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Cabinet Duration in Latin American Presidential Democracies
Unformatted Document Text:  veto players model. As the number of coalition partners in the cabinet or the ideological distance between them increases, the size of the winset of the status quo decreases, which makes it harder to change the status quo (and respond to policy demands), which, in turn, could lead the cabinet coalition to collapse. In sum, the government features theorists have found that fragmentation and polarization in a cabinet are negatively correlated with the duration of the cabinet. The existing theories of cabinet duration seem to be conflicting; however, as Grofman and Roozendaal (1997) point out, a more coherent causal mechanism could help bridge the gaps among the theories. First of all, most of the time it is the president and/or cabinet party leaders who decide whether or not the cabinet is dissolved; hence, the institutional features in the parliament hardly seem to affect the duration of cabinets in a direct way. Therefore, it is more plausible to assume that cabinet attributes have direct effects on cabinet duration and that parliamentary attributes describe the “environment” from which the cabinet is formed. Second, even when an unpredicted exogenous shock, such as an economic crisis, hits a country, the cabinet leaders are likely to stay in the government if they can succeed in managing the crisis. That is, the effects of stochastic events on cabinet duration can be mitigated by the performance of the cabinet. Figure 1 diagrams the causal relationship among the key variables. The parliamentary institutional features provide the environment from which the cabinet is formed. For instance, when the parliament is fractionalized, it is highly likely that the cabinet is comprised of multiple parties. Nonetheless, the effects of the ideological diversity in parliament on the polarization in the cabinet are not obvious. It is possible that even though the parliament is polarized, the cabinet can be formed with parties of the same ideology. On the other hand, stochastic events rarely have direct effects on the duration of cabinets. The cabinet’s performance in dealing with these events 7

Authors: Shin, Jae Hyeok.
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veto players model. As the number of coalition partners in the cabinet or the ideological distance
between them increases, the size of the winset of the status quo decreases, which makes it harder
to change the status quo (and respond to policy demands), which, in turn, could lead the cabinet
coalition to collapse. In sum, the government features theorists have found that fragmentation
and polarization in a cabinet are negatively correlated with the duration of the cabinet.
The existing theories of cabinet duration seem to be conflicting; however, as Grofman
and Roozendaal (1997) point out, a more coherent causal mechanism could help bridge the gaps
among the theories. First of all, most of the time it is the president and/or cabinet party leaders
who decide whether or not the cabinet is dissolved; hence, the institutional features in the
parliament hardly seem to affect the duration of cabinets in a direct way. Therefore, it is more
plausible to assume that cabinet attributes have direct effects on cabinet duration and that
parliamentary attributes describe the “environment” from which the cabinet is formed. Second,
even when an unpredicted exogenous shock, such as an economic crisis, hits a country, the
cabinet leaders are likely to stay in the government if they can succeed in managing the crisis.
That is, the effects of stochastic events on cabinet duration can be mitigated by the performance
of the cabinet.
Figure 1 diagrams the causal relationship among the key variables. The parliamentary
institutional features provide the environment from which the cabinet is formed. For instance,
when the parliament is fractionalized, it is highly likely that the cabinet is comprised of multiple
parties. Nonetheless, the effects of the ideological diversity in parliament on the polarization in
the cabinet are not obvious. It is possible that even though the parliament is polarized, the cabinet
can be formed with parties of the same ideology. On the other hand, stochastic events rarely have
direct effects on the duration of cabinets. The cabinet’s performance in dealing with these events
7


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