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Carreras, Miguel / MC (2015) OUTSIDER PRESIDENTS, INSTITUTIONAL PERFORMANCE, AND GOVERNABILITY IN LATIN AMERICA. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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In the last 25 years, eight outsider candidates won presidential elections in Latin America. Outsiders are candidates with little political experience running with new parties. This reality presents a dual puzzle, which is the focus of this dissertation. First, what explains the sudden rise and election of political outsiders in presidential elections? Second, what are the consequences of the election of outsiders for democratic governability and institutional performance? I address these questions through a combination of quantitative analyses and an in-depth qualitative analysis of the case of Alberto Fujimori (outsider president of Peru who governed between 1990 and 2000).

Against the conventional wisdom, the first part of my dissertation shows that the rise of outsiders is not a “peril of presidentialism.” When other important economic and political factors are controlled for, the political system (presidential vs. parliamentary) is not a good predictor of outsider success. The rise of outsiders in Latin America is associated with a combination of supply and demand factors. A series of institutional design characteristics (compulsory voting, reelection provisions, and non-concurrent elections) make it easier for outsiders to run. Once viable outsiders are in the race, their success is facilitated in contexts where a severe crisis of representation exists. Dealigned citizens and voters whose preferences are not reflected in the established party system are more likely to support outsiders on election day.

The second main contribution of this dissertation is to show that outsiders are more likely to threaten democratic governability and to commit authoritarian excesses. There are three main factors that contribute to executive abuses when political outsiders reach the presidency: 1) the lack of democratic political socialization of outsiders, 2) the difficult socio-political context faced by outsiders –which creates a “window of opportunity” for executive excesses–, and 3) the lack of a strongly organized party monitoring the actions of outsider presidents. This work shows that executive-legislative relations tend to be more acrimonious when the president is an outsider. The in-depth analysis of the Fujimori case also suggests that outsiders tend to form very inexperienced cabinets, which generates serious governability problems.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Carreras, Miguel / MCcarreras_miguel@hotmail.com0000-0003-4651-8916
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairPérez-Liñán, Aníbalasp27@pitt.eduASP27
Committee MemberPeters, B. Guybgpeters+@pitt.eduBGPETERS
Committee MemberMorgenstern, Scottsmorgens@pitt.eduSMORGENS
Committee MemberHughes, Melaniehughesm@pitt.eduHUGHESM
Date: 9 January 2015
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 1 December 2014
Approval Date: 9 January 2015
Submission Date: 3 December 2014
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 261
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Political Science
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: outsiders, Latin America, presidentialism, executive-legislative relations, cabinets
Date Deposited: 09 Jan 2015 21:34
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:25


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