Muddling up political systems? When regionalization blurs democracy: decentralization and attribution of responsibility

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The rise of regional governments in Europe has been often espoused on democratic grounds. Yet the democratic promise of political decentralization should be evaluated in light of its potential undermining effects upon the essential mechanism to make accountability work: citizens" capacity to assign responsibility for policy outcomes. People may get it wrong when assigning responsibility because they are not sure who is responsible for policy outcomes when powers are vertically fragmented between different levels of government and/or simply because their responsibility judgements are biased by political beliefs, which act as lenses through which attribution is filtered. How can we then make electoral accountability work in decentralized systems? This paper will explore this question by delving into the most important theoretical and empirical challenges in the study of attribution of responsibility and electoral accountability in decentralized contexts. At the theoretical level, there is still need of a better understanding of the relationship between federal institutional conditions and individuals" use of cognitive bias to cope with institutional complexity when assigning responsibility. The empirical challenge is to overcome the lack of comparable individual-level data on responsibility attribution for a broad range of country cases.
Attribution Of Responsibility, Decentralization, Regions in Europe, Accountability, European election survey
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León, S. (2018). Muddling up Political Systems? When Regionalization Blurs Democracy: Decentralization and Attribution of Responsibility. JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies, 56(3), pp. 706-716.