Exogenous shocks and democratic accountability: Evidence from the Caribbean
This study attempts to contribute to the growing debate over democratic accountability by focusing on the electoral impact of natural disasters and economic crises in the Caribbean. Although largely ignored by political science, the polities in the region share a long history of democratic governance as well as extreme vulnerability to adverse weather conditions and global economic fluctuations. The Caribbean thus offers unusually fertile opportunities for research on the capacity of voters to make rational electoral decisions. Two key questions are addressed. First, to what extent do citizens of the Caribbean punish incumbents for exogenous economic and climatic shocks? Second, what factors, if any, help to insulate democratic leaders from blame for conditions largely outside their control? Contrary to recent research on natural disasters and economic downturns in other contexts, the analysis provides no evidence that voting in the Caribbean has been characterized by systematic attribution errors or electoral myopia. The pattern of citizen attribution of responsibility to policy makers, however, has varied significantly with national independence and political scale. © The Author(s) 2013.
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