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Jonathan Rodden and Erik Wibbels, "Dual accountability and the nationalization of party competition: Evidence from four federations," Party Politics, 17 (September, 2011),.629-654. [Available at http://ppq.sagepub.com/content/vol17/issue5/ ]

First paragraph:
Systems of multi-level governance represent important opportunities and paradoxes for representative democracy and electoral accountability. At least since Riker's (1964) classic work on federalism, the nature of the relationship between federal and regional political parties and elections has been a key variable in hypotheses related to the stability and efficiency of federations. This line of work has an important analogy in research on second-order elections in the context of the European Union (Norris, 1997; Reif and Schmitt, 1980; Van der Eijk and Franklin, 1996). Historically, the prevailing notion to emerge out of democratic theory has held that outcomes of national and decentralized elections reflect dual accountability, with constituencies holding politicians at distinct levels of government responsible only for those competencies they themselves control. Indeed, this notion was highlighted in the Federalist Papers, and it has guided many successful arguments for political decentralization around the world over recent decades. Growing interest in comparative decentralization, federalism and supranational European elections, however, has resulted in a new, cross-national focus on the role of parties in shaping representation and accountability across levels of government. Some of that research has challenged the notion of dual accountability, suggesting that decentralized politics are often dominated by dynamics at the national level.

Figures and Tables:
Table 1. Provincial economic growth and incumbent vote-share
Table 2. National economic growth, co-partisanship and incumbent vote-share
Figure 1. National growth, co-partisanship and sub-national incumbent vote-share
Figure 2. Midterms, co-partisanship and sub-national incumbent vote-share

Last Paragraph:
Finally, our analysis encourages further work on the mechanisms underpinning mid-term punishment in sub-national elections. Though it is a general phenomenon, we do not have the kind of data that would allow us to further investigate why it exists. Here, there are nuanced but important differences in the accounts of Kedar (2006) and Mebane and Sekhon (2002). While Kedar's model suggests that voters seek to balance out of an explicit desire for moderate policy, Mebane and Sekhon suggest that they do so as a result of information learned about the policy platform of the national party during its time in office. In Mebane and Sekhon, voters do not seek to balance policy per se so much as they want to punish the nationally governing party for revealed policy preferences that vary from their own. Which of these accounts, if either, is correct cannot be explained without additional research on voters' preferences and candidates' platforms, especially as conveyed through the informational content of national party labels.

Last updated August 2011