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We present a model of political networks that integrates both the choice of trade partners (the extensive margin) and trade volumes (the intensive margin). Our model predicts that regimes secure in their survival, including democracies as well as some consolidated authoritarian regimes, will trade more on the extensive margin than vulnerable autocracies, which will block trade in products that would expand interpersonal contact among their citizens. We apply a two-stage Bayesian LASSO estimator to detailed measures of institutional features and highly disaggregated product-level trade data encompassing 131 countries over a half century. Consistent with our model, we find that (a) political institutions matter for the extensive margin of trade but not for the intensive margin and (b) the effects of political institutions on the extensive margin of trade vary across products, falling most heavily on those goods that involve extensive interpersonal contact.
We introduce a model that extends the standard vote choice model to encompass text. In our model, votes and speech are generated from a common set of underlying preference parameters. We estimate the parameters with a sparse Gaussian copula factor model that estimates the number of latent dimensions, is robust to outliers, and accounts for zero inflation in the data. To illustrate its workings, we apply our estimator to roll call votes and floor speech from recent sessions of the US Senate. We uncover two stable dimensions: one ideological and the other reflecting to Senators’ leadership roles. We then show how the method can leverage common speech in order to impute missing data, recovering reliable preference estimates for rank-and-file Senators given only leadership votes.
Biologists can learn a great deal about plants and animals by studying how they adapt to harsh “fringe” habitats such as the desert or the tundra, evolving body structures that either shed or conserve heat, and coloration that blends into the background hues of scorched earth or snow. In a similar way, students of legislative politics can learn a great deal by studying legislatures in the “fringe habitat” of an ongoing democratic transition.
The Chilean Senate exists on the edge of democracy, operating under a constitution written in 1980 under the auspices of that country's former military government. The Senate includes 38 elected members, and during the period under study it also included 8 or 9 nonelected senators appointed by the departing military regime. The “binominal” system used to choose the elected senators has some “fringe features” of its own: it virtually guarantees that the party list that comes in second in each of the two member Senate districts gets one of the two seats in contention. Between the appointed senators and the electoral system, legislators friendly to the former military government control a majority of the Senate. The opposition-controlled Senate looms over the legislative process like a robber baron's castle overlooking the Rhine, and legislative initiatives must stop and pay tribute.
While the rules for choosing its members were designed to produce a Senate majority sympathetic to the former military government, they have the unintended side effect of creating a “natural experiment” on the impact of selection rules on legislative behavior. In this chapter I compare the voting records of the appointed senators with the corresponding votes of their elected counterparts to assess several hypotheses about the legislators' motives.
Politics of Institutional Choice is an important contribution to the literature on legislative institutions. The authors' backgrounds complement each other to good effect. The result is a study that is both conversant with the literature on legislative politics in the United States and Western Europe and solidly grounded in the politics of contemporary Russia. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the adoption of reformed legislative institutions by the Russian Republic in 1993 left the newly elected representatives with the need to devise a working set of parliamentary institutions for the newly formed bicameral legislature. The “building materials” out of which these were fashioned—legislative committees, party caucuses, rules allocating agenda control to leaders—resemble those of the U.S. Congress and Western European parliaments, but the institutional structure was adapted to the needs of Russian politics.
Now that we have taken a somewhat closer look at the legislative institutions set up by the Constitution of 1980, we require a more detailed map of the ideological terrain. The impact of institutions such as the president's insistence powers, and his “constructive” veto powers, which enable him or her to offer amendments along with his or her vetos, depends on how cohesive the president's legislative coalition is. Can we treat the president's opponents in the Senate as a single unitary actor, or do they differ in their degree of opposition? Likewise, will the Concertación Senators rubber stamp all presidential initiatives, or does the president have to adjust his or her proposals to secure their support? The same institutional structure that permits a president supported by pliant majorities in both chambers to dominate the legislative process can leave that president frustrated when faced by determined and unified opposition in even one chamber. This means that we must be very careful when making broad statements about “executive dominance” and autocratic tendencies written into a constitution. This dominance can be very sensitive to the composition of the legislature and the objectives of the executive.
Measuring the ideological positions taken by competing political parties is difficult. Party manifestos and campaign literature typically reveal that all of the political parties favor prosperity, efficient government, safe streets, good schools, and high ethical standards, while all are opposed to crime, unemployment, and corruption.
Legislators and their constituents alike weigh policy alternatives in terms of ideology, about which they disagree, and on the basis of shared public policy values, such as a desire for efficiency. The initial section of this chapter sets forth a simple model of policy preferences that incorporates both sets of considerations, policy position, and what Stokes (1963) referred to as policy “valence,” and it helps to illustrate how the balance individuals strike between them can facilitate or prevent agreement on policy choices.
The second section of this chapter builds on the basic model of the first to analyze an important source of agenda control in legislative politics: the ability to formulate policies that mix controversial ideological departures from the ideological status quo with high valence. This is largely dependent on the ability of policymakers to deploy large expert staffs to help them formulate policy initiatives. In all presidential systems the executive enjoys an advantage on this score, an advantage that is substantial even in the U. S., where Congress is sometimes able to act as a “policy incubator.” In Latin America, where legislatures must cope with very sparse infrastructure, the executive's advantage at formulating high-valence proposals is overwhelming. The ability to formulate high-valence proposals magnifies the executive dominance over the policy agenda that is written into many constitutions, while legislators' influence over the agenda can be severely curbed by their inability to formulate proposals with valence high enough to compete with the status quo.
This chapter draws together the evidence about legislators' policy preferences presented in Chapters 5–7 and then applies the model of executive legislative relations from the first two chapters to explain variation in the rate of policy change across issue areas. This analysis reveals that the policy guarantees left in place by the military government are not permanent; the existing institutional framework permits a gradual shift of policy toward the position advocated by the democratically elected president. However, the speed of change ranges from very slow in some policy areas down to glacial in others. In an ironic twist it is the strong presidency written into the Constitution of 1980, presumably in the expectation that Pinochet was the most likely occupant, that operates as the primary means by which policy responds to the electoral majority.
The first section of this chapter uses the committee roll-call votes to address the question of “dimensionality.” Are the observed voting alliances the same across the four issue areas analyzed in depth during the preceding chapters, or is it meaningful to think about there being multiple issue dimensions, with some legislators locating on the left on issues involving income redistribution but on the right on questions of personal morality?
The Education Committee deals with an issue area emphasized in the political campaigns of both the Concertación and its opponents. The disagreements about education are not simply about the level of spending, but about the most desirable type of spending. From the left, teachers' unions exert significant influence. Banned and harassed during the Pinochet years, the major teachers' union has emerged since 1990 as one of the most important in Chile, staging various national strikes. From the right there is pressure to provide more funds to subsidized private schools, and to allow them more flexibility.
Labor relations issues constitute a significant part of the committee's agenda. This happens because in Chile public education is administered by the national government. Thus, details about working conditions and compensation that in many other places are resolved by school boards and local unions are worked out at the national-level in Chile. Moreover, the teachers' union is probably the most powerful national-level union in Chile. In contrast with the labor committee, on which the policy agenda mostly applies to settings in which the government acts as a referee, in education policy the government constitutes the employer half of a bargaining dyad.
A second important part of the committee's policy agenda deals with public subsidies for students in private schools. During the Pinochet years the educational system was the subject of a major and controversial reform.
The Constitution Committee considered an agenda that included both human rights questions and other more standard legal reforms dealing with issues common to many industrialized democracies, from drug enforcement to domestic violence. Of all of the Chilean Senate's committee jurisdictions, the issue area most affected by sixteen and a half years of military rule was that of human rights. During the period of military government, a number of decree laws dramatically expanded the jurisdiction of the military courts and reduced the scope for judicial appeal. In addition, there were numerous antiterrorist measures written into decree laws which expanded the policing powers of the armed forces, including the Carbineers. Because of this, the very first legislative initiatives of the Aylwin Administration were in the ambit of human rights, with executive-sponsored bills proposed to abolish the death penalty, protect freedom of speech, and reform various statutes, such as the internal security law and the weapons control law. These were followed by later proposals from members of the legislature, mostly on the right, to restore or further strengthen the antiterrorism laws.
The committee was sufficiently active in both the human rights and social policy areas of its issue domain that separate sets of parameter estimates for each of these two issue areas can be obtained. This permits a direct test of whether both areas map into the same ideological dimension based on the estimated preferred outcomes of the four Senators who cast a substantial number of votes on both sets of issues.
Obtaining an accurate measure of legislators' preferences is no mean task because of the powerful incentives politicians often have to misrepresent their objectives strategically. Thus campaign literature often emphasizes the putatively high “valence” of a candidate's character, and of the party's issue positions. In the 1990 election, candidates for the Concertación and the opposition alike were in favor of economic prosperity, high-quality education, good health care, and a clean environment, and they were opposed to poverty and civil disorder. Special interests will allege their projects represent tremendous gains in efficiency over the status quo, and denounce policies they oppose as having low valence. Similar incentives are widespread throughout the political process.
Situations that require politicians to take public positions on issues can overcome these incentives to dissimulate. This is part of the function of the press; by asking questions they set a hypothetical agenda and let political candidates and officeholders respond. However, successful politicians are masters of the rhetorical gymnastics and social acrobatics used to deflect and evade difficult questions. Another institution designed to force politicians into the open is the roll-call vote in which each legislator must register his or her vote of “yes,” “no,” or “abstain,” which becomes part of the public record. This restricted vocabulary limits the space for semantic maneuver, and so can do much to clarify a politician's position.
This is the first of three chapters that use roll-call voting records from Senate committees to chart the ideological landscape, mapping Senators' policy positions and linking substantive policy alternatives to the ideological spectrum along which they are evaluated. These details are critical to understanding the impact of the institutional framework that governs Chile's democratic transition. As we shall see, the picture of the Concertación the emerges from the Labor Committee is consistent with the view that this left-of-center coalition of parties pursues a cohesive policy agenda: the estimated ideological positions for the four Concertación Senators who served on the Committee are very similar to one another and distinct from the positions taken by most of the opposition Senators. However, a very different picture emerges on the political right, with large differences both between the institutional Senators and the members of the RN Party, and also among the Senators within each of those groups. This is at variance with the bipolar model of the government and the opposition that many take as their starting point in analyzing the Chilean transition. The opposition's heterogeneity on labor policy needs to be built into theoretical analyses. However, these empirical assertions are not uncontroversial, and it is to the evidence supporting them that our attention now turns.
The jurisdiction of the Senate Labor and Social Provision Committee lies at the heart of the substantive issues that divide the left from the right throughout the industrialized world.
For the first two-thirds of the twentieth century, Chile enjoyed perhaps the most stable democracy in South America. All of this changed in the early 1970s after Salvador Allende became president at the head of a leftist coalition that included both Socialists and Communists. His administration, which came to power by perfectly legal means, sought to carry out socialist policies that created sharp divisions among Chileans, with some embracing his plan for a “Chilean Way” to socialism while others viewed Allende as a stalking horse for an eventual Communist dictatorship. Because the electorate divided fairly evenly between enthusiastic supporters of Allende's Popular Unity (UP) government and its determined enemies, democratic resolution of this conflict was difficult. By the third year of the Allende administration the country was in crisis, with increasing levels of violence and a collapsing economy. At this point the military intervened, as it had done twice before in the twentieth century. But this time several thousand of their real and suspected enemies “disappeared” or were killed, and the armed forces remained in power for over sixteen years.
The crisis of the early 1970s and the long period of military rule that followed had a profound effect on both the ideological climate and the institutional environment. Since the early 1970s there have been two histories of Chile.
When aircraft encounter turbulent storm conditions, the principals of aerodynamic design are not suddenly suspended. In the same way the dynamic political equilibrium during a democratic transition depends on the interaction of political actors' objectives and beliefs with the institutional constraints, just as it does in more normal times, notwithstanding the emotionally charged content of objectives that include victims' quest for justice and despite sudden changes in institutional constraints. The Chilean transition is notable for its reliance on a set of temporary policy guarantees that the former military government imposed as the price of transition. These policy conditions are protected by a series of institutional checks on a powerful and democratically elected executive. If one were to simply import the state-of-the-art models of gridlock used to analyze the U. S. Congress, this arrangement would seem to provide a permanent framework for indirect military rule. However, the family of models based on the agenda-setter model of Romer and Rosenthal (1978) ignores the potential for the agenda setter, in this case the Chilean president, to exploit the valence component of policy to pry acceptance from the veto player, in this application the median member of the Senate, for policy positions closer to the agenda setter and farther from the Senate median.
In the Chilean transition the president's ability to couple high-valence policy reforms with movements in the ideological content of policy has profound implications for the long-run effects of the constitution imposed by the military government.
Of all of the institutions created by the military government, Chile's Senate is perhaps most influenced by the transition. With its provision for appointed “institutional” Senators to serve side by side with elected members of the chamber, it provides a unique window on the transition. Roll-call voting records from Senate committees make it possible to compare the issue positions of Socialists, with those of Christian Democrats, with members of the Independent Democratic Union (UDI), a party with links to the former military government, and with the positions taken by Senators appointed by Pinochet. Given the Concertación majority in the Chamber of Deputies, and their control of the presidency, the Senate, with its majority for the opposition, acts as a check on the legislative agenda of the Concertación. It is in the Senate that bills are made or broken, and it is the Senate that determines the pace at which policies change and institutions are reformed.
Opposition control of the Senate stands on two pillars: the Institutional Senators and the “binominal” electoral system. The electoral system is based on two-member districts for both the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. The seats are apportioned according to the d'Hond system, which has the effect of guaranteeing a seat for the party list that finishes second unless its vote share drops below half that of the first-place finisher. After the 1989 elections, this left the opposition with about 42% of the elected seats in each legislative chamber.