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Controlling Governments
Voters, Institutions, and Accountability

$32.99 (P)

Part of Cambridge Studies in the Theory of Democracy

Belén Barreiro, Ignacio Sánchez-Cuenca, Sonia Alonso, Paloma Aguilar, Marta Fraile, José María Maravall, Alberto Penadés, Alicia Adserá, Carles Boix
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  • Date Published: November 2007
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521711104

$ 32.99 (P)

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About the Authors
  • This book contributes to debates in positive democratic theory about accountability and representation. It bridges the gap between formal models and theoretically weak empirical analyses. The chapters stay close to the results of the formal literature, but they provide a more realistic description of how the democratic control of governments operates. The book studies the many obstacles that citizens face to hold governments accountable: (1) voters combine judgments of past performance with other considerations – such as ideological or ethnic criteria; (2) parties in office may limit the information of voters; and (3) institutions bias the exercise of accountability.

    • Integrates sophisticated theoretical analysis with rigorous empirical research
    • Chapters provide exceptionally rich empirical evidence for the comparative analysis of democracies, not just the U.S., and over time
    • Chapters are tightly integrated; this cross-fertilization expands the theoretical and empirical contribution of the book to democratic theory
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "By analyzing topics such as political knowledge, ethnicity, and internal party politics thorough the lens of agency theory, Controlling Governments offers fresh insights into how citizens use their votes to influence elections and political stability. The book is a significant contribution that will be valuable to anyone interested in the comparative study of political representation."
    John D. Huber, Columbia University

    "Controlling Governments represents an enormous advance in empirical democratic theory. The volume underscores the obstacles that voters face in holding democratic governments accountable and thus points toward reforms that may strengthen accountability. The chapters in this tightly integrated volume contain important new findings about how democracy works, such as that incumbency is an electoral disadvantage in developing democracies, that voters hold parties of the right and left to different performance standards, and that more-sophisticated voters pay more attention to performance, less-sophisticated ones to ideology. It will be must reading for positive and normative theorists of democracy and for students of comparative politics and government."
    Susan Stokes, Yale University

    "The chapters are refreshingly eclectic in their theoretical approach, blending retrospective, spatial, and sociological theories of voting in thoughtful and productive ways." --Leonard Ray, Louisiana State University: Comparative Politics Book Reviews

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2007
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521711104
    • length: 326 pages
    • dimensions: 227 x 151 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.442kg
    • contains: 60 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Explaining the electoral performance of incumbents in democracies Belén Barreiro
    2. How can governments be accountable if voters vote ideologically? Ignacio Sánchez-Cuenca
    3. Enduring ethnicity: the political survival of incumbent ethnic parties in western democracies Sonia Alonso
    4. Performance or representation? The determinants of voting in complex political contexts Paloma Aguilar and Ignacio Sánchez-Cuenca
    5. Political knowledge and the logic of voting: a comparative study Marta Fraile
    6. The political consequences of internal party democracy José María Maravall
    7. Choosing rules for government: the institutional preferences of early Socialist parties Alberto Penadés
    8. Constitutions and democratic breakdowns Alicia Adserá and Carles Boix.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • Seminar in Comparative Political Institutions
  • Editors

    José María Maravall, Juan March Institute, Madrid
    José María Maravall is the Director of the Center for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences, Juan March Institute (Madrid). He is also a Professor of Sociology at the Universidad Complutense (Madrid), an Honorary Fellow of St. Antony's College (Oxford University), and a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy. He holds doctorates from the universities of Madrid and Oxford. He was a socialist member of Parliament and Minister of Education and Science from 1982 to 1988. His previous publications include Economic Reforms in New Democracies (1993); Regimes, Politics, and Markets (1997); and (with A. Przeworski) Democracy and the Rule of Law (2003).

    Ignacio Sánchez-Cuenca, Juan March Institute, Madrid
    Ignacio Sanchez-Cuenca is Professor of Political Science at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences, Juan March Institute (Madrid). He is also Associate Professor of Sociology at the Universidad Complutense (Madrid). He has been the Rice Visiting Associate Professor at Yale University, Visiting Scholar at New York University, and has held positions at Universidad Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona) and University of Salamanca. He has published three books in Spanish; articles in journals such as Government and Opposition; Party Politics; European Union Politics; and the European Journal of Sociology; as well as several Spanish journals. He also has chapters in several edited volumes, including Democracy and the Rule of Law (2003), edited by J. M. Maravall and A. Przeworski.


    Belén Barreiro, Ignacio Sánchez-Cuenca, Sonia Alonso, Paloma Aguilar, Marta Fraile, José María Maravall, Alberto Penadés, Alicia Adserá, Carles Boix

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