Concentration Of Decisionmaking Authority

A second basic decision rule is the separation of powers among different branches of government. Authoritarian states do not permit the possibility of separation of powers. Legislatures and courts may serve as sounding boards for opposition movements, occasionally with great political effect, but the influence on formal government decision-making is nil. For democracies in the post-World War II era, two forms of government have drawn most attention from comparativists: presidential and parliamentary systems. The democratic presidential system provides two separate agencies of government—the executive and legislative—separately elected and authorized by the people. The two branches have fixed terms and specified powers; they cannot easily unseat one another. The parliamentary system, on the other hand, makes the executive and legislative branches interdependent, with the cabinet emerging from the elected legislature and chaired by a prime minister (or premier) who heads the government and selects other cabinet members.

However, the world of states is not neat, and there also are hybrid types often called "semi-presidential," where the president has powers to dissolve the legislature and call for new elections. These types of arrangements have become increasingly important. The longest-lived example is the French 5th Republic, created in 1958 to stabilize a parliamentary system by adding a strong, elected executive and a majority electoral system. It has been emulated in the Russian Constitution of 1993, the constitutions of newly democratizing Eastern European states and in Taiwan. In France, where multipartyism and strong parliaments are engrained in political culture and tradition, the distribution of power between the president and the premier and cabinet has wavered. In Russia, presidential supremacy has been the rule.

The significant environmental policy issue is the amount of concentration of powers in the state, ranging from authoritarian to parliamentary through hybrid forms to presidential systems. We examine some likely impacts of type of concentration, presidential versus parliamentary, and then consider a special form of concentration, corporatism.

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