Fixing Democracy: Constitutional Rewrites and Presidential Powers in Latin America


Tuesday, March 6, 2018, 12:00pm to 2:00pm


CGIS South, S250, 1730 Cambridge Street

javier_corralesSpeaker: Javier Corrales, Dwight W. Morrow 1895 Professor of Political Science, Amherst College

Moderator: Steven Levitsky, Professor of Government at Harvard University

This talk focuses on the origins of constituent assemblies and presidential powers in Latin America. It argues that the most important predictor of whether a new constitution will expand (instead of restrict) presidential powers is power asymmetry (the power differential between the Incumbent and the Opposition). I review all constituent assemblies from Latin America since the late 1980s, as well as several failed assemblies to show that constitutions are more likely to change when the president's power advantage is strong, often resulting in more power to the president.

Javier Corrales is Dwight W. Morrow 1895 professor of Political Science at Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts. He obtained his Ph.D. in political science from Harvard University. Corrales's research focuses on democratization and political economy of development. His work on Latin America has focused on presidential powers, political parties, economic reforms, international relations, and sexuality. He has published extensively on Venezuela, Cuba, and Argentina. His latest book, Fixing Democracy: Constituent Assemblies and Presidential Powers in Latin America, will be published by Oxford University Press in June 2018.