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Linz: Presidential or Parliamentary Democracy

Disclaimer. Don't rely on these old notes in lieu of reading the literature, but they can jog your memory. As a grad student long ago, my peers and I collaborated to write and exchange summaries of political science research. I posted them to a wiki-style website. "Wikisum" is now dead but archived here. I cannot vouch for these notes' accuracy, nor can I say who wrote them.

Linz. 1994. Presidential or Parliamentary Democracy: Does it make a difference?. in The Failure of Presidential Democracy (ch 1), Linz and Valenzuela, eds. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

In Brief

Linz's analysis focuses on the structural problems of presidentialism. Unlike Shugart/Carey (1992), Linz does not differentiate among different types of presidentialism in his analysis. (True, he does speak of problems inherent to presidentialism generally, as well as problems typical of specific presidential arrangements--like premier-presidentialism or hybrid regimes--but he generalizes the problems of each of these sub-types of presidentialism to presidentialism generally. Although he recognizes that not all of the problems he identifies apply to every presidential regime, he leaves an opening for attacking his argument by not differentiating more clearly among different sub-types). Linz clearly favors parliamentarianism over presidentialism. He sees it as less risky.

Structural problems of presidentialism include, among others, the dual legitimacy of dual agents, the increased likelihood of interbranch conflict, the lack of mechanisms to resolve these conflicts, the zero-sum "character of presidential elections," majoritarianism, disproportionality, polarization, rigidity (resulting from fixed terms), and bans/limits on reelection. These structural problems create problems and negatively influence executives' leadership styles. "Semi-presidential" regimes are especially dangerous.

See responses to Linz in Mainwaring and Shugart 1997.

Research by the same authors

Research on similar subjects


Linz, Juan (author)Comparative PoliticsRegime TypePresidentialismParliaments

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