Ambitious Reform Via Constituent Assemblies: Determinants of Success in Contemporary Latin America

  • Alissandra T. StoyanEmail author


Since 1998, several Latin American presidents have attempted to create constituent assemblies, rewrite constitutions, and fundamentally shift power relations with varying levels of success. I argue that two variables have determined executive success. These are mobilizational leverage, or the ability to rally popular support behind the reform agenda, and institutional leverage, or the ability to convince the Judiciary or Electoral Council to allow a referendum to form a Constituent Assembly and sanction its supreme power. I examine this argument through process tracing cases of success (Chávez in Venezuela, Morales in Bolivia, and Correa in Ecuador) and a case of failure (Zelaya in Honduras), drawing on data from 118 elite interviews in Bolivia and Ecuador. This article contributes to the literature on executive-legislative relations and presidential power, explaining a process that allows presidents to navigate the institutions of democracy and enact ambitious reform.


Constituent assemblies Institutional change Democracy Executive-legislative relations Latin America 



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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceKansas State UniversityManhattanUSA

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