‚Policy switching‘ – Evaluating Samuels and Shugarts argument about policy switching in presidential systems for the case Ecuador


Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2012
25 Pages, Grade: 1,3

Excerpt

Contents

1 Introduction
1.1 The relation between presidential systems and policy-switching
1.2 Structure of the course paper

2 ,Policy-switching‘ – the approach from Samuels and Shugart
2.1 Their understanding of the policy-switching’ concept
2.2 The impact of separation of powers on policy-switches
2.3 Their empirical approach with regard to presidential systems

3 Ecuador’s economic development and executive
3.1. Ecuador’s political and economic development from 1979 to
3.2 Ecuadorian presidents and their institutional environment

4 Evaluating Samuels and Shugarts arguments about policy-switching
4.1 Four policy-switches in Ecuador and their background
4.2 Causes for the Ecuadorian policy-switches
4.3 Fits Ecuador very well in Samuels and Shugarts argumentation or not?

5 Conclusion and outlook

References

1 Introduction

1.1 The relation between presidential systems and policy-switching

Policy-switching are situations which results from shifts in the behavior of executives. More specifically, it means that executives once in office changed their previously campaign promise and make other key policy decisions for which they have not been elected. In this context, Samuels and Shugart (2010) tried to analyze the question, which impact does fusion or separation of powers has on policymaking and representation (cf. Samuels/Shugart 2010: 218). Both authors stated that policy-switches are about four times as common under a pure presidential system than under a parliamentary system (cf. ib.: 221). They came to the conclusion that parties or the leaders of the parties switch under separation of powers, especially in situations with close presidential election and minority government (cf. ib.: 248).

The main goal of this paper is to analyze if Samuels and Shugart are right when they claim that policy-switches are more common under a presidential system because of special conditions which favors the president to change his or her behavior and violate their mandate by betraying their stated campaign commitments. To evaluate their argument, the country Ecuador has been selected, which is a country with a presidential system and there were four policy-switches in the years 1988, 1992, 1996 and 2002. Therefore, the central question of this paper is, whether Ecuador is a case that fits very well in Samuels and Shugarts argument about policy switching or not.

I suspected that situations with close presidential elections and minority legislative were the main causes for the policy-switches in Ecuador. And, secondly, I assumed that all Ecuadorian policy-switches were the only option because the promised measures were impracticable under extremely worst economic conditions. All Ecuadorian policy-switches were compared according to institutional, partisan and economic factors. Finally, I come to the conclusion that Samuels and Shugart are partly right in their argumentation about the impact of separation of powers on policy-switches, because the result of this paper shows that the combination of institutional, partisan and economic factors had an obvious influence on the four presidential policy-switches in Ecuador.

1.2 Structure of the course paper

The second chapter of this paper considers Samuels and Shugarts’ concept of policy-switching with the main focus on their assumption that separation of powers has an overwhelming casual impact on policy-switching, especially in situation with close presidential election and minority government.

Then the third chapter addresses basic information about Ecuador’s political and economic development from 1979 to 2002, and also about Ecuadorian presidents and their institutional environment.

The main question of this paper is concerned in the fourth chapter – namely whether Ecuador is a case that fits very well in Samuels and Shugarts argument about policy switching or not –, starting by presenting the four Ecuadorian policy-switches and their background, then illustrating and explaining the causes for the policy-switches in Ecuador and finally evaluating Samuels and Shugarts argument about policy-switching in the presidential system Ecuador.

2 ,Policy-switching‘ – the approach from Samuels and Shugart

2.1 Their understanding of the policy-switching’ concept

Samuels and Shugart (2010) focused their attention in one chapter of their book: “Presidents, Parties, and Prime Ministers” on key policy decisions executives make for instance before an election will take place and the extent to which those decisions reflect what they will do once in office, because this is the reason why citizens voted that party or candidate (cf. Samuels/Shugart 2010: 218). They wanted to answer the question which effects do fusion or separation of powers has on policy-making and representation.

At the normative level they followed Hannah Pitkin´s (1967) definition of the term “representation” as a relationship between citizens’ interest and political outcomes in which representatives decide and act in the interests of the people (cf. ib.: 218). Moreover, because of the accepted assumption that elections indicate citizen’s interest in modern democracy, they followed Manin, Przeworski, and Stokes (1999) approach of mandate representation, which Samuels and Shugart compare with electoral responsiveness (cf. ib.: 218). Both authors are convinced that representation requires political parties and further representation requires prospective voting, that means governments represent citizens’ interest if voters indicate what they would like government to do, simultaneously parties competing with each other by offering alternative policies, then citizens vote for the best policies, and the party or a coalition of several parties that form the next government implement their offered policies (cf. ib.: 218). In practice, however, representation will deviate from this theoretical ideal because no chain of delegation is ever so free of friction as the theoretical ideal suggests (cf. ib.: 219).

Samuels and Shugart criticized in the previous research of political representation that there is no empirical analysis about the implications of separation of powers for democratic political representation (cf. ib.: 219f.). In this context, they assumed that the separation of origin and survival create disincentives for consistent mandate representation (cf. ib.: 221). To test the implications of their assumption about the impact of democratic regime-type on mandate consistency, they explored the incidence of violations of mandate consistency (cf. ib.: 221).

Originally, the definition or concept of policy-switching came from Susan C. Stokes[1], but Shugart and Samuels (2010) changed it so that they analyzed the impact of democratic regime-type on mandate consistency, that is why they investigated the incidence of violations of mandate consistency (cf. ib: 221). For Shugart and Samuels policy-switching mean violations of mandates (cf. ib.: 221). They focused on politicians who may betray their stated campaign commitments (cf. ib.: 221). A policy-switch happened when a candidate campaigns with one orientation but then run on with the opposite orientation after assuming power or winning a mandate (cf. ib.: 221). Both political scientists are convinced that it is necessary to observe policy-switching at different frequencies under different constitutional formats (cf. ib.: 225). They stated that policy-switches are about four times as common under a pure presidential system than under a parliamentary system (cf. ib.: 221). And finally, they come to the conclusion that separation of powers has an overwhelming casual impact on policy-switching (cf. ib.: 221).

2.2 The impact of separation of powers on policy-switches

Within their empirical analysis, they found two conditions reinforce the likelihood of policy-switches in pure and semi-presidential systems: (1) if close presidential races occur, these conditions enhance the incentive of presidential candidates to tailor their campaign messages for their own electoral advantages; and (2) when presidents fail a legislative majority after an election, this situation gives them greater discretion in forgoing governing and policymaking strategy (cf. Samuels/Shugart 2010: 221f.). Especially situations with close presidential elections and minority legislative support – in pure and semi-presidential systems – are political conditions under which they see problems of adverse selection and moral hazard (cf. ib.: 222). In their opinion, patterns of mandate consistency across democracies derived from differences in the chain of democratic delegation, and further they argued that the incentives for the executives to break the chain of democratic delegation and differ from their own party are higher in systems with popular presidential elections (cf. ib.: 222).

According to Samuels and Shugarts approach, which incentives play precisely an important role in pure presidential systems with regard to policy-switching? With regard to intraparty constraints, when a president´s party does not control a legislative majority, Samuels and Shugart assumed that minority situations make presidents more likely to switch, because presidents can forge coalitions without the approval of their own party (cf. ib.: 227). They based this assumption on the fact that although coalition cabinets are common in presidential systems, formal intraparty agreements are unnecessary because the president is the formateur of the coalition and he or she cannot be fired (cf. ib.: 227). Especially in pure presidential systems, presidents lead and agree to coalition deals and presidents can force their own party to agree to a coalition without fear of intrapartisan consequences (cf. ib.: 227.f.). Moreover they concluded, presidents are unconstrained in governing and initiating consultations with other parties, particularly in situations when they face a legislature without their own party in majority, because presidents may feel having a personal mandate above that of the party (cf. ib.: 228). And they pointed out separation of survival makes policy-switching a less risky option for presidents in comparison to prime ministers, in particular because presidents are less accountable to their party in pure presidential systems (cf. ib.: 230f.).

2.3 Their empirical approach with regard to presidential systems

Samuels and Shugart analyzed campaigns and postelectoral policy choices in the form of a global exploration between 1978 and 2002 – a country was included if it scored a 5 or better on the Polity IV index of democracy for five consecutive years (cf. Samuels/Shugart 2010: 231). In presidential systems they focused on the analysis of presidential candidates’ campaign and governing strategy (cf. ib.: 231). Both political scientists could found 339 cases in which they could identify policy-switching or not after winning office (cf. ib.: 234f.). Of their 339 cases, 27 have been policy-switches, which represented 8 % of the total (cf. ib.: 235). Overall six policy-switches happened in parliamentary systems, seven in semi-presidential systems and 14 in presidential systems, that is partly why both authors came to the conclusion that policy-switches are about four time as likely in presidential systems as in parliamentary systems (cf. ib.: 235ff.).

After their empirical study, both are still convinced both following variables are of particular importance in this context: the competiveness of elections for chief executive, and the postelection legislative status of the chief executive’s party (cf. ib.: 240). According to their first hypothesis that close presidential elections implied a greater propensity to switch-policies, they argued their results confirms this hypothesis, but further they admitted such relationship does not exist in parliamentary systems (cf. ib.: 241). In their opinion, their findings confirmed that a competitive context of popular presidential elections increases the probability of policy-switches, because of their concept of “presidentialization” which suggests that close competition increased the likelihood of a situation in which a candidate will campaign on policies he or she once elected but as executive is unable or willing to implement (cf. ib.: 243). Regarding to their second hypothesis, both political scientists stated the results confirm their theoretical assumptions about the impact of legislative status under separated powers and draw the conclusion that the likelihood of policy-switches increases for minority presidents, while it is less likely for minority prime ministers (cf. ib.: 243). Therefore they assumed when a president’s party has no majority in the assembly, the probability for a policy-switch is more likely (cf. ib.: 245f.).

[...]


[1] Susan Stoke´s developed a model of policy-switches and evaluated it with statistical and qualitative data

from Latin American elections between the 1980s and 1990s – she found substantial mandate incon-

sistency across pure presidential systems (cf. Stokes 2001: 55-59; 92-101).

Excerpt out of 25 pages

Details

Title
‚Policy switching‘ – Evaluating Samuels and Shugarts argument about policy switching in presidential systems for the case Ecuador
College
University of Potsdam
Course
Presidents and Prime Ministers
Grade
1,3
Author
Year
2012
Pages
25
Catalog Number
V204064
ISBN (eBook)
9783656309772
ISBN (Book)
9783656310853
File size
563 KB
Language
English
Tags
Policy-switching, Ecuador, Samuels and Shugart 2010, policy-switches in a presidential system, president change his behaviour and violate his mandate, betraying stated campaign commitments, close presidential elections, minority legislative
Quote paper
M.A. Politikwissenschaft Anja Kegel (Author), 2012, ‚Policy switching‘ – Evaluating Samuels and Shugarts argument about policy switching in presidential systems for the case Ecuador, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/204064

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