Book Notes The New Institutional Politics (Lane & Ersson) Notes
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The New Institutional Politics:
Performance and Outcomes Notes
1. Presidentialism is a theory focusing on the relationship between the executive and the
legislature, in which the president (the head of state) possesses real power rather than
just a symbolic function
1. Note there is variation in presidential executives
1. European presidentialism vastly different from the American brand outside
2. Linz: Argues that the only case of successful presidentialism is the USA (1992)
1. Latin America, Africa and Asia have all suffered failures of presidential
2. A) What is the evidence for such a general rejection of presidentialism?
3. B) Can we be sure presidentialism, specifically the executive, to blame rather than
other factors such as poverty?
4. C) Can an institutional effect be detected in the operation of presidential regimes?
3. Linz: Institutionalist position
1. “Institutional characteristics shape the whole political process and the way of
2. Key question however is: Does the manner in which a government operates matter
for outcomes (i.e. impact upon state stability and state performance)?
1. QFT: When using the phrase “state performance” does one mean the
performance of the government internally or the nation externally?
4. Structuring of the executive
1. Presidents are always heads of state when the office of the president exists in
2. Premiers are always the head of government when the office of the prime
3. Strong presidentialism is where the president fulfils both roles
4. Weak presidentialism is where there is a president and a premier
1. Alternatively this could manifest itself as cohabitation in the form of
power sharing or struggles between the two offices
2. France is perhaps an example of this?
5. If there is no president when there is a prime minister, there is usually a
6. There are very few alternatives about the heads of state
7. Where real executive power is vested in single parties there are still employed
nominal heads of states e.g. remaining communist systems, military juntas and
the religious regime in Iran
1. Based on the principle of parallelism where actual power is vested in the
shadow structure of decision making bodies of the party and its officers
2. European presidentialism usually involves the premier sharing executive
competences with a powerful president
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