Strom: Delegation and accountability in parliamentary democracies
Disclaimer. Don't rely on these old notes in lieu of reading the literature, but they can jog your memory. As a grad student long ago, my peers and I collaborated to write and exchange summaries of political science research. I posted them to a wiki-style website. "Wikisum" is now dead but archived here. I cannot vouch for these notes' accuracy, nor can I even say who wrote them. If you have more recent summaries to add to this collection, send them my way I guess. Sorry for the ads; they cover the costs of keeping this online.
Strom. 2000. Delegation and accountability in parliamentary democracies. European Journal of Political Research 37 (May): 261-289.
In its ideal type, parliamentarism is a single chain of delegation (with each agent having only one principal), while presidentialism has multiple paths of delegation.
- Presidential systems have more complex delegation than parliamentary systems
- Parliamentary systems are better at selection, so they avoid adverse selection (b/c leaders have long experience and must be tested in the party's ranks as they progress from backbencher to minister to prime minister)
- But they risk moral hazard, b/c the executive and legislature are led by the same party/coalition, so they have little incentive to look over one another's shoulders. [BUT doesn't prime minister have an incentive to preserve the party name? Otherwise, he's out of leadership.]
- Thus, ineffective accountability and poor transparency. Parliamentarism's challenge: decaying screening devices and diverted accountabilities
- Presidential systems risk greater adverse selection, but they have better sanctioning mechanisms to prevent moral hazard (e.g. checks and balances, term limits, opposition in the legislature, judicial review)
- Thus, greater transparency and accountability
- But they risk adverse selection, b/c outsiders can get office, and those who run often have had little experience in their parties or in the national spotlight