Nodding or Needling: Analyzing Delegate Responsiveness in an Authoritarian Parliament

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Recent scholarship argues that one solution to ensure longevity and economic growth in an authoritarian regime is to co-opt potential opposition by offering them limited policy influence in a national legislature. Although cooptation theory generates a number of predictions for delegate behavior within an authoritarian parliament, the opacity of such regimes has made empirical confirmation difficult. We resolve this problem by exploiting the transcripts of query sessions in the Vietnamese National Assembly, where delegates question the prime minister and Cabinet members on important issues of the day. Using a content analysis of queries, we offer the first empirical test of delegate behavior in nondemocratic parliaments. We find that some delegates exhibit behavior consistent with cooptation theory by actively participating in sessions, demonstrating criticism of authorities, and responding to the needs of local constituents. Such responsiveness, however, is parameterized by regime rules for nominating, electing, and assigning parliamentary responsibilities to individual delegates. © 2010 American Political Science Association.





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Malesky, EJ, and P Schuler (2010). Nodding or Needling: Analyzing Delegate Responsiveness in an Authoritarian Parliament. American Political Science Review, 104(03). pp. 482–502. 10.1017/S0003055410000250 Retrieved from

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Edmund Malesky

Professor of Political Science

Malesky is a specialist on Southeast Asia, particularly Vietnam. Currently, Malesky's research agenda is very much at the intersection of Comparative and International Political Economy, falling into three major categories: 1) Authoritarian political institutions and their consequences; 2) The political influence of foreign direct investment and multinational corporations; and 3) Political institutions, private business development, and formalization.

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