The Concept of Agency Theory in Electoral Democracy

This essay analyses the doctrine of the law of agency in the context of
electoral democracy in assessing the rights and liabilities of the political elite
and the voting public. The principal-agent model was employed to expatiate
challenges in the relationship between the agent’s performance and how the
principal can reward or punish the agent through competitive elections. In
doing so, the elected political authorities are deemed to be agents of state
governance while the voters, and by extension the population, are seen as
principals of the state. The principal-agent relationship generates the electoral
accountability of representatives to constituents by checking and controlling
the behaviour of the political elite to ensure that national programmes, policies
and laws are applied for the benefit of the general public. The study concludes
that voters, as principals, expect political agents to deliver public goods and
services to their benefit and that failure do so attracts a vote of censure. This
means that competitive elections create a relationship of formal accountability
between political leaders and voters. This accountability minimises the ability
of political leaders to use the advantage of information asymmetery.

File Type: pdf
Categories: Journal of African Elections
Tags: adverse selection, agency cost, electoral agency theory, moral hazard, principal-agent theory, public accountability
journal of african elections vol17 number 2 transparent democratic governance in africa