Political Representation across Europe
Belchior, Ana Maria
CIES CIES-ISCTE (Centre of Sociological Studies and Research of the Higher Institute of Social Sciences and Business Studies, Lisbon). Lisbon, Portugal
This paper aims to explore two main goals. Firstly, although it is known that political democratic representation requires more than the measure of similarities between citizens and representatives, it is also established that representation studied through measures of political congruence is a legitimate option. So, it is intended to assess the levels of political congruence generated for a set of structural and non-structural issues. In the first ones we include the ideological self-positioning, State intervention in economy, redistribution policies, and fight against crime. On the other side, we consider as non-structural issues: attitudes towards democracy, and attitudes towards democratic representation (closeness to electors, public participation in political decisions, or institution of alternative mechanisms for public political intervention). How representatives are European political parties in respect to their electors? Are structural issues best represented than non-structural ones?
Secondly, we would like to understand what explains party representation, measured through congruence. In order to do so, we plan to assess the importance of constituency attitudes and positions in the political parties and MPs´attitudes and positions. It is also essential to assess the importance of ideological positions in the explanation of representation. Are European political parties representation significantly conditioned by their constituencies? Or, despite constituency´s positions, it is the ideological party position that best determines the levels of representation?
Quantitative data (mostly from the European Representation Studies and from studies conducted in Portugal and Spain) and statistical procedures will be used to answer those goals.