Why play by the rules? Constitutionalism and democratic institutionalization in Ecuador and Uruguay

Journal Article

This article argues that constitutionalism and democratic institutionalization are linked, and that variations in progress towards institutionalized democracy are explained by incentives for political actors to comply with constitutional constraints on their power and to cooperate in governing. The analysis examines the impact of incentives generated by political institutions on Ecuador and Uruguay's contrasting experiences in institutionalizing democracy. Institutions generate incentives for political actors to 'play by the rules' when they extend protections, align interest with duty, and encourage negotiation and compromise. Survival provisions, electoral rules, and the nature of parties and the party system are found to generate incentives to cooperate in governing and to comply with constitutional constraints in Uruguay, and disincentives to engage in these behaviours in Ecuador. A new classification of survival provisions is proposed - shared, mixed, and separate - which isolates the impact of these rules on the degree of cooperation in governing. The article's findings clarify the mechanisms by which institutional choices facilitate or obstruct the emergence of constitutionalism and institutionalized democracy.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Alberts, S

Published Date

  • 2008

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 15 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 849 - 869

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1351-0347

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1080/13510340802362646