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Electoral Competition, Political Uncertainty, and Policy Insulation




Why are government bureaus not necessarily organized to implement policy effectively? One view holds that a main culprit is political uncertainty. Elected officials know that they will not hold office forever, so they use “insulating†structures that constrain bureaucratic discretion, making bureaus less subject to sabotage but also less effective. I revise this theory by modeling how public officials choose administrative structures. I show that in systems with few veto points, groups will be most likely to act cooperatively on policy when political uncertainty is greatest. In contrast, in systems with many veto points, only electorally weak groups will insulate policies from future interference, therefore shifting focus from uncertainty to electoral strength. Because the conditions that lead to policy insulation are rare, electoral competition should not be thought of as a primary cause of bureaucratic inefficiency.

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  • De Figueiredo, Rui J. P., 2002. "Electoral Competition, Political Uncertainty, and Policy Insulation," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 96(2), pages 321-333, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:apsrev:v:96:y:2002:i:2:p:321-333_5

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