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Checks and Balances: an assessment of the institutional separtion of political powers in Colombia

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  • Maurice Kugler

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  • Howard Rosental

Abstract

Abstract: In this chapter, we evaluate the institutional and legal structure of the Colombian government. In particular, we want to assess how a system of institutional checks and balances can be structured to promote the rule of law, preserve property rights, and stimulate economic growth. The 1991 Constitution indeed makes commendable commitments to these objectives. Yet, due to its institutional structure, Colombia is governed in a manner that is both unchecked and unbalanced. The Constitution tried to «constitutionalize», or put into the basic law of the land, a welfare state system that emulates that of Canada or Sweden. Yet, neither of these countries has deemed it necessary to put such rules into the constitution of their countries. The result was an enormously long document that attempted to reassure all parties that the future would be to their liking. For example, Article 58, which permits uncompensated expropriation for reasons of «equity», might be a substantial deterrent to investment. Our examination of the Constitution of 1991 sounds a warning about the current peace process. The nation´s long run economic health may be seriously impaired if peace is bought at the price of widespread concessions with regard to either the process of decision-making about the economy or to the content of future government economic policies. One may buy transitory tranquility, which may not translate in to lasting peace, at the price of long-term instability and turmoil. The implied tradeoff may be most undesirable. We make recommendations for institutional reform, which aim to mitigate clientelist and populist trends in Colombian politics. An overall smaller congress is suggested. To enhance policymaking by reducing the scope for gridlock, we propose measures such as long-term appointments and ballot accountability that eliminate distortions to the voting incentives of both judges and lawmakers. Also, suggestions are made to promote citizen referendum initiatives, specialized courts and executive agenda setting powers. Finally, procedures are set forth to limit undue deliberations by the judiciary and to induce stability through status-quo bias.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by FEDESARROLLO in its series WORKING PAPERS SERIES. DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO with number 002117.

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Length: 22
Date of creation: 01 Aug 2000
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:col:000123:002117

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Keywords: Poder Político; Economía Política; Sistema Político; Economía Institucional;

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References

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  1. Brennan, G. & Hamlin, A., 1993. "A revisionist view of the separation of powers," Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics 9314, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.
  2. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1998. "The size and scope of government: Comparative politics with rational politicians," Seminar Papers 658, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  3. V. V. Chari & Larry E. Jones & Ramon Marimon, 1997. "The economics of split-ticket voting in representative democracies," Working Papers 582, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  4. Klaus Neusser & Maurice Kugler, 1998. "Manufacturing Growth And Financial Development: Evidence From Oecd Countries," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(4), pages 638-646, November.
  5. Gely, Rafael & Spiller, Pablo T., 1992. "The political economy of supreme court constitutional decisions: The case of Roosevelt's court-packing plan," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 45-67, March.
  6. Alesina, Alberto & Rosenthal, Howard, 2000. "Polarized platforms and moderate policies with checks and balances," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 1-20, January.
  7. Spiller, Pablo T, 1990. "Politicians, Interest Groups, and Regulators: A Multiple-Principals Agency Theory of Regulation, or "Let Them Be Bribed."," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(1), pages 65-101, April.
  8. Torsten Persson & Gerard Roland & Guido Tabellini, . "Separation of Powers and Political Accountability," Working Papers 100, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  9. Poole, Keith T. & Rosenthal, Howard, 1996. "Are legislators ideologues or the agents of constituents?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(3-5), pages 707-717, April.
  10. McCubbins, Mathew D & Noll, Roger G & Weingast, Barry R, 1987. "Administrative Procedures as Instruments of Political Control," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 3(2), pages 243-77, Fall.
  11. Alesina, Alberto & Rosenthal, Howard, 1996. "A Theory of Divided Government," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(6), pages 1311-41, November.
  12. Lohmann, Susanne, 1992. "Optimal Commitment in Monetary Policy: Credibility versus Flexibility," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 273-86, March.
  13. Spiller, Pablo T & Tiller, Emerson H, 1997. "Decision Costs and the Strategic Design of Administrative Process and Judicial Review," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(2), pages 347-70, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Kugler, Maurice & Verdier, Thierry & Zenou, Yves, 2004. "Organised crime, corruption and punishment," Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics 0407, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.
  2. Mauricio Cardenas & Roberto Junguito & Mónica Pachón, 2006. "Political Institutions and Policy Outcomes in Colombia: The Effects of the 1991 Constitution," Research Department Publications 3198, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  3. Marcela Eslava & John Haltiwanger & Adriana Kugler & Maurice Kugler, 2004. "The Effects of Structural Reforms on Productivity and Profitability Enhancing Reallocation: Evidence from Colombia," Working Papers 134, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  4. Rodrigo Uprimny, 2001. "Separación de poderes y forma de gobierno en Colombia: comentarios al documento de la Misión Alesina," Revista de Economía Institucional, Universidad Externado de Colombia - Facultad de Economía, vol. 3(5), pages 146-167, July-Dece.
  5. Alberto Alesina & Alberto Carrasquilla & Roberto Steiner, 2000. "El Banco Central en Colombia," WORKING PAPERS SERIES. DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO 002458, FEDESARROLLO.
  6. Kugler, Adriana & Kugler, Maurice, 2003. "The labor market effects of payroll taxes in a middle-income country: evidence from Colombia," Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics 0306, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.
  7. Margarita María Varón Perea, 2010. "Quién decide qué y por qué Relaciones entre Ejecutivo y Legislativo en materia de Planeación," ARCHIVOS DE ECONOMÍA 006445, DEPARTAMENTO NACIONAL DE PLANEACIÓN.
  8. David Landau, 2011. "Instituciones políticas y función judicial en derecho constitucional comparado," Revista de Economía Institucional, Universidad Externado de Colombia - Facultad de Economía, vol. 13(24), pages 13-83, January-J.

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