Are directly elected subnational executives more responsive to citizens’ needs than indirectly elected subnational executives? If not, what development interventions make directly elected subnational executives more likely to be responsive to citizens?
According to Rodden and Wibbels (2012, p. 4), responsiveness refers to a situation where “candidates offer, and then implement, distinctive platforms that reflect constituent preferences or demands.” This is the definition that is used for the purpose of this report. It is difficult to establish whether direct elections are the main driver of responsiveness. This is because even if a political actor’s level of responsiveness changes as a result of direct elections, this is hard to prove because such changes can be difficult to attribute. Direct elections in Indonesia were introduced in 2004. As a result the impact of direct elections on responsiveness has not been rigorously assessed to date. The existing literature on direct elections and responsiveness is divided. While some authors find that direct elections have had a significant impact on responsiveness, others find that direct elections have had no effect. In some cases direct elections have had a negative impact on responsiveness, reversing improvements in public services.
Strachan, A.L. Direct elections and responsiveness in Indonesia (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1074). Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK (2014) 6 pp.