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Democratic Accountability in Service Delivery - A Synthesis of Case Studies | Analysis and Policy | International IDEA
International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA)
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Democratic accountability refers to the many ways in which citizens, political parties, parliaments and other democratic actors can provide feedback to, reward or sanction officials in charge of setting and enacting public policy. Well functioning accountability mechanisms are believed to provide incentives for governments to work in the best interests of citizens. When it comes to the more concrete dimension of service delivery, the critical role of accountability is still a matter for debate. Only a few empirical studies have explored the links between democratic mechanisms and public services, especially when it comes to the roles played by representative political institutions such as political parties and parliaments.
This document serves as an introduction to various papers that describe the projects inwhich some of those connections are analysed. International IDEA selected these projectsfrom more than 60 submitted and assessed in 2010, as they highlight some common themes and lessons critical for understanding democratic accountability in the context of servicedelivery. The selection reveals that in the countries studied, formal democratic channels foraccountability are subject to a number of challenges, including weak and sometimes non crediblepolitical institutions. In the light of such a deficit, most of the studies have a narrow and exclusive focus on the role of civil society organizations in advancing accountability. Inspite of this, they show successful attempts to improve public services by advocating specificpolicy shifts. Many of these agents explicitly avoid using confrontational strategies and tryinstead to support governments in future provision. This introduction discusses whether these strategies are conducive to improving accountability in the long term.