Political Representation

Political Representation

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics. Please check back later for the full article.

Political Representation and Electoral Systems - Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics

Political representation is at the heart of liberal democracies. Whether democracy is understood as popular rule or as effective fate control by the people, representation is the means to realize the democratic idea of giving people a voice in large states. Elections are the major link establishing causality between the wishes of the people and acts of governance.

Edited by Russell J. Dalton and Hans‐Dieter Klingemann

The concept of political representation is misleadingly simple: everyone seems to know what it is, yet few can agree on any particular definition. In the common view, political representation is assumed to refer only to the political activities undertaken, in representative democracies, by citizens elected to.

However, how and whom citizens elect varies considerably across democracies. In a majoritarian electoral system, citizens elect persons in single-member districts. In a proportional electoral system, citizens elect parties voting for lists and parties determine by candidate selection how those lists are composed.

The causal link between citizens and representatives differs clearly between the two kinds of elections. The mandate in the majoritarian model is given to a person, and this person is held accountable in the next elections for her performance.

Challenges to the Concept and Practice of Political Representation in Australia

In the proportional model, the mandate is given to a party, and the party is held accountable in the next elections. Thus, different actors have the duty to deliver representation in different electoral systems: This book has been cited by the following publications.

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Political Representation

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Bernhard Weßels

Michael Saward also discusses how existing systems of political representation do not necessarily serve democracy. These conflicting findings, as well as the increased focus by political theorists and activists on community participation, civic engagement and social capital, all suggest that greater knowledge of the representational process in the constituency is needed. Recent decisions of the High Court in Australia e. At this point, answers to such questions are unclear. The American Constitution has built into it a series of compromises between rep-by-pop and rep-by-area: First, her understanding of representation encourages us to recognize the diversity of those being represented. A view of the Constitution as a document embodying many rights albeit implied is not without controversy or disagreement.

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