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Government Responsibility and Electoral Accountability in Federations


  • Fred Cutler


Because federalism can be a threat to accountability, a model of voting behavior in federations must accommodate voters' attributions of responsibility to each order of government for policy outcomes. This study uses a panel survey of Canadians in both federal and provincial elections to ask whether voters are able to hold governments accountable in a federal context. Voters may ignore issues where responsibility is unclear, they may reward or punish both the federal and provincial governments to the same degree, or the confusion of jurisdiction may sour them on the government or even the political system. Canadians who blamed both governments for problems in health care did not lake this judgment to their voting decision in either the 2000 federal election or the 2001 elections in Alberta and British Columbia, while those who could identify primary responsibility did so. Federalism and intergovernmental policymaking may reduce voters' ability to hold their governments accountable. Copyright 2004, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Fred Cutler, 2004. "Government Responsibility and Electoral Accountability in Federations," Publius: The Journal of Federalism, Oxford University Press, vol. 34(2), pages 19-38, Spring.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:publus:v:34:y:2004:i:2:p:19-38

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    Cited by:

    1. Lieberman, Evan S., 2011. "The perils of polycentric governance of infectious disease in South Africa," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 73(5), pages 676-684, September.
    2. repec:bla:jcmkts:v:55:y:2017:i:4:p:909-924 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Ailsa Henderson & Nicola McEwen, 2015. "Regions as Primary Political Communities: A Multi-Level Comparative Analysis of Turnout in Regional Elections," Publius: The Journal of Federalism, Oxford University Press, vol. 45(2), pages 189-215.
    4. Lago-Peñas, Santiago & Lago-Peñas, Ignacio, 2013. "La atribución de responsabilidades políticas en Estados descentralizados
      [The atribution of political responsibilities in decentralized countries]
      ," MPRA Paper 45045, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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