The presidential calculus: executive policy making and cabinet formation in the Americas

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2006-05
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This article proposes a decision-theoretic model to explain how cabinets help presidents implement their policy-making strategies. Presidents are assumed to have two policy-making strategies: a strategy based on the use of statutes ora strategy based on executive prerogatives. If the president's preferences and the institutional incentives and economic conditions faced favor a statutory strategy, the president is more likely to appoint a majority cabinet, select more partisan ministers, and distribute portfolios to parties on a proportional basis. Econometric analysis of 106 cabinets appointed in 13 countries of the Americas demonstrates that the determinants of cabinet legislative status are the size of the president's party, extremist presidents, and economic crises. The share of partisan ministers and proportionality in portfolio allocation are affected by the size of the president's party, extremist presidents holding decree powers, the extension of the president's veto powers, and the elapsing of the president's term.


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