Chapter

The Presidentialization of Contemporary The Presidentialization of Contemporary Democratic Politics: Evidence, Democratic Politics: Evidence, Causes, and Consequences

Paul Webb and Thomas Poguntke

in The Presidentialization of Politics

Published in print March 2005 | ISBN: 9780199252015
Published online April 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191602375 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199252017.003.0015

Series: Comparative Politics

The Presidentialization of Contemporary The Presidentialization of Contemporary Democratic Politics: Evidence, Democratic Politics: Evidence, Causes, and Consequences

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Draws together the empirical material presented in the book, and concludes that the weight of evidence lies in favour of the presidentialization thesis. Thus, many systems have manifested shifts in the direction of the typical presidential mode of operation—implying greater executive and party power resources and autonomy for leaders, and more personalized electoral processes. Note that this is not the same thing as presidentialism per se: Cabinets and parties can still be powerful countervailing forces in parliamentary systems, and the power and autonomy of apparently ‘presidential’ leaders can sometimes rest on unsustainable contingencies. Nevertheless, we believe that there is now indisputable evidence of a steady shift in various underlying structural factors that generate the 'presidentialized' working mode of politics.

In conclusion, it is suggested that modern democracies are moving towards a fusion of elitist and plebiscitary models of democracy, which offer a highly imperfect form of democratic accountability. Yet, this ‘neo-elitist’ model of democracy is a double-edged sword: Deprived of their previously relatively stable power bases that were built on alliances within political parties, leaders are left stronger in victory, but weaker in defeat.

Keywords: accountability; elitist democracy; plebiscitary democracy; presidentialization; structural and contingent causes of presidentialization

Chapter.  8848 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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