Paulo H. de M. Arruda PAULO H. DE M. ARRUDA

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Revista de Sociologia e Política

Print version ISSN 0104-4478

Abstract

MIGUEL, Luís Felipe. Accountability impasses: dilemmas and alternatives of political representation.Translated byPaulo H. de M. Arruda. Rev. Sociol. Polit. [online]. 2006, vol.2Selected edition, pp. 0-0. ISSN 0104-4478.

One crucial element of electoral democracies is accountability, which guarantees the connection between those who represent and those who are represented. Nonetheless, the expectations that have been deposited in it find but its pale reflection in political practice. The ability that constituents have to supervise their representatives is limited, due to factors that include the complexity of public issues, weak incentives for political qualification and control over agendas. In light of this situation, proposals for the radical transformation of the mechanisms of representation that redeem the idea of "descriptive representation" and either weaken or abolish accountability have emerged. This is notably the case for the representation of groups and the substitution of elections with a lottery system. Although lacking in formal instruments for the responsiveness of those who govern to those that are governed, the forms that have been proposed would generate a body of representatives more similar to the population in its entirety and would increase the rotativity of decision-making positions. The present article analyzes proposals for descriptive representation through the prism of the relationship between representatives and the represented. Although they often suffer from serious fragilities and do not seem viable for effective implementation, these proposals do incorporate important criticisms and ones that deserve consideration regarding the functioning of electoral representation and, in particular, accountability.

Keywords : political representation; democracy; accountability.

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