A central concern about the robustness of democratic rule in new democracies is the concentration of power in the executive branch and the potential this creates for abuse. This concern is felt particularly with regard to the concentration of legislative power. Checking Presidential Power explains the levels of reliance on executive decrees in a comparative perspective. Building on the idea of institutional commitment, which affects the enforcement of decision-making rules, Palanza describes the degree to which countries rely on executive decree authority as more reliance may lead to unbalanced presidential systems and will ultimately affect democratic quality. Breaking new ground by both theorizing and empirically analyzing decree authority from a comparative perspective, this book examines policy making in separation of powers systems. It explains the choice between decrees and statutes, and why legislators are sometimes profoundly engaged in the legislative process and yet other times entirely withdrawn from it.
Valeria Palanza is Assistant Professor in the Instituto de Ciencias Politicas, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile. Her research interests focus on issues of democracy, institutional arrangements, and the legislative process. Her most recent publications appear in Comparative Political Studies, Revista de Ciencia Politica, and Legislative Studies Quarterly.
1. Introduction: a choice of paths behind each policy; 2. Decrees versus statutes: choice of legislative paths in separation of powers systems; 3. Institutions and institutional commitment; 4. Reinstatement of congressional decision rights: Brazil; 5. A corollary of low levels of institutional commitment: Argentina; 6. The choice of legislative paths in comparative perspective; 7. Conclusions: rules, institutional commitment, and checks on presidents.