In this chapter I examine the DNA of presidential systems in Latin America and the general trend toward their rationalization. I show that Latin American presidential systems were obviously influenced by the United States, but that there were also important European roots and domestic variations in each country. In particular, the lasting influence of the French Bonapartist tradition, which drew on plebiscitary support of presidential power, is analyzed as one of the burdens of the region. Finally, I carry out a comparative analysis of constitutional law in Latin America and categorize the presidential models of the region as traditional, transitional, or democratic. I show that traditional presidential models are being replaced by transitional models, and that some countries have reached or are approaching a democratic presidential model that associates political power with principles, rules, and practices of contemporary constitutionalism.
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