Recall: Democratic Advance, Safety Valve or Risky Adventure?

  • Yanina Welp
  • Laurence Whitehead


Provisions for the recall of elected representatives before the completion of their term of office are spreading far and wide. Most activations of this venerable instrument take place at the subnational level, but governors of California are not the only big fish at risk of being netted, as mayors of such metropolitan centres as Bogota, Chisinau, Duisburg, Lima, Nagoya and Warsaw know all too well. One justification for the spread of these practices is that, given the extent of voter disenchantment with elected politicians, they may provide a safety valve to allow those discontented with a given representative to feel that they had been allowed to protest and could influence the government by removing the inadequate individual or authority. That outlet might preserve basic loyalty to the electoral process and its democratic principles. But does recall really operate like that? This chapter explores current empirical evidence on this question.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yanina Welp
    • 1
  • Laurence Whitehead
    • 2
  1. 1.Albert Hirschman Centre on DemocracyGraduate InstituteGenevaSwitzerland
  2. 2.Nuffield CollegeOxfordUK

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