Department of Political Science

How Do Different Sources of Partisanship Influence Government Accountability in Europe?

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The possibility of holding representatives to account through regular elections is one of the cornerstones of representative democracy. The precise role of partisanship in doing this has not been extensively examined. Using survey data from Europe (2002–2012), we show that partisanship can weaken or strengthen accountability, depending on its sources. If it is an affective-psychological attitude, as the Michigan school suggests, then it weakens accountability because it acts as a perceptual screen. If, however, it is a calculation of party performance which is constantly updated by citizens, then it strengthens accountability. The findings suggest that partisanship in Europe has been quite responsive to performance over the ten-year period. Instead of acting as a screen that inhibits accountability, partisanship appears rooted in calculations of party performance and so enhances accountability. However, the effects are asymmetric with left-leaning partisans more sensitive to the performance of their governments than right-leaning partisans.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Political Science Review
Pages (from-to)502-517
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2019

    Research areas

  • Democratic accountability, European Social Survey, government performance, partisanship, pooled cross-section time-series analysis, simultaneous equation estimation

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