Government Selection and Executive Powers: Constitutional Design in Parliamentary Democracies Academic Article uri icon


  • 2015 Taylor & Francis. Provisions for a parliamentary investiture vote have become increasingly common in parliamentary democracies. This article shows that investiture provisions were largely introduced when new constitutions were written or old ones fundamentally redesigned. It also shows that the constitutions that endowed executives with strong legislative agenda powers also endowed parliaments with strong mechanisms to select the executive. It is argued that constitution makers decisions can be seen in principalagent terms: strong investiture rules constitute an ex ante mechanism of parliamentary control that is, a mechanism to minimise adverse selection and reduce the risk of agency loss by parliament. The findings have two broad implications: from a constitutional point of view, parliamentary systems do not rely exclusively on ex post control mechanisms such as the no confidence vote to minimise agency loss; parliamentarism, at least today and as much as presidentialism, is the product of conscious constitutional design and not evolutionary adaptation.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 1.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Cheibub, J. A., Martin, S., & Rasch, B. E.

citation count

  • 29

complete list of authors

  • Cheibub, Jose Antonio||Martin, Shane||Rasch, Bjorn Erik

publication date

  • September 2015