Political institutions and policy outcomes in Colombia: the effects of the 1991 Constitution
Abstract: The 1991 Colombian constitution strengthened the checks and balances of the political system by enhancing the role of Congress and the Constitutional Court, while somewhat limiting the powers of the president (who nonetheless remains extremely powerful even for Latin American standards). As a consequence of the larger number of relevant players, and the removal of barriers that restricted political participation, the political system gained in terms of representation. However, political transaction costs increased, making cooperation harder to achieve. We show that this has been typically the case of fiscal policy, where the use of rigid rules, the constitutionalization of some policies, and reduction in legislative success rates -due to the presence of a more divided and fragmented congress- have limited the adaptability and flexibility of policies. In contrast, in other areas of policy -such as monetary policy and regulation of public utilities- that were formally delegated to the technocracy, policies have been more adaptable to economic shocks, delivering better outcomes.
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