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Plurality-led Congresses are among the most pervasive and least studied phenomena in presidential systems around the world. Often conflated with divided government, where an organized opposition controls a majority of seats in congress, plurality-led congresses are characterized by a party with fewer than 50 percent of the seats still in control of the legislative gates. Extensive gatekeeping authority without plenary majorities, this book shows, leads to policy outcomes that are substantially different from those observed in majority-led congresses. Through detailed analyses of legislative success in Argentina and Uruguay, this book explores the determinants of law enactment in fragmented congresses. It describes in detail how the lack of majority support explains legislative success in standing committees, the chamber directorate, and the plenary floor.Read more
- The first book to analyze the effect of legislative fragmentation on legislative success in presidential regimes
- The first comprehensive book describing the workings of the Argentinian congress
- Defies conventional views of fragmented congresses, showing that the loss of majority support can increase legislative success rather than lead to legislative paralysis and gridlock
Reviews & endorsements
"When can legislative coalitions succeed by virtue of disciplined voting, when by virtue of agenda-setting prowess, and when by combining these capacities? Ernesto Calvo’s gem of a book takes on these classic themes, powerfully illuminating both the tangled web of Argentine democracy and the politics of legislative control more broadly."
Gary W. Cox, Stanford University, CaliforniaSee more reviews
"Ernesto Calvo’s book is impressive on many fronts. Calvo marshals systematic empirical measures of key concepts in the study of legislative politics and analyzes them in a sophisticated yet transparent manner. More importantly, he extends our theoretical understanding of the workings of legislatures in presidential systems. Most fundamentally, Calvo points out that in multiparty systems no single party, government or opposition, is likely to have a majority of seats and that theories that assume the presence of unified or divided government are in many ways inadequate. In plurality-led congresses, rules are used differently, the venues in which key decisions get made shift, and, ultimately, policy outcomes are not the same."
Brian F. Crisp, Washington University, St Louis
"Ernesto Calvo has written a wonderful book, an example of how to put together theoretical and empirical work. With rigor and sound and sophisticated analysis, Calvo demolishes folkloric views about Argentinean and Uruguayan congresses. The conclusions are far reaching, extending well beyond these two cases. Legislatures controlled by a plurality are pretty common, if not prevalent, in most scenarios. Calvo shows that they are not bound to paralysis or crises or to be dominated by presidents. The message generalizes Mayhew: "without majorities we govern", as Calvo himself notes.'
Fernando Limongi, University of São Paulo
"Calvo has again shown his sharp eye for defining both a research question and a theoretical solution. His methodological sophistication, extensive database, and detailed case work then provide ample evidence to support his claims about the inner workings of "plurality-led" congresses. He shows that rather than generating gridlock, bills are often passed through committees with a variety of partisan coalitions. These patterns, he argues, are the result of legislative rules and the partisan makeup of the committees."
Scott Morgenstern, University of Pittsburgh
"As Calvo points out, despite the vastness of the literature on the American Congress there is only a limited amount of variation over time in partisan configurations, electoral linkages, and legislative rules. In this wonderful book, he explores in Argentina and Uruguay the theoretical relevance and empirical consequences of a circumstance unknown to Congress: plurality control of the legislature. In the process he shatters a host of misconceptions about that circumstance and takes a leading role in a recent renaissance of comparative legislative research on Latin America."
David W. Rohde, Duke University, North Carolina
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- Date Published: July 2017
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9781107676671
- length: 234 pages
- dimensions: 229 x 152 x 13 mm
- weight: 0.323kg
- contains: 32 b/w illus. 24 tables
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
1. Plurality parties, plurality cartels, and legislative success
Part I. Plurality Cartels:
2. Party blocs, committee authorities, and plurality cartels
3. A statistical model of legislators' success and productivity
Part II. Legislator Success and the Sequential Organization of the Legislative Process:
4. Electoral fragmentation and the effective number of legislative blocs
5. Legislator success and the committee system in Argentina
6. On the plenary floor: special motions, vanishing quorum, and the amendment of the plenary schedule
7. Legislative success in the House
Part III. Beyond Plurality Cartels:
8. The determinants of the president's legislative success
9. Plurality-led congresses with limited gatekeeping authority: the House of Representatives in Uruguay
10. Concluding remarks: plurality-led congresses as a research agenda.
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