Exploring the Relationship Between Policy Representation and Political Trust: Evidence from Vote Compass

Modern notions of representative democracy are based on the normative assumption that there is a relationship between the preferences of citizens on key electoral issues and the policies offered and pursued by the major political parties that form government. Such notions are central to both normative and practical considerations of democracy. In this paper we ask two questions as they relate to debates about democratic representation: 1. Do Australia’s two major political parties appear to represent voters on prominent policy issues? 2. Is there an association between the proximity of a voter’s issue preferences from the positions taken by the major parties and their levels of political trust? This paper explores the relationship between issue representation and political trust using a unique dataset collected through the voter literacy tool Vote Compass over the course of the 2016 federal election. We discuss the implications of our findings as they relate to the literature on political trust and representation. Note: this paper was co-written with Shaun Ratcliff, USSC, University of Sydney. 

Aaron Martin is a lecturer at the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne. Aaron’s research focuses on young people and politics, political participation, public opinion and policy agendas. He is the author of Young People and Politics: Political Engagement in the Anglo-American Democracies (Routledge, 2012) and numerous articles. In 2010 he has awarded an ARC grant with Keith Dowding (ANU) for a project entitled ‘Policy Agendas in the Australian Commonwealth'. Aaron also sits on the Australian Electoral Commissioner’s Advisory Board on Electoral Research.

Date & time

Thu 17 Aug 2017, 12am


L.J. Hume Centre, Copland Building


Dr. Aaron Martin


Jessica Genauer


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