Does Electoral Accountability Make a Difference? Direct Elections, Career Ambition, and Legislative Performance in the Argentine Senate
The Journal of Politics, Vol. 75, No. 1, January 2013
Studies analyzing the American Congress demonstrate that senators’ attention towards voters substantially increased after the 17 th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which replaced their indirect appointment with direct election. Even though this ﬁnding seems useful for theoretical generalizations, expectations become unclear as concerns about career perspectives differ. Should politicians with non-static ambition shift their attention towards voters if they do not expect reelection? Making use of a quasi-experimental setting, I analyze the impact of the shift from indirect to direct election to select the members of the Argentine Senate. I develop an argument for why, in spite of the lack of systematic pursuit of reelection, elected senators have incentives to be more oriented towards voters. Through the analysis of about 55,000 bills, I evaluate senatorial behavior under both sources of legitimacy. The ﬁndings support the idea that audience costs make a difference in behavior, regardless of short-term career expectations.
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