“Ministerial accountability in Spain (1996-2011): formal vs. informal mechanisms”

GT 5.10 Gestión pública y accountability

José Real Dato (Universidad de Almería)
Sesión 1
Día: miércoles,18 de septiembre de 2013
Hora: 15:00 a 17:30

This paper addresses the issue of the accountability of Spanish ministers. In parliamentary democracies, such as in Spain, the ‘chain of delegation’ theory (Strøm 2000) situates ministers in the second furthest link – that between the prime minister and public bureaucracy. In a principal-agent framework, ministers would then be direct ‘agents’ of the PM (Berlinsky et al. 2012), as well as indirect agents of the parliamentary group(s) and party(ies) supporting the government, and, ultimately, of the citizens. Here, the interest is in the mechanisms existing to keep Spanish ministers accountable, either formal (Parliamentary reprobation) or informal (i.e. fire-alarm mechanisms). The paper will describe the different mechanisms, as well as assess their use by the Parliament and the PM, and their efficacy. Empirically, this will be addressed by examining the impact of the use of these mechanisms by the parliament and the PM in the survival of Spanish ministers since between 1996 and 2011 (that is, the period covering the Aznar and Zapatero governments).



Strøm, Kaare (2000) “Delegation and accountability in parliamentary democracies “, European Journal of Political Research 37: 261–289.

Berlinsky, Samuel, Torun Dewan and Keith Dowding (2012) Accounting for Ministers. Scandal and Survival in British Government 1945-2007. Cambridge: CambridgeUniversity Press.

Palabras clave: government, accountability, parliamentary democracy, ministers, ministerial survival