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date: 04 July 2022

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter considers the proposition that the binary distinction between constitutional forms is an expression of clusters of real-world political institutions must be demonstrated rather than assumed. If this proposition is not demonstrated, the binary distinction cannot be considered as a good predictor of different patterns of performance between the two blocs of countries. The chapter is organized into four sections. The first section explores arguments in favour of the analytical utility of employing the binary distinction between federal and unitary states as representative of clusters of political institutions. The second section demonstrates how empirical research has cast several doubts on this proposition. The third examines Latin American democracies with a population of over eight million and demonstrates how this binary distinction hides important institutional variations in the design of governance structures and political institutions. The fourth section discusses problems of endogeneity of the causal relation between political institutions and economic and social performance. The paper concludes that the theorizing of the relations between prescriptive theorization and positive theories of forms of state requires identifying subtypes of governance structures that do not coincide with the constitutional forms of state.

Keywords: Latin America, constitution, constitutionalism, federal states, unitary states, political institutions, democracy

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