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Understanding Presidential Power in Argentina: a Study of the Policy of Privatisation in the 1990s

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Artículo de revistaLlanos, Mariana Understanding Presidential Power in Argentina: a Study of the Policy of Privatisation in the 1990s. [Trad. Entendiendo el Poder Presidencial en Argentina: Un Estudio de la Política de Privatización en los Años Noventa] Journal of Latin American Studies, 2001 vol. 33 no. 1 p. 67-99. Palabras claves:
América del Sur
Política, Administración pública | Historia | Economía, Empresas, Industria


This article focuses on the political and institutional process by which the privatisation policy was approved in Argentina during the 1990s. It concentrates mainly on the relationships that the President maintained with Congress and the political parties sitting in it. By looking through the lens of the privatisation case-study, the article aims to analyse the institutional capacity of Argentine democratic presidents to enact policy reforms. The article shows that the Presidency's constitutional resources in combination with the President's strong base of partisan support permitted the adoption of the innovative privatisation policy at an institutional level. However, the article also explains that the political and institutional resources of the Presidency were not invariable and permanent. Rather, the approval of the privatisation policy shows that policy-making processes involve a dialogue between President and Congress, an institutional interchange that can serve either to enhance or to constrain the powers of the President. By showing that congressional intervention should not be underestimated, this article claims that the Argentine presidential regime is better characterised as one of limited centralism than as an example of hyper-presidentialism. The first characterisation not only acknowledges the complexity of the institutional relations, but also the fact that, given a situation of presidential centralism, institutional relations are variable and, most importantly, contingent upon political conditions.

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