Espousing and Scouting for Democracy’s Crowning!

Best of Comparative Politics Newsletter, W. ’13.

I realized that is has been a while since I checked in as a comparative comparativist. Since I really enjoyed yesterday’s Comparative Newsletter, I thought to relay a few points… and check in.

APSA-COMPARATIVE POLITICS  The Organized Section in Comparative Politics of the American Political Science Association   Newsletter   Volume 23, Issue I, Winter 2013

  1. The Committee on Concepts and Methods (C&M) announces
  2. Andreas Schedler of CIDE Mexico City, as editor, is bouncin’
  3. Cas Mudde of the University of Georgia
  4. will be taking over…abounding;
  5. Espousing and scouting for Democracy’s crowning!?

In no particular order, below are a few excerpts and comments from the newsletter that are definitely worth discussion.

Governance: Disaggregating Concept and Measurement by Michael Bratton

Simply defined, governance is the act or process of imparting direction and coordination to governmental organizations in an environment. As a vague and complex concept, governance has multiple aspects: not only political, but also administrative and economic. Each of these dimensions can be further broken down for purposes of operational research, making, in all, a total of nine measurable dimensions.

The administrative dimensions of governance concern:

  • Legality: whether the government observes a rule of law;
  • Transparency: whether government procedures are open for all to see; and,
  • Honesty: whether government officials are free of corruption.

The economic dimensions of governance cover:

  • Effectiveness: whether government is able to attain its stated policy goals;
  • Efficiency: whether public goods are delivered on a cost-effective basis; and,
  • Equity: whether citizens enjoy equality of access to available public goods.

Finally, the political dimensions of governance consist of:

  • Responsiveness: whether elected officials act according to popular priorities;
  • Accountability: whether unresponsive public officials can be disciplined; and,
  • Legitimacy: whether citizens willingly obey government commands.

Governments can be compared according to performance of these various governance functions. A government that does well or badly on one dimension will not necessarily perform the same way on all. For example, even if public services are delivered efficiently (that is, cost-effectively) public agencies may not be transparent (using procedures that all citizens can see and understand) or responsive (to citizen priorities).

Of course, I will try to apply the former indicators to liberalism, republicanism, and authoritarianism spatial map (working paper).

Democracy and Good Government by Nicholas Charron and Victor Lapuente

…democratic rulers tend to be more accountable to their citizens than their autocratic counterparts and that means underproviding public goods like an impartial bureaucracy and judiciary when citizens may prefer private/patronage goods and distributive targeted policies (i.e. in low-income countries).

Conversely, democratic leaders have a stronger incentive than their authoritarian counterparts to provide long-term impartial, uncorrupt public goods when their citizens, by virtue of their relatively high-income, may be in a position to demand long-sighted policies.

You know, a scholar of modern republicanism could join your team…

ParlGov – A New Data Infrastructure in Comparative Politics by Holger Döring and Philip Manow

Data: The dataset covers 35 democracies with observations on all parties, all (national and European) elections as well as all cabinets over the entire post-war period. All information can be easily combined by making use of unique identifiers for parties, elections and cabinets.

Party IDs in ParlGov are connected to a large number of external data sets (see below). The latest stable release of ParlGov includes observations for 1400 parties and classifies them into party families. It records a party’s name in the original language, its English name and the abbreviation. In addition, name changes over a party’s history are coded, as well as most mergers and splits. This allows tracking the evolution of entire party systems.

In addition, parties in ParlGov are linked to well known datasets with information on party positions such as the expert surveys by Castles and Mair (1984), Huber and Inglehart (1995), Ray (1999), Benoit and Laver (2006), and the Chapel Hill Expert Survey Series (Hooghe et  al. 2010; Steenbergen and Marks 2007), or the Comparative Manifesto Data (Budge et  al. 2001; Klingemann et  al. 2006), the EU Profiler (Trechsel and Mair 2009), and the European Election Study (EES) (2009).

One can therefore add position data from various external sources to all observations in ParlGov.

Alternate title: Tracking Party Systems: ParlGov!

Rethinking Governance Indicators by Matt Andrews

I propose an example of this indicator, looking at the survival rates of children under five years of age as the crucial indicator of governance in the field of child health.

• The theoretical rationale behind such indicator is simple: Citizens grant governments the authority to ensure optimal provision of child health care, in whichever way appropriate, reflected in the cost efficient production of the highest possible survival rate of all children under five. Governance systems are ‘good’ when they ensure relatively high survival rates at relatively low average cost.

• The mechanics behind this indicator are also simple. I calculate the z-score for countries’ under-five survival rates and the costs of providing health care (public and private), when compared with averages of countries in the same income groups (using the United Nations Classification as a guide). This involves looking at the number of standard deviations a country sits above or below the average scores of comparable countries. To use a sports metaphor in explaining the approach, the idea is to see if countries box at, above, or below their income ‘weight’.

For instance, governance systems in the United States could be adjusted to bring the cost of providing health care down. Lessons on where costs are lower could come from other high income countries like Singapore. These lessons might suggest that jurisdiction size matters (given that most wealthy countries in the bottom right quadrant are small) and that having a dominant public sector role in health care financing can bring costs down (given that wealthy countries with lower costs seem to have higher public sector contributions).

These and other second-stage observations provide important avenues for further research into why outcomes vary between countries, and will help to focus reform decisions on relevant solutions to the peculiar governance challenges of specific countries.

Newsletter Staff

Hertie School of Governance

Berlin Germany


Mark Hallerberg

Mark Andreas Kayser

Assistant Editor

Linnea Kreibohm

Editorial Board

Klaus Brösamle

Cassandra Grafström

Anke Hassel

Stein Kuhnle

Piero Stani


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