Democratic representation in new democracies: Policy responsiveness and government accountability
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In modern democratic theories, the simple premise of government representation suggests two major functions of a representative democracy--government responsiveness and accountability. Not only do we expect democratic governments to initiate policies that reflect the campaign promises they make during elections, we also expect them to successfully perform during their term in office. While the process of responding to public policy preferences connects citizens and their elected representatives directly through the idea of policy responsiveness, citizens also have the ability to hold elected officials accountable for their policy actions. Both functions of policy responsiveness and electoral accountability contain the notion of democratic representation -in which citizens and their representatives interact with each other to fulfill the ideal of democratic representation. The extant literature regarding democratic representation rarely combines both functions within a single conceptual framework. My dissertation assesses both responsiveness and accountability and presents a theory that illustrates and explains the function of representation in new democracies. An empirical focus on new democracies extends the applicability of democratic theories and broadens our understanding of democratic practices beyond advanced democracies to the developed world. My analysis is three-fold: Firstly, I explore the varying degree of policy responsiveness by assessing the promise-to-policy congruence of incumbent governments. Secondly, I determine the relative correlates of responsiveness by empirically testing extant propositions from the literature. Thirdly, I assess the extent of accountability that occurs based upon both campaign promises and performance and investigate the voting behavior of citizens in new democracies. Using an original dataset of twenty six Third Wave democracies, my research finds that incumbent governments in new democracies do act responsively upon campaign promises. Additionally, I find that the conventional theory of electoral competition - enhancing responsiveness does not hold true in new democracies. Regarding government accountability, citizens in new democracies do not seem to care about economic policy promises. This is largely due to the time-specific context of neo-liberalism in new democracies' economic policies, in which incumbent governments were forced to abandon campaign promises under the pressure of the global market. However, in the social and health policy area, evidence of accountability based upon both promises and performance indicates that citizens in new democracies can promote representative governments by holding elected officials accountable for their policy actions. Overall, I conclude that governments in new democracies do represent the policy preferences of their citizens by responding to the campaign promises and by being held accountable for their promises and performance, especially in the social and health policy area. These findings are positive indicators for the quality of democracy in such countries as my research suggests a relatively solid connection between the citizens and their representatives.