Shaun Bevan, Will Jennings
Dynamic Agenda Representation in Comparative Perspective

3rd Annual General Conference of the European Political Science Association, Barcelona, June 20th to June 22nd, 2013

Dynamic agenda representation represents the transmission of the priorities of the public onto the policy priorities of government. This paper considers the relationship between public priorities and policy agendas in the US, UK, Denmark, Canada, Spain and the Netherlands. Through the estimation of time series cross-sectional models we find that national governments in countries with a greater vertical division of powers (i.e. federalism) exhibit higher responsiveness. Within countries, responsiveness is higher for institutions used for agenda-setting and subject to lower friction (i.e. executive speeches compared to legislation). We also find that executive speeches exhibit lower responsiveness for issues relating to “core” policy responsibilities of government (the economy, law and order, defense, foreign affairs, and government operations), but find the reverse in legislation. Public opinion leads executives to attend to issues outside their core policy responsibilities and causes legislatures to trespass on policy responsibilities typically left to the executive.