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Back to Panel Details
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Responsive vs Responsible Government: How do Parties find the Balance?

Comparative Politics
Democracy
Government
Parliaments
Political Competition
Political Parties
Public Policy
Representation
P374
Johannes Karremans
Universität Salzburg
Zoe Lefkofridi
Universität Salzburg
Mark Bovens
University of Utrecht

Thursday 15:50 - 17:30 (08/09/2016)

Building: Faculty of Arts Floor: Ground Room: FA018

Abstract

Recent political developments in Europe attest that the duties of government and the demands of political representation may, at times, be in sharp contrast with one another. The most dramatic example has probably been Greece, when the Tsipras’ cabinet was forced to subdue popular demand to international commitments. More generally, across Europe there seems to be a bifurcation within national politics: on the one hand there is the growing complexity of governing and, on the other, the polarizing electoral demand. In this context, it becomes hard to combine political representation with responsible policy-making. This apparent incompatibility, known as the “Responsive-Responsible” dilemma of party-government, is also viewed as a threat to the survival of representative democracy (Mair 2014). Even though events as the Eurozone crisis may have sharpened this incompatibility (Alonso 2014), the dilemma is inherent to the functioning of representative democracy (Sartori 1976). Within the scholarly literature, important progress has been made in analysing policy responsiveness (e.g. Peters and Ensink 2015) and congruence between voters and parties (e.g. Lefkofridi and Casado 2013). However, little is known about the interactions between democratic inputs and the external factors that shape policy-outputs. Our panel tries to fill this gap by exploring the policy-process from a variety of perspectives. Departing from the concerns expressed by Peter Mair, our panel addresses the democratic chain from different angles. With a wide range of empirical material, the papers offer the opportunity to discuss different theoretical and empirical insights on the “Responsive-Responsible” dilemma. The foci of analyses include the mutating discourse of governments and parties, policy-responses to the crisis, the different factors shaping policy, and citizens’ perception of government-performance. Taken together, these studies offer novel empirical insights into different factors shaping the recent budgetary policy course in France, Greece and the United Kingdom, and explore cross-sectional patterns regarding the interactions between responsiveness to democratic inputs and responsibility towards institutional commitments. Last but not least, this selection of papers presents a nice blend of qualitative and quantitative approaches, thereby offering the opportunity to discuss how the two can complement each other. The papers included in this panel will be discussed by Professor Mark Bovens, an expert on public policy, who is very familiar with the “Responsive-Responsible” dilemma. Professor Bovens’ comments will help us draw broader conclusions from these empirical studies and develop a comparative perspective. References Alonso, S. (2014). “You can vote but you cannot choose: Democracy and the sovereign debt crisis in the Eurozone”, Estudio/Working Paper 2014/282, Instituto Mixto Carlos III. Lefkofridi, Z., and Casado-Asensio, J. (2013). European Vox Radicis: Representation and policy congruence on the extremes. Comparative European Politics, 11(1), 93-118. Mair, P. (2014) ‘Representative versus responsible government’. In Mair, P. On parties, party systems and democracy, Colchester: ECPR Press: 581-596. Peters, Y., and Ensink, S. J. (2015). Differential Responsiveness in Europe: The Effects of Preference Difference and Electoral Participation. West European Politics, 38(3), 577-600. Sartori, G. (1976). Parties and party systems: A framework for analysis, Cambridge London New York & Melbourne: Cambridge University Press.

Title Details
Democracy without Choice: Citizens' Perceptions of government's autonomy during the Eurozone crisis View Paper Details
How do governments justify a volte-face from a responsive to a responsible policy-attitude? A comparison of the Hollande and Mitterrand governments View Paper Details
Democratic Representation and Trust: how Responsiveness Facilitates Responsibility View Paper Details
Social coalitions, austerity and responsive vs. responsible government View Paper Details