Conceptualizing Representational Strain

Robert Rohrschneider and Stephen Stephen

in The Strain of Representation

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199652785
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191744907 | DOI:

Series: Comparative Politics

Conceptualizing Representational Strain

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This chapter develops the theoretical basis of our party representation model and our expectations about representational strain. The chapter argues that the way parties represent citizens cannot be divorced from the way they compete for voters. The chapter outlines three criteria for assessing the party representation model which structure the empirical presentation in later chapters: (i) that parties should offer policy choices; (ii) that parties should offer structured programs; and (iii) that parties should have policies that are congruent with voters' preferences. The chapter argues that representational strain is likely to emerge when parties must appeal simultaneously to partisan and to independent voters. In these circumstances, parties may be less inclined to offer policy choices, or to package policies in to programs, or to achieve policy congruence with some or all of their diverse voters.

Keywords: representation; party competition; party policies; party programs; partisanship; dealignment

Chapter.  7888 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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