Party Strategies, Constituency Links, and Legislative Speech

Philip Guthrie Hoffman Hall 405, 11:00 AM.

This paper examines how parties organize legislative speech. Electoral incentives and legislative institutions affect speech participation. When electoral rules create incentives for members to seek a personal vote, parties should be less concerned with screening speeches and more supportive of speeches by weaker members. But in many countries legislative rules and norms severely constrain opportunities for position taking during the lawmaking debates. We argue that parties resolve this dilemma by organizing speech participation into non-legislative speeches and lawmaking debates. In each instance, different types of legislators are more likely to speak. We examine the case of Chile and test the implications of our theory with data on congressional speeches.

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Philip Guthrie Hoffman Hall 405, 11:00 AM.

Judicial Independence in the Mexican State Administrative Courts:
An Empirical Analysis

Why are some Mexican state courts more independent than others? Prior research has evaluated judicial independence in several countries including Mexico at the national level (i.e. Bill Chávez 2007, Helmke 2002, Herron and Randazzo 2003, Iaryczower, Spiller, and Tommasi. 2002, Leiras, Giraudy, and Tunon 2009, Rios- Figueroa and Staton 2008, and Tiede 2006 among others), but few works have examined judges’decisions in subnational arenas. In this paper I analyze a sample of six Mexican state administrative courts to test whether both individual and contextual factors have an effect on judicial independence. Specifically, I claim that judges’ longer terms of service increase judicial independence. In addition, I also expect that contextual variables such as political fragmentation (lack of unified government), life tenure, and methods of appointment that do not involve the participation of the state executive at the subnational level also enhance judicial independence.

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Workshop Meet-and-Greet. Philip Guthrie Hoffman Hall 405, 11:00 AM.

Dangerous Liaisons: Organized Crime and Political Finance in Latin America. Classroom and Business Building (CBB) 120, 4:00 PM.

Ley, Sandra - photo

Philip Guthrie Hoffman Hall 405, 11:00 AM.

High-Risk Activism and Protest amid Violence: Evidence from Mexico

When and why do citizens living amid criminal violence pour into the streets to demand peace and justice, regardless of the risks that protesting in such context may entail? In such adverse conditions, how and when does protest take place? To answer these questions, this project draws on original survey data collected in Mexico in 2012, an original dataset on protest events in reaction to violent crime during the 2006-2012 period across Mexican states, as well as in-depth interviews with participants of such protests. At the aggregate level, this paper shows that violence, combined with a vibrant civil society, stimulate citizen mobilization. Similarly, at the individual level, citizens that have been victims of crime and those connected to mobilizing networks are more likely to participate in protests against insecurity than non-victims and “socially disconnected” individuals. Qualitative interviews with participants of such events help understand the process through which networks reshape the understanding of the dangers associated with activism in the midst of violence. This evidence contributes to the prevailing literature on victimization and political participation and provides new compelling answers on when and how experience with violence can in fact encourage involvement in politics and promote democratic accountability.

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Philip Guthrie Hoffman Hall 405, 11:00 AM.

Electoral Competition amid Violence: Evidence from Colombia.

What is the impact of political violence on electoral competition?  This paper explores whether and how violent activity of insurgent groups affects the electoral process, particularly the willingness of politicians to compete and citizens to vote. I focus on the case of Colombia where elections occur in the middle of an asymmetric and lengthy timeline combination of ballots and bullets. The analysis encompasses four local electoral cycles for mayoral and municipal council offices (1997, 2000, 2003, and 2007) in more than 1,000 municipalities. This work will argue that in contentious scenarios, political competition varies not only with the extent of violence, but also with the type of violent actor (pro-state/anti-state armed insurgency), and its territorial balance of military power. It will also argue that these effects will be contingent upon institutional variables such as the district magnitude. Overall, my findings suggest that anti-regime insurgencies deflate overall competition whereas those closer to the state (such as the paramilitary) boost competition of political allies.

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Philip Guthrie Hoffman Hall 405, 11:00 AM.

Presidents vs. Congress and the Constitutional Court: An Empirical Analysis of the Veto Power in Colombia, 1998- 2012

As in other Latin American presidential regimes, Colombian legislators hold ample power to amend bills and due to the simple majority requirement for overrides, could potentially be successful in having their preferences translated into legislation. This institutional design is intended to promote compromise among branches, giving Congress more power than usually assumed when analyzing the veto power of Latin American presidents.  Nonetheless, and to our knowledge, previous empirical and theoretical analyses do not consider the inclusion of yet another player: The Constitutional Court. In the case of Colombia, its role is fundamental as it becomes the last player after the president vetoes a bill claiming it is unconstitutional.  With an originally constructed dataset of all bills debated and passed by the Colombian Congress covering the last four presidential periods, the objective of this paper is to analyze the political circumstances in which presidents are more likely to veto a bill, what are the characteristics of bills that are vetoed (i.e., policy benefits) and finally, how legislators and the President adapt to the Court’s rulings related to presidential vetoes. To accomplish this, we coded all vetoed bills by article, showing 1) that the policy benefits are a determining factor both for the President to veto and for Congress to override, 2) that the arguments used to veto the same type of legislation (or parts of it) change as the Court reconsiders what is and is not constitutional.

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