Presidents and Terminal Logic Behavior: Term Limits and Executive Action in the United States, Brazil, and Argentina

Presidents and Terminal Logic Behavior: Term Limits and Executive Action in the United States, Brazil, and Argentina

Presidents and Terminal Logic Behavior: Term Limits and Executive Action in the United States, Brazil, and Argentina

Presidents and Terminal Logic Behavior: Term Limits and Executive Action in the United States, Brazil, and Argentina

Synopsis

Presidents of nations with constitutionally imposed term limits are often viewed as growing weaker as they approach the end of their time in office. However, in this important new study, political scientist Genevieve M. Kehoe argues that because such chief executives are free from reelection constraint and often still enthusiastic to create a legacy by pursuing bold projects, they may accomplish significant initiatives. Kehoe has developed a concept for this which she calls "Terminal Logic Behavior" (TLB).

Presidents and Terminal Logic Behavior: Term Limits and Executive Action in the United States, Brazil, and Argentina provides both case studies and quantitative evidence to show how US presidents of the last three decades have utilized decrees on foreign, domestic, and environment policy during their final months in office. She finds a systematic pattern of decree use consistent with the mark of TLB in a most unexpected place--presidents' use of national emergency powers. In a careful comparative analysis, she also finds support for her argument in the Argentinean and Brazilian experience of the same period.

Excerpt

Final-term presidents should be more properly termed “soaring eagles” rather than “lame ducks.” Significant things are pushed and accomplished, precisely because these presidents are free from reelection constraint and enthused by legacy to pursue bold projects—and they have the power to make it happen. This book addresses what Pallitto and Weaver (2007, 12) call “an enormous scholarly blind spot” in the study of the presidency—institutional analysis. Presidential studies have long favored work focused on the active and selfreflecting agents, the individuals that occupy the executive office at the expense of structural elements that persist over time. These studies, however, ignore that the executive office may have systematic similarities (Edwards, Kessel, and Rockman 1993; Ragsdale and Theis 1997). the study of executive term structure is an institutional one. Term structure imposes an external constraint on the behavior of individuals residing in the executive office. Although some institutional studies of the presidency have tackled the effects of the electoral cycle on presidential behavior, surprisingly, I have found no cross-country, systematic study of executive term limits that is focused exclusively on presidential behavior as affected by the dichotomy between reelection and termination. Mario Serrafero’s 1997 book, Reelección y sucesión presidencial (Presidential Reelection and Succession), is the only work that comes close.

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