Representation and Accountability: Communicating Tubes?
Christopher Lord and Johannes Pollak have published the article 'Representation and Accountability: Communicating Tubes?' in West European Politics 33(5).
Although representation and accountability require one another in modern democracy, there are many possible tensions between them. Democratic theories tend to combine the two but in ways that are not always obvious, and, depending on the institutional properties of a political system, varied ways of combining representation with accountability can amount to significant differences in the practice and quality of democracy.
The authors review those effects through the lens of the British and American traditions of representative government, and they also make their own attempt to bring greater conceptual order to an understanding of the relationship between representation and accountability in democratic politics. They show how representation and accountability are 'unsaturated' concepts, whose relationship one to another can only be properly understood through several further stages of specification. These must at least include specification of what kind of representation is thought desirable, of the major choices that need to be made in the design of any democratic polity, and of social and international contexts. The last point is of special relevance to the transposition of representation-accountability relationships to the EU.