Are citizens in the new democracies of Central and Eastern Europe able to hold politicians accountable at elections? The inheritance of communism-disengaged citizens, economic flux, and inchoate party systems-might be expected to weaken accountability. Looking at the results of 34 elections in 10 Central and Eastern European countries, this paper finds instead a phenomenon that it calls hyperaccountability. Incumbents are held accountable for economic performance-particularly for unemployment-but this accountability distinguishes not between vote losses and gains, but between large and small losses. This result is significant in several respects. The evidence for economic voting restores some faith in the ability of voters to control their representatives in new democracies. The consistency of punishment in the region, however, may mitigate some of the benefits of economic voting. If incumbents know they will lose, then they may decide to enrich themselves when in power rather than produce good policies.
- Eastern Europe
- Economic voting
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Political Science and International Relations