Monday, February 20, 2012

New Forthcoming Article:

Public Opinion and Conflict in the Separation of Powers: Understanding the Honduran Coup of 2009

Michelle M. Taylor-Robison
Professor, Department of Political Science
Texas A&M University

Joseph Daniel Ura
Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science
Texas A&M University

Abstract: Constitutional systems of separated powers often fail to sustain meaningful systems of checks and balances in presidential democracies. What conditions support balance in the separation of powers, and what conditions provoke instability and conflict? We draw on Madisonian political theory and research addressing the separation of powers in the United States to develop a game theoretical model of inter-institutional stability and conflict within a separation of powers system. Two factors emerge as catalysts for institutional instability and conflict among the branches of government: high stakes institutional rivalry combined with uncertainty about the public‟s relative support for various branches of government. We apply the model to the experience of Honduras in 2008-09 that resulted in the coup ousting President Zelaya which illustrates the difficulty of developing credible checks and balances.

The accepted (but not yet proofed) version of the paper may be viewed here.

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