We examine the performance of four parliamentary democracies – Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK – as they confront the need for a substantial fiscal policy response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research covers the period 1 January 2020 to 30 June 2020. We score the four countries on nine components of democratic accountability using Mark Philp's distinction between formal and political accountability. We conclude, first, that to appreciate the nuanced character of accountability, it is important to have a set of operational measures that identify specific aspects of performance. Second, preparation is important for resilience: countries that demonstrated strong accountability before the pandemic maintained relatively high accountability standards during the crisis; weaker accountability mechanisms showed less resistance to the expanding power of the executive. Finally, it is easier to be accountable when outcomes are favourable, but favourable outcomes include adherence to the norms of democratic accountability.