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Jacques Thomassen

In the course of the twentieth century, representative democracy became synonymous with party government, a system of government in which political parties compete for the votes of the people, and the party or coalition of parties winning the elections takes control of the government. In theory it is an effective system to connect the policy preferences of the people to public policy. However, this is so only if the majority of the voters give the winning party or parties an unequivocal mandate. They seldom do, and decreasingly so. The problems governments nowadays are faced with are too complex, unpredictable and subject to international developments for a simple electoral mandate to be sustainable. Also, because policy preferences cannot be reduced to a single dimension, voters vote for the same party for different reasons. As a consequence their preferences cannot be interpreted as a collective policy mandate.

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Jacques Thomassen, Rudy Andeweg and Carolien van Ham