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(When) Do Elections Set the Agenda? The Extent and Determinants of Mandate Responsiveness in Germany (1978-2017)

Abstract : The room available for elections to shape policy is one crucial question: do elections, and particularly parties’ electoral priorities, influence at all government policy agendas? Scholars have argued that various factors, including counter-majoritarian institutions, international, economic and political constraints, dilute mandate responsiveness. However, exhaustive empirical evidence on this important claim remains needed. This article provides an empirical account of how strong these different types of constraints limit the governing parties’ capacity to set their electoral priorities on the agenda. Using panel negative binomial regressions on German electoral and legislative priorities over a period of four decades (1978-2017), we conclude that, even controlling for a vast amount of variables, electoral priorities affect government policies to a greater extent than scholarship has acknowledged so far. We confirm the constraining effect of democratic checks and balances, Europeanization, and shrinking budget and popularity, However, we show that none of these dimensions correspond to necessary conditions to mandate responsiveness. They can, on the contrary, compensate each other, a party in office being for instance able to compensate for lack of budgetary leeway, for instance thanks to a strong popularity. Electoral priorities do matter for policymaking, and they can do so even in times of international interdependence or budget austerity. We elaborate on the implications for theories of democratic accountability and public policy.
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Contributor : Karine Jenart <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, October 27, 2020 - 1:52:49 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, May 4, 2021 - 3:04:06 AM


  • HAL Id : halshs-02980091, version 1


Isabelle Guinaudeau, Benjamin Guinaudeau. (When) Do Elections Set the Agenda? The Extent and Determinants of Mandate Responsiveness in Germany (1978-2017). ECPR General Conference, Panel : Political Parties: Strategies and Outcomes, ECPR, Aug 2020, Hambourg, Germany. ⟨halshs-02980091⟩



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