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Inaccurate politicians. Elected Representatives’ Estimations of Public Opinion in Five Countries
One of the ways in which democratic representation potentially comes about is politicians following up on their perceptions of what the people want. A precondition is, naturally, that their public opinion perceptions are accurate. But are they? We tackle this question in a comparative study covering politicians in five countries. Results are straightforward, looking at it from different angles and comparing politicians’ perceptions against several benchmarks we find that politicians estimations are far from accurate. Also, they seem to be uniformly bad at it as no particular group of politicians is better at it. Our findings challenge the idea that policy congruence is generated via politicians’ perceptions.
About the presenter:
Professor Stefaan Walgrave is professor of political science at the University of Antwerp (Belgium). His research interests are media & politics, elections & public opinion, social movements, and political representation. His recent work in particular deals with individual politicians, how they read public opinion and represent.