichotomy between presidential and parliamentary systems.

Prepared   for   delivery   at   the   59th   Annual   Meeting   of   the   Midwest   Political   Science  Association, Chicago, 19­22 April 2001. I thank Emily Hauptmann and Liesl Haas for  their comments and advice.


Parliamentarized Presidentialism

Introduction The   third   wave   of   democracy   coincided   with   renewed   interest   in   studies   of  political institutions and institutional design. Since then, “constitutional engineering”  has   become   a   buzzword   that   aptly   describes   much   of   the   literature.   This   literature  focuses   primarily   on   the   structure   of   electoral   and   party   systems   and   executive­ legislative relationships. It is clear, of course, that formal institutions matter and have  profound consequences for the quality and stability of democracies. What is unclear,  however,   is   how   new   democracies   —democracies   with   little   or   no   experience   with  democracy— learn to use their newly engineered political institutions. Even the most  perfect   constitution   needs   a   citizenry   and   a   political   élite   willing   and   able   to   make  democracy work. Even the most perfect constitutional design may falter and fail if it is  too complicated for citizens to understand or if competing politicians are not able to  play well with others. Countries with little or no democratic experience face great hardships as they  struggle to consolidate democracy. They must hold elections under untried electoral  systems   and   with   slowly   emerging   party   systems.   Not   only   do   such   countries   face  political obstacles; they also face serious socioeconomic problems. They must produce  governments   that   are   both   democratically   competitive   and   yet   strong   enough   to  manage crises swiftly and efficiently. These are daunting tasks, indeed. Still, some form of constitution must be adopted. In some cases, the constitution  may be an already existing document that was drafted but never implemented. In other  cases, the constitution may be produced from scratch. In either case, the situations are  similar. Citizens will have little idea of how the formal rules work. They will not know  who to vote for if nascent party systems are highly fragmented or still evolving out of  civil society. For their part, political  élites will have little practical  understanding  of  democratic politics and may not know how to implement democratic institutions and  make   them   work.   If   parties   have   little   or   no   roots   in   civil   society,   how   do   they  campaign? If civilians have never governed before, how do they develop policies and  (more difficult still) learn to control the bureaucracies?  In the end, citizens and political élites in new democracies must learn democracy  —and learning requires time. Yet the great need for effective crisis management in poor,  underdeveloped countries means that time is a precious commodity. Neither citizens  nor   political   élites   may   be   willing   to   wait   long   enough   for   democracy   to   work.  Subsequently,   new   democracies   need   simple   political   institutions   with   steep   but  manageable   learning   curves   that   allow   their   new   democratic   governments   to   work  quickly   to   solve   daunting   problems   even   as   they   strive   to   institutionalize   the  institutions   themselves.   For   this,   the   lessons   of   older   democracies   and   countries 

returning to democracy after a hiatus may not apply. The study of formal institutions in  modern representative democracy (such as relationships between electoral and party  systems) derived from these countries is still instructive; but we must remember that  the constitutional designs best suited to new democracies may be different.  For   constitutional   engineers   seeking   to   understand   how   new   democracies  achieve consolidation, the lessons of successful new democracies are more instructive.  Such   examples   may   serve   not   only   to   provide   frameworks   for   constitutional  engineering in similar situations, they may also help élites in other new democracies  speed up their learning curves from the hard lessons learned elsewhere. And so, we  turn to one such example, Bolivia. While many scholars point to Bolivia as a “special  case”   (Linz   1990b;   Linz   1994;   Sartori   1994;   Jones   1995),   it   has   received   very   little  attention   in   the   academic   literature.   In   part,   this   paper   is   an   effort   to   explore   the  implications of the Bolivian case only hinted at by previous authors. A study of the  Bolivian case accomplishes two different, but related goals. First, evidence from Bolivia  highlights the importance of simple institutions that balance the need for flexibility and  stability. Second, learning from the successes (and failures) of Bolivia’s democratization  may provide a model for future democratizers —especially in regions such as Africa or  the former Soviet Union, which have both little or no history of democracy and weak  political institutions.  Much   of   the   institutionalist   literature   on   democracy   distinguishes   between  presidential and parliamentary forms of government (e.g.  Linz and Valenzuela 1994;  Jones   1995;   Mainwaring   and   Shugart   1997b;   von   Mettenheim   1997).   Although   some  authors   (e.g.  Shugart   and   Carey   1992;   Jones   1995)   point   out   that   presidential  democracies are significantly varied, both critics and defenders of presidentialism have  employed   the   categories   “presidentialism”   and   “parliamentarism”   and   agree   on   the  two systems’ key distinctions. In presidential systems, the executive is chosen by direct  popular   election   for   a   fixed   term   and   is   independent   of   legislative   confidence;   in  parliamentary   systems,   the   executive   is   chosen   by   the   legislature   and   depends   on  legislative confidence. Since most new democracies are adopting presidential systems,  the   focus   of   most   authors   has   been   to   improve   or   “renovate”   presidentialism  via  constitutional engineering (e.g. Shugart and Carey 1992; Nohlen and Fernández 1998;  Jones 1995).  Lessons from the Bolivian case are instructive here as well. The Bolivian system  does not fit easily within any of the typological categories currently  used. Although  nominally a presidential system, Bolivia’s electoral system uses a single fused ballot  that combines legislative and executive elections into a single vote choice for voters.  Similarly, although a simple majority can directly vote the president into office, when  no   simple   majority   exists   the   Bolivian   executive   is   selected   by   the   legislature.  Multipartism, reinforced by use of proportional representation, has ensured that, since  1982, every Bolivian president has been chosen by the legislature after intense coalition  building   negotiations.   These   “parliamentary”   features   make   the   Bolivian   system   a  unique   hybrid   referred   to   by   René   Antonio   Mayorga   (1997)   as   “parliamentarized 

presidentialism.”1  Further, several authors credit Bolivia’s unique political system for  democratic  stability under  very  difficult conditions (e.g. Mayorga 1996; Shugart  and  Carey 1992; Gamarra 1997b, Valenzuela 1993).  This study of the Bolivian model emphasizes two important points. First, the use  of a fused ballot is the key variable in Bolivia’s political system. This subtle difference  distinguishes   parliamentarized   presidentialism   from   other   “hybrid”   or   “mixed”  systems.   Bolivia’s  system  is  thus  parliamentarized,  unlike 1932­73 Chile (which   also  allowed the legislature to elect a president in the absence of a majority). Bolivia’s system  is still more presidential than post­1996 Israel (in which prime ministers are elected by  direct   popular election).2  That a subtle difference,  such  as ballot structure,  can   have  profound consequences  for  the political  system  implies  that constitutional  engineers  may achieve substantive system changes with only minor institutional changes. Second,  Bolivia’s system functions to a large degree on the basis of informal coalition­building  rules. Political élites developed a set of informal rules that have, since 1985, produced  stable ruling coalitions. Evidence   from   the   Bolivian   case   is   extremely   relevant   for   new   democracies.  Bolivia demonstrates that a presidential system can be modified to limit some of the  problems   typically   associated   with   presidentialism   —such   as   dual   legitimacy   and  rigidity—while   avoiding   the   political   instability   that   might   follow   a   more   dramatic  switch   to   “pure”   parliamentarism.  These  considerations   make  the  study  of Bolivia’s  unique system extremely valuable. The inclusion of parliamentarized presidentialism  into our current typology of democratic systems both enriches our understanding of  (formal and informal) political institutions and provides constitutional engineers with  more options. After nearly twenty years in operation, the Bolivian model may now be  mature   enough   to   serve   as   a   model   for   other   new   democracies   —especially   those  seeking   to   modify   their   presidential   constitutions   and   avoid   the   “perils”   of  presidentialism. 

Juan Linz and Presidentialism



  Eduardo Gamarra uses the term “hybrid presidentialism” to describe Bolivia’s political system  (Gamarra   1997a;   Gamarra   1997b;   Gamarra   1996).   Matthew   Shugart   and   John   Carey   use   the   term  “assembly­independent”   (Shugart   and   Carey   1992,   26,   78­85).   The   term   “parliamentarized  presidentialism,” however, more clearly describes the system than does “assembly­independent” and  distinguishes it from other dissimilar “hybrid” systems. Hence, I adopt the term coined by Juan Linz  (Linz 1994, 85­86 n91) as used by René Antonio Mayorga.    Chile’s   system   was   not   fully   “parliamentarized”   since   it   did   held   separate   elections   for   the  executive and the legislature. The ability of the legislature to elect a president did not eliminate the  problem of dual legitimacy and did not offer strong coalition­building incentives. Israel’s parliamentary  system is also not fully “presidentialized” despite the separate election of the executive. The Israeli  prime minister is still subject to a vote of confidence. Bolivia’s system is substantially different from  both of these, as subsequent sections of the paper will illustrate. 5

The recent debate over the merits of presidential democracy was sparked by Juan  Linz’s essay “Presidential  or Parliamentary Democracy: Does It Make a Difference?”  which was circulating in manuscript form as early as 1985. The basis of Linz’s argument  was   the   observation   that   presidential   democracy   had   a   high   rate   of   “failure”   or  breakdowns  of democracy.  Along  with  this  came  the  parallel  observation  that  most  long­standing   democracies   were   parliamentary,   not   presidential   (with   the   notable  exception of the United States). Although the argument appears on the surface to be a  condemnation of presidentialism tout court in favor of parliamentarism, Linz is careful  to point out that he “[does] not argue that any parliamentary system is ipso facto more  likely to ensure democratic stability than any presidential system” (1990b, 84).  Linz’s argument is based on a dichotomous contrasting of presidentialism and  parliamentarism,   especially   with   regards   to   their   correlation   with   stability   and  consolidation. This leads him to subsequently develop two ideal­type systems that he  then evaluates. Several scholars (e.g. Valenzuela 1993; Fabbrini 1995; Stepan and Skach  1993) joined Linz in condemning presidentialism. Other scholars (e.g. Horowitz 1990;  Mainwaring   and   Shugart   1997b;   Shugart   and   Carey   1992)   have   criticized   Linz   for  oversimplifying the dichotomy between presidentialism and parliamentarism and for  exaggerating the dangers of presidentialism while too readily dismissing problems with  parliamentarism. Some of Linz’s critics point out that differences among presidential  systems are significant and that other variables —especially electoral systems— have  dramatic consequences for the way presidential democracies operate (e.g. Jones 1995;  Nohlen and Fernández 1998). Essentially, Linz argues that the historically poor performance of presidentialism  as   a   regime   type   —the   observation   that   most   long­standing   democracies   are   not  presidential— is based on the central characteristics of presidentialism itself. He defines  a presidential system as one in which “an executive with considerable constitutional  powers … is elected by the people for a fixed term and is independent of parliamentary  votes of confidence” (1990a, 52). Elsewhere, Linz characterizes presidentialism by its  two most prominent features: (a) “dual legitimacy” and (b) “[temporal] rigidity” (1994,  6). Presidentialism is marked by dual legitimacy because both the executive and the  legislature   are   elected   independently,   giving   each   a   claim   to   direct   democratic  legitimacy. Presidentialism is also marked by rigidity because terms of office are set for  a specific length of time, during which the executive cannot dissolve the legislature and  the   legislature   cannot   easily   remove   the   executive.   Linz   argues   that   these   two  distinguishing characteristics of presidentialism are weaknesses by themselves and lead  to   other   structural   problems   that   make   democratic   stability   and   consolidation   more  difficult.   Although   democratic   stability   and   democratic   consolidation   are   not  synonymous,   it   is   clear   that   stability   —the   durability   of   democratic   norms   such   as  elections, among other things— is a necessary condition for consolidation. First,   the   direct   election   of   the   executive   and   the   separate   election   of   the  legislature gives each a competing claim to legitimacy. Since each is popularly elected,  “no democratic principle can decide who represents the will of the people” (Linz 1994, 

7). Linz further argues that the single­person nature of the presidential office makes  presidents   more   likely   to   see   themselves   as   representing   the   nation­at­large,   while  viewing the legislature as representing “special” or “parochial” interests. Presidents are  more   willing   to   challenge   legislatures   and   use   decree   powers   using   their   popular  “mandate” as political leverage. Thus, presidentialism is based on executive­legislative  conflict,   which  is very  dangerous  for new democracies.  This  conflict “systematically  contributes to impasses and democratic breakdowns” (Stepan and Skach 1993, 19). A  crucial   danger  is  that,  in   countries   that   desperately   need   effective  governments,   the  military   may   decide   to   act   as   “poder   moderador”   (Linz   1994,   7).   Another   danger,  however,   is   that   presidents   rely   on   their   decree   powers   to   brush   aside   legislative  opposition,   producing   what   Guillermo   O’Donnell   (1994)   termed   “delegative  democracy.” In contrast, parliamentarism has only one source of legitimacy since “the  only   legitimate   institution   is   parliament   …   [and]   the   government’s   authority   is  completely dependent upon parliamentary confidence” (Linz 1990a, 52). Second,   the   fixed   terms   of   office   of   both   the   executive   and   the   legislature,  coupled with their mutual independence from each other, introduces the problem of  temporal   rigidity.   This   “breaks   the   political   process   into   discontinuous,   rigidly  demarcated periods, leaving no room for the continuous readjustments that events may  demand” (Linz 1990a, 54). Linz further argues that this lack of flexibility is especially  problematic   during   periods   of   transition   to   democracy   and   consolidation   (1994,   9).  Presidentialism   is   “rigid”   because   it   does   not   allow   for   early   elections   when   new  governments are needed or demanded. What is more, most presidential systems have  proscriptions again presidential reelection. Governments that are popular and effective  cannot   constitutionally   extend   their   mandates;   voters   are   forced   to   choose   new  leadership.   In   contrast,   parliamentary   regimes   can   more   easily   replace   ineffective  governments without producing a political crisis and they can extend the mandates of  effective governments. Third, Linz argues that the divided nature of power in presidential systems and  the   lack   of   reelection   make   both   accountability   and   identifiability   more   difficult.  Identifiability, the ability for voters to predict what cabinets will look like, is limited  since presidents are free to select their cabinets, making it difficult for voters to make a   priori calculations about government teams. Accountability suffers because “there is no  way to hold accountable a president who cannot be presented for reelection” (Linz 1994,  12).   Accountability   also   suffers   because   presidentialism   encourages   executives   and  legislatures   to   play   the   “blame   game”   (Linz   1990b,   89).   Presidents   are   also   not  accountable to their own parties or the legislature, since there is no vote of confidence  (Linz   1994,   13­14).   In   contrast,   parliamentary   systems   provide   greater   degrees   of  identifiability   since   voters   can   often   recognize   potential   government   “teams.”  Accountability is reinforced both by making executives subject to a vote of confidence  and greater cooperation between executives and legislatures —they rise or fall together.  Fourth, presidentialism has majoritarian and “winner­take­all” tendencies. By its  very nature, the office of the president is a one­person office, which “raises the stakes in 

presidential election … and inevitably increases the tensions and the polarization” (Linz  1994, 19). Subsequently, the one­person office of chief executive reduces  presidential  politics to a “zero­sum game” and encourages winners to exaggerate their mandates.  This majoritarian tendency produces a less­than­democratic “style” of politics marked  by few cooperative strategies and authoritarian presidents. In contrast, parliamentary  systems  rely on collegial cabinets  and encourage more “consociational” democracies  (Lijphart 1999; Linz 1994). Fifth, presidentialism is marked by an increase personalization of politics and the  increased probability that political “outsiders” will win office. In delegative democracy,  presidential elections tend to become highly personalized affairs divorced from party  programs or identities. This is especially problematic for new democracies, where party  identities   and   policy   platforms   are   still   not   fully   formed,   making   voters   more  susceptible to populistic appeals. The logic of the one­person office of president also  encourages candidates to campaign independently of political parties and to present  themselves as “above politics.” Presidents come to power with very little support from  their own party or without a political party to speak of. Presidents who win election on  the   basis   of   their   own   individual   charisma   are   less   willing   to   deal   with   political  “insiders”   and   more   prone   to   see   themselves   as   messianic,   national   saviors.   The  consequence is delegative democracy. In contrast, parliamentarism is less personalized  and relies on strong party discipline and identity.  Linz’s   argument   consists   of   two   distinct   parts:  (a)  the   negative   evaluation   of  presidentialism   as   a   regime   type   and  (b)  the   positive   evaluation   —and   subsequent  recommendation— of parliamentarism as likely to lead to democratic consolidation in  new democracies. Both arguments have been criticized. Most of the criticism has been  against   Linz’s   condemnation   of   presidentialism   (e.g.   Horowitz   1990;   Jones   1995;  Mainwaring and Shugart 1997a). Although often accepting many of Linz’s criticisms of  presidentialism,   several   scholars   criticized   Linz’s   argument   that   presidentialism   is  necessarily   inimical   to   democratic   consolidation.   They   point   out   that   presidential  systems   are   quite   varied,   that   different   combinations   of   formal   and   informal   rules  radically alter the prospects for democratic consolidation, and that presidentialism (qua   ideal­type)   should   not   be   blamed   for   democratic   failures.   In   short,   the   bulk   of   the  criticism   is simply  that Linz relies  on an ideal­type of presidentialism and does  not  adequately   differentiate   between   different   types   of  presidential   systems.   Critics   also  point out to weaknesses in parliamentarism that make the system problematic for new  democracies.   Such   scholars   do   not   promote   parliamentarism,   but   rather   other  institutional solutions, such as changing electoral laws, to “renovate” presidentialism  (e.g. Jones 1995; Nohlen and Fernández 1998). Finally, even some scholars who agree  with   Linz’s   condemnation   of   presidentialism   are   hesitant   to   recommend   that   new  democracies adopt parliamentarism (e.g. Sartori 1997; Sartori 1994; Lijphart 1999). 

The Perils of Presidentialism?

Although many of the defenses of presidentialism have been half­hearted, some  scholars have pointed to advantages presidential democracy has over parliamentarism  (e.g.   Mainwaring   and  Shugart   1997a;   von   Mettenheim   1997).  Most,   however,   accept  many of Linz’s  criticisms of presidentialism and recognize that ideal­type or “pure”  presidentialism should be blunted by other measures. Still, some scholars have focused  on   the   methodological   weakness   of   Linz’s   argument   against   presidentialism   (e.g.  Horowitz 1990; Nohlen 1998b). Other scholars have called attention to other important  variables —mostly electoral laws and the executive’s legislative powers— that influence  presidentialism’s democratic character and performance (e.g. Jones 1995; Nohlen and  Fernández 1998; Shugart and Carey 1992; Cox and Morgenstern 2001).  Some of the sharpest criticisms of Linz’s argument are methodological. Donald  Horowitz (1990) and Scott Mainwaring and Matthew Shugart (1997a) point out  that  much of the anti­presidential literature is prone to selection bias. Presidentialism has  been most common in regions with little history of democracy, poorly institutionalized  political   party   systems,   and   low   levels   of   socioeconomic   development.   In   contrast,  parliamentarism has been most common in Europe, with its longer experience with and  slow evolution towards democracy, more institutionalized party systems, and (perhaps  most   importantly)   higher   levels   of   socioeconomic   development.   In   short,   the  breakdown of democracies in developing countries could be accounted for by any of  several variables other than presidentialism. The presidential systems that broke down  shared too many other features in common. Horowitz also points out that the history of  parliamentarism has also been  spotted in Europe. Both the Weimar and the pre­war  Italian parliamentary democracies collapsed. Democracy in both countries was restored  only after their fascist governments were defeated and the Western Allies imposed new  democratic constitutions. They also criticize Linz for failing to account for the failures of  parliamentarism before the Second World War (in Europe) and after (in the developing  world). Dieter Nohlen (1998b) raises a parallel methodological criticism. He points out  that Linz’s argument rests on the use of “counterfactuals” that hypothesize what “might  have” happened and lead to a “methodologically weak argument, departing from the  belief   that   parliamentarism   would   have   led   to   something   different,   [and]   faults  presidentialism for what happened” (1998b, 88). Nohlen also points out that Linz does  not adequately  deal  with anomalous cases —such as Venezuela, Colombia, or Costa  Rica— in which presidential democracy survived the turbulent 1960s and 1970s. Nohlen  instead offers the hypothesis that the success of parliamentarism in Europe after the  Second World War —and of presidential democracy in Venezuela, Colombia, and Costa  Rica— was a result of “political learning.” The collapse of democracy and the rise of  fascism in inter­war Europe taught political élites and voters important lessons about  the   dangers   of   parliamentary   politics.   Subsequently,   both   élites   and   voters   (but  especially   élites)   overcame   the   shortcomings   of   their   political   system   by   adopting  consociational strategies. Similarly, Nohlen looks at the recent history of Latin America 

and the widespread survival of presidential  democracy  with optimism and suggests  that presidential democracies are also able to provide venues for “political learning.” Other   scholars   argue   that   Linz   unfairly   misrepresented   presidentialism   by  focusing on the American “prototype.” Gary Cox and Scott Morgenstern (2001) argue  that   Linz’s   argument   suffers   from   the   use   of   ideal­types   and   does   not   distinguish  between   the variety  of subtypes  of presidentialism  currently  in  practice.  Differences  between presidential systems are significant and make discussion of any “ideal­type” of  presidentialism   problematic   since   claims   developed   from   one   type   are   not  generalizeable to the category as a whole. Matthew Shugart and John Carey (1992) call  for   the   development   of   more   careful   typologies   of   presidential   systems.   They  demonstrate   that   most   presidential   systems   bear   little   resemblance   to   the   American  version   from   which   Linz   bases   much   of   his   criticism.   Working   from   these   more  differentiated   typologies,   subsequent   works   such   as   those   by   Mark   Jones   (1995),  Mainwaring and Shugart (1997b), and Carey and Shugart (1998) demonstrate that some  forms of presidentialism may be less problematic than others. Most   scholars,   however,   agree   with   the   main   thrust   of   Linz’s   criticisms   of  presidentialism   —especially   the   issues   of   dual   legitimacy   and   rigidity.   Those   who  criticize   Linz,   however,   argue   that   the   problems   produced   by   dual   legitimacy   and  rigidity are not necessary consquences. Rather, they depend on other factors such as  electoral systems, party systems, and the mix of legislative and executive powers. The  problems of dual legitimacy and rigidity are most acute when governments are headed  by   presidents   without   legislative   majorities   or   near­majorities.   Under   such  circumstances, democracy suffers from lack of effective governance. The outcomes may  be diverse. Some states may “muddle through,” as Ecuador has done for the last two  decades   (Isaacs   1996;   Barczak   1997).   Other   states,   however,   may   develop   more  authoritarian tendencies, or “democradura,” such as Peru under Alberto Fujimori. Still,  the   probabilities   of   divided   government   and   ineffective   governance   can   be   blunted  through institutional reforms. Jones   (1995)   demonstrates   that   electoral   systems   have   a   significant   effect   on  producing executives with legislative majorities or near­majorities. Rather than radical  reforms to “parliamentarize” Latin American democracies, Jones recommends electoral  systems   designed   to   encourage   moderated   multipartism.   Such   measures   include  plurality   elections   for   the   president   (rather   than   second­round   runoff   formulas),  medium­sized multimember districts with proportional representation, and concurrent  legislative   and   presidential   elections.   Similarly,   Shugart   and   Mainwaring   argue   that  “the   nature   of   the   party   system,   in   particular   the   number   of   parties,   makes   a  fundamental difference in how presidential systems function” (1997, 394). The success  of   presidential   democracy   depends   in   great   part   on   the   degree   of   party   system  fragmentation and party  discipline, just as parliamentary  democracies  rely  on stable  and   disciplined   party   systems.   Shugart   and   Carey   (1992)   also   argue   that   electoral  systems   are   a   crucial   factor   in   determining   the   success   or   failure   of   presidential  democracies.   Like   Dieter   Nohlen   (1998a),   these   scholars   argue   for   smaller­scale 

institutional   changes   that   would   “renovate”   presidentialism   by   adopting   electoral  systems that help reduce polarized multipartism and produce legislative majorities. Finally, several scholars have taken Linz to task for his claim that the “style” of  politics   is   significantly   different   (i.e.   less   “democratic”)   in   presidentialism   than   in  parliamentarism. Grace Ivana Deheza (1998) takes up Linz’s charge that presidentialism  encourages   winner­take­all   strategies.   She   points   to   evidence   that   South   American  presidential democracies have significant consociational tendencies; in a study of nine  South   American   presidential   systems,   56   percent   of   governments   were   coalition  governments   (1998,   156).   Deheza   also   discovered   that   coalition   parties   are   awarded  significant   shares   of   ministerial   and   cabinet   posts   in   comparison   to   the   president’s  party. She concludes that the ability of presidential systems to build stable and effective  coalitions   depends   more   on   “the   institutional   combinations,   the   party   systems,   the  relationships   established   by   the   parties   forming   the   government”   and   that   “the  formation   of   accords   and   coalition   governments   in   multiparty   systems   reduce   the  conflicts   that   can   emerge   among   the   parties,   generating   cooperative   forms   of  government” (1998, 169).  Other scholars have pointed out that presidentialism does not necessarily suffer  from   “winner­take­all”   politics,   as   Linz   contends.   One   of   the   criticisms   of  presidentialism is that its divided government often leads to governments that rule by  executive decree rather than through the legislature. There is evidence, on the contrary,  that   presidential   systems   are   no   more   prone   to   use   executive   decrees   than   are  parliamentary systems (e.g. Carey and Shugart 1998b; Shugart and Carey 1992; Cox and  Morgenstern   2001).   Carey   and   Shugart   (1998a)   argue   that   decree   powers   should   be  more   carefully   disaggregated   and   considered   among   their   different   dimensions   — especially   differentiating   between   reactive   and   proactive   decree   powers.   Carey   and  Shugart (1998a) point out that presidential systems vary significantly on the different  types   of  decree  and other  “legislative” powers  available to executives.  Interestingly,  Della Sala and Krepel (1998) point out that in Italy —one of the signature parliamentary  systems— executives routinely use decree powers to enact legislation. 

The Virtues of Parliamentarism? The   second   half   of   Linz’s   argument,   that   parliamentarism   is   a   system   better  suited for democratic consolidation, has also not gone uncriticized. As Giovanni Sartori  (1994) points out, even if presidentialism is not well­suited for new democracies, it does  not   necessarily   follow   that   parliamentarism   must   be   better   suited.   Like   Sartori,  Horowitz (1990) points out that Linz’s argument rests on the counterfactual argument  that parliamentary systems would have performed better where presidentialism failed.  Horowitz and Mainwaring and Shugart (1997a) point out, however, that a look at the  historical evidence of all democratic systems —not just the successful ones— reveals  that parliamentary systems failed just as often as presidential systems. This is especially 

the case in underdeveloped countries with little previous experience with democracy.  Horowitz   also   points   out   that   only   twenty­five   years   ago   scholars   advanced   the  argument   “that   the   inherited   Westminster   style   of   parliamentary   democracy   was  responsible   for   much   of   the   authoritarianism   then   emerging   in   English­speaking  Africa” (1990, 74). The criticisms that Horowitz raises still fundamentally agree with Linz’s primary  reasons  to  criticize  presidentialism.  Like nearly  all  participants  in the institutionalist  debate, Horowitz agrees that democratic stability is desirable. Simply standing the test  of time is not a sufficient condition for democratic consolidation, but it is a necessary  condition.   Without   a   repeated   pattern   of   elections   and   the   other   “formalities”   of  democracy, it is impossible to establish any deeper sense of democracy. Horowitz also  agree that it “is right to worry about winner­take­all outcomes and their exclusionary  consequences” (Horowitz 1990, 79). Extreme winner­take­all majoritarianism and zero­ sum   politics   only   hinder   democratic   consolidation.   Critics   point   out   that  parliamentarism   itself   is   highly   majoritarian;   for   example,   Mainwaring   and   Shugart  (1997a)   point   out   that   parliamentary   systems   have   a   tendency   towards   powerful  executives who head legislative majorities. In such cases, “a disciplined majority party  leaves the executive virtually unconstrained between elections. Here, more than in any  presidential system, the winner takes all” (Mainwaring and Shugart 1997a, 453).  The “advantages” of presidentialism that Mainwaring and Shugart (1997a) and  von   Mettenheim   (1997)   point   out   offset   the   weaknesses   of   parliamentarism.  Mainwaring and Shugart argue that presidentialism offers voters a greater variety of  choices since they can vote for both the executive and the legislature. Contrary to Linz,  Mainwaring and Shugart also argue that presidentialism offers voters a greater degree  of   identifiability   and   accountability,   since   it   is   much   more   difficult   for   voters   in  parliamentary systems to hold parties accountable when they are members of grand  coalitions —let alone to predict what kind of coalitions are possible. Such a problem  would   be   more   acute   in   new   democracies.   Finally,   they   argue   that   legislative  independence   in   presidentialism   makes   the   system   more   stable   and   effective   than  parliamentarism,   since   legislators   “can   act   on   legislation   without   worrying   about  immediate consequences for the survival of the government, issues can be considered  on their merits rather than as matters of ‘confidence’” (Mainwaring and Shugart 1997a,  462).   Von   Mettenheim   also   points   to   several   advantages   presidentialism   has   over  parliamentarism.  For one, the separation  of powers  doctrine “provide[s] both  moral  grounds   and   institutional   settings   for   reconciling   plebiscitarian,   populist,   and  nationalist   appeals”   since   separately   elected   executives   and   legislators   must   balance  different   political   demands.   More   fundamentally,   von   Mettenheim   argues   that   the  “separation   of   powers   theory”   is   still   relevant   today   and   should   be   more   carefully  included in analysis of institutional design.  Arend Lijphart is critical of majoritarian tendencies in both parliamentary and  presidential   systems.   Lijphart   is   especially   critical   of   the   “Westminster”   style   of  parliamentarism because it too is clearly majoritarian —perhaps even more majoritarian 

than   most   presidential   systems.   He,   of   course,   prefers   to   distinguish   between  consociational and majoritarian democracies (e.g. Lijphart 1984). Linz, of course, does  not   consider   Westminster   parliamentary   systems   as   the   “norm,”   and   expects   uses  continental   parliamentarism   as   his   ideal­type.   Consociational   systems   are   based   on  grand coalitions that include all or nearly all relevant political groups and actors. These  coalitions are based upon informal agreements between political élites, rather than on  formal institutional rules. These informal rules, however, were often adopted only after  decades of conflictual and unstable politics; they were not created over night. Because  these systems are based on informal, rather than formal institutions, consociationalism  is also possible in presidential democracies. Lijphart has often pointed to Colombia and  Venezuela   as   examples   of   Latin   American   presidential   systems   that   adopted  consociational rules. Subsequently, although Lijphart (1994b) joins Linz in condemning  presidentialism for being prone to majoritarianism, he argues that not all presidential  systems are necessarily majoritarian nor that all parliamentary systems escape the same  vice.  It is important to briefly note that consociationalism also suffers from its own  weaknesses. As a regime type, consociationalism is prone to rigidity if coalitions are  fixed too concretely and allow governments to remain in the same hands over time.  Similarly, the fixed, grand coalitions of consociationalism can damage the legitimacy of  democracy   both   if   new   groups   are   excluded   and   if   elections   become   essentially  meaningless. If voters know that changes (even large ones) in election results do not  alter governments, they may become cynical and lose faith in the practice of democracy.  Even if this is not important in established democracies (but the example of Austria  suggests that it is), the practice of meaningful elections is crucial in new democracies. In  countries   with   histories   of   manipulated   or   façade   elections   (or   with   no   history   of  elections at all), consociational practices many not be clearly distinguishable from the  authoritarian   past.   Citizens   in   new   democracies   need   to   learn   to   value   democratic  elections   as   a   means   for   political   (and   policy)   change.   Finally,   in   newly   established  democracies, the relevant groups and actors may not yet be established. A premature  consociational pact could also lock in some group(s) dominant in the early stages of  democratization  as the price  for electoral  democracy.3  Thus, consociationalism could  actually   serve   a   conservative   function   in   new   democracies   and   may   unnecessarily  prolong the influence of hard­liners or authoritarian élites. Lijphart’s   proposal   in   favor   of   consociationalism   comes   close   to   making  institutions   essentially   meaningless;   it   is   also   much   more   élite   driven.   If   successful  democratic consolidation rests on élite consensus, and if consensus is possible in any 

  For example, both Colombia’s “National Front” and Venezuela’s “Punto Fijo” bipartisan power­ sharing accords essentially locked in the two dominant parties in each country at the expense of later  groups. The development of the guerrilla war in Colombia and Venezuela’s recent political instability  has   been   blamed   on   these   consociational   strategies   that   guaranteed   that   no   other   social   groups   or  political parties could challenge the  status quo. See Gaviria (1998), Hartlyn and Dugas (1999), Hoskin  and Murillo (1999), Levine and Crisp (1999), McCoy (1999). 13

institutional framework (from parliamentarism to presidentialism), then the debate over  which system to adopt is no longer critical. Lijphart still sees formal institutional design  as  playing  a significant role in democratic  consolidation, however  (e.g. Lijphart and  Waisman 1996). Incentives must be sought that encourage coalition building. Lijphart’s  1994 article in the Linz and Valenzuela volume,  The Failure of Presidential Democracy,  argues   that   parliamentarism   is   —on   the   whole—   more   amenable   to   consociational  democracy than is presidentialism. Perhaps  the best argument for rejecting parliamentarism for new democracies  comes   from  Sartori   (1997,  Ch.  6).  Despite   joining  Linz  in  criticizing  presidentialism,  Sartori (1994) rejects  parliamentarism as a solution for new democracies. Instead,  he  recommends   a   mixed   system   similar   to   that   of   the   French   Fifth   Republic.   Sartori’s  criticism   of   parliamentarism   rests   mainly   on   the   system’s   dependence   on  “parliamentary fit” parties. These types of party systems are lacking in Latin America.  Parliamentary fit parties are strongly institutionalized and disciplined political parties  that are able to “hold together in supporting the government (generally a coalition) that  is their appointee” (Sartori  1997, 102). Without parliamentary  fit parties, a switch to  parliamentarism   could   easily   lead   to   unstable   and   short­lived   governments.   Such   a  situation is clearly dangerous for new democracies, where citizens and élites alike may  not easily distinguish between a government and a regime crisis, as Horowitz (1990)  demonstrates.   More   to   the   point,   in   an   underdeveloped   country   with   no   history   of  democracy there may not be a difference between these two distinct forms of crisis.  Sartori’s   argument   that   Latin   America   (and   other   new   democracies)   lack  parliamentary fit parties is crucial. As S. M. Lipset (2000) points out, political parties are  “indispensible” for democracy. Democracies need strong disciplined parties for various  reasons. Disciplined parties with clear ideologies and policy platforms make electoral  politics more identifiable and accountable. Voters can more clearly predict government  teams   and   policies   when   parties   are   disciplined   and   adopt   predictable   policies.  Disciplined  parties   also   allow for  depersonalization   of  politics   since   parties  develop  long term strategies and seek to develop future party leaders. Conversely, legislators  from   disciplined  parties  have  greater   incentives  to  work   with   executives  since   their  future electoral success depends on collective efforts to successfully implement policy.  Without   disciplined   parties,   voters   cannot   easily   hold   governments   accountable   in  future elections. 

Hybrid Systems and the French Model Because presidentialism and parliamentarism are both open to criticism, some  scholars have recommended “hybrid” or “mixed” systems instead. Sartori (1994) begins  his criticism of Linz by emphasizing that parliamentarism and presidentialism do not  exhaust the universe of types of democratic systems. Pointing to cases such as Bolivia  and France, Sartori points out the possibility of constitutional designs that are “neither 

presidential nor parliamentary.” Still, Sartori obviously has the French system in mind  since he only discusses Bolivia’s system in passing. Since the French system is markedly  different than Bolivia’s system of parliamentarized presidentialism, it should be briefly  discussed.  The French system of can be described as a twin­engine model. Also known as  “premier­presidentialism”   (Shugart  and Carey   1992), this  system  is  both  presidential  and parliamentary marked by a dual executive. The head of government is the premier  or prime minister, selected by the parliament. The head of state is the president, chosen  by direct popular election. In theory, the two “engines” of premier­presidentialism are  able to switch on and off as needed to provide the stability of presidentialism while  maintaining   the   greater   flexibility   of   parliamentarism.   Critics   of   this   system   (e.g.  Shugart and Carey 1992; Suleiman 1994), however, point out that it is prone to many of  the same shortcomings that plague pure presidential systems.  The separate election of the head of state means that the system also suffers from  a problem of dual legitimacy. Similarly, because the president is elected for a fixed term,  the   system   is   no   more   immune   to   rigidity   than   pure   a  presidential   system.   In   new  democracies,   especially,   these   problems   can   become   accentuated.   More   importantly  still, premier­presidentialism is a more complicated system than either presidentialism  or parliamentarism. Citizens in countries with little experience with democracy man not  be   able   to   understand   clearly   a   political   system   with   two   separate   engines,   each   of  which can take over the direction of government and each of which has separate bases  of legitimacy. Similarly, in countries with weak party systems, the struggles between  the president and prime minister could just as likely lead to delegative democracy as  could presidential systems. Finally, not only the different claims to legitimacy, but the  different   claims   to   power   of   each   engine   can   prove   destabilizing.   Under   such  conditions, the  role of the military  as  poder  moderador  is  more  likely. Ezra  Suleiman  (1994) points out that the stability of France’s political system was due to factors outside  its constitutional structure. Premier­presidentialism   has   been   adopted   by   many   East   European   countries,  such   as   Russia,   to   less   than   promising   results.   Russia’s   political   system   has   been  dominated   by   its   president,   both   under   Boris   Yeltsin   and   Vladimir   Putin.   Sartori  himself recognizes that if the Russian system is a premier­presidential system, “it is an  ill conceived­one” (1997, 139 n. 9). The Russian experience —along with that of other  East European premier­presidential systems— suggests that new democracies are ill­ suited for this type of system. If premier­presidentialism in new democracies operates  like a presidential system, with strong executives who use decree powers to overcome  parliamentary opposition, then proposing premier­presidentialism as a solution to the  “perils” of presidentialism seems unpromising.   Part   of   the   problem   may   lie   in   the   nature   of   premier­presidentialism   itself.  Suleiman   (1994)   actually   considers   the   French   system   a   “presidential”   system   and  argues  that the “success” of premier­presidentialism had less  to do with the system  itself   than   with   other   factors.   He   argues   that   the   “dual   executive   system   does   not 

function   in   a   predetermined   way”   and   can   lead   to   either   “cohabitation”   (when  president   and   prime   minister   get   along),   moderated   conflict,   or   even   “competing  legitimacies”  (Suleiman  1994,  139). The  separate,   independent  democratic   legitimacy  each executive has can lead to divisive political struggles if the president and the prime  minister represent different political parties or coalitions. Even in the French system, the  division   of powers  between  both  branches  of government  are rather  unclear.  In   the  hands of strong­willed executives (such as a Yeltsin), the power to disband the cabinet  and   rule   by   decree  would  be  a  strong   temptation.  Under  such   conditions,  premier­ presidentialism is just as prone to delegative democracy (and for the same reasons) as  presidential   systems   in   which   strong   executives   lack   legislative   majorities.   In   sharp  contrast to Sartori’s optimism, Suleiman warns that “the 1958 French constitution is a  delicate instrument that should be emulated with extreme caution” (1994, 160). I agree with the argument that mixed systems may serve new democracies better  than   “pure”   systems.   But   I   also   hold   that   a   key   element   necessary   for   successful  democratic consolidation is simplicity. The virtues of simplicity include transparency  and ease of operation. Voters can quickly “learn” how to govern themselves  via  their  representatives if they can clearly see how their votes translate into governments and  policies. The French system, for all its advantages, is a complicated system and may  prove   unwieldy   if   adopted   by   new   democracies.   If   hybrid   systems   offer   the   best  possibility to balance the needs for stability and flexibility, we should look to the case of  Bolivia, which offer another model of a mixed political system. The study of Bolivia’s  system of parliamentarized presidentialism does more than merely help us fill in the  gaps   in   our   typology   of   political   systems   and   regime   types.   The   Bolivian   model   is  instructive   because   it   led   to   democratic   consolidation   in   a   least­likely   scenario.  Parliamentarized presidentialism balances the need for stability and flexibility without  the bulkiness of two engines that must somehow cohabitate.   

The Bolivian Model

Since   1982   Bolivia’s   political   élite   refined   the   system   of   parliamentarized  presidentialism. This system is as substantially different from premier­presidentialism  as   it   is   from   pure   presidentialism   or   parliamentarism.   The   system   is   defined   by   a  combination of formal institutions and informal rules whose three key features are: (a)  fused­ballot list proportional representation, (b) legislative election of the executive, and  (c)  informal consociational rules that produce majority legislative coalitions. The first  two features are formal institutional frameworks, although only the legislative election  of   the   executive   is   clearly   stipulated   in   the   constitution   (Article   90).   This   system   is  clearly not fully “presidential” due to the fused ballot and election of the executive by  the legislature. Neither is the system fully “parliamentary,” since the legislature cannot  call for a vote of confidence. Once elected, the president acts very much like a president  —although one who governs through a multiparty coalition.

First, the backbone of parliamentarized presidentialism is the electoral system.  The   combination   of   list   proportional   representation   with   a   fused   ballot   is   the   key  institutional constraint defining Bolivia’s political system. It is commonly understood  that proportional PR electoral systems are associated with —and tend to reinforce—  multiparty   systems   (Duverger   1954;   Lijphart   1994a).   For   this   reason,   critics   of  presidentialism   point   out   the   dangers   of   combining   independent   elections   for   the  executive with proportional representation elections for the legislature since they tend  to produce executives without legislative majorities. The Bolivian case is an exception,  however, because of its fused ballot. The highly simple structure of the Bolivian ballot  fuses   the   election   of   the   executive   and   legislature   into   one   singular   vote   choice,  resembling   ballots   in   “pure”   parliamentary   systems.   When   voting,   Bolivian   citizens  receive a simple “multi­color, multi­sign” ballot that has the name of each presidential  candidate along with the names, signs, and colors of their party. Voters are then given a  pencil and simply asked to mark the box for their presidential candidate. Seats in the  lower and upper chambers of the legislature are then given out in proportion to vote  shares. If a candidate wins a majority of the vote, he or she is automatically chosen as  president.  Second,   if   no   presidential   candidate   wins   by   direct   popular   vote,   the   newly  elected   legislature   meets   to   elect   the   president   as   stipulated   in   Article   90   of   the  constitution. Before 1994, the Congress  chose from among the three  candidates  who  won the most votes; after 1994, Congress now chooses from among the top two. This  provision, of course, was originally meant to apply only if no candidate wins a clear,  absolute majority. The realities  of Bolivia’s multiparty system, however, have meant  that this provision has been used to select every president since 1982 (a total of five).  There is no indication that any presidential candidate will win an absolute majority in  future elections.4 Third, during  the congressional  election  stage, informal  coalition  rules  play   a  pivotal   role.   The   electoral   system   constrains   voters   and   politicians   by   reinforcing   a  competitive multiparty system. Article 90 provides a selection rule if no candidate wins  by direct election. But this provision does not stipulate how the legislature should select  a   president.   After   all,   the   legislature   could   merely   elect   a   compromise   candidate,  producing   a   president   with   no   legislative   majority.   Since   1985,   however,   Bolivia’s  political parties have adopted coalition­building strategies used to select presidents. In  exchange for votes for their presidential candidate, parties receive cabinet positions and  concessions   to   adopt   specific   policy   platforms,   along   with   a   general   share   in   the  government   agenda   and   state   patronage.   These   coalitions   are   also   loosely  “consociational”   in   the   sense   that   member   parties   use   the   cabinet   —or   even  paraconstitutional bodies5— from which to set policy jointly, often after intense intra­ coalition   negotiations.   These   coalitions,   however,   are   also   not   consociational   in   the 

  The largest vote share for any candidate (38.7%) was won by Siles Zuazo’s UDP in 1980. Since  then, vote shares have been spread between the largest parties. In 1997, Bánzer Suárez’s ADN was the  front­runner with only 22.3%. 17

sense   that   Lijphart   would   use;   they   are   not   so   inclusive   that   they   eliminate   the  important role of a democratic opposition or eliminate competition from the political  system. Finally, it seems clear that voters understand the informal rules used by political  élites to form coalition governments —although this would require further empirical  evidence.   Over   time,   two   clearly   marked   “poles”   have   formed   marked   by   the  Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario (MNR, National Revolutionary Movement) on the  one   hand   and   a   firm   alliance   between  Acción   Democrática   y   Nacionalista  (ADN,  Democratic   National   Action)   and  Movimiento   de   la   Izquierda   Revolucionaria  (MIR,  Movement   of   the   Revolutionary   Left).   Other   parties   have   emerged   to   play   “king­ maker” roles, although some have consistently aligned themselves to the major parties. Although the 1994 constitutional reforms introduced important changes to the  political system, there is no indication that they significantly affected parliamentarized  presidentialism. Since 1994, Congress is now restricted to selecting the president from  among the top two (rather than three) candidates. The practice of building coalitions  has gone largely unaffected and may instead have helped streamline the process. The  changes to the electoral system, introducing a German­style multi­member proportional  system,   also   do   not   seem   to   have   affected   the   dynamics   of   parliamentarized  presidentialism. Although multi­member proportional systems allow for direct, first­ past­the­post election of representatives for half of the lower house in single­member  districts, the system is still a proportional representation system since the other half of  the seats in the lower house are apportioned to reflect total votes. Scholars recognize  that   this   electoral   system   is   fundamentally   a   type   of   proportional   representation  (Lijphart 1999; Jones 1995a). A final change was the extension of the electoral cycle to  five   years   from   four.   As   with   the   other   changes,   there   is   no   indication   that   it  significantly altered the dynamic of parliamentarized presidentialism.  Because the Bolivian model uses a fused ballot from which both the legislative  and   the   executive   offices   are   filled,   the   system   is   not   prone   to   problems   of   dual  legitimacy.   Just   as   in   pure   parliamentary   systems,   parliamentarized   presidentialism  produces an executive whose basis of legitimacy is intimately connected to that of the  parliament. The system retains presidential aspects, however, since the types of powers  each branch of government hold are substantively separated. The president does not  have the constitutional power to dismiss the legislature; the legislature, for its part, does  not have the ability to call a vote of confidence. Subsequently, the set term limits for  both branches  of government —which are concurrent— give the system a degree of  stability that might not have been possible if Bolivia had adopted a pure parliamentary  system.  The system has also positively affected Bolivian political life and contributed to 

  For   example,   the   1989­93   MIR­ADN   “Acuerdo   Patriotico”   (AP)   coalition   government   was  governed primarily through the Comité del Acuerdo Patriotico (Committee of the Patriotic Accord). Jaime  Paz Zamora (head of MIR) was president of the republic; Hugo Bánzer Suárez (head of ADN) was  chairman of the committee and was often referred to as the “co­president.” 18

democratic   consolidation.   Since   1982   and   the   adoption   of   parliamentarized  presidentialism,   the   highly   fragmented   party   system   gave   way   to   a   more   moderate  multipartism. At the same time, other stipulations of the electoral law have combined to  encourage and help enforce party discipline and the institutionalization of the current  party   system.   Bolivia’s   electoral   law   stipulates   that   legislative   seats   belong   to   party  members, not to individuals. This helped parties enforce discipline over their members,  since renegade legislators could be legally removed from their seats by their parties  simply by being dismissed from the party. Such provisions, reinforcing the system of  parliamentarized   presidentialism,   have   helped   consolidate   not   only   Bolivia’s  democracy, but also its party system as well. Bolivia’s political parties are now more  disciplined and “parliamentary fit” than they were before 1982. A consideration of the  historical   evidence   supports   the   argument   that   Bolivia’s   unique   institutional   design  contributed to democratic consolidation.

Parliamentarized Presidentialism in Practice The difficulty of the transition process demonstrates the importance of political  learning. While the formal institutional structure of parliamentarized presidentialism  remained the same, it took Bolivia’s political élites from 1978 until at least 1985 to fully  understand the importance of informal coalitions rules. One could argue, of course, that  Bolivia’s political élites could have, in time, learned to use any system. One could also  argue that some other political system might have functioned better from the beginning.  Such   criticisms   are   as   difficult   to   deflect   as   they   are   to   test.   I   argue,   however,   that  parliamentarized presidentialism has served Bolivia better, in the long run, than any of  the three other systems. Both pure presidentialism and premier­presidentialism would  have produced problems of dual legitimacy, while the uncertainties of the transition era  would   have   led   to   unstable   parliamentarism.   In   the   end,   parliamentarized  presidentialism —once it went into effect— allowed Bolivia to consolidated democracy  under extremely hostile conditions. To understand this, we must turn to the historical  evidence. Bolivia   made   its   democratic   debut   in   1982.   Although   several   civilian  governments ruled throughout its history, none of these would qualify as democracies  using Robert Dahl’s criteria for polyarchy (Dahl 1971; Centellas 1999). The constitution  this first democratic government inherited had been written in 1967 during the military  government of René Barrientos, though it had never been implemented. The transition  to democracy began as early as 1978, when then­dictator Hugo Bánzer Suárez stepped  down in favor of elections. Although elections were held in 1978, 1979, and 1980, no  presidential candidate won a majority; this set off a period of extreme political crisis  that   lasted   until   the   last   military   junta   was   replaced   in   1982.   The   unwillingness   of  politicians   to   select   a   president   after   the   1979   and   1980   elections   —largely   due   to  Bolivia’s political élite failure to use the 1967 constitution’s provision for congressional 

election   of   the   president—   proved   costly.   Military   hard­liners   used   the   political  confusion   as   excuse   to   launch   coups   (often   with   the   help   of   congressional   factions)  against the fragile interim civilian governments. Much of the learning process involved  politician’s recognizing and exploiting the implications of Article 90 of the constitution,  which   calls   for   the   legislature   to   elect   the   president   if   no   candidate   wins   a   simple  majority. Since Bolivia’s democratic history began with a highly fragmented multiparty  system   and   a   fused­ballot   list   proportional   representation   electoral   system,   no  presidential candidate was able to (or has yet) won an absolute majority of votes. It was  not   until   1982,   however,   that   congressional   election   of   the   executive   was   formally  instituted. The 1979 and 1980 elections failed to produce a majority, even though the Unidad   Democrática y Popular (UDP, Democratic and Popular Union) won a plurality each time.  When   civilian  government   was  finally  restored  in   1982, Congress  chose  to  elect   the  plurality winner. The UDP, however, was a loose pre­electoral coalition and did not  bargain with other parties. Subsequently, while Siles Zuazo faced a divided opposition,  he lacked a legislative majority with which to effectively govern. As the economic crisis  of the early 1980s spiraled out of control, the UDP alliance began to unravel. Finally, in  1985, Siles Zuazo —faced with no legislative support and unable to govern effectively—  called for early elections. The   1985   general   election   was   a   turning   point   in   Bolivia’s   political   history  (Gamarra 1997a). Not only did it mark the first peaceful transition of power by ballot, it  marked   the   beginning   of   presidentialized   parliamentarism.   Bánzer   Suárez’  Acción   Democrática y Nacionalista (ADN, Democratic and Nationalist Action) won a plurality of  votes (32.8 percent) in the popular ballot but was unable to gain a majority of the seats  in the National Congress. Most political actors were uneasy about allowing the former  dictator to hold presidential power so soon after the return to democracy. The potential  stalemate was ended peacefully when Congress implemented Article 90 and chose the  second­runner,   Paz   Estenssoro   as   president.   Knowing   that   no   other   parties   would  support   the   ADN   candidate,   the  Movimiento   Nacionalista   Revolucionario  (MNR,  Nationalist   Revolutionary   Movement)   campaigned   to   gain   the   support   of   the   other  parties in the legislature for its candidate, Paz Estenssoro.  Shortly after his election, however, Paz Estenssoro made a political pact with the  ADN. This pact, known as “Pacto por la Democracia” (“Pact for Democracy”) ensured the  new president a legislative majority. In exchange, Paz Estensorro’s government adopted  many of the economic policies favored by the ADN. This coalition lasted the four years  of Paz Estenssoro’s government and ensured the implementation of the government’s  orthodox   economic   program.   Although   the   1982­85   Siles   Zuazo   government   was   a  “coalition government” of sorts, the MNR­ADN government was the first true coalition  government. The UDP was a loose electoral alliance of left­of­center parties and lacked  any sort of party discipline. As the economic crisis deepened, Siles Zuazo’s coalition  disintegrated in the legislature, leaving him without the ability to govern. In contrast,  both   Paz   Estenssoro   and   Bánzer   Suárez   were   able   to   discipline   their   parties   and 

maintain the uneasy MNR­ADN alliance. The   next   political   regime   was   installed   in   1989   after   the   candidate   of   the  Movimiento de la Izquierda Revolucionaria  (MIR, Movement of the Revolutionary Left),  Jaime Paz Zamora, was chosen over front­runner Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada (MNR)  and second runner­up Bánzer Suárez (ADN). Bánzer Suárez threw his party’s support  behind the third runner­up to prevent MNR from taking the presidency for a second  consecutive term. In exchange, ADN was granted several cabinet and ministerial posts.  The two parties signed the  “Acuerdo Patriotico”  (AP, Patriotic Accord) which outlined  their co­government The primary reason why ADN supported the MIR candidacy, was  the unwillingness of MNR to concede the election to ADN without contest. Under the  Pacto por la Democracia  agreement, ADN expected to receive MNR’s endorsement for  Bánzer   Suárez   as   president.   Instead,   MNR   campaigned   behind   Paz   Estenssoro’s  successor, Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada. At first, the MIR­ADN alliance seemed strange. The ADN was a right­of­center  party,   while   MIR   was   the   Bolivia’s   last   important   left­of­center   party.   Conventional  wisdom would have suggested another alliance between ADN and the centrist MNR, or  between   MNR and MIR. But the MIR­ADN alliance soon developed into what  now  seems to be perpetual alliance between the two parties. Since 1989 ADN and MIR have  consistently joined together as either opposition or government. At the end of their first  co­government, the two parties formed a new single party (AP) for the 1993 general  elections.   Results   of   the   1993   electoral   configuration   were   dismal,   suggesting   that  partisans   in   both   parties   preferred   to   retain   their   own   independent   identities.  Nevertheless,   both   parties   continue   to   work   closely   together.   Although   both   parties  differ on the left­to­right spectrum, they agree on the new key issues of centralization  and nationalization of the economy. While the MNR has, since 1985, embraced more  neo­liberal   and   “pluralist”   or   decentralization   policies,   ADN   and   MIR   have   jointly  continued to embrace the more traditional direction of Bolivian domestic and foreign  policy. The 1993 general elections returned the MNR to the presidency when Sánchez de  Lozada   won   the   support   of   two   new   parties:   the  Unidad   Cívica   Solidaridad  (UCS,  Solidarity Civic Union) and the Movimiento Bolivia Libre (MBL, Free Bolivia Movement).  The following year, in September, UCS abandoned the government after disagreements  concerning   the   populist   party’s   role   in   administration.   Seven   UCS   members   did,  however, break ranks and remained in the government coalition, still giving Sánchez de  Lozada   a   majority   in   the   Chamber   of   Deputies.   In   June   1995   Max   Fernández,   UCS  founder and party chief, brought his party formally back into the government. The 1993­97 MNR­led government was the first indication of a new balance of  power   in   Bolivian   politics.   Campaigning   against   Bánzer   Suárez,   the   ADN­MIR  candidate,   the   MNR   formed   a   formal   coalition   with   the   indigenous  Movimiento   Revolucionario Tupaj Katari de Liberación (MRTKL, Tupaj Katari Revolutionary Movement  of   Liberation).   This   MNR­MRTKL   electoral   front   presented   Bolivia   with   the   first  Aymara candidate, Victor Hugo Cárdenas, for a major political party. The post­electoral 

alliance with MBL was expected, since MBL broke from MIR specifically over the issue  of   the   latter   party’s   alliance   with   ADN.   As   with   the   MIR­ADN   alliance,   this   new  pluralist   pole   seems   to   hold   MNR,   MRTKL,   and   MBL   together.   The   MNR­MRTKL  alliance   is   the   strongest,   since   the   two   have   since   campaigned   together   in   the   1997  elections (although MRTKL still campaigns independently in local elections). Bánzer Suárez was elected after the 1997 general elections. A dramatic rise in  support for the two new populist parties, UCS and  Conciencia de Patria  (CONDEPA,  Conscience of the Fatherland), spread the vote into five large blocks. Bánzer Suárez’s  coalition government (known as  “la Mega”) was a supermajority comprising of ADN,  MIR, UCS, CONDEPA, and the small Nueva Fuerza Republicana (NFR, New Republican  Force).6 The Mega has proved unwieldy, however, since as many as five political parties  must   coordinate   against   an   opposition   dominated   by   the   large   MNR,   which   is   still  closely supported by MBL. Within a year, tensions within  la Mega  caused a crisis as  CONDEPA and UCS demanded more power within the coalition.7 In his August 1998  state­of­the­union   address,   Bánzer   Suárez   formally   dismissed   CONDEPA   from   the  government   coalition.   Subsequently,   the   ADN­led   government   no   longer   holds   a  supermajority in the Chamber of Deputies. The short­lived grand coalition of 1997­98  might   have   taught   Bolivia’s   political   élites   a   valuable   lesson.   The   power   of   a  supermajority to enact legislation is diminished if intra­coalition disputes prevent the  development of a coherent government program. The smaller version of la Mega is now  more able to implement policy with a legislative majority.

Parliamentarized Presidentialism and Democratic Consolidation Parliamentarized presidentialism was perhaps the most important contributing  factor in Bolivia’s democratic consolidation. While other variables, such as political will,  are   also   important,   it   is   clear   that   the   institutionalist   argument   —that   political 


  NFR   was   part   of   the   official   ADN­NFR­PDC   electoral   front.   The   small  Partido   Democrático   Cristiano (PDC, Christian Democratic Party) has not campaigned independently since 1985. Since then it  has been incorporated de facto (when not explicitly) into the ADN electoral lists. The NFR is headed by  the popular alcalde (mayor) of Cochabamba (Bolivia’s third largest city), Manfred Reyes Villa. Villa was  a onetime member of ADN, but formed his own personalist party to become Cochabamba’s  alcalde.  Despite being a small pre­electoral ally, NFR has special privileges with la Mega.   CONDEPA   was   the   more   troublesome   of   the   two.   Posturing   for   greater   power   within   the  government   coalition,   CONDEPA   voted   against   the   government   proposal   to   eliminate   the  Bono   Solidario  (BONOSOL), the national pension plan created by the Sánchez de Lozada government, less  than a month before the 6 August 1998 state­of­the­union address. Tensions were even high shortly  after   the   election   when   CONDEPA   demanded   the   prefecture   of   Santa   Cruz,   Bolivia’s   most  economically dynamic department, as part of the coalition agreement. This resulted in mass protests  from cruceños, since CONDEPA had gained only 2.13 percent of the departmental vote. Another source  of tension was the election of the presidents of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. ADN and MIR  had agreed, as senior coalition partners, to alternatively hold these positions. Both UCS and CONDEPA  demanded that their candidates be considered for these important positions. 22

institutions   shape   incentives   and   significantly   affect   outcomes—   is   a   powerfully  convincing one. Glancing at two countries with similar conditions, Ecuador and Peru,  we   can   more   clearly   see   how   the   unique   institutional   design   of   parliamentarized  presidentialism   helped   Bolivia   avoid   the   problems   that   continue   to   plague   its   two  Andean   neighbors.   The   Bolivian   model   provides   opportunities   for   what   I   term  “political   learning.”   By   increasing   accountability   and   identifiability,   reducing   the  negative   effects   of   multipartism,   and   encouraging   moderated   competition,  parliamentarized   presidentialism   allowed   Bolivia’s   citizens   and   political   élites   to  quickly   learn   the   operation   of   democracy.   The   central   features   distinguishing  parliamentarized presidentialism, fused ballot proportional representation and formal  separation of the executive and legislature with concurrent, fixed terms, also combine to  reduce the chief dangers of pure parliamentarism and presidentialism. The fused ballot  eliminates   the   problem   of   dual   legitimacy   found   in   presidential   (and   premier­ presidential) systems. The development of fixed terms and the lack of a legislative vote  of confidence provision avoids the instability that could accompany a switch to pure  parliamentarism. Instead, Bolivia’s political system of parliamentarized presidentialism  encourages bargaining and coalition building which is flexible enough to provide broad  basis  of  legitimacy to governments, while also providing incentives for coalitions  to  hold together and govern effectively for full terms. The   historical   evidence   demonstrates   that   Bolivia’s   party   system   has   moved  away from the polarized, fragmented party system of the past. Today, Bolivia has fewer  political parties than in the hectic 1978­85 period. These parties have also developed a  remarkable degree of discipline. Party leaders have been able to enforce coalitions, due  greatly in part to the laws regulating political parties. These stipulate that legislative  seats are held by parties, not by individuals. Subsequently, legislators who decide to  vote against their party can be easily removed from office by simply being officially  kicked   out   of   the   party.   In   such   cases,   their   party­designated  “suplente”  (alternate)  would take the vacant seat. The electoral system has also encouraged a more moderate  form of multipartism. As predicted by Jones (1995), the use of medium­sized district  magnitudes has reduced the number of relevant political parties by introducing a high  effective threshold. In the process, extremist parties have been marginalized to the point  where many no longer campaign in national elections —though some still campaign in  local   elections.   Thus,   the   extreme   left   and   right   of   the   political   spectrum   has   been  truncated, leaving only “centrist” parties. The reduction in the number of parties, and especially the virtual elimination of  extremist parties, has also contributed to moderated  competition and a reduction  of  zero­sum   politics.   The   normalization   of   coalition­building   strategies   has   meant   that  parties recognize the need to tone down campaign rhetoric in anticipation of seeking  potential   coalition   partners   immediately   after   the   election.   As   politics   has   become  centripetal, parties have developed cohesive policy platforms that seek to distinguish  each   other   from   competitors.   At   the   same   time,   parties   have   learned   to   develop  amicable relations with one another; friendly relations make alliances more likely. With 

increased party discipline, party leaders are also better able to enforce coalition voting,  thus also increasing levels of trust between parties. Parties that are unreliable coalition  partners   may   be   rejected   in   future   coalition   agreements   in   favor   of   parties   that  demonstrate more discipline and loyalty.  Subsequently, coalitions  are now formed at two levels: pre­election  and  post­ election.   Some  parties  have  formed  perpetual   alliances  during  elections.  These   have  usually   involved smaller parties  such  as  MRTKL (allied to MNR) or PDC (allied   to  ADN) which have simply merged into the larger party’s electoral  lists and formally  aligned themselves to the larger parties. Of course, these parties may still retain their  individual identities and campaign separately for local offices. Post­electoral coalitions  are made after election between parties (or groups of parties) agreeing to share power  in government. The adoption of the German­style multi­member proportional electoral  system may introduce a new level of coalition bargaining. Since voters can now vote for  the traditional party list and the new single­member district representative, the same  type of electoral  campaign arrangements  and strategies  developed  there might soon  also be more formally adopted in Bolivia. If so, this could only reinforce cooperative  behavior between parties. The   adherence   to   cooperative   behavior   among   moderately   competitive   and  disciplined parties has increased accountability and identifiability in Bolivia’s political  system. Since parties are closely disciplined, voters are able to easily place blame or  praise for policy outcomes. Similarly, Bolivia’s political parties have developed more  “depth,” providing more future leaders. The major parties have especially developed  second tiers of leadership within their parties. Up and coming party members are given  highly visible ministerial posts or other positions from which to develop both expertise  and visibility. These are expected to replace outgoing party leaders and campaign for  the presidency.  Since reelection  (to any office) is prohibited, parties  have developed  future candidates who are groomed for succession. Although no such candidate has yet  to   win   an   election,   it   was   often   clear   from   the   very   early   days   of   the   government  administration who these candidates would be. The end result is that voters are easily  able to identify potential government “teams” from within the party itself and from the  subsequent coalitions. Voters who cast a ballot for ADN, for example, are well aware  that   their   party   will   most   likely   make   an   alliance   with   MIR,   but   not   MNR.  Subsequently, they can anticipate as easily as in a parliamentary system the identities of  potential ministers and top level bureaucrats who will be chosen if their presidential  choice was elected.  Although it is difficult to directly test the claim that Bolivia’s institutional design  contributed   to   democratic   stability   and   consolidation   —or   the   converse   claim   that  another institutional design would have hindered democracy— a consideration of two  similar   cases   can   provide   counterfactual   evidence.   Ecuador   and   Peru   are   two   such  cases. These two Andean countries, like Bolivia, are among the most underdeveloped in  South America and lack any real history of democracy. Both are also members of the  “third   wave”   and   began   their   democratization   experience   (1978­80)   with   multiparty 

systems.   The   different   paths   that   these   countries   have   taken   help   demonstrate   the  unique advantages of the Bolivian model.  Both Ecuador and Peru use a majority run­off formula to elect their president  instead   of   congressional   election,   as   in   parliamentarized   presidentialism.   The  combination   of   a   second­round   runoff   for   the   president   combined   with   a   separate  election   for   the   legislature   meets   Linz’s   expectations   for   presidential   systems.   Both  regimes are plagued by problems of dual legitimacy and the manufactured majorities  for presidents. In Peru, this combination led to the election of a political outside, Alberto  Fujimori,   who   was   unable   to   cooperate   with   an   opposition­dominated   legislature.  Shortly after his election, Fujimori simply disbanded the legislature with support from  the military —introducing the term “presidential coup” to our political vocabulary. In  Ecuador, on the other hand, democracy has managed to survive (even if barely) despite  the lack of effective governments. Ecuadorian presidents are elected with little party  support,   which   soon   disintegrates   due   to   lack   of   party   discipline.   Coalition  governments  are  very  difficult  to  implement,  since party  discipline is  so  low that  a  soccer term “cambio de camisetas” (change of shirts) is commonly used to describe how  politicians   change   parties   while   in   office   (Barczak   1997).   Finally,   the   addition   of  midterm   elections   means   that   Ecuadorian   presidents   must   try   to   cobble   together   a  piecemeal coalition every two years. That Ecuadorian democracy has managed to limp  along for two decades is, in my opinion, nothing short of a miracle. I suggest, however,  that   adoption   of   a   form   of   parliamentarized   presidentialism   would   dramatically  improve Ecuador’s chances of building effective governments and finally consolidating  its democracy. If Bolivia had a presidential system, there is no reason to believe that the  outcome would have been similar to Ecuador (less likely) or Peru (more probable). Similarly, I argue that a parliamentary system would have been an obstacle to  democratic   consolidation   in   Bolivia.   With   newly   emerging   political   parties,  parliamentarism would have been extremely chaotic. The use of a vote of confidence  would   have   been   further   debilitating.   Evidence   from   Bolivia’s   311   municipal  governments   is  instructive.   The  electoral   system   used  for  municipal  governments   is  similar to that used for national elections. Voters choose from party lists headed by the  party’s   choice   for  alcalde.   From   this   single   vote,   the   municipal   council’s   seats   are  proportionally distributed among parties. In the event that no party wins a majority,  coalition   governments   are   formed.   Municipal   governments,   however,   do   use   a  constructive vote of confidence. The use of the constructive vote of confidence (which is  a   mild   form   of   the   vote   confidence)   has   proved   problematic   in   Bolivia’s   municipal  governments   (Rojas   Ortuste   1998).   Many   of   the   more   “parliamentarized”   municipal  governments have been unstable, as they change  alcalde  on a yearly basis. From this  evidence, we can expect that the introduction of a vote of confidence (constructive of  otherwise) might lessen democratic stability and effective governance.


We   must,   of   course,   be   careful   in   drawing   overly   broad   conclusions   about  Bolivia’s democratic consolidation from the little evidence we have about its political  institutions. We need more research and data on the development of Bolivia’s political  system   and   its   operation.   There   is   no   reason   to   believe   that   Bolivia’s   model   of  parliamentarized presidentialism was either  the  cause of democratic consolidation or  that it made consolidation inevitable. Democratic consolidation is a complicated process  that   involves   several   variables.   If   anything,   the   Ecuadorian   case   demonstrates   that  political   will   —the   sheer   desire   to   make   democracy   work   and   maintain   civilian  government—   can   go   a   long   way.   The   Bolivian   case   does   suggest,   however,   that  parliamentarized presidentialism should at least be considered by new democracies.  Countries   with   little   experience   with   democracy   and   weakly   institutionalized   party  systems would, I believe, benefit from such a constitutional system. The Bolivian system  is simple to operate, and requires few drastic changes away from either a presidential  system or a parliamentary one. Countries that currently use a presidential system could  be easily parliamentarized by adopting congressional election of the president and a  fused ballot. Conversely, parliamentary systems could be presidentialized simply by  removing the vote of confidence.  It is also important to distinguish the Bolivian model as a general “type” and as a  “species.” Although Bolivia offers us the only operating example of parliamentarized  presidentialism, I do not expect that all of its specific institutional features are essential  to parliamentarized presidentialism as a type. What is most important are legislative  election   of   the   executive   (the   “parliamentary”   element)   and   the   lack   of   a   vote   of  confidence (the “presidential” element). Thus, we see that the Bolivian system is a true  “hybrid,” unlike premier­presidentialism, which is rather a subtype of presidentialism,  as Suleiman (1994) argues. I do not wish to argue that all of the particular specifics of  the Bolivian system should be adopted by other new democracies. Different countries  have different needs that must also be considered. What this paper offers is merely the  suggestion of a “frame” upon which to build the machinery of democratic institutions. Finally, it is important to remember that parliamentarized presidentialism, in a  multiparty context, requires adopting informal coalition building rules. I do not claim  that   these   informal   arrangements   follow   necessarily   (or   even   easily)   from   the  institutional framework of parliamentarized presidentialism. After all, it took Bolivian  élites several years to learn how to work together to build government coalitions that  could effectively govern. But a further lesson that the Bolivian case provides is a lesson  in   coalition   building   for   future   democracies.   If   other   new   democracies   adopt  parliamentarized presidentialism, I hope they can avoid similar costly mistakes. 


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