Democratic Accountability and Foreign Security Policy | 2018 | Publications

Democratic Accountability and Foreign Security Policy: Theory and Evidence from India

Vipin Narang and Paul Staniland

Security Studies, 27:3, 410-447; 08 January 2018



Identifying the links between democracy and foreign security policy has proven elusive. This paper engages this research agenda by developing a novel theory of “accountability environments” and exploring it in the case of India. We hypothesize that the varying electoral salience of foreign security policy and the clarity of responsibility for policy outcomes combine to create different accountability environments in which politicians operate. Accountability environments determine the incentives that politicians face for devoting effort to external security issues. We illustrate the argument with evidence from India over time and across issue areas (India, Pakistan, and defense procurement/development). Scholars need to incorporate the complexities and diversity of representation and rule into the study of democratic politics and international relations.