Measuring Presidential Dominance over Cabinets in Presidential Systems: Constitutional Design and Power Sharing

This study focuses on the degree of political dominance exercised on cabinets by the executive chief in presidential systems. According to a debate that began in the 1990s, presidential systems are characterized by a non-collegial decision-making process, led by and personified in the figure of the president, in contrast to parliamentary systems where a joint decision-making process is prevalent. The key argument of this research note is that, although the majority of presidents have the constitutional power to remove cabinet ministers, the executive decision-making process in presidential systems is not necessarily vertical or based on a non-collegial process. By building a new index, we reveal a significant variation in the executive power exerted by presidents over their cabinets. To classify the degree of political dominance of presidents over their cabinets, we analyzed the rules of cabinet decision-making processes as defined in 18 Latin American constitutions.