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Political institutions, patterns of executive-legislative interaction and governing capability

Abstract

The project aims to analyze the patterns of executive-legislative interaction and their consequences on governing capability. It is based on an institutionalist perspective which affirms the autonomy of the institutional arrangements and their influence on the determination of concrete political processes. It introduces, nevertheless, new variables, in addition to those that have normally been used in the literature to evaluate the effect of institutions on the performance of governments and the stability of political regimes. The neo-institutionalist literature, dominant in the recent production in political science, has proven to be a little limited in the choice of the variables that affect the governing process, concentrating as it does on the analysis of the effect of the form of government and of the electoral and party systems. This project is structured on the hypothesis according to which the introduction of new independent variables may contribute towards a better understanding of the governing capability and of the performance of the different political regimes. The pattern of relationships between the Executive and Legislative Powers also depends on the following factors: the legislative powers granted to the Executive Power and the internal organization of the Legislative Power, that is, the distribution of parliamentary rights in the interior of Congress. The systematic treatment of the relations between the Executive and Legislative Powers will be undertaken in the following manner. Firstly, considering that the specific format which presidentialism assumes if different countries and in different ages presupposes differentiated patterns of Executive-Legislative relations, it is intended to adopt a comparative perspective. In addition to this, aiming to deepen the study of the organization and of the legislative dynamic it is intended to analyze the career pattern in the Brazilian Legislature and legislative decisions in substantive policies. In this way, the project is divided into three sub-projects. The first is a comparison of the executive role in the legislative process which unfolds in time and space. The pattern of the executive-legislative process observed in Brazil post-1988 Constitution will be compared to the effective pattern in the period of populist democracy in Brazil (1945-64), on the one hand, and in other countries of Latin America and Europe, on the other. The comparative study will be based on a small number of cases so as to analyze the countries both synchronically and diachronically. The following countries were selected: Chile, Venezuela, Argentina, Costa Rica and Colombia. As a counterpoint two semi-presidential European countries will be analyzed: France and Portugal. The second sub-project, is based on the decision process in the interior of Congress to analyze the relationship between the executive and the legislature in social and macroeconomic policies. The study of these two policy areas is justified because in them are presented in paradigmatic form the problems of political responsibility and the logic of action of each of the powers. On the other hand, the decisions on these policies have been arrived at by means of different legislative instruments, making it possible to compare the action of the two powers in different decision-making contexts. Finally, the third sub-project aims to investigate the career pattern in the Brazilian legislature as a base for the understanding of the structure of incentives which orient parliamentary behavior. (AU)