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Two further empirical findings should first be reported. One is concerned with the relationship between the presidentialism and veto-player indices. Shugart/Carey’s presidentialism index correlates with the three veto-player indices that contain only constitutional characteristics of the governmental system to the exclusion of presidentialism (Lijphart’s ‘federal-unitary dimension,’ Schmidt, minimal governmental system index A) with an average score of r =.21. There is thus a certain link, but not a very strong one. Over and beyond the factor analysis, this result clearly shows that the presidentialism and veto-player approaches are not simply interchangeable. According to this finding, too, presidentialism is clearly not only a subdimension of the distribution-of-powers metadimension.

The second result is concerned with Lijphart’s ‘executive-parties dimension,’ which includes only empirical structural characteristics or actor constellations (see table 4). If an index of this dimension is included in the factor analysis, then – in addition to the two shown in table 3 – a third component emerges, which is constituted by precisely this index.

This empirical finding confirms our theoretical assumption that Lijphart’s ‘executiveparties dimension’ records something quite different from what is recorded by all the other indices.

7. Concluding remarks

Our study of the types and indices of democratic regimes has two general points of reference. The first is the evaluation of different types of democratic regime. This evaluation can be concerned with the political performances of the regime. The second point of reference is the intentional implementation of a new democratic regime or the structural reformation of an existing one. Two conclusions must be drawn with respect to these points of reference. First, types of democratic regime can be distinguished only on the basis of constitutional structural characteristics, for only this category of characteristic can be designed intentionally. Second, the type of democratic regime in a country must be determined independently of particular and varying policies. Two reasons can be offered for the latter. If a regime type is to be evaluated, it must, as the object of evaluation, be kept constant. Furthermore, such evaluation can be based only on long-term and comprehensive performances of the regime type and not on individual policy outcomes. The point of reference of our analysis is thus not the most complete possible explanation of specific policy outcomes, which has hitherto been the goal of most studies in the context of the veto-player approach.

On the basis of a theoretical determination of the concept and dimensions of a democratic regime, a number of common types and indices have been described and discussed.

Two basic approaches to type and index construction have been distinguished: first, the presidentialism-parliamentarism approach and, second, the veto-player approach. This theoretical distinction has been empirically confirmed by factor analysis of the indices.

The theoretically most unambiguous of the veto-player indices are those of Lijphart (‘federal-unitary dimension’) and Schmidt, as well as the two newly constructed minimal governmental system indices. All four indices are based exclusively on formal structural characteristics of the governmental system. Whereas Lijphart’s and Schmidt’s indices include primary and secondary structural characteristics, the two minimal governmental system indices are restricted to primary structural characteristics (bicameralism, federalism, and, in one of the two, presidentialism as well). These four indices are the most appropriate for analysing the effects of different types of democratic regime on political performances.

As the factor analysis of the indices shows, the latent construct – the extent of distribution of power, operationalized by the number of veto players – is equally well measured by all four indices. This result is important for research practice. If as many countries with democratic regimes as possible are to be included in the empirical analysis, the parsimonious indices can be used without the risk of ‘conceptual stretching’ (Sartori 1970; Collier 1993). This concept was coined by Sartori to denote the problem of reducing the intension of a concept to increase the extension of the analysis.

Another and still open question is which of the two basic approaches to type and index construction is the more suitable for recording the democratic regime in specific countries.

The distinction between presidentialism and parliamentarism can be integrated in the vetoplayer approach, so that it appears to be the more comprehensive. However, in the vetoplayer approach presidentialism is only one among other veto-players and, in this sense, constitutes a functional equivalent to the other structural characteristics. Among the additive indices, the predominant measuring instrument in the veto-player approach, the characteristics of presidentialism is accordingly simply added to the other veto players. However, it is still unclear whether this leaves peculiarities of the presidential system out of account that could have an impact on the reality of political processes.

One such peculiarity is the focus of the executive on the president, which accompanies much greater personalisation of politics than in parliamentary systems. Another lies in a follow-up problem of the separation of executive and legislature. As a result of the separation, the president has to rely on public opinion as a power resource. These two characteristics can lead to populism and to erraticness in presidential policy. On the other hand, they can enhance the legitimacy of the democratic regime if the interplay between the president and the public works. We need not settle this question here, but merely draw a general conclusion. In so far as these and other peculiarities of the presidential system play a role, it is inappropriate to consider presidentialism only as a veto player. It could be more useful to pursue a quite new typological approach that systematically links the differentiation into presidentialism and parliamentarism with the differentiation into systems that distribute power and those that concentrate power. First steps in this direction have been taken by, for example, Weaver and Rockman (1993) and Lijphart (1992).

However, a theoretical criterion has yet to be found that permits the two dimensions to be linked systematically and not only voluntaristically.


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