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The Presidentialization of PoliticsA Comparative Study of Modern Democracies$
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Thomas Poguntke and Paul Webb

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199252015

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2005

DOI: 10.1093/0199252017.001.0001

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

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

Chapter:
(p.336) 15 The Presidentialization of Contemporary Democratic Politics: Evidence, Causes, and Consequences
Source:
The Presidentialization of Politics
Author(s):

Paul Webb (Contributor Webpage)

Thomas Poguntke (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0199252017.003.0015

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

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