Abstract

How do fiuid party systems that exist in many new democracies affect democratic accountability? To address this question, the authors analyze a new database of all legislative incumbents and all competitive elections that took place in Poland since 1991. They find that when district-level economic outcomes are bad, voters in that country punish legislators from a governing party and reward legislators from an opposition party. As a result, electoral control in Poland works through political parties just as it does in mature democracies. However, the authors also find that, in contrast to mature democracies, legislators from a governing party tend to switch to an opposition party when the economy in their district deteriorates. When they do so, their chances of reelection are better than those of politicians who remained loyal to governing parties and are no worse than those of incumbents who ran as opposition party loyalists. These empirical results suggest that while elections in new democracies function as a mechanism of political control, fiuid party systems undermine the extent to which elections promote democratic accountability.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3338
Print ISSN
0043-8871
Pages
pp. 365-395
Launched on MUSE
2006-03-07
Open Access
No
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