Giovanni Sartori, Comparative Constitutional Engineeering (1997, 2nd ed.)

Main Argument: Sartori analyzes constitutional design in terms of the incentives it provides politicians for cooperative behaviour. He focuses on two aspects of proposed constitutional devices: the ease with which they can be adopted and the clear nature of their consequences. Institutional choices affect structures (i.e. the nature of the party system).  New institutional choices interact with inherited and politically relevant conditions often resistant to institutional change. To Sartori, the critical outcome is government performance.
== Notes ==
Electoral Systems:
– Even though not generally written into constitutions, these rules shape the nature of representation and the incentives facing politicians in every branch of government
– Electoral systems are particularly difficult to reform because the bodies that have the power to change them – legislatures – are filled with people who are naturally averse to altering the rules under which they themselves won office
– Emphasizes the role of open party lists in fostering personalistic representation even under PR [17-18]
– Sartori supports two-round elections in SMDs – the “double-ballot” system
Chapter 1: electoral systems and rules
– Basic overview
Chapter 2: Candidacy
– The personal vote (district-based or presidential direct elections) or list-based
– Cumulative voting: voters given as many votes as seats there are to fill
– Point voting: voters given more votes as seats there are to fill and then ranks [21]
– Limited voting: voters given fewer votes than seats there are to fill (in multi member constituencies)
Chapter 3: Importance of electoral systems
– The key to the success of democratic governance, whether parliamentary, presidential, or semi-presidential, is always the emerging party system, in its structuration, in the number of its parties, in their discipline, in their polarization.
– Party systems are not easily altered, even by what he considers to be the most constrictive forms of engineering, such as plurality or semi-presidentialism (two-ballot elections)
– Critiques Duverger’s formula: no causality, need a clearer discussion of how many parties would produce a certain outcome [30]
Chapter 5: Presidentialism<br/>
– Conditions of presidentialism: a) election by popular vote; b) separation from parliament; c) directs the government he is appointed to [84]
Recommendations:
– Overview of constitutional provisions shaping relations between the legislature and the executive
– Alternating presidentialism: parliamentary system, with the presidential option as a back-up. Both an assembly and a president would be elected in concurrent, two-round elections, but normally the presidency would be completely dormant
– The assembly would select a prime minister and “the political system [would] perform under the normal rules of normal parliamentarism” [155]
Critiques of Sartori’s proposal:
– Threat may lead instead to issueless immobilism during the parliamentary phase, so as to prevent a takeover
– The possibility of an ambitious president who rallies support in parliament sufficient to provoke a parliamentary crisis and speed up a takeover’