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Submitted by Anand on
Phil: As with all great insights, this one looks so much more obvious after somebody has made the point clearly, as you and your co-author have. Some reactions to set the ball rolling on this issue - A programmatic political platform is itself an indication that a certain set of collective action problems associated with public policy and public good provision is partly addressed. Therefore one might be a little more optimistic that such a government will attempt to strengthen public management institutions and practices to achieve its platform objectives. One complication to this story in aid dependent countries - can we really conclude objectively whether countries have political parties with such programs? We need to be conscious of the problem donors create by attempting to influence the definition of programmatic policy through well-meaning attempts to promote development policy (the poverty reduction strategy, MDG commitments etc.) or other variants of an externally prompted policy program. So, we might observe a policy framework that looks programmatic (and opposition parties might also mirror this in some way to be aid-competitive) but is largely the result of donor prompting and in fact there is often no organic political process from which it is derived. So we might have some trouble applying your insight to make useful judgments about the prospects for PSR in donor dependent environments because it will be difficult to tell the real nature of political programs from what is publicly advocated by political parties. A broader question then is whether donor influence retards the natural development of political party platforms and whether isomorphic mimicry is not also a problem at this high policy level.