Constraining Executive Action: The Role of Legislator Professionalization in Latin America

Sarah Shair-Rosenfield, Alissandra T. Stoyan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


What explains the failure of legislatures with strong constitutionally endowed powers to exert themselves over the executive in practice? We examine the role of legislator professionalization in strengthening the legislature's ability to constrain executive action, conceptualizing legislator professionalization as prior legislative experience and prior professional work experience. We argue that more professionalized legislators, through the skill and knowledge they bring to the policymaking process from prior experience, will be better equipped to challenge executive authority. In a sample of four Latin American countries from 1990 through 2010, we find that legislatures are more likely to curb executive decree issuance when individual legislators are strongly professionalized, controlling for constitutional powers and several other partisan and political factors. Our findings suggest that legislatures composed of more professionalized legislators can constrain executive action, especially in the context of a unified political opposition in the legislature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-319
Number of pages19
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Marketing


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