Shaun Bevan, Will Jennings
Representation, Agendas and Institutions

Annual Elections, Public Opinion and Parties Conference, Oxford, September 07th to September 09th, 2012

Dynamic representation can be understood through the transmission of the priorities of the public onto the policy priorities of government. This differs from representation of public preferences through shifts in policy. This pattern of dynamic representation in policy agendas is mediated through institutions due to friction in decision-making and the scarcity of attention. The paper considers data for the US and UK, from 1951 to 2003, relating to executive speeches, laws and budgets in combination with data on public opinion about the ‘most important problem’. The results show that responsiveness is greater when institutions are subject to less friction (executive speeches) and declines as friction against policy change increases (laws and budgets) and decision-makers become less concerned with agenda-setting (budgets).