Electoral Control in New Democracies: The Perverse Incentives of Fluid Party Systems

Jakub Zielinski, Kazimierz M. Slomczynski, Goldie Shabad
2005 World Politics  
How do fluid party systems that exist in many new democracies affect democratic accountability? We investigate how the incentives generated by fluid party systems, i.e., by the prospect of party-switching when economic outcomes are bad, interact with the incentives generated by the system of repeated elections, i.e., by the prospect of an electoral sanction when economic outcomes are bad. We use a new database on all legislative incumbents and all competitive elections that took place in Poland
more » ... ook place in Poland since 1991. Despite Poland's fluid party system, electoral control works through political parties, meaning that when economic outcomes are bad, voters punish legislators from a governing party and they reward legislators from an opposition party. However, unlike in stable party systems, many politicians from a governing party 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. Thus, fluid party systems undermine the extent of electoral control, and as such they are an integral part of a comprehensive understanding of representative government.
doi:10.1353/wp.2006.0006 fatcat:xvu5mhsmsvdktigeccw3r7mn6y