Presidential Interruptions in Latin America. Concepts, Causes, and Outcomes
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This dissertation deals with executive instability in Latin American presidential regimes, a phenomenon called Presidential Interruptions. The dissertation analyses 14 cases of presidential interruptions in Latin America in the period between 1980 and 2005, and aims to enhance the understanding of presidential interruptions, analyse the causes of presidential interruptions in Latin America, and explore the outcomes of presidential interruptions in the region. Conceptually this dissertation situates presidential interruptions as a form of executive instability between the democratic breakdown and the unscheduled change of government in parliamentary regimes. The dissertation compares directly the causes of presidential interruption with the causes of democratic breakdown and finds that while the similarities exist, the differences are stark. This finding seriously questions the frequently used analogy between the two types of instability. Furthermore, the dissertation compares the procedures for presidential interruption with the procedures for unscheduled changes of government in parliamentary regimes, and shows that procedures of presidential interruptions indeed are similar to the procedures used in parliamentary regimes for early executive removal. The differences, on the other hand, are that in parliamentary regimes these procedures are constitutional and legitimate, whereas in presidential regimes the extent to which procedures for presidential interruptions are constitutional and legitimate can be questioned. The causal analysis distinguishes between triggering and underlying causes of presidential interruption. Entering the debate of institutions vs. the streets, the dissertation finds that street, or vertical, challenges are the more important triggers of presidential interruptions in Latin America, whereas institutional or horizontal conflicts are more important than the vertical or street conflicts as underlying causes of presidential interruption. The distinction between triggering and underlying causes is new, and helps explain the disagreement in this debate among other scholars. Further unravelling the causes of interruptions, the dissertation points to the emergence of new cleavages and social and political groups challenging the status quo, as important causal factors explaining the occurrence of both challenges to presidents, and presidential interruptions. The dissertation uses both statistical and more qualitative analytical techniques to support this argument. The outcomes of presidential interruptions, it is argued, depend on the principal causes for the presidential removal. The dissertation argues that a presidential interruption is a way of holding the chief executive accountable for his or her actions or omissions, and therefore should be understood as a reactive sequence. Inductively the dissertation identifies three types of interruptions, and shows through a qualitative comparative analysis that the outcomes of presidential interruptions depend on the principal cause of the interruption, and thus the type of interruption. The three types are interruptions motivated by: a presidential scandal, a president’s democratic violation, and a president’s policies.
PublisherThe University of Bergen
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