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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Political Accountability Under Alternative Institutional Regimes


This article contributes to the development of a positive theory of the interaction between institutional checks and balances and public accountability. In particular, the authors are interested in how various institutional separation-of-powers rules affect voter behavior, and in how these rational voter responses may affect our positive and normative assessment of different separation-of-powers regimes. The authors compare three stylized institutional arrangements: The first is a “Unilateral Authority”. The second regime is a “Mandatory Checks and Balances” regime. The third and final regime they consider is an “Opt-In Checks and Balances” system. These are obviously only three of a much larger number of possible institutional arrangements, but their simple structure is useful in generating comparative insights that might then be transposed to more complex and realistic institutional settings.

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