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

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  • Maurice Kugler
  • Howard Rosental

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Maurice Kugler & Howard Rosental, 2000. "Checks and balances : an assessment of the institutional separtion of political powers in Colombia," Working Papers Series. Documentos de Trabajo 002117, Fedesarrollo.
  • Handle: RePEc:col:000123:002117
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Adriana Kugler & Maurice Kugler, 2003. "The labor market effects of payroll taxes in a middle-income country: Evidence from Colombia," Economics Working Papers 721, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    2. Alberto Alesina & Alberto Carrasquilla & Roberto Steiner, 2000. "The Central Bank in Colombia," Working Papers Series. Documentos de Trabajo 002458, Fedesarrollo.
    3. Mauricio Cárdenas & Roberto Junguito B. & Mónica Pachón B., 2006. "Political Institutions and Policy Outcomes in Colombia : the Effects of the 1991 Constitution," Coyuntura Económica, Fedesarrollo, June.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Poder Político; Economía Política; Sistema Político; Economía Institucional;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E02 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General - - - Institutions and the Macroeconomy
    • O43 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Institutions and Growth
    • K11 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Property Law
    • K20 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - General
    • K40 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - General
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism
    • P11 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Planning, Coordination, and Reform

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