Presidential Instability in Latin America: Why Institutionalized Parties Matter

Pedro P. Kuczynski (Peru 2018) and Evo Morales (Bolivia 2019) are the most recent cases in a long list of Latin American presidents who have been forced out of office. We seek to contribute to understanding why some presidents fail to fulfil their terms by analysing the role of an actor overlooked by the extant literature on presidential failures: political parties. We hypothesize a non-linear relation between party institutionalization and the risk of presidential failure. That is, when parties are weakly or highly institutionalized, the hazard of presidential failure is lower than when parties are moderately institutionalized. We test this and other hypotheses with a survival analysis of 157 Latin American administrations (1979-2018). We also qualitatively explore how the occurrence (or non-occurrence) of certain events affects the risk of failure in three countries with different levels of party institutionalization. We find that party institutionalization - as well as legislative support, anti-government demonstrations, presidential scandals and economic growth - significantly affects the risk of presidential failure.

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