Policy by Legislation or Policy by Decree? Understanding Attitudes toward Lawmaking Processes in Democratic and Authoritarian Contexts (With Jonathan Chu).
Can political leaders increase support for their policies by implementing them via legislation rather than executive decree, and if so, why? We answer these questions with survey experiments implemented across four countries in both democratic and authoritarian contexts. In the first of these surveys implemented in the United States, we show that presidents' policies acquire greater public support when they are passed through Congress. This apparent boost does not differ significantly for foreign versus domestic policymaking, and it exists among co-partisans and cross-partisans alike. Furthermore, this ability of legislative institutions to garner citizen support is best explained by two types of democratic legitimacy—procedural and representative—rather than theoretical mechanisms relating to policy efficacy and durability. The project extends an important literature in American politics to comparisons across regions and regime-types. In doing so, it contributes to understanding of why executives may be motivated to share power with legislatures, illustrating how a public commitment to democratic processes can constrain unilateral executive governance.