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Strom: Delegation and accountability in parliamentary democracies

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Strom. 2000. Delegation and accountability in parliamentary democracies. European Journal of Political Research 37 (May): 261-289.

In its ideal type, parliamentarism is a single chain of delegation (with each agent having only one principal), while presidentialism has multiple paths of delegation.

  • Presidential systems have more complex delegation than parliamentary systems
  • Parliamentary systems are better at selection, so they avoid adverse selection (b/c leaders have long experience and must be tested in the party's ranks as they progress from backbencher to minister to prime minister)
    • But they risk moral hazard, b/c the executive and legislature are led by the same party/coalition, so they have little incentive to look over one another's shoulders. [BUT doesn't prime minister have an incentive to preserve the party name? Otherwise, he's out of leadership.]
    • Thus, ineffective accountability and poor transparency. Parliamentarism's challenge: decaying screening devices and diverted accountabilities
  • Presidential systems risk greater adverse selection, but they have better sanctioning mechanisms to prevent moral hazard (e.g. checks and balances, term limits, opposition in the legislature, judicial review)
    • Thus, greater transparency and accountability
    • But they risk adverse selection, b/c outsiders can get office, and those who run often have had little experience in their parties or in the national spotlight