Alissandra Stoyan, Ph.D.

Kansas State University

City: Manhattan, Kansas

Country: United States

About Me:

Alissandra T. Stoyan is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Kansas State University. Her research centers on democracy, institutional change, executive-legislative relations and female executives. She teaches courses in Comparative and Latin American politics. Recently, she has published research in Studies in Comparative International Development, International Studies Quarterly, Governance, Electoral Studies, Political Research Quarterly, and other journals. Stoyan is also currently working on a book manuscript. It analyzes how Latin American presidents with ambitious reform agendas implement them through a Constituent Assembly with supreme power to change the political system. For this research, she has conducted extensive fieldwork in Bolivia and Ecuador. She holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as well as a B.A. in Political Science and Spanish from Union College in Schenectady, NY.

Research Interests

Comparative Political Institutions

Comparative Democratization

Gender and Politics

Latin American And Caribbean Politics

Public Opinion

Constitutional Reform

Executive-Legislative Relations

Executive Politics

Women Presidential Candidates

Countries of Interest




Journal Articles:

(2020) Ambitious Reform Via Constituent Assemblies: Determinants of Success in Contemporary Latin America, Studies in Comparative International Development

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.

(2019) Building Trust: The Effect of U.S. Development-Oriented Troop Deployments on Public Opinion in Peru, International Studies Quarterly

Since the 1950s, U.S. military personnel have taken on an increasingly diverse set of responsibilities, including less traditional roles delivering disaster aid and engaging in public diplomacy. Focusing on a particular subset of deployments—humanitarian and civic-assistance deployments to Latin America—we examine the effect that a U.S. military presence can have on public opinion in the host country. We focus on the micro-foundations of popular support and use survey data and newly collected sub-national data on deployments to examine the effect of these deployments on mass attitudes towards the U.S. military and government in Peru. We find that these deployments do improve perceptions of the U.S. military and government, and also correlate with more positive assessments of U.S. influence. Our findings bolster the conclusions of previous research that shows how aid can improve public attitudes towards the donor country and address the foreign aid attribution problem.

(2018) Gendered Opportunities and Constraints: How Executive Sex and Approval Influence Executive Decree Issuance, Political Research Quarterly

Do female executives exercise the authority of their office distinctly from their male counterparts? Anecdotal evidence suggests women legislators are likely to govern in a more consensual manner than men. Yet there has been little systematic research extending such claims to women in executive office. Using an original data set, we evaluate one aspect of policy agenda setting—rates of executive decree issuance—among four male–female pairs of Latin American presidents between 2000 and 2014. Female presidents are generally less prone to rule by decree, but this relationship is conditioned by presidential popularity. Female executives with high presidential approval ratings are less likely to rule via unilateral action than similarly popular male executives, but the gendered differences in decree issuance disappear when executives possess low approval ratings. Our findings have implications for understanding the potential benefits of feminine leadership styles for executive–legislative relations and good governance.

(2018) Decentralization and democratic participation: The effect of subnational self-rule on voting in Latin America and the Caribbean, Electoral Studies

Previous literature on the consequences of decentralization has demonstrated a positive effect on voter participation in subnational elections. However, does this positive effect also extend to national level elections? This paper evaluates the consequences of decentralization-level political participation. Our approach innovates by disaggregating decentralization to uncover the specific dimensions that matter for voting participation. We argue that self-rule (or the authority that subnational units exercise in their own territory) is closely associated with vertical accountability and positively affects voting participation. Moreover, we find that political dimensions of self-rule matter more than fiscal dimensions. Shared-rule (or the authority that subnational units exercise in the country as a whole) has no significant effect on participation since it is more closely related to horizontal accountability. We test our theory in 20 Latin American and Caribbean countries using a hierarchical model with 2010 data at the national and individual-level.

(2017) Constraining Executive Action: The Role of Legislator Professionalization in Latin America, Governance

What explains the failure of legislatures with strong constitutionally endowed powers to exert themselves over the executive in practice? We examine the role of legislator professionalization in strengthening the legislature's ability to constrain executive action, conceptualizing legislator professionalization as prior legislative experience and prior professional work experience. We argue that more professionalized legislators, through the skill and knowledge they bring to the policymaking process from prior experience, will be better equipped to challenge executive authority. In a sample of four Latin American countries from 1990 through 2010, we find that legislatures are more likely to curb executive decree issuance when individual legislators are strongly professionalized, controlling for constitutional powers and several other partisan and political factors. Our findings suggest that legislatures composed of more professionalized legislators can constrain executive action, especially in the context of a unified political opposition in the legislature.

(2016) Trust in government institutions: The effects of performance and participation in the Dominican Republic and Haiti., International Political Science Review

This article analyzes theories of institutional trust in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, two developing countries that have shared some historical legacies but currently manifest divergent economic and political trajectories. The evidence confirms that conventional theories emphasizing participation and government performance help us understand institutional trust in both countries. In addition, the analysis emphasizes the analytical leverage gained by exploring the extent to which different facets of engagement have divergent effects on institutional trust. The findings build upon previous research to underscore the importance of considering how context shapes the precise ways in which performance and engagement influence institutional trust, particularly when analyzing the developing world.