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Democratic Accountability, Political Order, and ChangeExploring Accountability Processes in an Era of European Transformation$
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Johan P. Olsen

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198800606

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198800606.001.0001

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Democratic Accountability and the Terms of Political Order

Democratic Accountability and the Terms of Political Order

(p.1) 1 Democratic Accountability and the Terms of Political Order
Democratic Accountability, Political Order, and Change

Johan P. Olsen

Oxford University Press

In representative democracies accountability is seen as an ideal and an achievement and also as partially constitutive of democratic government. Democratic accountability implies governance based on feedback, learning from experience, and the informed consent of the governed. Citizens are neither the initial authors of laws and budgets nor the designers of the political order under which they live. But they are not powerless. Although most decisions are made by elected representatives, appointed officials, and other power holders, rulers still have an obligation to be appropriately accountable to the ruled. However, a rising number of demands for explanations and justifications indicate the limits of popular acceptance, allegiance, and support. This chapter outlines elements of an analytical framework for thinking about the interrelations between democratic accountability, political order, and orderly change, that is, how democratic accountability processes are affected by an existing political order and how they, in turn, affect that order.

Keywords:   accountability demand, democratic accountability, identity, institutional approach, learning from experience, political association, political organization, political agency, terms of political order

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