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Amateur Legislators-Professional Politicians: The Argentine Congress


Author Info

  • Mariano Tommasi

    (Department of Economics, Universidad de San Andres & Center of Studies for Institutional Development)

  • Mark P. Jones

    (Michigan State University & Center of Studies for Institutional Development)

  • Sebastian M. Saiegh

    (New York University & Center of Studies for Institutional Development)

  • Pablo T. Spiller

    (University of California at Berkeley & Center of Studies for Institutional Development)


The Argentine Congress plays a limited role in the production of public policy and is a relatively ineffective check on the Argentine Executive Branch. We argue this is the combined result of incentives created by several features of Argentine political institutions. In this article we emphasize the role of the country’s electoral rules, which place the legislator reelection decision not in the hands of the voters, but rather in the hands of the provincial governor/party boss(es). These rules limit legislators’ ability to develop a professional legislative career and reduce their incentives to specialize and to develop strong legislative institutions. We provide empirical evidence of the short duration of congressional careers, the province-based nature of Argentine political careers, and the lack of specialization among legislators resulting from the abovementioned institutional incentives.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Universidad de San Andres, Departamento de Economia in its series Working Papers with number 31.

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Length: 14 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2002
Date of revision: Jul 2002
Publication status: Published as "Amateur Legislators-Professional Politicians: The Consequences of Party-Centered Electoral Rules in a Federal System" in American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 46, No. 3, July 2002, pages 656-669
Handle: RePEc:sad:wpaper:31

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Keywords: legislators; politicians; politics; electoral rules; federalism;


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Cited by:
  1. Andrés Mejía Acosta & María Caridad Araujo & Anibal Pérez-Liñán & Sebastian Saiegh, 2006. "Actores con veto, instituciones caprichosas y políticas de mala calidad: el proceso de diseño de políticas de Ecuador," Research Department Publications 3227, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  2. Emmanuel Abuelafia & Sergio Berensztein & Miguel Braun & Luciano di Gresia, 2005. "Who Decides on Public Expenditures? A Political Economy Analysis of the Budget Process: The Case of Argentina," Public Economics 0511004, EconWPA.
  3. Sebastian Saiegh & Marcela Montero & Anibal Pérez-Liñán & José Molinas, 2006. "Political Institutions, Policymaking Processes and Policy Outcomes in Paraguay, 1954-2003," Research Department Publications 3194, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  4. Miguel Braun & Mariano Tommasi, 2004. "Fiscal Rules for Subnational Governments. Some organizing principles and Latin American experiences," Public Economics 0410004, EconWPA.
  5. Ruben Enikolopov & Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 2006. "Decentralization and Political Institutions," Working Papers w0065, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR).
  6. Andrés Mejía Acosta & María Caridad Araujo & Anibal Pérez-Liñán & Sebastian Saiegh, 2006. "Veto Players, Fickle Institutions and Low-Quality Policies: The Policymaking Process in Ecuador," Research Department Publications 3226, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  7. Sebastian Saiegh & Marcela Montero & Anibal Pérez-Liñán & José Molinas, 2006. "Instituciones políticas, procesos de diseño de políticas y resultados de políticas en Paraguay, 1954-2003," Research Department Publications 3195, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  8. Alston, Lee J. & Gallo, Andrés A., 2010. "Electoral fraud, the rise of Peron and demise of checks and balances in Argentina," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 179-197, April.
  9. Gerald A. McDermott, 2003. "Institutional Change and Firm Creation in East-Central Europe: An Embedded Politics Approach," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 2003-590, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  10. Mariano Tommasi, 2003. "Crises, institutions politiques et réformes politiques : le bon, le mauvais et l'affreux," Revue d’économie du développement, De Boeck Université, vol. 17(2), pages 49-81.
  11. Rafael Di Tella & Juan Dubra, 2010. "Peronist Beliefs and Interventionist Policies," NBER Working Papers 16621, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Mariano Tommasi, 2002. "Crisis, Political Institutions and Policy Reform: It Is Not the Policy, It Is the Polity, Stupid," Working Papers 49, Universidad de San Andres, Departamento de Economia, revised Jun 2004.


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