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Representation in Europe: Policy Congruence between Citizens and Elites (REPCONG)

English title Representation in Europe: Policy Congruence between Citizens and Elites (REPCONG)
Applicant Lutz Georg
Number 121165
Funding scheme Project funding (special)
Research institution Fondation FORS Bâtiment Geopolis Université de Lausanne
Institution of higher education Swiss Centre of Expertise in the Social Sciences - FORS
Main discipline Political science
Start/End 01.04.2008 - 29.02.2012
Approved amount 337'962.00
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Keywords (4)

Representation; Policy Congruence; European Democracies; Elite Preferences

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
The concept of representation lies at the heart of liberal democracy. Representative democracy is premised on the notion that there should be a reasonable degree of congruence between the priorities of citizens and those elected to represent them. Representatives are mandated to represent electors’ interest, values and opinions. A certain degree of control, in the form of regular elections, remains with the represented to assure that the economic, social and political interests of the main societal groups in the citizenry will be taken into account. Surprisingly, we still know very little about the actual extent of policy congruence and the nature of representation in European democracies and its impact on citizens’ attitudes towards it. While electoral scholars have concerned themselves with the voting behaviour of European electorates and legislative scholars have focused on the voting behaviour of elites, there has been little work connecting voting patterns with legislative behaviour and elite preferences. In addition, even less is know about the link between policy congruence and citizens’ perceptions of representation and satisfaction with democracy.Based on this gap in the literature our proposal focuses both on two sets of questions: 1) What determines the level of policy congruence between citizens and elites (policy congruence as the dependent variable)? In particular, what impact do political institutions and direct democracy have on policy congruence?2) What impact has level of policy congruence on the perception of and satisfaction with democracy (policy congruence as an independent variable)? Pursuing our first research question, we examine which institutional and political factors have an impact on the degree of policy congruence and in turn on democratic representation. Our second research question, tests the impact of differences in policy congruence on satisfaction with democracy as well as the perception of specific representative institutions, such as national parliaments/governments and European institutions such as the European Parliament.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

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Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
133957 Swiss Electoral Studies (Selects) 2011 01.01.2011 Research Infrastructure