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Presidents with Prime MinistersDo Direct Elections Matter?$
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Margit Tavits

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199553327

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199553327.001.0001

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Direct Elections or Political Opportunities? Explaining Presidential Activism

Direct Elections or Political Opportunities? Explaining Presidential Activism

(p.28) 2 Direct Elections or Political Opportunities? Explaining Presidential Activism
Presidents with Prime Ministers

Margit Tavits (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Chapter 2 addresses the most critical issue related to selecting heads of state: the extent to which direct elections enhance presidential powers and political involvement. First, it outlines the conventional argument that direct elections influence presidential activism by increasing presidents' legitimacy. Next, this chapter develops an alternative explanation that concrete political opportunity framework, rather than abstract legitimacy, constrains presidents' incentives and opportunities for participating in political processes. Finally, this chapter presents the results of a large-N empirical test of the alternative rival hypotheses, using presidential intervention in the process of cabinet formation to measure political activism. The results corroborate the theory on political opportunity framework, and show that election mechanisms do not affect presidential activism.

Keywords:   cabinet formation, legitimacy, presidential activism, presidential intervention, presidential power, political opportunity framework

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