Invictus: Administrative Structure and Democratic Survival
45 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2012 Last revised: 23 Aug 2012
Date Written: 2012
This paper presents a novel hypothesis for understanding democratic survival: the higher the number of public employees who are directly accountable to elected officials, the lower the chances of democratic survival. The mechanism is as follows: the more people whose professional careers depend directly upon which party wins the elections, the more likely the government will propose and pass opportunistic actions aimed at their surviving in office at any cost (i.e. policies benefiting core supporters). In turn, this fosters the opposition’s taking preemptive actions, that could go as far as military coups or rebellions. However, in democracies with meritocratic administrations incumbents are credibly constrained from undertaking opportunistic partial policies by autonomous civil servants. We test this hypothesis worldwide on democracies from 1822 onwards, using a newly created dataset of administrative structures. Survival analyses show that having an autonomous bureaucracy (vs. administrators directly accountable to incumbents) makes democracies survive longer.
Keywords: public administration, democratic survival, presidentialism
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