Scholarly Articles and Other Contributions
 

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2003

Abstract

Commentators have often suggested that Latin American countries incorporate more features of parliamentary systems or experiment with "mixed" models of governance. This article presents arguments that such a recommendation should be carefully analyzed. First, the article demonstrates that, since the early stages of post-colonial history, the Latin American states modified U.S. presidentialism. The states have already experimented with many features of a parliamentary system, adopted a model of judicial review which was an amalgam of several well-known models, and wrestled with their own ethnic, cultural and legal problems not linked to the U.S. system of governance. Second, the article examines Western European and post-communist experiments with "mixed" models of governance, exposing some problems with their application. Third, it reviews some over-used arguments about the "less versus more" democratic character of presidentialism and parliamentarism. The article concludes with the observation that blending together constitutional features, produced by long-term practice in some countries, requires a deep comparative knowledge. The eclectic character of the "mixed constitutions" justifies concern over their consistency. The Latin American countries have already attempted to "mix" elements of presidentialism with parliamentarism and components of civil law and common law systems. The results were not always impressive, thus it is a good time to consider whether "less" rather than "more" mixing would be good for this region.

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