Making Sense of an Unstable Legislature: Committee Assignments in the Argentine Chamber of Deputies, 1946–2001

Silvina Lilian Danesi, Ludovic Rheault

Abstract


Latin American legislatures have gone largely unstudied, with the functioning of the Argentine Chamber of Deputies prior to the 1980s being an entirely unexplored subject. This paper fills that gap by examining the organization of the Chamber, with particular focus on its standing committee system from 1946 to 2001. We assess the portability of two U.S.-based theoretical approaches to legislative organization by applying them to committee assignments. An original data set of Argentine deputies was constructed and a way of measuring political power in committees was devised for this study. Despite weak democratic governments, military interventions, and changes to the electoral system, we find that ruling parties have consistently influenced the committee system, shaping its structure and securing an over-proportion of their deputies in key committee positions. These results support the applicability of the U.S. originated Cartel Theory of legislative organization to understanding and studying legislatures outside that country.

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