Invictus: Administrative Structure and Democratic Survival

45 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2012 Last revised: 23 Aug 2012

See all articles by Agnes Cornell

Agnes Cornell

Department of Political Science, Lund University

Victor Lapuente

Göteborg University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: 2012

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Cornell, Agnes and Lapuente, Victor, Invictus: Administrative Structure and Democratic Survival (2012). APSA 2012 Annual Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2108798

Agnes Cornell

Department of Political Science, Lund University ( email )

Box 52
Lund
Sweden

Victor Lapuente (Contact Author)

Göteborg University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 711
Göteborg, S-405 30
Sweden

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