Who Answers for the Government? Bureaucrats, Ministers, and Responsible Parties

Goplerud, Max and Daniel M. Smith. 2021. "Who Answers for the Government? Bureaucrats, Ministers, and Responsible Parties." American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming.

57 Pages Posted: 10 Mar 2020 Last revised: 21 Jul 2021

See all articles by Max Goplerud

Max Goplerud

University of Pittsburgh

Daniel M. Smith

Columbia University

Date Written: June 17, 2021

Abstract

A key feature of parliamentary democracy is government accountability vis-à-vis the legislature, but the important question of who speaks for the government—cabinet ministers or unelected bureaucrats, and the institutional underpinnings of this behavior—receives scant attention in the existing literature. We investigate this question with the case of Japan, and data on more than 4 million committee speeches spanning distinct electoral and legislative institutional environments. We document how a party-strengthening electoral system reform in 1994 facilitated a dramatic shift in the nature of government accountability to parliamentary committees: speeches by ministers increased, speeches by bureaucrats decreased, and discursive accountability between ministers and opposition legislators increased. Subsequent legislative reforms expanding junior ministerial roles and placing explicit limits on bureaucratic participation further reinforced the effects. These findings shed new light on the institutional foundations of responsible party government in general, as well as its progressive development in Japan.

Keywords: ministerial accountability, responsible party government, legislative speech, electoral systems, Japan

JEL Classification: D02, D71, D72 D73

Suggested Citation

Goplerud, Max and Smith, Daniel M., Who Answers for the Government? Bureaucrats, Ministers, and Responsible Parties (June 17, 2021). Goplerud, Max and Daniel M. Smith. 2021. "Who Answers for the Government? Bureaucrats, Ministers, and Responsible Parties." American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3542039 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3542039

Max Goplerud

University of Pittsburgh

4600 Wesley W. Posvar Hall
Pittsburgh, PA Pennsylvania 15260
United States

Daniel M. Smith (Contact Author)

Columbia University ( email )

420 West 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/site/danielmarkhamsmith

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