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European Journal of Political Research

, Volume 37, Issue 3, pp 261–290 | Cite as

Delegation and accountability in parliamentary democracies

  • Kaare Strøm
Article

Abstract

Parliamentary democracy has been widely embraced bypoliticians and especially by the scholarly communitybut remains less widely understood. In this essay, Iidentify the institutional features that defineparliamentary democracy and suggest how they can beunderstood as delegation relationships. I proposetwo definitions: one minimal and one maximal (orideal-typical). In the latter sense, parliamentarydemocracy is a particular regime of delegation andaccountability that can be understood with the help ofagency theory, which allows us to identify theconditions under which democratic agency problems mayoccur. Parliamentarism is simple, indirect, andrelies on lessons gradually acquired in the past. Compared to presidentialism, parliamentarism hascertain advantages, such as decisional efficiency andthe inducements it creates toward effort. On theother hand, parliamentarism also implies disadvantagessuch as ineffective accountability and a lack oftransparency, which may cause informationalinefficiencies. And whereas parliamentarism may beparticularly suitable for problems of adverseselection, it is a less certain cure for moral hazard.In contemporary advanced societies, parliamentarism isfacing the challenges of decaying screening devicesand diverted accountabilities

Keywords

Agency Problem Institutional Feature Advanced Society Ofagency Theory Decisional Efficiency 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kaare Strøm
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of CaliforniaSan DiegoUSA

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