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

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  • Kugler, Maurice
  • Rosenthal, Howard

Abstract

In this paper, 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 Colombian Constitution is an enormously long document that attempts to reassure all parties that the future will be to their liking. For example, Article 58, which permits uncompensated expropriation for reasons of “equity†, might be a substantial deterrent to investment. 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 specific 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. We make recommendations for institutional reform, which aim to mitigate clientelist and populist trends in Colombian politics. 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, procedures are set forth to limit undue deliberations by the judiciary and to induce institutional status-quo bias. While we support constitutional provisions for the stability of a political process endowed with representativeness, we reject constitutional provisions that attempt to entrench one particular policy outcome. Stationary policy is likely to be both suboptimal and unsustainable in a stochastic and dynamic environment. Keywords; separation of powers, political representativeness, clientelism and gridlock JEL Classification: E61, H11, H77

Suggested Citation

  • Kugler, Maurice & Rosenthal, Howard, 2000. "Checks and balances: an assessment of the institutional separation of political powers in Colombia," Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics 18, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.
  • Handle: RePEc:stn:sotoec:18
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Lohmann, Susanne, 1992. "Optimal Commitment in Monetary Policy: Credibility versus Flexibility," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 273-286, March.
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    5. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1999. "The size and scope of government:: Comparative politics with rational politicians," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(4-6), pages 699-735, April.
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    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. 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 306, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.
    3. Mauricio Cárdenas Santa María & Roberto Junguito & Mónica Pachón, 2005. "Political institutions and policy outcomes in Colombia: the effects of the 1991 Constitution," WORKING PAPERS SERIES. DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO 003344, FEDESARROLLO.
    4. Alberto Alesina & Alberto Carrasquilla & Roberto Steiner, 2000. "The Central Bank in Colombia," WORKING PAPERS SERIES. DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO 002458, FEDESARROLLO.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.

    More about this item

    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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