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Why Political Elites Support Governmental Transparency. Self-Interest, Anticipation of Voters' Preferences or Socialization?

Christian Weyand
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Christian Weyand: CGS, University of Cologne

No 04-02, Cologne Graduate School Working Paper Series from Cologne Graduate School in Management, Economics and Social Sciences

Abstract: Since governmental transparency is considered to be a key mechanism for democratic accountability and representation, we compare three analytically distinctive motivations that could potentially explain transparency support among political elites: (1) From a principal-agent perspective, elites have no incentive to reduce their informational advantage over voters inherent in the policy process. (2) From an office-seeking perspective, it should be beneficial to support popular issues such as transparency. (3) From a democratic-elitism perspective, a specific elite-socialisation should lead to high support of civil liberties like transparency. Analysing survey data of candidates for the German Bundestag 2009, we find high variance among elites and complementary influence of the three motivations. Socialization in left-leaning parties has the most dominant positive effect. We find anticipation effects among candidates that are highly dependent on voters' support and whose voters are in favour of transparency at the same time. Further, transparency support is higher among young candidates. The findings imply that more transparency policies might be implemented in the future if public support for transparency increases and older candidate cohorts are replaced. Examining underlying motivations for policy changes, this work contributes to the literature of policy representation and is the first to investigate elites' preferences towards governmental transparency.

Keywords: Transparency; Elites; Political Process (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D72 Z13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cdm and nep-pol
Date: 2013-02
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