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Must-Read: Juan Linz’s “The Perils of Presidentialism” is a rather good analysis of Richard Nixon and his situation, but a rather bad analysis of. Juan Linz is Sterling Professor Emeritus of Social and Political Science Dylan Matthews: When you wrote “The Perils of Presidentialism,” the. institutions can be fatal to democratic politics, especially during a transition to democracy, or so Juan Linz () and others (Riggs ; Stepan and Skatch.

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Nobody listened to him then, as one Latin American country after another rushed to create directly elected presidencies. It was then that Professor Juan Linz, a distinguished Latin American expert and political science academic at Yale University, wrote his seminal works, warnings against “the perils of presidentialism”.

France has had a powerful executive presidency since the late s, and has frequently paid the price: It acts as a reminder of the perils and limitations of constitutional systems in which both the head of state and the Parliament are directly elected, potentially blurring the distinction between the powers of the two.

Most of these constitutional difficulties were actually predicted from the time Latin America emerged from its latest bout of military dictatorship during the s. And these charges are in themselves fairly spurious: But the late Prof Linz’s warnings were prophetic.

So they are tempted instead to pledge things over which they have no responsibility, such as promising to “improve the economy”, something which they can’t deliver.

Still, just the question of electing a ceremonial head of state by a popular vote creates its own difficulties. Still, her defiance came to nothing: But the Brazilian episode is of greater significance. Countries which elect their presidents indirectly through Parliament are not immune to problems: The fact that the leader of the world’s seventh-biggest economy could be pushed out of office in this way is noteworthy in itself.

She forgot that, regardless of the direct electoral mandate she enjoyed, the Brazilian Congress possessed another power copied from the US – that of being able to impeach her, to remove her from office.


Two out of the 11 presidents chosen by the German Parliament since World War II had to resign from office because their conduct was called into question.

Ultimately, Ms Rousseff fell because she was a poor communicator and proved incapable of engaging with her Congress. King Felipe VI is the only man with the legitimacy to keep Spain on a steady course, as the country staggered on without a government over the past six months, and now faces fresh elections. And there are a few examples where an teh and elected head of state slowly accepts that he has to share more powers with Parliament: We have been experiencing some problems with subscriber log-ins and apologise for the inconvenience caused.



The perils of ‘presidentialism’, Opinion News & Top Stories – The Straits Times

Prime ministers are invariably used as scapegoats for French presidents and, as a result, they either plot how to become presidents themselves, or try to discredit the president instead. His was an undiplomatic but understandable admission of frustration, shared by many in Latin America.

Skip to main content. The Brazilian crisis is thf classic example of what happens when the vanity and incompetence of politicians collides with the reality of a poorly written Constitution.

When presidents and prime ministers belong to different parties, France is often lin the awkward position of being represented by two people at various European Union meetings. Ms Rousseff has been found guilty of no crime; her suspension merely allows legislators to evaluate charges against her.

The lesson seems to be that directly elected strong presidencies imply long-term constitutional changes which are often unpredictable, and frequently unwelcome. And that’s a condition which exists in other countries as well, giving rise to constitutional difficulties which can lie dormant for decades, until they suddenly erupt, paralysing the life of nations.

Sadly, however, that’s the exception rather than the rule, for the reality is that in many other Latin American countries, the clash over “hyper-presidentialism”, between all-powerful presidents and resentful Parliaments, is endemic. After the party of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was defeated in the legislative elections last December, Mr Maduro simply packed the country’s ilnz court with new judges who proceeded to approve the President’s decision to ignore Parliament altogether.

That’s what happened when Finland joined the European Union and the country’s president accepted that the prime presidentialusm would represent it in daily European Union activities. Prof Linz juxn Latin America against ignoring this model and presodentialism instead for a directly presidentiwlism powerful presidency, because he believed that this would generate trouble with Parliaments, which will be competing for the same popular legitimacy.

But unlike the US, where Congress has always been dominated by only two parties, the Brazilian Congress is home to over 30 parties, with none of the US traditions of mediating disputes between Parliament and head of state. Until we resolve the issues, subscribers need not log in to access ST Digital articles. Over the past three decades, no fewer than 17 Latin America presidents were forced out of office before the end of their mandates.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 23,with the headline ‘The perils juann ‘presidentialism”.

There presidentialiwm examples when a ceremonial but directly elected head of state works very well with an all-powerful parliamentary government: And monarchies, which don’t elect a head preskdentialism state at all, offer no automatic guarantee against bad governance either. Nevertheless, it is striking that European states in which heads of state have limited powers and are not elected or are elected indirectly have tended to do better in handling national crises.

Prof Linz observed that most of the stable regimes in Europe and Britain’s former colonies around the world are parliamentary systems in which the president performs just ceremonial duties and is therefore not elected directly, but chosen indirectly through some parliamentary procedure.

The saddest current example of a similar clash between Juaan and a directly elected president is, of course, Venezuela.

And Greeks should congratulate themselves for having a president who is not directly elected; given the country’s terrible economic conditions, direct elections for a Greek head of state would have resulted in the rise of an extremist populist, precisely what is happening in another European country, Austria.

The perils of ‘presidentialism’

Candidates for such ceremonial presidencies have little to say during their electoral campaigns apart, perhaps, from promising to cut ribbons in a better way than their opponents. But a log-in is still required for our PDFs. She is accused of “manipulating” national accounts, allegedly in order to mask the country’s true economic conditions.

Still, Professor Detlief Nolte and Dr Mariana Llanos, the authors of the study, are right to point out that what happens in Latin America now is “relevant to policymakers and scholars beyond this region”.