Does economic globalization affect political representation in the world's established democracies? If so, how? Despite a growing literature on the effect of global markets on domestic politics, scholars have ignored the fundamental question of representation. The study of representation remains the province of a largely separate literature on the political behavior of masses and elites. And though economic performance figures prominently in these works, scholars do not explore how the external economy affects the extent to which contemporary political systems live up to the democratic ideals of representation, accountability, and responsiveness. The proposed research will take up this task. Under globalization national governments become more dependent on the external environment, leaving policymakers with less control over the health of the economy. The electorate in turn becomes less inclined to evaluate elite performance in terms of economic conditions.
This study argues that these developments carry two related consequences for representation. First, increased openness reduces the likelihood that voters hold their governments accountable for past performance. Second, openness reduces elite incentives to respond to mass preferences over economic policy. In short, by upsetting links between domestic actors and policy outcomes, globalization alters the mechanisms of representative democracy.
The proposed research will make a contribution to the globalization literature both substantively and methodologically. Substantively, the study parts from past work on performance and policy outcomes to argue that a complete understanding of the impact of globalization requires a consideration of citizen preferences and elite strategies.
Methodologically, the study will test the argument in four stages. First, dynamic analyses of government popularity will be performed to assess whether increasing openness affects the clarity with which citizens evaluate elite performance. Second, multilevel analyses will be conducted to investigate if this relationship is conditional on national political context or on voters' characteristics. Next, comparative case studies of politician strategy will be done to examine the extent to which policy choices in a partially globalized world are driven by the demands of domestic politics. Finally, measures of elite and mass positions over policy responses to globalization will be combined to assess their congruence.
The proposed research has several potential impacts. First, it proposes one of the first comprehensive accounts of how economic openness affects representation among the developed democracies. Second, by doing so the research may call into question conventional assumptions over the bases of mass and elite preferences. And third, the research will reveal the extent to which national political institutions particularly elections themselves can continue to serve as instruments of democracy in an increasingly interdependent world.