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Centripetal Democratic Governance: A Theory and Global Inquiry

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 October 2005

JOHN GERRING
Affiliation:
Boston University
STROM C. THACKER
Affiliation:
Boston University
CAROLA MORENO
Affiliation:
Boston University

Abstract

Why are some democratic governments more successful than others? What impact do various political institutions have on the quality of governance? This paper develops and tests a new theory of democratic governance. This theory, which we label centripetalism, stands in contrast to the dominant paradigm of decentralism. The centripetal theory of governance argues that democratic institutions work best when they are able to reconcile the twin goals of centralized authority and broad inclusion. At the constitutional level, our theory argues that unitary, parliamentary, and list-PR systems (as opposed to decentralized federal, presidential, and nonproportional ones) help promote both authority and inclusion, and therefore better governance outcomes. We test the theory by examining the impact of centripetalism on eight indicators of governance that range across the areas of state capacity, economic policy and performance, and human development. Results are consistent with the theory and robust to a variety of specifications.

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ARTICLES
Copyright
© 2005 by the American Political Science Association

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