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Albert Weale

Accountability requires public officials in a position of responsibility to be answerable for their policy decisions to citizens. A central mechanism of accountability in a democracy is elections. However, elections provide insufficient scope for public participation. In addition, public administration requires accountability in forums other than elections. For these reasons, many democracies have experimented in recent years with democratic innovations, including referendums, mini-publics, collaborative governance and e-governance. However, those same innovations also invite new questions about what accountability means and how it can best be enhanced, particularly in relation to the accountability of citizens to one another. They also prompt questions about the ways in which accountability may be undermined by the misuse of innovative methods of participation.