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Presidential Politics. Powers and Constraints in Comparative Perspective

Comparative Politics
Constitutions
Elections
Government
Political Leadership
Political Parties
S54
Jean Blondel
European University Institute
GIANLUCA PASSARELLI
Sapienza University of Rome

Endorsed by the ECPR Standing Group on Presidential Politics


Abstract

Presidents are crucial political actors. They often play a decisive role as international actors, party leaders, electoral campaigners, government members, legislative proponents, constitutional guarantors, and veto players. Moreover, the importance of presidents is growing both politically and institutionally. Even though a literature on presidents has markedly increased in the last decades (Shugart and Carey 1992; Linz et al. 1994; Mainwaring and Shugart 1997; Taras 1997; Elgie 1999; Strøm et al. 2003; Cheibub 2007; Tavits 2008; Samuels and Shugart 2010; Blondel 2015; Passarelli 2015), there have been no general comparative analyses, so far. Much attention is devoted to case studies and to particular aspects of the presidential activities. Thus, the Section – supported by the SG “Presidential Politics” - seems to be crucial in better understanding the developments in this field by promoting deep comparative researches. The Section aims to pursue the scientific goals of collecting comparative Panels on different fields of presidential political activities. In particular, the Panels should explore different presidential behavior. We would list a few ideas of Panels: 1) The relationship between heads of state and prime ministers. Those latter vary both within and between parliamentary and semi-presidential regimes. Presidential and prime minister powers, party and electoral system variation, institutional traditions, as well as non-institutional factors are relevant as to this variation. A constitutional idea behind both semi-presidential and parliamentary systems is that the respective role of the president (or monarch) and the prime minister are complementary and clearly defined: the president upholds popular legitimacy and represents the continuity of state and nation, while the prime minister exercises policy leadership and takes responsibility for the day-to-day functions of government. But an often referred peril of semipresidentialism is the risk of intra-executive conflict between the president and the prime minister. The interaction between presidents, prime ministers and parliament certainly matters to e.g. party formation and behavior, policy co-ordination, cabinet work, and executive control. The aim of this Panel is to bring together papers that from various perspectives address the relationship between presidents, prime ministers and parliament in parliamentary and semi-presidential regimes. The Panel has its main focus on European countries but we also welcome papers covering countries from different parts of the world. Comparative designs and single-case studies are welcomed as well as different kinds of methodological approaches. 2) The role of Presidents in leading “their own” political party. Do presidents are – formally or not – the leader of their party? Papers should consider the variation not only in institutional terms but also in political ones. The presidential win set would arguably vary on the base of the effective leadership of the party they are member. Comparative analyses between cases and over time are welcome. 3) The Presidential and the legislature. The variation in the Presidential influence over the legislature. The cohabitation vs the divided government. Papers should focus on the variations of presidential politics as influenced by the different institutional and political frameworks given by the condition of divided government and of cohabitation. 4) The veto power. The majority of presidents around the world can veto laws and return them to parliament for reconsideration, and the mere threat to use their power can bring work on bills to a halt. Yet even without being vested with such constitutional prerogatives, presidents have found ways to significantly delay or prevent the implementation of parliamentary or governmental decisions. The Panel welcomes submissions that examine presidential veto power within and beyond constitutional stipulations from a comparative perspective either empirically (focusing on its use and its determinants) or theoretically (advancing or combining existing approaches). 5) Presidents and cabinets. This Panel focuses on the role that heads of state play in the politics of government formation and termination. We seek Papers that consider how institutional powers and party politics affect the presidents' ability to influence coalition bargaining and single out the circumstances under which presidents behave as partisans in the selection and discretionary termination of the government. Papers that consider the different incentives under which different types of presidents may act - such as independent or politically affiliated, first-term or second-term, directly or indirectly elected - are particularly welcome. 6) Executives` Emergency Powers under the State of Exception. In modern societies, the quasi-majority of the written constitutions expressly regulate which executive body is able to decide if a state of exception occurs, what procedures should be followed in order to decide the establishment of the state of exception, and who can control the decisions taken during such a period of normative ab-normality. The Papers under this panel could be threefold: (i) to establish the degree of power an executive body can exercise during a state of exception period; (ii) to establish the existence or inexistence of democratic control mechanisms concerning the validity of the decisions taken in a state of exception; (iii) to find out whether or not there are significant differences regarding the emergency powers of the executives between European semi-presidential and parliamentary systems of government, as well as between each system of government sub-type. Jean Blondel He is currently Emeritus Professor at the European University Institute in Florence, and visiting professor at the University of Siena. His latest book, "The Presidential Republic" is a comparison of different presidential systems across the globe, with a particular emphasis on Latin America, Africa and the ex-Soviet republics. Gianluca Passarelli Associate Professor in Political Science at the Department of Political Sciences, Sapienza University, Rome. He is also researcher of the Istituto Carlo Cattaneo and member of Itanes. His main research interests concern: presidents of the Republic, political parties, electoral systems, elections and electoral behaviour. His latest book is The Presidentialization of Political Parties (2015) (ed.). Among his publications are articles appearing in French Politics, Journal of Modern Italian Studies, Modern Italy, Polis, South European Society and Politics, Contemporary Italian Politics, and Political Geography.

Code Title Details
P051 Coalition Management in Presidential Regimes View Panel Details
P135 Executives' Emergency Powers under the State of Exception View Panel Details
P338 Presidents and Cabinets View Panel Details
P339 Presidents and Veto Power in Comparative Perspective View Panel Details
P427 The Presidential Party View Panel Details
P429 The Relationship between Heads of State and Prime Ministers View Panel Details
P435 The Role of Presidents in Leading 'Their Own' Political Party View Panel Details