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Presidential Impeachment and the New Political Instability in Latin America

$30.99 (C)

Part of Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics

  • Date Published: January 2010
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521178495

$ 30.99 (C)
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About the Authors
  • This book documents the emergence of a new pattern of political instability in Latin America. Traditional military coups have receded in the region, but elected presidents are still ousted from power as a result of recurrent crises. Aníbal Pérez-Liñán shows that presidential impeachment has become the main constitutional instrument employed by civilian elites to depose unpopular rulers. Based on detailed comparative research in five countries and extensive historical information, the book explains why crises without breakdown have become the dominant form of instability in recent years and why some presidents are removed from office while others survive in power. The analysis emphasizes the erosion of presidential approval resulting from corruption and unpopular policies, the formation of hostile coalitions in Congress, and the role of investigative journalism. This book challenges classic assumptions in studies of presidentialism and provides important insights for the fields of political communication, democratization, political behavior, and institutional analysis.

    • Was the first book to identify and explain the new pattern of instability in Latin America
    • Extensive historical coverage of presidential crises in the region, 1950–2004
    • Quantitative and qualitative sources for the study available online
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "Over the past quarter century, military overthrows of civilian governments, long a staple of Latin American politics, have been scarce. Yet government crises and the improvised removal of presidents remain common. What explains this change, and what does it imply for democracy in the region? Pérez-Liñán provides the first comprehensive examination of why and how government instability persists in the presidentialist regimes of the Americas. This book is a must read for anyone interested in Latin American democracy."
    John Carey, Dartmouth College

    "Aníbal Pérez-Liñán has written one of those interesting, informative, well-researched books that make you think differently about the world. As Latin American countries since the return to democracy have turned to impeachments over military coups in response to political crises. A must read!"
    Susan Eckstein, Boston University, former President, Latin American Studies Association

    "This innovative book identifies and examines the causes and potential consequences of a new trend in Latin America: the removal of democratically elected presidents without regime breakdown. It provides a nuanced and convincing analysis of the impact of societal mobilization, the media, and partisan legislative politics in explaining whether and in what ways presidents in contemporary Latin America may not complete their elected term in office. This extraordinary study is conceptually careful and empirically wide-ranging, employing information from extensive field research in five countries, innovative data sets, and an intelligent mix of qualitative and quantitative methods. It ends with a thoughtful review of how this particular form of political instability represents an imperfect politicized and spasmodic check on presidential authority in the region. This book deserves a wide audience among scholars and students interested in understanding this crucial new political phenomenon."
    Jonathan Hartlyn, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

    "Unlike their predecessors, current Latin American presidents worry far more about being impeached than being removed from office by a military coup. In the first comprehensive comparative study of presidential impeachment in Latin America, Professor Aníbal Pérez-Liñán deftly analyzes this relatively recent phenomenon, and highlights those factors that make presidents more or less susceptible to impeachment. This outstanding book is obligatory reading for anyone concerned with democracy and democratic institutions in Latin America."
    Mark P. Jones, Rice University

    "This insightful book creates a broader and deeper understanding of two widely noted developments in Latin American politics: the decreasing frequency of military coups, and the increasing frequency of impeachments and other crises that drive presidents from office before their term is complete. These patterns are carefully and convincingly explained in the context of the debate about presidential versus parliamentary government. Because of its broad scope, this book is revealing about Latin American politics in a way that studies of elections, or coups, or presidential government by themselves cannot be."
    William R. Keech, Carnegie Mellon University

    “This clearly written, methodologically eclectic study is essential reading for people interested in contemporary democratization in Latin America and beyond…[Pérez-Liñán] argues that governmental instability amid regime stability is driven by a decreased willingness of the armed forces to take power, an increased profile of mass media (particularly television), mass publics more willing to protest in response to corruption scandals and high-profile conflicts over economic policy, and legislatures more willing to consider impeachment proceedings in light of the other three contextual changes. Separate analyses, often based on novel cross-national data sets, examine the dynamics of each of these four developments. Summing Up: Highly recommended.”
    C. H. Blake, James Madison University, Choice

    “In terms of theoretical innovation and methodological sophistication, Pérez-Liñán makes an invaluable contribution to the field of comparative politics…Pérez-Liñán recasts the main actors in Latin American politics in theoretically innovating ways, demonstrating the new roles that they play in impeachment crises…It is rare to encounter a work that combines qualitative and quantitative analysis so deftly…This analysis is remarkable for its breadth; it is impressive to encounter such a comprehensive overview of case studies presented so succinctly. Here, Pérez-Liñán’s writing style also emerges as a key strength of the work, as he is able to guide the reader carefully through the detailed intricacies of six complex cases.”
    Mary Fran T. Malone, University of New Hampshire, Comparative Political Studies

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2010
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521178495
    • length: 264 pages
    • dimensions: 226 x 150 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.39kg
    • contains: 7 b/w illus. 18 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Institutional crises in presidential regimes
    2. Five cases of impeachment and a presumed madman
    3. Presidential crises and the decline of military intervention
    4. Latin America in the age of scandal
    5. Scandals and the political economy of popular outrage
    6. Building a legislative shield: the institutional determinants of impeachment
    7. Towards a new pattern of political instability
    8. Rethinking Latin American presidentialism.

  • Author

    Aníbal Pérez-Liñán, University of Pittsburgh
    Anníbal Pérez-Líñan is currently an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Pittsburgh. Born in Argentina, Pérez-Liñán has conducted extensive research in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, and Venezuela. He has published articles in academic journals in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Egypt, Great Britain, Spain, the United States, and Uruguay. His most recent articles have been published in the Journal of Politics, Electoral Studies, and Comparative Political Studies.

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