Measuring Accountability in Authoritarian Legislatures: The Representativeness of Vietnamese National Assembly Delegates
Posted: 25 Aug 2009
Date Written: August 25, 2009
Contributors to the literature on authoritarian institutions have linked semi-competitive elections and legislatures with greater regime longevity and increased economic output. Debate continues, however, over the direct causal link between these institutions and the correlation with such benefits. Different theories offer widely varying observable implications for delegate behavior in authoritarian parliaments, but due to data limitations, these differences have yet to be tested directly. In this paper, we take advantage of the recent publication of transcripts of biannual query sessions in the Vietnamese National Assembly, where delegates question the Prime Minister and Cabinet Members on important issues of the day. Using a content analysis of these questions as a proxy for legislative voting in assessing voting behavior, we are able to offer the first test of delegate behavior in non-democratic parliaments. We find evidence that some delegates exhibit patterns of downward accountability to their voters, but that representation is highly influenced by the nomination and electoral rules that led to an individual candidate’s election. Candidates nominated by the central leadership and those with safe seats, are far less likely than local candidates in competitive districts to challenge the policies and performance of central leaders.
Keywords: Vietnam, National Assembly, Authoritarian Institutions, Parliaments, Query Session
JEL Classification: P16, P26
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation