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Executive absolutism: the dynamics of authority acquisition in a system of separated powers

Howell, William G., Shepsle, Kenneth A. and Wolton, Stephane ORCID: 0000-0003-1405-650X (2022) Executive absolutism: the dynamics of authority acquisition in a system of separated powers. Quarterly Journal of Political Science. ISSN 1554-0626 (In Press)

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We study a dynamic model in which a politician (most commonly an executive) makes authority claims that are subject to a hard constraint (administered, typically, by a court). At any period, the court is free to rule against the executive and thereby permanently halt her efforts to acquire more power. Because it appropriately cares about the executive's ability to address real-world disruptions, however, the court is always willing to arm more authority. Neither robust electoral competition nor alternative characterizations of judicial decisionmaking fundamentally alters this state of affairs. Moreover, we show, modest authority claims in one period yield opportunities for more substantial claims in the next. The result is an often persistent accumulation of executive authority and a degradation of judicial checks on presidential power.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2022 The Authors
Divisions: Government
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General)
Date Deposited: 23 May 2022 14:48
Last Modified: 14 Nov 2022 11:51

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