Endogenous Presidentialism

36 Pages Posted: 29 Dec 2008 Last revised: 27 Jan 2009

See all articles by James A. Robinson

James A. Robinson

Harvard University - Department of Government; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Ragnar Torvik

Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) - Department of Economics

Date Written: December 2008

Abstract

We develop a model to understand the incidence of presidential and parliamentary institutions. Our analysis is predicated on two ideas: first, that minorities are relatively powerful in a parliamentary system compared to a presidential system, and second, that presidents have more power with respect to their own coalition than prime ministers do. These assumptions imply that while presidentialism has separation of powers, it does not necessarily have more checks and balances than parliamentarism. We show that presidentialism implies greater rent extraction and lower provision of public goods than parliamentarism. Moreover, political leaders who prefer presidentialism may be supported by their own coalition if they fear losing agenda setting power to another group. We argue that the model is consistent with a great deal of qualitative information about presidentialism in Africa and Latin America.

Suggested Citation

Robinson, James A. and Torvik, Ragnar, Endogenous Presidentialism (December 2008). NBER Working Paper No. w14603. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1320849

James A. Robinson (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Government ( email )

1737 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-2839 (Phone)
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Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Ragnar Torvik

Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) - Department of Economics ( email )

N-7491 Trondheim
Norway
+47 735 91420 (Phone)
+47 735 96954 (Fax)

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