Yvette Peters: Congruence on representational procedures? Matching citizens’ and representatives’ expectations of how representation should work
Research on political representation has developed greatly over the past decades. We now know more about the extent to which representatives hold similar preferences as citizens, how responsive policies are to public opinion, and that some groups in society tend to be sometimes better represented than other. One thing that we know less about, however, is to what extent citizens and representatives actually hold similar preferences on how that very object of study—political representation—should work. An emphasis on representational and decision-making procedures will help us understand what representative structures and practices will contribute to increased political legitimacy. As many citizens display a distrust to politics, a distrust in current representational institutions, and also express preferences for alternative decision-making structures (e.g. direct democracy, as well as a disregard of minorities), it is especially crucial to learn more about how citizens and representatives believe that the representative model of democracy should be working. Using the Norwegian Citizen Panel and Panel of Elected Representatives, we asked citizens and elected representatives questions about their ideas on the function of elections and the working of representation. We examine to what extent representatives hold similar opinions as citizens, and explore what determines these views.