Presidentialism, elections and representation

David J. Samuels, Matthew Soberg Shugart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


How does presidentialism affect various forms of representation? All else being equal, presidentialism is likely to impede the prospects for 'mandate' representation but enhance the prospects for 'accountability' representation. The degree of mandate or accountability representation is a function of the balance of powers and the degree of separation of purpose between the branches. Strong presidentialism works against mandate representation by freeing the president from his/her legislative copartisans and promoting 'policy switching'. In contrast, a high 'separation of purpose', defined primarily by a country's electoral institutions, clarifies for voters the responsibility of each branch for policy. Thus presidentialism - under certain common institutional configurations - provides accountability representation to a degree overlooked by existing research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-60
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Theoretical Politics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2003
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2018 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Accountability
  • Elections
  • Electoral systems
  • Presidentialism
  • Representation


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