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Endogenous Presidentialism

  • James A. Robinson
  • Ragnar Torvik

We develop a model to understand the incidence of presidential and parliamentary institutions. Our analysis is predicated on two ideas: first, that minorities are relatively powerful in a parliamentary system compared to a presidential system, and second, that presidents have more power with respect to their own coalition than prime ministers do. These assumptions imply that while presidentialism has separation of powers, it does not necessarily have more checks and balances than parliamentarism. We show that presidentialism implies greater rent extraction and lower provision of public goods than parliamentarism. Moreover, political leaders who prefer presidentialism may be supported by their own coalition if they fear losing agenda setting power to another group. We argue that the model is consistent with a great deal of qualitative information about presidentialism in Africa and Latin America.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14603.

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Date of creation: Dec 2008
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14603
Note: POL
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  1. Persson, Torsten & Roland, Gerard & Tabellini, Guido, 1997. "Separation of Powers and Political Accountability," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1163-1202, November.
  2. Mario Chacón & James A. Robinson & Ragnar Torvik, 2011. "When is Democracy an Equilibrium? Theory and Evidence from Colombia’s La Violencia," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 55(3), pages 366-396, June.
  3. Tim Besley & Stephen Coate, . "An Economic Model of Representative Democracy," Penn CARESS Working Papers ecf70d639d700dba5327ab0c8, Penn Economics Department.
  4. Persson, Torsten & Roland, Gérard & Tabellini, Guido, 1997. "Comparative Politics and Public Finance," CEPR Discussion Papers 1737, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Austen-Smith, David & Banks, Jeffrey., 1987. "Elections, Coalitions, and Legislative Outcomes," Working Papers 643, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  6. Daniel Diermeier & Antoni Merlo, 1999. "An Empirical Investigation of Coalitional Bargaining Procedures," Discussion Papers 1267, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  7. Martin J. Osborne & Al Slivinksi, 1995. "A Model of Political Competition with Citizen-Candidates," Department of Economics Working Papers 1995-01, McMaster University.
  8. Alex Cobham (QEH), . "Causes of conflict in Sudan: Testing the Black Book," QEH Working Papers qehwps121, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
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