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We started this chapter by presenting the attitudinal stimuli that we use to understand how Latin American citizenries think about the choice between “state” and “market” when it comes to economic policy-making. We thus inspect citizen policy moods in Latin America, providing a sense of how these have moved over the almost two decades that go from 1996 to 2014.
We begin by summarizing our findings regarding congruence and responsiveness in Latin America's presidential systems. We then lay out our theoretical framework that we call the chain of representation. We discuss the citizens' preferences, policy-makers' preferences, and policy orientations that make up the stages in our chain. We then describe the electoral systems and policy-making processes that are the institutional linkages holding those stages together. The chapter ends with an outline of the structure of the rest of the book.
We present in this chapter a panoramic view of the policy moods that characterize three important sets of political actors – deputies, senators, and presidents – in Latin America over the past two decades. We construct these policy moods to share the same scale on which the policy moods of citizens and the policies implemented by Latin American governments are located.
This chapter concludes the overview of the indicators of policy moods – for citizens, legislators, senators, and presidents – and policy orientations that we have constructed. As measures of the stages in our chain of representation, they will help us understand patterns of congruence and responsiveness in further chapters in Part III. We hope to convince the reader that our measures of the policy moods of citizens and policy-makers, and our measures of the policy orientations of governments, are useful representations of the underlying concepts for which we wish to account.
The congruence and responsiveness models we have estimated paint a relatively homogeneous picture of representation in the region: although the quality of representation, as measured by the levels of both congruence and responsiveness, appears to be generally high during the period of study, there are systematic differences across institutional arrangements. These differences tend to be consistent across dimensions of the representation space: for legislatures, permissive systems tend to show high levels of both congruence and responsiveness, and the same is true for the strongest, restrictive constellations of electoral rules – a tendency that results in a U-shape relationship between electoral system strength and quality of representation. Executives, in turn, appear to be most congruent when they are elected under the least permissive rules, a pattern that results in a linear relationship between strength and congruence of all types.
Voters have two and sometimes three elected agents in separation of powers systems: the lower or only house, sometimes an upper house, and a president. The rules governing the election of each agent vary not only across countries, but also within them. In this chapter we look at the rules for each agent individually, describing the relative strength of the rules used to select them, and then conclude by thinking about electoral systems based on all of the choices voters make in a given country at a given time. In the next chapter we take up how the rules governing the policy-making process bring those agents, with their varying sets of preferences, together to determine policy outcomes.
We learn from this excursus that the amount of available information covaries significantly with the discriminating power of different stimuli, but not with the recovered country-specific “policy moods,” which are the quantities of interest. Our policy moods summarize respondents’ views on a number of stimuli; although these stimuli are not consistently repeated year after year, the summaries relay information about policy stances, and not only information about the number of stimuli included in any given year.
Studying the relationships among citizens' preferences, policy-makers' preferences, and policy orientations poses many challenges, and this chapter outlines how we chose to meet those challenges. We discuss our measures of each and how we intend to use them to capture one-to-one, many-to-many, and many-to-one congruence and responsiveness at different stages in the chain of representation. We also make the case for why it is vital that all these concepts be measured on a common scale, and we give a brief preview of how we intend to do that. We also provide an overview of the features of electoral systems and policy-making processes that we will aggregate or cluster in order to summarize their incentives for providing congruence and responsiveness. We conclude the chapter by setting our work in the context of important related works that do not exactly set out to tackle the questions we will tackle here.
Institutional variation is not lacking in Latin America's separation of powers system when it comes to endowing legislatures and presidents with policy-making powers. We only witness lack of variation in terms of symmetry across chambers within bicameral systems. Founders never established two chambers and then gave one a significantly different role in the policy-making process than the other. Beyond that limitation, founders have designed an impressive array of policy-making processes across the region.