Is Electoral Accountability Possible in a Single-Party Regime? Experimental Evidence from Vietnam

Edmund Malesky, Duke University


Precarity, Possibility, and the Post Pandemic


A growing body of evidence attests that legislators are responsive to the policy preferences of citizens in single-party regimes, yet debate surrounds the mechanisms driving this relationship. We experimentally test two potential responsiveness mechanisms—electoral accountability and upward accountability—by provisioning delegates to the Vietnamese National Assembly (VNA) with information on the policy preferences of their constituents and reminding them of either (1) the competitiveness of the upcoming 2021 elections or (2) a party mandate that legislative activities should reflect constituents' preferences. Consistent with existing work, delegates informed of citizens' preferences are more likely to speak on the parliamentary floor and in closed-session caucuses. Importantly, we find that such responsiveness is entirely driven by the election reminders; the upward accountability reminder has virtually no effect on behaviour.

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