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Home arrow Political science arrow Evaluating Democratic Innovations: Curing the Democratic Malaise?

Top-down innovation

Broadly speaking, innovations of this kind involve constitutional and governmental engineering that, in turn, require the creation of new institutions or rules of procedure and conduct. Private organizations such as parties, voluntary associations and social movements have also innovated in order to improve their internal operations and broaden their appeal. Many of the top-down forms of innovations are attempts to make the instruments of representative government work in new and better ways. In general, they can be grouped under two headings.

Vertical accountability

Vertical accountability refers to the accountability of government to its citizens. Modem innovations of this kind are often refinements of the classical mechanisms that try to ensure that governments are responsible and responsive to their citizens. Examples are: the decentralization of government; the abolition of dual mandates; term limits for elected representatives; new institutions of international and multinational government; truth and reconciliation commissions; performance- based public budgeting; new forms of quango; the greater use of courts and legal constraints on government and its agencies; transparency in government; democratic audits. Vertical innovations have also been introduced in nongovernmental political organizations, particularly in parties that have tried to improve their internal democratic performance.

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