Dual accountability and the nationalization of party competition: Evidence from four federations
This paper assesses the extent to which party systems are nationalized in four federations. In doing so, the research addresses two questions. First, is dual accountability operational across decentralized countries, or do sub-national voters turn to national cues as a means to economize in a complex information environment? By bringing a cross-national dataset to bear on this question, we are able to provide insight into where and why dual accountability might operate. Second, what explains variation in the extent to which party systems are nationalized across countries and time? We build on previous literature to suggest a number of factors likely to impact the extent of nationalization. We examine those factors in the context of provincial-level elections in Argentina, Canada, Germany and the United States. Using national and sub-national economic data, we find little evidence of dual accountability in any of our countries. We find that economic performance matters little for regional electoral outcomes, and where it does, sub-national outcomes reflect national rather than sub-national conditions. More important are the roles of partisan relations across levels of government and election timing. Sub-national co-partisans of the nationally governing party lose votes, particularly as the time from the most recent national election grows. The strength of these effects varies across our cases in predictable ways. © The Author(s) 2010.
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