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Veto et Peto: Patterns of Presidential Activism in Central and Eastern Europe

Köker, Philipp; (2015) Veto et Peto: Patterns of Presidential Activism in Central and Eastern Europe. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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The powers of Central and East European presidents have been subject to a number studies. Paradoxically, only few scholars have tried to explain how presidents actually use them. This thesis maps and explains patterns in the activism of democratic presidents in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). It proposes a new theoretical framework for the study of presidential activism, defined as the discretionary use of formal presidential powers, and argues that it can be explained by the constitutional setting and the political environment. To test these hypotheses, the study employs a nested analysis approach. Thereby, the patterns of presidential activism are assessed using an original data set on the use of presidents’ legislative powers in nine CEE democracies between 1990 and 2010, and the thesis provides one of the first cross-country empirical analyses of the actual use of presidents’ reactive powers to date. Based on the predictions of the statistical model 12 president-cabinet pairings from four countries (Estonia, Hungary, Poland, 4.) are selected for in-depth case studies. The qualitative analysis then uses the results of 65 semi-structured elite interviews and ample source material to examine the validity of the statistical results. A particular focus is placed on the use of presidential vetoes and presidential activism in government formation, censure and dismissal. The study finds most of the hypotheses confirmed. Most prominently, the findings show that popular presidential elections, cohabitation between president and government as well as a low seat share of the government are the most important predictors of presidential activism. These factors are not only strongly correlated with a more frequent use of powers, but the mechanisms of effect are also demonstrated in case studies. Furthermore, the qualitative analysis suggests intra-governmental divisions as an additional explanatory factor which should be included in future studies of presidential activism.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Veto et Peto: Patterns of Presidential Activism in Central and Eastern Europe
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Keywords: Central Eastern Europe, presidents, nested analysis, mixed methods, Poland, Estonia, Slovakia, Hungary, elite interviews, veto, presidential veto, legislative initiative, judicial review, semi-presidentialism, parliamentarism, presidential elections, government formation
UCL classification: UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1461326
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