Can Elections Motivate Responsiveness in a Single-Party Regime? Experimental Evidence from Vietnam

A growing body of evidence attests that legislators are sometimes 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—elections versus mandates from party leaders—by provisioning delegates to the Vietnamese National Assembly 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 central decree 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 election reminders; upward incentive reminders have virtually no effect on behavior.

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License CC BY
Type Journal Articles
C-ID POLS 130 - Comparative