The Surprising Success of Multiparty Presidentialism

Issue Date July 2012
Volume 23
Issue 3
Page Numbers 156-70
file Print
arrow-down-thin Download from Project MUSE
external View Citation

Read the full essay here.

The common wisdom is that when presidential political systems coincide with multiparty systems the result is gridlock; parties squabble and presidents are not able to stitch together the majorities they need to move forward with the business of governing. Latin America’s presidential systems were supposed to have been a disaster. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, however, presidentialism and multipartism seem to work rather well. E pur se muove, to quote Galileo. Over the last decade or so, multiparty presidentialism has become the modal form of presidential democracy, especially in Latin America. Once thought to be a precursor of democratic breakdowns, no compelling explanations have emerged to account for its success in countries such as Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay. The surprising sustainability of coalition-based presidentialism demands an explanation, yet political scientists are ill-equipped to answer this puzzle.

About the Authors

Carlos Pereira

Carlos Pereira is professor of political economy and government at the School of Administration (EBAPE) at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation in Rio de Janeiro. He was recently a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution. He publishes widely on comparative government and Latin American politics.

View all work by Carlos Pereira

Marcus André Melo

Marcus André Melo is professor of political science at the Federal University of Pernambuco, Brazil. He is the author (with Carlos Pereira) of Making Brazil Work: Checking the President in a Multiparty System (2013).

View all work by Marcus André Melo