1st Edition

Contested, Violated but Persistent Presidential Term Limits in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa

Edited By Charlotte Heyl, Mariana Llanos Copyright 2023
    214 Pages
    by Routledge

    214 Pages
    by Routledge

    Presidential term limits have been a crucial institutional feature of the third wave of democratization. They are meant to safeguard democracy by promoting alternation in office and preventing the personalization of power. However, since the 1990s term limits have been subject to frequent contestation by incumbents. Such contestation process has often been considered a sign of autocratization, particularly when it involves the weakening of other constitutional constraints, such as courts and legislatures. Term-limit contestations have attracted the attention of scholars working with a global perspective as well as with a regional or country-specific one too. Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa are focal points of these trends, despite their different histories of presidentialism and diverging types of term-limit rules.

    This book generates new empirical and theoretical insights by bringing together the scholarship on Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa, providing context-bound intraregional research as well as long-term perspectives for the study of term-limit change. The chapters advance novel findings on institutionalization, the power of precedence, incumbent-centred strategies, and approaches to protect presidential term limits.

    This volume will be of great use to students and researchers interested in Latin American and African studies, comparative politics as well as political leadership. The chapters in this book were originally published as a special issue of Democratization.

    Introduction: Contested, violated but persistent: presidential term limits in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa

    Charlotte Heyl and Mariana Llanos

    1. Sequences of presidential-term-Limits: Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa

    Charlotte Heyl and Mariana Llanos

    2. Tinkering with executive term limits: partisan imbalances and institutional legacies in Latin America

    Gabriel L. Negretto

    3. Authoritarian origins of term limit trajectories in Africa

    Christof Hartmann

    4. When incumbents do not run: presidential succession and democratization

    Alexander Baturo

    5. Costs and benefits of accepting presidential term limits: "should I stay or should I go?"

    Anna Fruhstorfer and Alexander Hudson

    6. The "Big Five" personality traits of presidents and the relaxation of term limits in Latin America

    Ignacio Arana Araya

    7. Do contravention attempts affect public support for presidential term limits?: Evidence from sub-Saharan Africa

    Kristin McKie and Elizabeth Carlson

    8. Protecting democracy from abroad: democracy aid against attempts to circumvent presidential term limits

    Daniel Nowack and Julia Leininger

    9. Militant democracy and the pre-emptive constitution: from party bans to hardened term limits

    Zachary Elkins


    Charlotte Heyl is Associate Fellow at the GIGA Institute for African Affairs, Hamburg, Germany. Her research focuses on judicial politics, elections, and presidentialism in Sub-Saharan Africa. Heyl earned her doctoral degree in Political Science from the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany. She has conducted field research in Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, and Senegal.

    Mariana Llanos is Lead Research Fellow at the GIGA Institute for Latin American Studies and Professor at the University of Erfurt, Germany. She has published extensively on comparative political institutions in Latin America, particularly on the countries of the Southern Cone. Her current research focuses on presidential impeachments, courts-executive relations, and the personalization of power.