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Government Responsiveness under Majoritarian and (within) Proportional Electoral Systems

  • Benjamin Ferland (a1)

Government responsiveness to citizens’ preferences is considered a sign of a well-functioning representative democracy. While the empirical literature has grown significantly, scholars have given less scrutiny to the conceptualization of government responsiveness and its relationship to policy/ideological congruence. We show that government responsiveness represents dynamic changes from governments in order to improve policy/ideological congruence. In addition, we consider how electoral systems influence governments’ incentives to be responsive as well as their capacity to be responsive. Building on a veto player approach, we argue that government responsiveness decreases as the number of parties in cabinet increases. We examine government responsiveness to citizens’ ideological preferences in 16 advanced democracies in 1980–2016 with respect to social spending. In line with our veto player framework, we show, first, that governments are generally more responsive under majoritarian than PR electoral systems and, second, that government responsiveness decreases under PR electoral systems as the number of parties increases in cabinet.

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Government and Opposition
  • ISSN: 0017-257X
  • EISSN: 1477-7053
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