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Is the Relationship Between Political Responsibility and Electoral Accountability Causal, Adaptive and Policy-Specific?

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Will voters hold an incumbent more electorally accountable for the quality of a policy outcome if the incumbent’s political responsibility for the underlying policy increases? To answer this question, this study exploits a reform of labor market regulation in Denmark that exogenously assigned more political responsibility for unemployment services to some municipal mayors. The study finds that in subsequent elections these mayors were held more electorally accountable for unemployment services, but not more accountable for other policy outcomes. This suggests that the relationship between political responsibility and electoral accountability is causal, adaptive and tied to specific policies. On balance, the electorate thus seems to be quite judicious when assigning electoral credit or blame, moderating the extent to which incumbents are held accountable for specific outcomes based on the extent to which these incumbents crafted and implemented the policies that shaped these outcomes.
TidsskriftPolitical Behavior
Sider (fra-til)1071–1098
Antal sider28
StatusUdgivet - dec. 2019

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