The Nature of Citizen Preferences: Meaningful and Stable?

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

The Nature of Citizen Preferences: Meaningful and Stable?

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Ultimately democracy is about public policy reflecting citizen not just voter preferences. This raises the question of how far citizen (i.e. elector) preferences as expressed outside the election framework – usually in surveys and polls – reflect their real ones. The classic debates about ‘non-opinions’ and non-attitudes is – re-examined here. The conclusion is that survey responses, while variable, fluctuate around a mean position which indicates each individual’s real underlying preference. The chapter therefore uses opinion measures such as the Eurobarometers as reflections of true citizen opinion, and use them to assess policy targets and outcomes with some confidence.

Keywords: citizen preferences; non attitudes; left-right scale; Eurobarometers; dimensionality

Chapter.  5477 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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