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Presidents, Policy Compromise and Legislative Success

Date: 19/01/2017

Publication: The University of Chicago Press Journals



Presidents play a central role in legislative activity in Latin America. Previous research highlights that some form of ideological compromise on behalf of the president is vital to sustain successful legislative coalitions. Yet, primarily due to the lack of a firm empirical basis on which to measure such presidential give-and-take, the extent to which presidents make use of such policy compromise, and under what conditions this is a viable strategy, remains unknown. Applying quantitative text analysis to 305 annual “state of the union” addresses of 73 presidents in 13 Latin American countries, we remedy this situation and provide comparable time-series data for Latin American presidential movements in a one-dimensional issue space between 1980 and 2014. Our results indicate that presidents will compromise in response to changes in the median party, although this effect will be mediated by the institutional context within which the president operates.