Critical of Juan Linz’s ‘The Perils of Presidentialism’

residential system is very enduring and undoubtedly stable, but it is not a typical example, while the long-standing system of Chile and the recently introduced one in Sri Lanka are more typical. In the case of Chile, democracy broke down in the 1970s and this is cited as evidence of his thesis. This is a dubious argument, since his choice of example appears to dictate the validity of his theory and so Linz goes on to examine some further examples in search of more evidence.
Linz notes that in modern times many countries in Latin America have been impressed with the experience of Spain which changed from authoritarianism to a parliamentary system, with very positive outcomes. He argues that there are tensions between the policies of a president and those of the legislature which can cause problems. Furthermore, the fixed term nature of a president’s office causes artificial breaks in the continuity of government, leading to rigidly demarcated periods which prevent continuous readjustments. There is also a risk that presidents personalize the power that they have and a danger that if they drop out of the role in the middle of the term, an unsuitable and unelected running mate whom no one seriously would have considered for the top job can be thrust into power. This aspect of personalizing causes presidential systems to build in safeguards like impeachment procedures, judicial independence and even in some case the intervention of military forces as a last resort. These measures demonstrate a desire for stability and a distrust of the presidential system. These paradoxes and tensions weaken the presidential system, in the opinion of Linz.
The parliamentary system on the other hand, he argues, has more built-in flexibility because a Prime Minister can be removed without there being necessarily a change in government or a crisis. Parliament can be dissolved and a new election held, or votes of confidence can be used to establish how much legitimacy a Prime