The Peril of Parliamentarism? Executive-Legislative Relations and the Transition to Democracy from Electoral Authoritarian Rule
44 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2014
Date Written: 2014
Why do some electoral authoritarian regimes survive for decades while others are short-lived? This paper explores the impact of constitutional structures on the longevity of electoral authoritarianism. We argue that under electoral authoritarian regimes, parliamentary systems permit dictators to survive longer than they do in presidential systems. This is because parliamentary systems incentivize autocrats and ruling elites to institutionalize a dominant party, discourage opposition parties from uniting together at elections, and indirectly allow electoral manipulation in order to achieve an overwhelming victory at the ballot box, such as through gerrymandering and malapportionment. We test our hypothesis using a combination of cross-national statistical analysis and comparative case studies of Malaysia and the Philippines. Employing a cross-national dataset of 170 countries between 1945 and 2010, dynamic logit models provide supporting evidence that electoral authoritarianism within parliamentary systems is less likely to lead a country to democracy than within presidential systems, even after controlling for a series of relevant confounding factors. Two carefully selected case studies have been chosen for comparative analysis, Malaysia’s Barisan National (National Front) regime (1955 to present) and the Philippines’s Marcos regime (1972 to 1986), which elucidate causal mechanisms in the theory.
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