Mexican Law Review Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas
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    Jorge CARPIZO**

    Original Text (Spanish) PDF

    I. Presidential and parliamentarian systems. II. Essential characteristics of the presidential system. III. Main influences on the original presidential systems in Latin America. IV. Some authors that influenced Latin American presidential systems. V. Main factors that distanced Latin American presidential systems from the U.S. model. VI. The Caudillo [Leader].


    A. It is important to ask what the characteristics that differentiate the presidential system from the parliamentary one are and how each one works; where the quid of the differences between both government systems truly lies.

    Numerous authors have dealt with these issues. I recall three in particular who presented their thoughts between the 1950s and 1970s.

    Maurice Duverger stated that the presidential system is characterized by the principle of the separation of powers, presidential elections by means of universal suffrage, presidential appointment and removal of ministers and because none of them are not politically responsible to the parliament.1

    Joseph LaPalombara wrote that in the presidential system: a) The president, who is both the head of State and of government, is independent of the Legislative Branch and therefore does not depend much or continuously on this branch for his existence or survival; b) The Legislative and Executive Branches are independent: the first is not obligated to approve the bills sent by the Executive and the Executive can veto bills from Congress; c) The president has the power of appointing people to certain positions; d) The Executive can appeal directly to the people through plebiscites and referendums; e) The Legislative Branch can judge and remove the President; f) The president has the power of appointing his cabinet members, presenting bills and preparing the budget; g) The people elect the president and expect him to be their leader.2

    Paul Marie Gaudemet characterizes the presidential system as one in which: a) The president brings together the integrity of the executive jurisdiction and is both the head of State and the head of Government, b) The heads of the ministerial offices solely depend on presidential authority, which is why they are usually called secretaries and not ministers, c) The principle of separation of powers is strictly applied, d) The president is not politically responsible before Congress, but he cannot dissolve it either.3

    B. I believe the clearest way of understanding the characteristics that make up the presidential system is by contrasting its notable points with those of the parliamentary system. This is the way I have proceeded in previous essays.

    First of all, the characteristics of the Parliamentary System are the following:

    1. Cabinet members (Executive Branch) are also Members of Parliament (Legislative Branch).

    2. The cabinet is formed of the majority party leaders or by the party leaders who, through a coalition, form the parliamentary majority.

    3. The Executive Branch is dual: there is a head of State who mainly has the functions of representation and of protocol and a head of government, who heads the administration and government itself.

    4. There is one person in the cabinet who has preeminence and who is generally referred to as the Prime Minister.

    5. The cabinet will exist as long as it has the support of the parliament majority.

    6. Public administration is entrusted to the Cabinet, but the Cabinet is under constant supervision from the Parliament.

    7. There is mutual control between the parliament and government. The parliament can demand political responsibility from the government, whether it be one of its members or the cabinet as a whole. Furthermore, the parliament can deny the cabinet a vote of confidence or give it a vote of censure, in which case the cabinet is forced to resign. The government, however, is not unarmed before parliament since it has the prerogative of asking the head of State, who will consent —except in extraordinary situations—, to dissolve the parliament. In the new elections, the people decide who was right: the parliament or the government.4

    In principle, the characteristics of the presidential system are the following:

    1. The Executive Power is undivided. It is deposited in a president who is both the head of State and the head of government.

    2. The president is elected by the people and not by the Legislative Branch, which gives him independence before this branch.

    3. The president freely appoints and removes the secretaries of State.

    4. Neither the president nor the secretaries of State are politically responsible before Congress.

    5. Neither the president nor the secretaries of State, as a general rule, can be members of congress.

    6. The president can be affiliated to a political party different to that of the congress majority.

    7. The president cannot dissolve the congress, but the congress can give him a vote of censure.5

    All of these notable points are not observed in all presidential systems, much less in their pure form, but establishing their principles serve to determine whether a system is presidential or parliamentarian or whether it is predominantly presidential or vice versa. In a presidential system, the balance of power tends to be more transparent since it aims at defining the limits between the Executive and Legislative Branches, even though there are many collaboration alliances between them, and that members of one are not members of the other at the same time, though there are exceptions.

    C. At the end of the 1980s, a special interest in analyzing government systems arises in an attempt to study the workings of presidential and parliamentarian regimes in depth as well as the problem of their stability. These studies have brought about renewed interest in knowing more about them. The distinguished scholar Juan Linz made headway in this sense.

    Moreover, in characterizing the presidential system in this analysis, an attempt was made to point out which the essential elements of the system were, those that truly correspond to it and what differentiate it from the parliamentarian system.

    Therefore, for Linz, the representative characteristics of the presidential system are:

    1. Dual democratic legitimacy, due to the fact that both the president and the congress are elected by the people. This characteristic is not impaired even when the president is appointed by an electoral college, the members of which are elected by the people for that sole purpose.

    2. The rigidity of the system since both branches are elected for a predetermined term and the president’s permanence in office does not depend on the will of the Legislative Branch, whose existence, in turn, does not depend on the president’s will.

    The other characteristics and problems posed by the presidential system, he says, are derived from the two above.6

    Arend Lijphart adds a third to the characteristics pointed out by Linz: the president comprises the Executive Branch of a single person, while the prime minister and the cabinet make up a collegiate or collective Executive Branch.

    Lijphart should not have added this third characteristic as essential because in most parliamentary systems, if the prime minister’s party has the majority in the Legislative body, it has real predominance over it and the cabinet. However, in coalition presidential systems, which are becoming more and more frequent, the president, depending on the circumstances, will have to take into account the leaders and ministers of parties in a coalition.

    In other words, in this sense, parliamentary and presidential systems actually work closely. What defines it is whether the head of government’s party has majority rule in parliament or in congress and whether his cabinet is from a coalition or not.

    Lijphart, who favors the parliamentary system over the presidential one, still recognizes that in the latter, the separation of powers implies more independence for the Legislative Branch and a more balanced Executive-Legislative relation. This is because, in a parliamentary system, legislators vote on legislative government projects not only regarding their merits, but also taking into account the stability of the cabinet, which weighs heavily on the legislative process.

    Even then, this scholar, following his model of majority and consensual democracies, affirms that the presidential system implies the concentration of power in a single person, establishing a regime of a majority. Therefore, it is very difficult for the president to share power, which is different from what happens in parliamentary systems.7

    The above statement is not correct. In presidential systems in South America, government coalitions are frequent and said coalition is the one that obtains majority rule in congress. According to Lijphart’s own terminology, these would be consensual governments8 and therefore, the concentration of power does not exist in a single person.

    Shugart and Carey exponent that the presidential system is made up of four characteristics:

    1. The popular election of the Executive

    2. The terms of office for the Executive and the Legislative branch are predetermined and the existence of these branches is independent of the political will of the other.

    3. The Executive names and leads the consolidation of the government.

    4. Constitutionally, the president has some involvement in the legislative process, mainly by means of the power of veto, which aims at ensuring that he will be allowed to effect the program for which he was elected.

    According to these two authors, all presidential systems meet these two requirements, except Venezuela which does not apply the fourth one.9

    In my opinion, Mario Serrafero’s comments on this specific point are interesting in that he points out that in the parliamentarian system, legislative work is basically carried out by the government, which turns into something like an appendage of parliament and in a kind of legislative commission. Political identity among the parliamentary majority and the government raises difficulties in parliament’s role in controlling, often leaving the minority limited to criticize, file complaints and expose deficiencies in the government. This author points out that, to the contrary, in the presidential system, congress must create law as an instrument of government, the president executes it and the Judiciary Branch controls its constitutionality. Furthermore, a fundamental aspect of the system is congressional political-institutional control of the Executive.10

    D. Since their creation, there has been a tendency in presidential systems, especially in those of Latin America, to introduce parliamentary undertones or instruments. This tendency has become stronger. For instance, in various countries in the region, different types of censure or no-confidence in the cabinet or in individual members are currently accepted. In three Latin American countries, the president can even dissolve the congress in certain conditions. This last practice has actually been used in exceptional cases, at least until now. Moreover, the concept of head of cabinet or premier has come into being. To this regard, the panorama is varied and very different.11

    The above has led the well-known Argentinean legal scholar Pedro Sagues to ask himself: What makes a parliamentarian or presidential State? His response is, above all, original.

    Sagues responded with two indicators: the first, the division of the Executive Branch in Head of State and Head of Government, regardless of the name given to the latter. The Constitution should attribute each of them 50% of the faculties of the former Executive Branch. If the head of government has a lower percentage, for example, only 20%, then that regime is essentially presidential with traces of parliamentarianism. To the contrary, if the head of government has, for instance, 70% of the power and the president the remaining 30%, that regime is substantially parliamentarian. Then, what would a system that allocates executive faculties by 45% or 55% be?

    The second indicator refers to the congressional attribution of removing the head of government and his cabinet by means of censure or no-confidence. If congress holds these faculties restrictedly, how can it be that it can exercise it once a year and with qualified majorities, such as with two thirds of the vote. Then, the regime is essentially presidential.12

    Sagues’ idea shows the extent of the confusion between presidential and parliamentarian systems in Latin America. It is fitting to ask, from the perspective of governability and of system’s performance, whether the existence of a two-headed Executive Branch is feasible, each with half of the faculties that corresponds to the Executive Branch. Everything seems to indicate that hybrid systems are the most unstable.13 Furthermore, what parameters will be used to measure those percentages?

    I believe that this aspect generates much confusion among politicians and academics. It would be helpful to recall Sartori’s views that regarding institutional issues the essential question is: do we know what to change and how we are going to do it? His concern lies in clarifying whether we know what should be changed and how to change it. To this, he replied we did not, which has resulted in the fact that “the reforms that have been carried out have the mark of very incompetent reformers”.14 I agree with this distinguished scholar.


    The most accessible way to understand the essence of a presidential or parliamentarian system is by listing and contrasting their characteristics, the way I have done for decades. I have evoked this in part B in the above section of this essay.

    Even then, it is possible to simplify the model and make an effort to point out the essential characteristics of these systems. Even from this perspective, it is clear where the current problem or confusion in trying to differentiate them lies.

    The presidential system, in contrast to the parliamentarian one, features three essential characteristics:

    1. The separation of powers between the Legislative and Executive Branches is well-defined only from the point of view that each one is elected by popular vote, the origin of their legitimacy. In other words, congress generally does not directly or indirectly appoint a president. Not even the original Constitution of the United States of America attempted such an emphatic division of powers. There are numerous examples of this such as the intervention of the Executive in the law-making procedure by means of his power of veto.

    2. The terms for which both the Executive and the Legislative Branches were elected are predetermined and in principle, one cannot modify the term of office of the other.

    3. There are mutual checks between these two branches. These checks are different from those seen in a parliamentarian system.

    These characteristics need some clarification:

    1. The meaning of popular vote does not change, even when the election is carried out by an electoral college elected by the people for the purpose of appointing a president. However, electoral colleges are unfortunately disappearing. The direct vote is a better method. Electoral colleges have survived in the United States of America. The greatest inconvenience this method presents is that it is possible for a candidate to be elected president even though he did not obtain the majority of popular votes, as has occurred in this country and which is acutely anti-democratic.

    2. As it is known, mutual checks and balances in the parliamentarian system consist of the parliament’s ability of censuring or denying a vote of confidence to the cabinet or to a minister, who will then have to resign. In turn, the primer minister can ask the head of State for the dissolution of parliament and a call for new elections. The head of State usually accedes to this request.

    3. In a presidential system, these checks and balances do not exist in principle because the system lays out ones of a different nature. If a president dissolves the congress, as has actually occurred, he is carrying out a coup d’état because he is breaking with constitutional order by acting unconstitutionally, suppressing the principle of the separation of powers. I do not deny that there are three countries in Latin America in which this situation is allowed by the constitution, as mentioned above.

    4. The congress cannot censure the president because the president is not politically responsible before congress and because the president has been elected by the people for a predetermined term.

    5. Impeachment takes place under exceptional circumstances and is difficult to implement. It is an instrument for extreme situations and its scope is of a criminal or quasi-criminal nature and not a political one. However, it is true that in the end, the matter is certainly resolved depending on whether or not it has the number of votes required by the constitution for this purpose.

    6. A presidential system has its own checks and balances. The most important check in the president’s hands is the power of vetoing laws. In order for it to truly be so, the congress can only overcome this with a qualified majority, which is generally two thirds of the vote of the legislators present. If the presidential veto can be dismissed by a simple majority, the veto does not imply a controlling mechanism of any kind.

      The presidential veto of course has other purposes, such as the constitutional analysis of a bill approved by congress.

    7. The Legislative Branch generally has different powers that also carry out oversight functions. Among the most important are: the ratification of presidential appointments and acts; the power over government monies, which includes the internal revenue law, the expense budget and the limit on public debt; investigation commissions and the extreme and extraordinary restraint which is impeachment. In this concept of checks and balances, that of responsibility is implicit and it is essential to the democratic system.

    8. When I refer to parliamentarian and presidential systems, I base myself on the assumption that we are dealing with democratic governments and exclude any degeneration, such as de facto governments, dictatorships, tyrannies, theocracies or military governments.

    9. In principle, in a presidential system checks and balances work better and more efficiency than those in a parliamentarian system because in the latter, the legislative majority makes certain that the cabinet, which is part of it, subsists and will not be censured, which would bring about new elections in which parliamentary majority is not assured. For this reason, a prime minister becomes the most important legislator.

    10. Pure systems hardly ever exist. Presidential and parliamentarian systems adopt various forms according to their political evolution and their circumstances. There are no formulas, but there are general principles that define the system.

    11. Presidential and parliamentarian systems work differently depending on the number of political parties existing in a given State, that is, if it is a two-party, three-party, moderate multi-party or extreme multi-party system.

    12. In any presidential system, the use of mutual checks and balances is essential. The quality of the democracy and the country’s governability greatly depends on this aspect.

    13. Disregarding the checks and balances of the system and introducing those inherent to the parliamentarian system do not work in a presidential regime. Nor does creating a hybrid. Experience has shown that the results are not good.

    14. The above does not imply that it is not possible to include traces of parliamentarianism in a presidential system. Of course it is possible as long as the control mechanisms of one system are not confused with those of the other. There are various instruments for perfecting a presidential system.

    15. What many authors have failed to differentiate or have excluded from their analyses and proposals on this topic is the issue of checks and balances, which is essential in preventing the establishment of systems that do not work or work badly.

    16. If the presidential system does not work or does not work well in a country, it is necessary to examine the possible solutions, including a change to the parliamentarian system, as long as the conditions are given for it. Furthermore, it must be ascertained that a parliamentarian system is being established and not assemblyism which is by nature unstable and destabilizing.

      If the conditions are given, it is preferable to direct the changes towards a parliamentarian or semi-presidential system than to establish hybrid systems, the experience of which has not been encouraging. It would be even worse to confuse the inherent controls of one system with those of the other and embellish it with the flaws of both systems and none of their virtues. When I refer to hybrid systems, I would like to point out that I am referring to presidential-parliamentarian systems, and not semi-presidential ones, which have the characteristic of alternating between the two classical systems, depending on whether the head of State has the support of the ruling majority in parliament or not.

    17. For a presidential system to work well, it is necessary to be careful with the constitutional engineering and avoid the excesses that have hindered its proper functioning, like excessive legislative powers granted to the Executive Branch, such as the so-called executive decrees or emergency laws which should be limited to those that are indispensable.

    18. I will not tire of repeating: part of the current confusion that exists on the issue of government systems is found in the lack of order regarding the controls inherent to each system, which is done with more and more disarray.

    19. In order to overcome the problems found in a country’s system of government, it is necessary to begin by carrying out an accurate diagnosis so as not to prescribe remedies that, due to their inefficiency, can only result in multiplying and complicating the problems.

    20. One does not think of doctors or engineers as ill-equipped nor that they act on intuition or on flashes of inspiration. The same happens in constitutional engineering despite the constant and shrill chatter of charlatans.


    A. In the beginning, Latin American constitutionalism had four main influences during the establishment of their institutions: the US Constitution; the liberal Spanish Constitution derived from the Cadiz Constitution; the French school of thought, especially from the ideas of Rousseau, Montesquieu and Sieyes and the Constitutions of 1791, 1793 and 1795; and indirectly the English Constitution through the works of Locke, Blackstone and others. Some period documents affirm that the framers of the constitution used the British Constitution as a guide.15

    In general terms, it can be said that in Latin America, the U.S. Constitution influenced structural aspects while the Constitution of Cadiz influenced the doctrinal and some specific aspects, such as the idea of national sovereignty, that originated in France; the incorporation of guarantees; the system of constitutional reforms; the electoral system of indirect votes to various degrees; the monopoly of Catholicism; the ministerial countersignature; a certain degree of political de-centralization coming from members of congress from the provinces.

    It must be kept in mind that in conservative Latin American schools of thought of the time, the influence of Spanish absolutism was present with different undercurrents. This is even found in the ideas of Simon Bolivar, who was a great liberator, a great visionary, but not a great democrat.

    B. The original presidential systems in Latin America were clearly inspired by that of the United States of America. Some created a very strong or simply strong president, but controlled by congress. Others strengthened the Legislative Branch as the center of power, although the first tendency later prevailed.

    It is interesting to know the U.S. founding fathers’ background and some of their sources since they were indirectly present in Latin America, in particular through the U.S. Constitution:

    1. British public law: since they tried in part to imitate, but deformed, the English monarchical system. Instead of a hereditary head of State, they wanted one that was elected by popular vote with powers limited by a term in office.

    2. The 1777 Constitution of New York and, to a lesser degree, the 1780 Constitution of Massachusetts, which established independent executives with the principal traits that were later to make up the U.S. presidency. In turn, they eliminated models from the Constitutions of North Carolina and Rhode Island in which the Legislative Branch hardly had any constraints.16

    3. The works of Locke, Montesquieu and Blackstone, in which “the Executive Branch is not defined in terms of suspicion or aversion”.17

    These elements were the ones that mainly helped create the system under study. Everything seems to indicate that Paolo Biscaretti di Ruffia might be right in stating that a new form of presidential government was born completely unexpectedly18 without ignoring the fact that the framers of the constitution in Philadelphia wanted to distance themselves, in part, from the British monarchical system. Even then, it naturally had an influence on them because they knew it well. The “unexpected” aspect is apparent because the framers of the U.S. Constitution sought to create an Executive regularly elected by the people.

    C. The first constitutions from the newly independent countries in the Americas found their inspiration in the United States of America. This was reflected in the incorporation of the presidential system into their political regimes, among other aspects. This can be considered logical and natural because of the following reasons:

    1. Before the 1787 U.S. Constitution was approved, there was widespread debate in that country, which some Latin American framers of constitutions seem to have known about.19

    2. The United States of America was the first country on the continent to attain its independence. Therefore, it was admired and seen as an example since it was believed that its Constitution ensured freedoms by distancing itself from the monarchical governments of an absolutist nature. For instance, the drafting commission of the 1824 Central American Constitution stated: “In outlining our plan, we have adopted that of the United States of America to a great extent, a worthy example of independent peoples”.20

      Furthermore, US diplomats actively lobbied in favor of adopting constitutional principles similar to their own. This was bolstered with the Monroe Doctrine, proclaimed in 1823. There are many examples. I will only cite the work of Joel R. Poinsset in Chile and Mexico in the first two decades of the 19th century.

      I do not deny that the absolutist thought had its victories since it was able to concentrate power in a single person, such as the grotesque monarchies of Dessalines and Christophe in Haiti from its independence until 1820; the short-lived experience of Emperor Agustin de Iturbide in Mexico from 1822 to 1823; that of Francisco de Paula Santander in Colombia from 1819 to 1828 or that of Gaspar Rodriguez de Francia in Paraguay from 1814 to 1840. In these cases, and in others, the political forces of the colonial period triumphed, among which the following stand out: the Catholic Church, the big landowners that were part of the Spanish upper class and Spanish descendents, the army whose principal leaders also belonged to these classes.

    3. The existence of a great liberal school of thought suffered its setbacks, but it also obtained important triumphs. This tendency did not want to substitute the Spanish absolute monarchy with a native one, but fought for an elected executive authority, basing itself on the principle of popular sovereignty, even though in some cases the executive was appointed by the Legislative Branch. Moreover, this branch could provide checks and balances to the president’s powers and guarantee the republican principles and the separation of powers.21

    4. Even then, it did not strive to instate a weak Executive either. This did not correspond to the U.S. concept since there was the fear that congresses could degenerate into demagogical assemblies, as had occurred in France, and a dictatorship of the majority could be established.

    5. As a result, if they sought to establish a republican system and one in which the Executive Branch was elected, there were not many models to choose from. In the first decades of the 19th century, the parliamentary system as we know it today was unknown. Even in Great Britain, the cabinet was responsible to the king, whose authority was independent of the electorate. This situation did not clearly change until Victoria’s reign during the administrations of Disraeli and Gladstone. In 1867, Walter Bagehot observed that the ministers had acquired more power than the king and the parliament. Even considering the fact that this system had been defined since 1782, the king retained multiple and important material powers.

    As mentioned above, the parliamentary system was not built, constructed or designed. It is the product of history and it slowly came into being. Around 1820, some decades were still needed to finalize the process22 that was to limit the monarch’s power in favor of the parliament, a power that was later exercised by the cabinet and the prime minister.

    Then, in which system were Latin American constitutions going to be inspired by? The French Constitution? Bolivar, the president for life who had his monarchical undertones?

    D. It should not be overlooked that the 1812 Constitution of Cadiz had some influence on Latin American presidential systems.

    It is likely that the most relevant aspect in this sense was made up of the countersignature, an institution through which presidential acts had to be signed by the area minister for the acts to be valid. This institution comes to us from this constitution, although it was inspired in turn by the 1791 French Constitution, which in terms of the convention of chanceries, based itself on the ancient Asian monarchies. The purpose of this was to authenticate the monarch’s seal and so that the decision would not be an arbitrary expression of personal power.23

    Countersignature in these French and Spanish Constitutions did not imply that the ministers co-participated in power, but that they worked as “a safeguard of the laws and an obstacle to the Executive Branch since he was unable to issue orders or decrees without the signature of the corresponding minister”.24 Even then, in order to appreciate its exact scope, it should not be forgotten that the ministers or secretaries were freely appointed and dismissed by the king or the president.

    E. In the creation of the presidential systems in Latin America, there are three aspects worth commenting on:

    1. The U.S. Congress represented, and represents, local interests. The same thing happened to these bodies in Latin America.

      This aspect did not, and does not, solely belong to the U.S. system because this situation also occurred in Great Britain. Local interests had, and have, weight in some countries in Latin America.

    2. It has been held that Pre-Hispanic heritage influenced Latin American presidential systems since the Aztec and Incan emperors held the power. Despite the differences between them, there were more similarities since they were monarchs, military leaders and high priests. They also carried out administrative, legislative and judicial functions. The Aztec emperor was elected by an oligarchy and the Incan one by hereditary right.25

      However, it is difficult that anything survived from that absolutist political organization which was destroyed by the Conquest. Any vestige that might have survived disappeared over three centuries of colonial domination.

      There is no testimony that Latin American framers of constitutions might have alluded to or recalled any precedent of indigenous origin in the creation of presidential systems with a strong or very strong Executive.

    3. Likewise, it is claimed that Spanish Colonial political and administrative tradition inspired Latin American presidentialism. It cannot be doubted that during three centuries of domination, the reigning policy was that of absolutism and centralism that can exist in such vast and badly communicated territories. Even then, power was pyramidal and came from the monarch to the viceroys, general captains and later the intendants. Of course there were traces of some balance of power among these last three positions and the arrival of the House of Bourbon to the Spanish throne implied centralization hitherto unknown. Relations with the colonies were directly with Madrid and there was little contact between them. This “centralist tradition gradually imposed itself, leading to the concentration of almost all the power of decision, including territorial decisions, in a single person, that of the president of the republic”.26

    The above theory has logic of its own. Three centuries of living under a system is a long time. Furthermore, in reality, many Latin American presidents ended up concentrating the powers in his person, thus proving this theory.

    However, even though ideological tendencies in the early years of the independent life of Latin American States included absolutism and monarchy, they did not prevail. The idea of establishing republics prevailed and the U.S. model was considered a democratic ideal that strove for the balance of powers, as has been stated in this article. Moreover, several constitutions created a system in which the center of power was held by the Legislative Branch. For instance, it is possible to cite: the 1824 Federal Constitution of Central America, the 1830 Constitution of Uruguay, the 1857 Constitution of Mexico, and the 1825, 1844 and 1859 Constitutions of Costa Rica.27

    In any case, the precedent of a colonial government of an absolutist nature was not considered in the constitutional congresses that established the republics, as did happen in the liberal Constitution of 1812.

    I cannot exactly determine whether the absolutism of the colonial government influenced collective or individual psychology and to what extent. As history has shown, the ambition for power overflows systems and eras.


    A. I have already mentioned the principal influences that were made manifest in Latin American constitutionalism. I will now devote some paragraphs on some authors that could be sources of inspiration to the presidential systems in the region.

    Between October 1787 and May 1788, Hamilton, Madison and Jay published seventy-seven articles in three newspapers to explain and defend the new U.S. Constitution. These and eight more were immediately published in two volumes under the name of The Federalist.

    Gustavo R. Velasco believes this work did not have much influence on Latin American constitutionalism because it was not translated into Portuguese until 1840 and into Spanish until 1868. Although this does not rule out the possibility that it was known through the French translation of 1792, which was reprinted that same year and re-edited three years later.

    The Mexican author wrote that he only found quotes from The Federalist in Alberdi and Sarmiento, but he explained that he did not look in the significant amount of pamphlets, the press or the discussions in constitutional congresses of the first decades of the 19th century. As to Mexico, he found Hamilton cited twice in constitutional documents dating from the second half of the 19th century.

    Regarding Sarmiento, Velasco points out that his work Cartas de un Americano sobre las ventajas de los gobiernos federativos [Letters by an American on the Advantages of Federative Governments], published in London in 1826, is based, to a good extent, on The Federalist, a work from which it transcribes numerous paragraphs.28

    As Velasco himself points out, it cannot be ruled out that The Federalist had been known through said French translation of 1792. Of course, in those years, many works reached Latin America by way of Paris.

    B. Thomas Paine’s ideas were studied by the Latin American elite. Several of his books were translated and published in Venezuela, Peru and Philadelphia and distributed in other countries in the region.

    Garcia Laguardia and de la Torre Villar highlight Venezuela’s Manuel Garcia de Sena’s translation into Spanish entitled La Independencia de la Costa Firme justificada por Thomas Paine treinta años ha. Extracto de sus obras [The Independence of Terra Firma Justified by Thomas Paine Thirty Years Ago. A Selection of his Works] published in 1811. In it, various U.S. legal texts were included, such as the 1776 Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union of 1778, a list of the Constitution of Connecticut and the Constitutions of New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

    C. Jefferson’s ideas were also known. Lock and Montesquieu were widely studied and accepted.

    The city council of Guatemala drafted Constitutional Instructions in 1810 for its deputy at the Cortes [Parliament] of Cadiz. These were included in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and in a draft of a Constitution. Montesquieu’s influence is notorious. None less than the fact that the last part of these instructions contains a sentence by this philosopher as an epigraph: “All human institutions have the stamp of the century in which they were created”. Moreover, his theory on the division of powers was accepted.29

    In drafting the Constitution of Apatzingan, Morelos, the great leader of the Mexican independence, incorporated with brilliant clarity the concept of the author of The Spirit of Laws in the articles referring to the division of powers.30 A modified concept of it was included in the Federal Constitution of 1824.

    The ideas of Locke and Montesquieu are found in more Latin American early constitutional documents. To this regards, it is possible to mention the following as a partial list:

    1. In Argentina, the Organic Regulation of October 22, 1811, which did not enter into force; the Constitution of the United Provinces of South America of 1819; the Constitution of 1826.

    2. In Chile, the Constitution of 1823.

    3. In Peru, the Bases for the Political Constitution of the Peruvian Republic of 1822; the Constitutions of 1823 and 1826.

    4. In Uruguay, Artigas’ Instructions of the Year Thirteen; the Constitution of 1830.

    5. In Bolivia, the Federal Constitution of 1826 or the Bolivarian Constitution, since it was the work of Simon Bolivar.

    6. In Venezuela, the Constitution of 1811.

    7. In the Constitution of Cucuta of 1821, which united New Granada, Quito and Venezuela.31

    Without a doubt, Rousseau, most importantly, and the Spanish school of thought of Feijoo, Mariana and Suarez influenced in other aspects, but not in this aspect of the presidential system.

    D. Irish scholar William Burke, who resided in Venezuela, published many articles in the Gaceta de Caracas [Caracas Gazette] which were collected in his work Derechos de la América del Sur y México [Laws of South America and Mexico]. It was an invitation to attain independence and follow the example of U.S. organization “as close as circumstances permit” to likewise attain freedom and happiness.

    For Burke, the division of powers into three was essential, as was having a limited and controlled Executive:

      The establishment of a strong and permanent Executive Branch, under any name with which it may be disguised, is the first step for the exercise of the peoples’ sovereignty to by usurped; and it will end like all the great monarchies of our times, or in manifest and absolute despotism or, which is so harmful and more insulting, in tyranny engendered by corruption and in the name of constitutional law.32

    E. Even though Tocqueville was well-known in Latin America, the first part of Democracy in America was published in 1835 and the second in 1840. In 1836, its translation into Spanish by Sanchez de Bustamante appeared in Paris. This book influenced aspects related to what we now call defending the Constitution. As a result, it dealt with issues touching on the effectiveness of the laws and the Judiciary Branch, which were related to the running of the Executive Branch.33

    Jorge Mario Garcia Laguardia has found evidence in Guatemala that in 1825, Tocqueville’s work was read in its original language before its various translations.


    A. It can be said that a great liberal tendency drove the republican system in front of the monarchical one; the elected head of the Executive Branch in front of a hereditary one; a strong, but not omnipotent, Executive in front of a despotic one; the balance of powers in front of its consolidation, much less in a single ruler; democracy in front of oligarchy or a government of a figure with unchecked powers.

    Why did Latin American presidential systems —some more and some less—draw towards or fall into systems in which most of the jurisdiction was concentrated in the hands of a single person, with a few exceptions, until the last two decades of the 20th century?

    Each Latin American country presented its peculiarities. Generalizations are almost always imprecise and serious errors are made. Even then, there are some guiding points to various degrees that are valid for many of them. I will cautiously attempt to point them out solely to approach the topic, keeping in mind that several countries, and some of them for decades, had democratic systems and a high level of balance among the political branches.

    1. Once independence was accomplished, State-nations did not exist. What we find are the interests of oligarchic groups, like that of the agricultural or mining bourgeois, the high clergy and the army. The very heterogeneous society did not find itself well-defined. There was no idea or blueprint for the nation. It was imperative to create and organize the forces and groups to strengthen the nascent State above the factions that were disputing power in favor of their own interests.

    To this regard, Jacques Lambert wrote:

      The transposition of the presidential regime in Latin America has been much criticized: it has certainly not been able to prevent coups d’état and dictatorships, but it would be absurd to look for the cause of these dictatorships in the extensive powers conferred to the president. To the contrary, it lies in the dereliction of the social structure, in insufficient integration of the communities in the nation, in the lack of organized political life and in the frequency of states of emergency which derive from it.34

    2. Strong political instability that worsened due to external wars between countries, as in the case of inexact borders; internal conflicts that were the result of bloody fights for power that often degenerated into violence and chaos, or separatist attempts and foreign invasions and interventions.

    The above comprised a transcendent factor for conferring power and preeminence to the military class. There was a need to effectively control State territory.35

    The president often seemed strong because of the accumulation of attributions conferred by the Constitution. However, his field of action was restricted by that of the oligarchic groups that if they felt that he no longer represented them or feared the continuation of their interests, conspired to overthrow the president, originating in multiple riots, palace revolutions and coups d’état. This in turn fortified military power, the apparent guardian of social order that this selfsame branch did not respect on several occasions. As a result, strong or very strong presidents were not all really so. They oscillated like a pendulum from dictatorship to chaos and from chaos to tyranny.

    Countries were poorly communicated and suffered from insecurity which brought about the existence of rural gangs and outlaws, vestiges from the wars of Independence; impunity and the State’s incompetence to exterminate the latter, often tied in with corruption.

    Dillon Soares states that:

      From its beginning, the history of Latin America has been marked by political and economic instability. The period immediately after independence was especially unstable… There were civil wars and wars between the newly created national Branches. Although there was instability in all of Latin America to a greater or lesser degree, it was particularly intense in the territory now occupied by Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela. In South America, there were two exceptions to the rule, to a certain extent: Chile, where rural aristocracy ensured its hegemony and created a strong State through the so-called Republic of Portales, and Brazil, with the establishment of the Empire. In Chile, a presidential term lasted for ten years and only once was a term completely interrupted. In Brazil, from 1822 to 1889, there were only two emperors. In view of this, it is necessary to regard political stability in these two countries as relative since they engendered numerous internal armed movements, rebellions and external wars. The wars of independence, wars between countries, rebellions and domestic revolutions are expensive and many Latin American countries allotted a very high percentage (often more than 80 percent) of their budgets to military expenses. That was a period of great international debt… In Latin America, the historical rule has been instability and not stability.36

    This political instability is evident in the first 150 years of independent life under constitutional instability: the 19 nations of Latin America had 227 Constitutions during that period, although they were sometimes almost the same Constitution, with the party program added to it, or they were truly reforms that mainly sought the president’s re-election or the temporary extension of that office.37

    3. Economic instability went together with political instability. The economies of the countries in the region were centered on a few important products, generally agricultural ones, which made these economies very vulnerable to export price fluctuations, especially in those countries in which one, two or three products constituted their export base. For instance, Central America: In Costa Rica, coffee represented 52%, bananas, 24% and cocoa, 7%. In El Salvador, coffee represented 66% and cotton, 11%. In Guatemala, coffee represented 66% and bananas, 17%. In Honduras, bananas represented 45% and coffee, 19% and wood, 13%. In Nicaragua, coffee represented 34% and cotton 26%.

    In Brazil, from 1889 to 1930, coffee represented approximately 75% of its exports.38 It is clearly noticeable that there were competitive economies among them.

    Between 1929 and 1930, Cuban exports dropped 70% and Chilean and Bolivian exports, by almost 80%.

    Fields are principally worked in large extensions or extensive landholdings in the hands of a minority while most work them almost like slaves. In various systems, peasants’ or laborers’ debts are passed on from fathers to sons.

    Poverty was and is overwhelming. Entire masses are practically dying of hunger. Today, approximately half of the population in the region lives in poverty or in extreme poverty.

    Latin America is the most socially unequal region in the world. Social gaps are enormous in education, healthcare, housing and work.

    External debt is colossal and neutralizes the resources that should be channeled to social programs.

    Hyper-inflation has reached implausible figures. For instance, in Argentina, it reached 4.923,3 percent in 1989; in Brazil, 2.489,1 percent in 1993 and in Peru, 7.649,6 percent in 1990.39

    4. In general terms, legislative and judiciary branches, as well as political parties, were not able to attain social prestige or confidence. In many cases, they were identified with corruption and suffered immense depreciation. They were not seen as part of the solution to the problems, but as part of them.

    Many Latin American countries had very ideologized moderate or extreme multi-party systems. This is contrary to the U.S. two-party system in which the political orientations are not deep and fluctuate. They are really electoral machinery.

    Social despair in the face of political and economic instability, in the face of growing poverty and social want, opened the way for the “caudillo” [leader], who was supposedly going to solve all the problems. The “leader” in Latin America was a phenomenon throughout the 19th century and good part of the 20th century. With changing and “modern” elements, it has reached the last decades and years of the 20th century, as seen in the rise of leaders like Menen in Argentina, Fujimori in Peru or Chavez in Venezuela, not to mention Castro in Cuba.

    5. The factors described above prompted presidents to be granted extensive legislative faculties, which U.S. executives do not have, and extensive attributions for instituting states of emergency, of siege or of necessity and for taking action in these processes. In several countries, the cases of exception become daily fare.40

    Within this context, several presidents achieved, and the practice still continues, constitutional reform to extend the term in office or to change the rules on presidential non-re-election.

    6. There was strong external interference on political and economic issues of the region, especially from Great Britain and France and a very short while later from the United States of America. There was intervention of all kinds, from ambassadors’ favors to political groups and aspects under economic control to armed interventions and support to dictators or leaders with similar interests to those of the power or powers. It is just necessary to recall Maximillian’s empire in Mexico, Panama’s separation from Colombia or the protection given to tyrants like Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, Somoza in Nicaragua or Stroessner in Paraguay. Otherwise, to the contrary, non-aligned presidents like Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala or Salvador Allende in Chile would be overthrown.

    7. There was a need to face new and serious problems, such as organized crime, especially that of drug-trafficking; guerillas that are often financed by drug-trafficking; and huge pressure from international financial organizations.

    8. In addition to the factors mentioned, Sainz Arnaiz has added others that have been presented by various authors and that are really found in the list made above, such as: technical under-development, agricultural predominance and semi-colonization by the United States of America, the percentage of illiteracy, the weakness and self-interest of political parties, the conservative attitude of the clergy, guarantees of social and public order and the absence of sufficient institutional control.41

    B. Probably, only one or two of the above factors would have profoundly altered the functioning of the presidential system inspired by the United States of America. In many countries in the region, more than two of these factors have presented and still present themselves. Therefore, our circumstances changed the basic structure of the presidential system and almost, or did, do away with the checks and balances that should exist between the Executive and Legislative Branches, with the aggravating circumstance of having a weak and usually non-independent Judicial Branch.

    On the way to find the path of democracy again, these two aspects —balanced powers and mutual checks— are essential for constitutional engineering. It is important to understand them clearly so as not to lose ourselves in the forest and continue committing the mistakes that distance us from the real objective: the consolidation of democratic systems to prevent us from losing ground.

    C. On this issue, I would like to make one last observation. A dictatorship can never be justified for any reason at all, especially because of the violations to human rights and freedoms. It is necessary to always fight for democratic systems in which power is at the service of the community and human dignity.

    The failures of presidential systems and of democracy in Latin America are much criticized and criticizable. Naturally, it must and should be so. However, it is unclear that traditional explanations and objections to it are omni-comprehensive.

    The countries in the region attained their independence and faced the serious problems mentioned. It seems that these problems were ignored or minimized to demand that these States attain democratic regimes and stable government systems in just a few decades. I wish it were so! It would have been a miracle.

    If we just think of Europe, how many centuries, how many armed conflicts, how much suffering and how many human lives were needed for the creation of the State-nation?

    And once it was created, how many struggles, how many centuries and how many sacrifices were need to reach a certain level of democracy? How many European countries could be considered democratic by the end of the 19th century? Maybe Great Britain, Switzerland, some Nordic countries and France during short periods were headed in the direction of democracy. Any others?

    Within Europe, how many countries had a democratic regime before World War II? And the millions of human beings that were consciously assassinated in cold blood by Hitler —in the homeland of Beethoven, Goethe and Schiller— and by Stalin —in the nation of Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy and Gogol?—.

    Until the second half of the 19th century, slavery existed in the United States of America. Even in the 1960s, there was appalling racial discrimination —a kind of apartheid— and its electoral system allows a candidate who obtained the lowest number of votes to be elected president, as has occurred several times and as recently as in 2000. It is a country in which the majority of the population currently accepts the Patriot Acts that contravene human rights considered sacrosanct in any civilized country.

    However, Latin American countries are censured because, in spite of their very serious problems of all kinds and harassment from the United States and some European powers, they have not been able to ensure democracy nor the proper functioning of their presidential systems with stability and respect for human rights in decades, and social justice is still pending.

    Even then, some countries in the region have attained stability, a regime of political freedom and democracy for periods longer than twenty-five years, as in the case of Costa Rica, Colombia, Chile, Uruguay and Venezuela. For seven centuries in the 20th century, Mexico was governed by a predominant party. It was a system in which there was respect, though deficient and with problems, of freedoms and some social progress with political stability.

    Nowadays, at least from the perspective of electoral democracy, the countries in the region, with the exception of Cuba, adequately qualify, though with some obstacles. But democracy is not guaranteed due to the serious social and economic problems that persist, worsened by extremely unfair international conditions.

    It is likely that current democracies in Latin America have attained it with a lower human cost than European ones have. At least among Latin Americans, there have been no holocausts or gulags, the darkness of which is still fresh in several regions that form part of the ex-Yugoslavia, even though Latin America has suffered arbitrary and bloody dictatorships that have had little respect for human rights.

    In my opinion, it is not right to condemn Latin America without further ado or reproach it for not having attained in a few years or decades what Europe was not able to attain until after centuries.42 Furthermore, in part, everything was made more difficult and hindered in the Latin region of the continent by military, economic and political intervention from the United States of America and even from European powers. This brings to mind the thief that desperately shouts for the thief be caught; or one who only sees the speck in his neighbor’s eye, but not the log in his own.

    Regarding this topic, I also wonder if Latin American countries had opted for a system like the English one in the second decade of the 19th century, the French convention or assemblyism, or any other system I know not which, might it have been better than the U.S. presidential model? Probably not, because the problem was not the system of government, but the factors I pointed out in the paragraphs above. On the contrary, political instability might have grown deeper and the changes of government and dictators might have been even more frequent. It is impossible to know.

    What I do know is that the presidential system forged some regimes in the region with democracy and stability and that the democratizing wave of the mid-1980s was driven in many countries in the area by societies, but also by presidents of republics within the framework of presidential systems. The big problem consists in the fact that this progress, at least in several countries in the region, are not irreversible, due to the persistence of many and the complex problems briefly described.

    It is not right that different parameters are used in assessing democratic and government systems, whether reference is the developed, rich and powerful countries, whether those alluded to are poor, developing States with feeble international presence. Just one example from our times: the recent anti-terrorist laws in the United States of America and Great Britain that seriously impair several human rights.


    A. In the social, political, economic and cultural context of Latin America that I have outlined, it is not surprising that people look for someone who can solve these problems. Of course, there have always been a number of candidates either nationally or regionally and often self-proclaimed ones: the charismatic leader who makes numerous promises, even though he knows it is impossible to fulfill them.

    The figure of the caudillo came before the establishment of the presidential system. Possibly, the first Latin American caudillo was Bolivar and his notion of an Executive Branch for life and the person concentrating government attributions, which in turn would centralize power to prevent different local leaders and the fragmentation of the territory.

    The Latin American leader represents the embodiment of power since a man frequently enjoys more prestige than institutions due to the fact that he is considered the person the country needs, the one who can solve the problems, who has national confidence. Around him, political parties are formed or are subordinated regardless of whether the ideology of these organizations is liberal or conservative, right-wing or left. In a word, the leader is the representation and the symbiosis of the institutions.

    The charismatic leader generally arrived at the presidential seat and exercised power, whether through despotism, paternalism or, oftentimes demagoguery, impregnated with right-wing or left-wing populism, depending on his ideological inclinations or the political appeal of the moment. Frequently, the leader was a military leader backed by the army.43

    The leader amassed power and subordinated the Legislative and Judiciary Branches. It is not uncommon for him to ally himself with internal oligarchic groups and with external forces.

    Several of the factors that distanced Latin American presidential systems from the U.S. model contributed to the creation of leaders. With this, the democratic system was crushed and in many cases it gave way to dictatorships, military governments or a combination of both.

    It is well known that power corrupts and that absolute power corrupts absolutely. This is what happened to most of the Latin American caudillos, as has happened to dictators from every corner of the Earth.

    As a result, there is no uniform description of the leader, who has disguised himself in many forms. More than the factors that allow it to be defined, there are various aspects that make it possible to establish a typology of the caudillo, as can be inferred from the above paragraphs.

    François Chevalier, prudently and asking himself whether such a typology is possible, has structured one by differentiating between the landholding leader, the macho, the positivistic dictator, the accomplice of foreign interests or the protector of nationals, and various types of leaders of the rural or urban masses.44

    Chevalier’s typology includes the military and the civil leaders, as well as the populist and the socialist ones.

    The leader governs on the sidelines, against or in spite of constitutional order, even when the latter is formally preserved.

    Presidential systems can only be found in democratic contexts. Degenerations of it are not presidential regimes, but precisely political degenerations and aberrations, under whatever name. These aberrations were not the consequence of the establishment of presidential systems, but of the social, political, economic and cultural reality of many Latin American countries, and of external factors, such as the military, political or economic interventions the region has and still suffers.

    B. Political history, science and sociology interested themselves in the leader or “democratic Caesar”.

    Around the middle of the 19th century, Facundo by Domingo Faustino Sarmiento was beginning to be published. This is the story of a celebrated regional caudillo from Argentina. Sarmiento, in turn, took advantage of the occasion to uncover his enemy, the caudillo and dictator Juan Manuel de Rosas, a controversial figure even in our times.

    Dating from the early 20th century, there are interesting works on this topic, such as Les démocraties latines de l’Amerique [The Latin Democracies of America] written by the Peruvian Francisco Garcia Calderon in French or the Cesarismo democrático [The Democratic Caesar] written by the Venezuelan Laureano Vallenilla Lanz.

    This phenomenon has also caught the attention of Latin American literature. Many of the best novelists of the region have left us works of singular importance, not only from an artistic point of view, but also from a historical and sociological perspective. Among them, it is possible to cite Nobel Prize winner Miguel Angel Asturias with El señor presidente [The President]; Alejo Carpentier with El recurso del método [Reasons of State]; Augusto Roa Bastos with Yo, el Supremo [I, the Supreme]; Arturo Uslar Pietri with Oficio de difuntos [Funeral Service]; Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez with El otoño del patriarca [The Autumn of the Patriarch]; Mario Vargas Llosa with La fiesta del chivo [The Feast of the Goat]; and Carlos Fuentes with La silla del águila [The Eagle’s Throne: A Novel].

    Regarding this, one work not to be forgotten is the one written on this same topic by Spanish writer Ramon Maria del Valle-Inclan in 1926 entitled Tirano Banderas [Tyrant Banderas].

    * Translated by Carmen Valderrama Ramos.
    ** Researcher at the Legal Research Institute of the UNAM.
    1 Duverger, Maurice, Instituciones políticas y derecho constitucional, Barcelona, Ariel, 1962, p. 319.
    2 LaPalombara, Politics within Nations, New Jersey, Prentice-Hall, 1974, pp. 198 and 199.
    3 Gaudemet, Paul Marie, Le pouvoir exécutif dans les pays occidentaux, Paris, Editions Montchrestien, 1966, p. 16.
    4 This statement is based on that of Loewenstein, Karl, Teoría de la Constitución, Barcelona, Ariel, 1965, pp. 105-107.
    5 Carpizo, Jorge, El presidencialismo mexicano, Mexico, Siglo Veintiuno Editores, 2002, pp. 13 and 14.
    6 Linz, Juan J., “Presidential or Parliamentary Democracy: Does it Make a Difference”, in Linz, Juan J. and Valenzuela, Arturo (eds.), The Failure of Presidential Democracy. Comparative Perspectives, Baltimore, The John Hopkins University Press, 1994, Vol. 1, p. 6.
    7 Lijphart, Arend, “Presidentialism and Mayoritarian Democracy. Theoretical Observations”, op. cit., previous note, pp. 92-93, 96.
    8 Bibliography on this is extensive. Among others, it is possible to cite: Gargarella, Roberto, “El presidencialismo como sistema contramayoritario”, in various authors, El presidencialismo puesto a prueba —con especial referencia al sistema presidencialista latinoamericano—, Madrid, Centro de Estudios Constitucionales, 1992, pp. 94-96; Lanzaro, Jorge (comp.), Tipos de presidencialismo y coaliciones políticas en América Latina, Buenos Aires, Consejo Latinoamericano de Ciencias Sociales-Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, 2001, pp. 359; in particular the works of Jorge Lanzaro, René Antonio Mayorga and Alonso Lujambio. Also see Nohlen, Dieter and Fernández B., Mario (eds.), El presidencialismo renovado. Instituciones y cambio político en América Latina, Caracas, Nueva Sociedad, 1998, pp. 390; in particular the works of Bernhard Thibaut, Grace Ivana Deheza, Petra Bendel, Bolivar Lamounier, Jorge Lazarte, Mario Fernández B., Carlos H. Filgueira and Fernando Filgueira.
    9 Shugart, Matthew Sobert and Carey, John M., Presidents and Assemblies. Constitutional Design and Electoral Dynamics, New York, Cambridge University Press, 1992, pp. 19-20, 22.
    10 Serrafero, Mario, “Presidencialismo y parlamentarismo en América Latina: un debate abierto”, Revista Mexicana de Sociología, Mexico, year LX, No. 2, April-June 1998, p. 179. See Alcántara Saez, Manuel and Sánchez López, Francisco, “Veto, insistencia y control político en América Latina: una aproximación institucional”, Perfiles Latinoamericanos. Revista de la Sede Académica de México de la Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales, Mexico, year 9, No. 19, 2001, pp. 159-161.
    11 Valades, Diego, El gobierno de gabinete, Mexico, UNAM, Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas, 2003, pp. 103-117. In this work, there are interesting comparative tables on different topics in Latin American Constitutions, such as the composition of the presidential cabinet, the appointment of its members, their responsibilities and their coordination; ministers’ appearance in congress; interpellation and censure to the cabinet, as well as votes of confidence to the cabinet itself.
    12 Sagués, Néstor Pedro, “Parlamentarismo y presidencialismo. Un ensayo sistémico para la gobernabilidad democrática: El «minipremier» en el Perú y en Argentina. Experiencias y perspectivas”, Revista Peruana de Derecho Publico, Lima, year 4, No. 7, July-December 2003, pp. 44 and 45.
    13 Shugart, Matthew Soberg and Carey, John M., op. cit., note 9, pp. 161-165.
    14 Sartori, Giovanni, Ingeniería constitucional comparada. Una investigación de estructuras, incentivos y resultados, Mexico, Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1994, p. 12.
    15 Torre Villar, Ernesto de la and García Laguardia, Jorge Mario, Desarrollo histórico del constitucionalismo hispanoamericano, Mexico, UNAM, Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas, 1976, pp. 61, 63 and 142. It is also worth analyzing pp. 37-40, 45-46, 51, 59-63 and 136-137; Hernández Ruigómez, Manuel, “Las raíces históricas del presidencialismo iberoamericano”, Revista Parlamentaria Iberoamericana, Madrid, No. 7, 1998, pp. 246-248. Restrepo Piedrahita, Carlos, “El héroe del Barroco. Imagen del presidencialismo latinoamericano”, Revista Parlamentaria Iberoamericana, Madrid, No. 2, 1986, p. 71; Hernández Valle, Rubén, “El sistema constitucional costarricense”, in García Belaunde, D. et al. (coords.), Los sistemas constitucionales iberoamericanos, Madrid, Dykinson, 1992, p. 214; García Laguardia, Jorge Mario, “El sistema constitucional guatemalteco”, in García Belaunde, D. et al. (coords.), op. cit., in this same note, p. 535.
    16 Rossiter, Clinton, The American Presidency, New York, Harvest Book, 1960, p. 75.
    17 Corwin, Edward S., El Poder Ejecutivo. Función y poderes. 1787-1957, Buenos Aires, Bibliográfica Argentina, 1959, p. 8; Duverger, Maurice, op. cit., note 1, p. 322; Servicio Español del Profesorado de Enseñanza Superior, Regímenes políticos contemporáneos. Curso de formación política, Barcelona, Bosch, 1958, pp. 169-171.
    18 Biscaretti di Ruffia, Paolo, Introducción al derecho constitucional comparado, Mexico, Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1996, p. 170.
    19 Hernández Ruigómez, Manuel, op. cit., note 15, p. 246.
    20 See Torre Villar, Ernesto de la and García Laguardia, Jorge Mario, op. cit., note 15, p. 142; Gros Espiell, Héctor, “El predominio del Poder Ejecutivo en América Latina”, in various authors, El predominio del Poder Ejecutivo en Latinoamérica, Mexico, UNAM, Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas, 1977, p. 10; Valencia Carmona, Salvador, El Poder Ejecutivo latinoamericano, Mexico, UNAM, Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas, 1979, pp. 34, 42-44.
    21 García Laguardia, Jorge Mario, “El sistema…”, op. cit., note 15, p. 535; Alcántara Sáez, Manuel and Sánchez López, Francisco, op. cit., note 10, p. 158.
    22 Duverger, Maurice, op. cit., note 1, p. 20; Gaudemet, Paul Marie, op. cit., note 3, pp. 7 and 8; Shugart, Matthew Soberg and Carey, John M., op. cit., note 9, pp. 4-6; Vergottini, Giuseppe de, Derecho constitucional comparado, Mexico, UNAM-Segretariato Europeo per le Pubblicazione Schientifiche, 2004, pp. 376 and 377; Burdeau, Gorges, Hamon, Francis and Tropel, Michel, Manuel de Droit Constitutionnel, Paris, Librairie Génerale de Droit et de Jurisprudente, 1997, pp. 118 and 119.
    23 Hauriou, Maurice, Derecho público y constitucional, Madrid, Reus, p. 448.
    24 Martínez Báez, Antonio, “El Ejecutivo y su gabinete”, Revista de la Facultad de Derecho de México, Mexico, Vol. II, No. 6, 1952, pp. 59-62; Carpizo, Jorge, El presidencialismo…, cit., note 5, pp. 33-36; Quiroga Lavié, Humberto, Derecho constitucional latinoamericano, Mexico, UNAM, Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas, 1991, p. 284.
    25 Valencia Carmona, Salvador, op. cit. note 20, pp. 15-21; Colomer Viadel, Antonio, Introducción al constitucionalismo iberoamericano, Madrid, Ediciones de Cultura Hispánica, 1990, p. 119.
    26 Hernández Ruigómez, Manuel, op. cit., note 15, pp. 248, 252 and 253.
    27 Vescovi, Enrique, “El predominio del Poder Ejecutivo en América Latina”, in various authors, El predominio del Poder Ejecutivo en Latinoamérica, Mexico, UNAM, Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas, 1977, p. 439; Carpizo, Jorge, Estudios constitucionales, Mexico, Porrua-UNAM, Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas, 2003, pp. 275-285; Torre Villar, Ernesto de la and García Laguardia, Jorge Mario, op. cit., note 15, pp. 203-206; García Laguardia, Jorge Mario, “El sistema…”, cit., note 15, p. 535; Gros Espiell, Héctor, op. cit., note 20, pp. 14 and 15.
    28 Hamilton, Madison and Jay, The Federalist, trans. and preface by Gustavo R. Velasco, Mexico, Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1957, pp. XV-XVII.
    29 Torre Villar, Ernesto de la and García Laguardia, Jorge Mario, op. cit., note 15, pp. 50-61.
    30 Carpizo, Jorge, La Constitución Mexicana de 1917, Mexico, Porrua-UNAM, Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas, 1997, pp. 188 and 189. See Madrid H., Miguel de la, “División de poderes y forma de gobierno en la Constitución de Apatzingán”, in various authors, El decreto constitucional de Apatzingán, Mexico, UNAM, Coordinación de Humanidades, 1964, p. 524.
    31 Stoetzer, O. Carlos, Iberoamérica. Historia política y cultural, Vol. II: Periodo de la Independencia (1808-1826), Buenos Aires, Docencia-Fundación Universidad a Distancia “Hernandarias”, 1996, pp. 165-175; See Herrero, Vicente, La organización constitucional en Iberoamérica, Mexico, El Colegio de Mexico, p. 45.
    32 Torre Villar, Ernesto de la and García Laguardia, Jorge Mario, op. cit., note 15, pp. 38 and 39, 45-50.
    33 The backbone of Tocqueville’s school of thought is found in the idea of equality in freedom. It stupendously elaborates on his appreciation for the U.S. reality and Jefferson’s ideas, contained in the country’s Declaration of Independence. Tocqueville feared the tyranny of legislators more than that of the Executive himself. As a result, he is in favor of a strong government that respects individual rights and freedoms. Tocqueville, Alexis de, La democracia en América, Madrid, Guadarrama, 1969, pp. 171, 333, 338-339, 370-372. Likewise, from his viewpoint, this same author found in England the independence of the Judiciary Branch and the preeminence of judges above all the authorities who were compelled by its decisions grounded on the law among other characteristics (pp. 354 and 355). See Mayer, J. P., “Alexis de Tocqueville y su obra”, in Tocqueville, Alexis de, La democracia…, cit., in this same note, p. 25. This book carried out, though gradually, an important role in Latin American acceptance of the judicial review of the constitutionality of laws, according to the so-called “American system” and its characteristics of extensive, ex officio or ex parte and a verdict with the associated effect to whom requested protection. See Fix-Zamudio, Héctor, “Estudio preliminar”, in Biscaretti di Ruffia, Paolo, op. cit., note 18, p. 30. In 1842, Democracia en América, translated by Leopoldo Borda was edited in Paris. In 1843, Roado Brandaris’ translation appeared in Madrid and in 1855, Sánchez de Bustamante’s translation was published in Mexico. The information used here is taken from the Mexican edition, Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1984, pp. 739-740. See the “Introducción” by Enrique González Pedrero, p. 17.
    34 Lambert, Jacques, America Latina, Barcelona, Ariel, 1964, p. 403.
    35 Nohlen, Dieter and Fernández B. Mario, “El presidencialismo latinoamericano: evolución y perspectivas” in id. (eds.), El presidencialismo renovado. Instituciones y cambio en América Latina, Caracas, Nueva Sociedad, 1998, p. 117.
    36 Soares, Dillon and Ary, Gláucio, “Las relaciones entre el Ejecutivo y el Legislativo: los programas de estabilización en América Latina”, Revista de Estudios Políticos, Madrid, No. 106, October-December 1999, pp. 45 and 46.
    37 Hernández Ruigómez, Manuel, op. cit., note 15, p. 258; Torre Villar, Ernesto de la y García Laguardia, Jorge Mario, op. cit., note 15, pp. 234 and 235.
    38 Pinto Ferreira, Luiz, “El predominio del Poder Ejecutivo en América Latina”, in various authors, El predominio del Poder Ejecutivo en Latinoamérica, Mexico, UNAM, Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas, 1977, pp. 52 and 53.
    39 Soares, Dillon and Ari, Gláucio, op. cit., note 36, pp. 53 and 54, 59.
    40 See Valadés, Diego, La dictadura constitucional en América Latina, Mexico, UNAM, Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas, 1974, pp. 213; Bacelar Gouveia, Jorge, O Estado de Excepçâo no Direito Constitucional, Coimbra, Almedina, 1998, Vol. I, pp. 530-541. On the difference between Latin American and U.S. political parties, see Burdeau, Georges, Hamon, Francis, and Troper, Michel, op. cit., note 22, pp. 245, 263 and 264.
    41 Sainz Arnaiz, Alejandro, “Forma de gobierno y estructura del Poder Ejecutivo: el presidencialismo argentino tras la revisión constitucional de 1994”, Revista de Estudios Políticos, Madrid, July-September 1997, pp. 197-199.
    42 See García Blaunde, Domingo, “Perú: veinticinco años de evolución político-constitucional (1950-1975)”, in various authors, Evolución de la organización político-constitucional en América Latina, Mexico, UNAM, Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas, 1979, Vol. II, p. 234.
    43 Serrafero, Mario D., “Presidencialismo y reforma política en América Latina”, Revista del Centro de Estudios Constitucionales, Madrid, January-April 1991, p. 219; Hernández Ruigómez, Manuel, op. cit., note 15, pp. 254-256; Gros Espiell, Héctor, op. cit., note 20, p. 11.
    44 Chevalier, François, L’Amérique Latine de l’Indépendence á nos jours, Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 1993, pp. 322-326.

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