Review by Choice Review
The study of institutions and their effect on politics seemingly died with the advent of the behavioral revolution in the social sciences beginning in the 1960s. Now come Linz (Yale) and Valenzuela (Georgetown) to tell us that, in the context of Latin American politics, political institutions may be a crucial variable in determining the success or failure of democracy in the area. The thesis of the book seems to be that presidential regimes, which predominate in Latin America, have failed to produce stable democracies, and that some form of parliamentary government might better support stable democracies. This reviewer says "seems" because this work is the result of a series of conferences on the subject, and contains a series of disparate works that are of uneven quality. The opening chapter by Linz is excellent in presenting the book's thesis, but succeeding chapters do not necessarily support the somewhat dogmatic assumption that presidentialism is a major factor in the failure of democracy in Latin America. Several chapters face the problem of being forced into a thesis that is simply not there. Graduate; faculty. E. A. Duff; Randolph-Macon Woman's College
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