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The peril of parliamentarism?: executive–legislative relations and the transition to democracy from electoral authoritarian rule

Higashijima, Masaaki; Kasuya, Yuko

No MWP2016/01, Economics Working Papers from European University Institute

Abstract: Why do some electoral authoritarian regimes survive for decades while others become democracies? This article explores the impact of constitutional structures on democratic transitions from electoral authoritarianism. We argue that under electoral authoritarian regimes, parliamentary systems permit dictators to survive longer than they do in presidential systems. This is because parliamentary systems incentivize autocrats and ruling elites to engage in power sharing and thus institutionalize party organizations, and indirectly allow electoral manipulation to achieve an overwhelming victory at the ballot box, through practices such as gerrymandering and malapportionment. We test our hypothesis using a combination of cross-national statistical analysis and comparative case studies of Malaysia and the Philippines. Employing a cross-national dataset of 170 countries between 1946 and 2008, dynamic probit models provide supporting evidence that electoral authoritarianism within parliamentary systems is less likely to lead a country to democracy than within presidential systems. The results are robust to a battery of sensitivity tests, including instrumental variable estimation and additional controls. Two carefully selected case studies have been chosen for comparative analysis—Malaysia’s Barisan National (National Front) regime (1957 to present) and the Philippines's electoral authoritarian regime (1978 to 1986)—which elucidate causal mechanisms in the theory.

Keywords: Democratization; Electoral Authoritarianism; Presidentialism vs. Parliamentarism; Southeast Asia; Political Institutions (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2016
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