Individual Politicians’ Responsiveness in Party-centered Systems

16.10.2017 - 12:00 to 13:30
Location : 
A 5,6 Raum A 231
Type of Event : 
AB B-Kolloquium
Dr. Patrik Öhberg
Lecturer affiliation: 
University of Gothenburg
Compared to a couple of decades ago, politicians have more opportunities and greater incentives to interact with and to try to understand citizens before and in-between elections. The act of representing and being represented has increasingly become part of everyday life. Direct citizen-initiated contacts where individual citizen or citizens organized in lobby groups meet with, telephone or write to individual politicians have become an increasingly important means of affecting political decisions.

Most of the research on how politicians receive and respond to public opinion comes from the U.S., which is a candidate-centered system. We therefore lack an understanding of the complexities of responsiveness in party-centered systems. In party-centered systems, politicians have to balance citizens’ opinions not only against their own views, but also against their party’s position. The calculations done by politicians, who want to represent the party, take their own conviction into consideration and be responsive to citizen requests, are likely quite complex.

We should therefore expect that responsiveness occur in forms that are not always visible to voters. More specifically, politicians can work within the party trying to change the policy in accordance with the contacting citizens’ wishes. Such “hidden responsiveness” might indicate that previous research has underestimates the levels of personal responsiveness in systems with strong parties. In this talk, studies will be presented that underlining the importance of studying individual politicians’ responsiveness in party-centered systems.