George Tsebelis and E. Aleman, “The history of conditional agenda setting in Latin America”, Latin American Research Review 40 (2005), pp. 3-26.

This paper examines the origins of amendatory vetoes in Latin America and shows why presidents’ ability to present a redrafted bill after congressional passage gives them considerable power to affect legislation. Next, it specifies the degree to which different constitutional procedures allow presidents to redraft legislation and shows why the power to introduce amendatory observations provides greater discretion than the power of the better-known block veto, regardless of override thresholds. Lastly, the paper traces the origins of amendatory observations back to the first wave of constitution writing that followed the wars of independence. This work highlights the positive agenda-setting power afforded to the president at the last stage of the lawmaking process.

 

Key Definitions:

Block Veto:  an executive rejection of the entire bill, a prerogative all presidents have
Negative Changes: apply partial veto thereby deleting parts of the bill
Positive Changes: introduce amendatory observations to replace vetoed parts of the bill
 

Method: Game theory approach to executive-legislative relations.

 

 

== Notes ==

 

–           The authors  examine the origins of amendatory and partial vetoes and show why the ability to respond with a redrafted bill after congressional passage gives presidents considerable agenda-setting power
–           This account shows how a minority president, confronted with an overwhelming coalition seeking to enact extensive changes that would risk his political future, responds with an alternative version that eventually beats the original proposal
–           The authors use set theory to specify the authority entrusted to presidents under different constitutional procedures and show why amendatory observations provide greater discretion than the power of the better-known block veto regardless of override thresholds
–           As noted by Riker (1986), the ability to introduce a last alternative that can carry the support of a new majority is a powerful political device
 

Block Vetoes:
–           Block vetoes on the one hand and amendatory observations and partial vetoes on the other provide the president with markedly different authority
–           Presidents with block veto authority can only exercise negative power
–           Using negative changes is preferable for political reasons, but may not stop the bill
–           A block veto that can be overridden by a simple majority merely allows the president to force a re-vote on the bill
–           The first fundamental difference between block veto and these alternative procedures is that in the latter it is the president who makes a counterproposal to Congress
–           As long as the president properly targets his redrafted version of the bill, he would be successful
–           The fact that members of Congress may know the preferences of the president and thereby anticipate a possible veto does not make the prerogative inconsequential; it demands that successful bills  incorporate presidential views
–           The requirement of a qualified majority vote to overrule presidential amendatory observations simply widens the set of alternatives that beat the original congressional bill
–           Even when a simple majority is the override threshold, the president can still select from among a wide set of options (the winset of the bill proposed to him by Congress, and the winset of the status quo)
 

*The authors agree with the view that Latin American presidential systems occupy a location intermediate between parliamentary systems, where the executive (i.e., the government) has almost all the agenda-setting power, and the U.S. system where all legislative agenda setting belongs to Congress (Cox and Morgenstern 2002; Wilmert 1911). However, the emphasis has been on the positive agenda-setting power embodied in the right to redraft legislation, which is considered paramount.

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