What are the main factors that allow chief executives to rule by statute? More specifically, what combination of institutional and partisan considerations determines whether or not legislators will support a chief executive's agenda? Most research on this area relies on either case studies of particular acts of government or country studies. In order to systematically test the theory of statutory policy making presented in this book, however, a truly comparative evaluation is needed. The importance of adopting a cross-national approach is also underscored by the topic's broader theoretical implications. Indeed, the inability of presidents to pass their agendas has been at the heart of a raging debate on the merits of presidentialism itself.
In this chapter, I present new evidence for comparative research into democratic governance. In particular, I document the pattern of chief executives' statutory achievements in more than fifty countries in Western and Eastern Europe, North and Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East for the period between 1946 and 2008. I use the box score to gauge chief executives' statutory performance. As discussed in the previous chapter, this measure is the number of chief executive's proposals approved in the lower house of the national legislature, divided by the total number of proposals introduced by the chief executive.
The sample is quite comprehensive, including countries with long democratic traditions, such as the United Kingdom and Denmark, but also a number of countries with less democratic experience, such as Paraguay, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.
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