Political accountability

Political accountability is the accountability of the government, civil servants and politicians to the public and to legislative bodies such as a congress or a parliament.

In a few cases, recall elections can be used to revoke the office of an elected official. Generally, however, voters do not have any direct way of holding elected representatives to account during the term for which they have been elected. Additionally, some officials and legislators may be appointed rather than elected. Constitution, or statute, can empower a legislative body to hold their own members, the government, and government bodies to account. This can be through holding an internal or independent inquiry. Inquiries are usually held in response to an allegation of misconduct or corruption. The powers, procedures and sanctions vary from country to country. The legislature may have the power to impeach the individual, remove them, or suspend them from office for a period of time. The accused person might also decide to resign before trial. Impeachment in the United States has been used both for elected representatives and other civil offices, such as district court judges.

In parliamentary systems, the government relies on the support or parliament, which gives parliament power to hold the government to account. For example, some parliaments can pass a vote of no confidence in the government.

Researchers at the Overseas Development Institute found that empowering citizens in developing countries to be able to hold their domestic government's to account was incredibly complex in practice. However, by developing explicit processes that generate change from individuals, groups or communities (Theories of Change), and by fusing political economy analysis and outcome mapping tools, the complex state-citizen dynamics can be better understood. As such, more effective ways to achieve outcomes can hence be generated.

ac·count·a·ble  

/əˈkountəbəl/
Adjective
  1. (of a person, organization, or institution) Required or expected to justify actions or decisions; responsible.
  2. Explicable; understandable.
 
Synonyms
responsible - liable - answerable - explicable - amenable