The Quality of Democracy: The Chain of Responsiveness

Issue Date October 2004
Volume 15
Issue 4
Page Numbers 91-105
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“Democratic responsiveness” occurs when the democratic process induces the government to form and implement policies that the citizens want. The linkages that connect citizens’ preferences, electoral choices, selecting policymakers and policymaking can be subverted at each stage. There are also serious conceptual difficulties created by the complexity of citizen preferences and by uncontrollable factors that shape policy outcomes. The subversions include control over information, incoherence of party policy discourse, unrepresentative election outcomes, officials switching parties after elections, use of executive decrees, bait and switch campaign tactics, and corruption in policymaking. I offer some suggestions about the measurement of democratic responsiveness.

About the Author

G. Bingham Powell, Jr., is the Marie C. Wilson and Joseph C. Wilson Professor of Political Science at the University of Rochester. His recent publications include Elections as Instruments of Democracy: Majoritarian and Proportional Visions (2000) and the coedited text Comparative Politics Today (2004). He is a former editor of the American Political Science Review.

View all work by G. Bingham Powell