New research project: accountability in Belgian elections

The Research Foundation Flanders (FWO) has announced the results of the 2016 application round (Research Projects and Research Grants). One of the funded research proposals is a project on accountability in Belgian elections, which will be co-supervised by Marc Hooghe and Ruth Dassonneville. The project will start in January 2017.


Summary of the research project

Democratic governance requires that citizens can hold incumbents responsible for the policy they have pursued. In the literature, we can observe that investigating this mechanism remains limited to a) economic voting, b) accountability in high-clarity contexts (e.g., two party systems). The goal of the current project is to address both shortcomings in the literature. First, we allow respondents in our survey to identify the most salient policy issues, so that on each of these topics we can investigate whether electoral accountability occurs. Second, we will conduct the study in Belgium, a highly complex federal system with a complicated system of power sharing and a fragmented party system. We believe this offers a hard and conservative test for the theory on electoral accountability. We seize the opportunity of the 2019 elections that are scheduled in the country. First, we observe different coalitions in the two main language areas of Belgium, which allows for variation in the clarity of accountability. Second, regional, federal and European elections will be held on the same day in 2019, thus offering a unique opportunity to observe whether institutional complexity limits electoral accountability. Furthermore, in a pre- and post-election design we include measures of political sophistication, to assess whether the complexity of the Belgian political system makes it more difficult for citizens with lower levels of political sophistication to hold incumbents accountable.

This content has been updated on 26 November 2016 at 13 h 01 min.