Shifting Constitutional Designs in Latin America. A Two-Level Explanation Articles uri icon

publication date

  • June 2011

start page

  • 1777

end page

  • 1805


  • 7


  • 89

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0040-4411


  • Latin American countries have been riding a massive wave of constitutional change since 1978. One aspect of the political institutions selected as a result of this process seems particularly puzzling. Reforms that promote party pluralism and consensual decision making coexist, often within the same design, with other reforms that restrict party competition and foster concentration of power in the executive branch. This Article argues that constitutional choice is endogenous to the performance of preexisting constitutional structures and to the partisan interests and relative power of reformers. According to this theory, the seemingly contradictory trends of design that we observe in Latin America reflect (i) the diverse governance problems faced by new democracies and (ii) the heterogeneous interests of the actors who had influence over institutional selection. The Article provides evidence in support of this theory from the recent experience of constitution making in Latin America.


  • Law
  • Politics


  • constitutional design; democratization; consensual and majoritarian institutions; latin america