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Responsibility versus responsiveness…to Whom? A theory of party behavior

Lefkofridi, Zoe and Nezi, Roula (2019) Responsibility versus responsiveness…to Whom? A theory of party behavior Party Politics.

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Late Peter Mair argued that, in the contemporary multilevel institutional setting of global governance, parties are faced with a dilemma between Responsiveness and Responsibility (RR dilemma). However, Mair did not theorize variation in how different parties experience the RR dilemma (degrees of tension) and how they manage it (strategies). We develop his work in three ways: first, we advance variants of the RR dilemma, where the tension party leaders face differs, and elucidate how viable contenders for executive office are likely to behave in each of these scenarios, and why. Second, we highlight domestic institutional factors (electoral rules and leadership autonomy) that regulate the pressure for responsiveness to public opinion and to partisans. Third, we place the RR dilemma in the context of multidimensional issue competition, which helps identify strategies for managing it. Finally, we provide an empirical illustration of our arguments using data on public opinion and partisans. We show that although responsibility can be combined with (some) voters’ representation, tension is high when leaders are constrained and partisans oppose responsibility even if the public endorses it; also, under disproportional electoral rules when the public opposes responsibility, even if party supporters endorse it.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > Department of Politics
Authors :
Lefkofridi, Zoe
Date : 8 August 2019
DOI : 10.1177/1354068819866076
Copyright Disclaimer : © 2019 The Authors. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License ( which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (
Uncontrolled Keywords : European Union; Institutions; Public opinion; Responsible government; Responsiveness
Depositing User : Diane Maxfield
Date Deposited : 07 Nov 2019 13:30
Last Modified : 15 Nov 2019 15:54

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