Political accountability and the room to maneuver: A search for a causal chain

Thomas Sattler, John R. Freeman, Patrick T. Brandt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Many studies of the room to maneuver make no provision for popular evaluation of policy. They assert rather than demonstrate popular satisfaction with policy choices and macroeconomic outcomes. The authors present a framework that explicitly models channels for popular preferences to influence policies and outcomes. Results for economic policy making in Britain do not support the room to maneuver thesis. In the authors' sample (1981 to 1997), the British government was responsive to changes in political evaluations, and its policy choices effectively fed back into popular evaluations of government policy. However, this accountability mechanism worked outside the real economy. Shifts in popular evaluations induced changes in policy but had no impact on inflation and economic growth. Government capacity to shape macroeconomic outcomes was limited, and popular influence over economic policy was ineffectual. This form of accountability probably existed because British citizens had difficulty gauging the real impacts of their government's policies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1212-1239
Number of pages28
JournalComparative Political Studies
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2008


  • Accountability
  • Monetary policy
  • Open economy
  • Public opinion


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