Comparative Constitutional Engineering: An Inquiry Into Structures, Incentives, and Outcomes

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NYU Press, 1997 - Political Science - 217 pages
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The second edition of this pathbreaking, highly innovative comparative study in state-building by a major political scientist is a fully updated examination of the problems of making democratic government work.

Sartori begins by assessing electoral systems. He attacks the conventional wisdom that their influence cannot be predicted and also disputes the view that proportional representation is always best and will deliver 'consensus democracy'. He argues that the double-ballot formulas deserve more consideration for their ability to facilitate governability in adverse circumstances.

His comparative assessment of presidential and semi-presidential systems and the variety of formulas that are categorized, sometimes misleadingly, as parliamentary, looks at the conditions that allow a political form to perform as intended.

He concludes with a detailed proposal for a new type of government: alternating presidentialism. This meets the need for strong parliamentary control and efficient government, with safeguards against both parliamentary obstructionism and government by decree, and so could help to avoid political paralysis in Latin America, in the post-communist countries of Europe and in countries with dysfunctional parliamentary systems such as Italy and Israel.

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About the author (1997)

Giovanni Sartori holds the Albert Schweitzer Chair in the Humanities at Columbia University.

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