Political decentralization and electoral accountability: The argentine experience, 1983-2001
To what extent does public support for subnational officials fluctuate in response to local rather than national performance? Are the policy failures of subnational officials reliably punished by voters? Drawing upon both individual and aggregate level data, this article attempts to shed new light on these questions about the politics of decentralization by exploring electoral outcomes and public opinion at the subnational level in Argentina. Consistent with referendum voting models, this analysis suggests that the fate of candidates in both national and subnational elections is shaped by the performance of the incumbent presidential administration. Moreover, to the extent that subnational performance has an electoral impact, voters do not necessarily respond in ways that enhance electoral accountability. Voters not only blame and reward subnational officials for national performance, but also attribute responsibility for subnational performance to national authorities. The implications with respect to the impact of decentralized decision making on democratic accountability are decidedly mixed and anything but consistent with the argument that decentralization results in a closer match between citizen preferences and the allocation of public resources. © 2005 Cambridge University Press.
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