Mandate reconfirmation?

Alan has an idea.

do Michigan and Wisconsin perhaps tell us there is a case for a confirmation vote 6 months or a year after an executive is first elected? In many jobs you are on probation for the first 6 months to a year when you get made permanent. [Copied from another thread]

I don’t know, but it’s certainly an interesting idea. Thoughts?

5 thoughts on “Mandate reconfirmation?

  1. One can see advantages and disadvantages. It would certainly make it harder to run stealth campaigns that rely on a disconnect between campaigning and governing. I’d envisage an automatic popular vote to retain or dismiss the executive in question at some fixed interval after they take office.

  2. The only reason this is being proposed is that the “stealth campaigns” mentioned by Alan are becoming increasingly common. Campaign promising one thing, then do something else once in office.

    Usually, though not in this case, this takes the effect of promising to reverse some policy of the previous government, only for the new office holders to continue or even double down on that policy. But the practical effect is to sever any connection between elections and the direction of public policies.

    This is a serious issue, but I think we should get a better idea of how frequent this happens and why it happens before coming up with solutions.

  3. I would draw a distinction between a “stealth campaign” and “promising one thing and then doing another.”

    The former implies a vague campaign, while the other implies an actual “policy switch,” going in the opposite direction of one’s campaign commitments. This is a distinction David Samuels and I make in our recent book, Presidents, Parties, and Prime Ministers, in which we argue that presidentialism makes policy switches more likely. We do not address “stealth campaigns,” other than to distinguish vagueness from explicit promises that are violated upon coming into office.

    The Wisconsin campaign was obviously not the latter. The governor, when he was candidate, was not promising to protect, or expand, public employees’ collective bargaining rights.

    I am not sure if it is true that either type of (arguable) mandate violation is becoming more common. If by saying so Ed meant in the USA specifically, it is plausible, given that the parties are more polarized and hence perhaps more willing to embark on big policy innovations if given the chance.

  4. I can think of several problems with this. Say someone is elected US president promising “change”, but ends up continuing many of the policies of his predecessor. How does electing John McCain president six or twelve months later improve on this situation?

    The impact of money in US politics must also be considered. If the most well-funded candidate or party loses an election, they could have a better chance in the confirmation vote, when the winner of the first election might be almost broke.

    And such a proposal couldn’t really work in a country with parliamentarism, especially if there is proportional representation. You can’t hold a general election every six months.

  5. The biggest problem with this sort of idea is that executives-on-probation would act just like employees around the world in that circumstance – they’d do nothing provocative for 6 months until they had security of employment, and then they’d show their true(r) colors. Even taking bold steps to fulfill campaign pledges would be bound to make them less popular than at election time (disappointing supporters, further inflaming opponents), so they’d do nothing but continue to campaign and you’d effectively have a lame duck at the start of each term.

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