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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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To Elect or to Select?

To Elect or to Select?

(p.119) 4 To Elect or to Select?
Presidents with Prime Ministers

Margit Tavits (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter applies alternative research methods to test the effect of direct elections on presidential activism. First, the Slovakian case offers a setting of a natural experiment because it changed its presidential election method from indirect to direct contest in 1998. Contrary to the conventional argument, the change did not induce the expected increase in presidential activism. This chapter also compares three pairs of otherwise similar countries one of which uses direct while the other indirect elections in order to determine whether the former have more active presidents. No such effect is detected. Rather, these comparisons further confirm the theory that political opportunity framework determines levels of presidential activism. Finally, this chapter considers other potential influences on presidents' involvement in politics, such as their personalities, specific historical circumstances, and the country's level of economic and democratic development. These alternative explanations do not find support.

Keywords:   alternative explanations, natural experiment, paired comparison, political opportunity framework, Slovakia

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