Representation Over Time: Empowering Both Plurality <i>and</i> Median Voter Preferences Through Policy Inertia—A Model and Simulation

Ian Budge, Hans Keman, Michael McDonald and Paul Pennings

in Organizing Democratic Choice

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780199654932
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741685 | DOI:

Series: Comparative Politics

Representation Over Time: Empowering Both Plurality and Median Voter Preferences Through Policy Inertia—A Model and Simulation

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This chapter searches for conditions that make responsive and neutral representation possible over time despite some degree of incongruence with popular preferences in the short run. That search leads to the two non-demanding conditions already mentioned: bracketing of the median by two major parties and alternating partisan control of government. This chapter examines their effects on representation both through simulations and comparative evidence. Before concluding, the chapter adds reflections on an especially important implication. Multi-dimensionality with concomitant ‘coalitions of minorities’ is not the formidable problem for representative democracy that has been so often supposed. The bracketing and alternation conditions are enough to lead a system to reasonably congruent, responsive, and neutral representation in each policy domain where major parties take opposing positions and in all of them combined, if parties and voters operate in that kind of multi-dimensional policy space. Comparative evidence for sixteen democracies 1972–1995 is examined to see how relationships work out in practice.

Keywords: simulations; representational trade-offs; bracketing; alternation; policy inertia; dimensionality

Chapter.  11221 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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